Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West

In This Review

Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West
By Christopher Caldwell
Doubleday, 2009
432 pp. $30.00
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Nothing is as seductive as a half-truth. Caldwell's is that immigrants to Europe cause serious problems because Europeans, overcome with leftist good intentions, have coddled them with generous welfare and tolerated their non-Christian values. Yes, immigration poses distinct challenges for Europe, but to attribute them to European generosity and tolerance is like saying that crime, drugs, and other social problems in the United States are caused by welfare, affirmative action, and lax cultural mores. Of course, that is what the crowd that reads Caldwell regularly in The Weekly Standard, among whom this book will play well, really does believe. In truth, however, the role of Muslims in contemporary Europe is far more ambiguous. When the Parisian banlieues erupted in riots, for example, traditional imams tried to quell the violence, but they could not control the non-Arabic-speaking, irreligious young men who wanted nothing more than to be assimilated as secular, employed Frenchmen. As the title of this overwrought book suggests, however, an appreciation of the complex challenges facing European leaders is not Caldwell's objective. For that, look elsewhere.