August 11, 2009
By pure coincidence, I happen to be reading “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe” right now and while I agree with Steve that the book is “surprising” I’m not sure how “important” it actually is. Yes, it is true that men of Christopher Caldwell’s political pedigree rarely address issues relating to mass immigration and the consequences of multiculturalism. It is also true that the book is remarkably well written and does a good job spitting in the face of PC taboos without venturing off into the wilderness of the race-obsessed Right.
On the other hand, comparing the book to Peter Brimelow’s Alien Nation strikes me as a rather large stretch given the very specific stand Caldwell seems to take regarding Latin American immigration into the United States. There are numerous examples that could be cited throughout the text, but perhaps the best occurs in the opening pages of the book. In full, it reads:
“The demographic ?weight? of immigration in Europe is roughly what it is in the United States, making it tempting to compare Muslim immigration in Europe with Latin American immigration in the United States. Such a comparison obscures more than it illuminates. The cultural peculiarities of Latin American immigrant – aside from a different (European) first language, which they inevitably abandon for English by the second generation – are generally antiquated versions of American ones. Latinos have less money, higher labor-force participation, more authoritarian family structures, lower divorce rates, more frequent church attendance (still primarily Catholic, although with an impressive penetration of evangelical Protestantism), lousier diets, and higher rates of military enlistment than native-born Americans. In other words, Latino culture, in its broad outlines, is like the American working-class white culture of forty years ago. It is perfectly intelligible to any patient American who has ever had a conversation about the past with his parents. Mass Hispanic immigration can disrupt a few local habits, and the volume of the influx can cause logistical headaches for schools, hospitals, and local governments. But it requires no fundamental reform of American cultural practices or institutions. On balance it may strengthen them.”
Reading this, one wonders if Caldwell has ever spent more than five minutes outside of the white areas of America’s urban centers. Regardless of whether one assumes ignorance or malice, there is no reading of those words that lends itself toward a positive view of what VDare calls “Patriotic Immigration Reform.” And while Caldwell does a nice job separating authentic expressions of cultural nationalism from hardcore ethnic bigotry, it seems safe to assume that Americans concerned with our own “National Question” are likely to be regarded as foolish jingoists by Caldwell.
Also troublesome is a quote from Caldwell that suggests his chosen target is a continuation of the never ending neocon Global War On Terror via alternative means:
“At the publicly funded Hamara Centre in Leeds, local Muslims and Christians promote fellow feeling partly, as the Wall Street Journal put it, ?by emphasizing their opposition to globalization, the war in Iraq and, in some cases, Israel’s policies in the Palestinian territories.? That is not cross-cultural communication. That is rallying Christians behind a Muslim agenda.”
Again, Caldwell’s broader point may be worth considering. Still it is interesting that the “Muslim agenda” is identified with ideas and viewpoints shared by many immigration restrictionists in the United States. More to the point Christians with legitimate concerns about globalism, international institutions and American foreign policy are little more than de facto Islamists in the eyes of neocons like Caldwell. Denouncing the warfare state and the international elites has always been a good way to get yourself branded an anti-Semite by the employers and friends of Caldwell and there is nothing in this book which suggests he would shy away from smear tactics of that ilk.
Despite all of this, “Reflections” is a fine book for what it is – a critical look at political Islam and the cultural underpinnings that have allowed it to explode unhampered from the Iberian Peninsula to the Ural Mountains. But its usefulness to critics of America’s open borders elite is marginal at best.
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