Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ten years ago, I wrote Menace in Europe: Why the Continent’s Crisis is America’s, Too. I’d spent some of my childhood and most of my adult life in Europe. I found many Americans’ fantasies about European life delusional. Those who were sure the Continent was on a glide path to peaceful, prosperous, and permanent integration seemed to me suffused with dangerously excessive optimism. I argued that Europe was haunted by ghosts from the past while confronting entirely new problems it was ill-prepared to face. Americans, I suggested, would be well-advised to pay attention to what was really happening. When I wrote that book, my views were unusual and considered extreme. Now, obviously, they’re not. My book received good reviews in some quarters:
Serious, well researched—and riveting. More than a piercing alarm over Muslim radicalism in Europe, this thoughtful book takes us on a tour of the continent’s spiritual crisis. Berlinski weaves sociological insight and helpful historical analysis into accounts of everything from the sexual underside of immigration to the dynamics of assassination to Europe’s cities without children to its self-extinguishing tolerance. — Stanley Kurtz, contributing editor at National Review Online
And it was panned by those who thought me a Cassandra and a hysteric. Naturally. But the critics who thought I was seeing ghosts now admit I had a point. For example, Philip Jenkins, a professor of history and religious studies at Penn State, described me in 2007 in rather unflattering terms. As you can see in this piece, The Age of Permanent Jihad, he’s now more pessimistic than I was a decade ago. Yet I’m less sure of my pessimism than I once was. What changed? Perhaps just me. Living for nearly a decade in Turkey gave me some perspective. So did growing older. But I also came back to a France, and to a continent, that had changed – sometimes in ways I didn’t predict. Some of my predictions about Europe’s future proved correct. But others were wrong. Why? I concluded my first book about Europe with these words:
I do not prophesy the imminent demise of European democratic institutions, nor do I predict imminent catastrophe on European soil. But I don’t rule out these possibilities either. Europe’s entitlement economy will collapse. Its demography will change. The European Union may unravel. We have no idea what these events would herald, but it is possible and reasonable to imagine a very ugly outcome. The only people to whom this will come as a surprise are those who have not been paying attention.
I wasn’t surprised, at least. It took ten years, but that book has earned out its advance,and is widely seen as prophetic. The ten-year anniversary seems the obvious time to write a sequel.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.