Dr. Pipes Comes to Brandeis
By Linda Keay
April 24, 2007
Jacob Olidort, Middle East Review, welcomes Dr. Daniel Pipes to Brandeis University
A metal detector and police outside the lecture hall doors aroused curiosity by students at Brandeis University. A young woman walking by the apparatus frowned and shook her head in disapproval.
Two young men stopped and watched as people cued up at the hall door. “What’s going on?” asked one. “Pipes,” said the other. “Oh,” said the first. The two got in line. One said he thinks Pipes is a racist. The other said, “But he’s right about a lot of things,” adding, “but maybe he is a racist.”
Watching people in line being ‘wanded’ and retrieving metal items from a basket, another young man said, “This is like going on an airplane.” Once inside and seated, two non-student men spoke about the security and metal detectors. “They’re everywhere in Israel,” said the first. “Yes. Some of these students should spend some time there and they’d understand better.”
Dr. Daniel Pipes, Director of the Middle East Forum, and Distinguished Visiting Professor at Pepperdine University, lectured on “The Islamization of Europe” (as the lecture was officially entitled) or “The Future of Europe” (the way Dr. Pipes introduced it himself) on April 23.
“The topic of Islam in Europe is the elephant in the room,” – “indeed a profound, major issue,” he said, stating that Europe has lost much of its position since 1950. It had been the world leader, “in terms of science, institutions, culture, military prowess, way of life.” Europe, however losing much of that position, still remains vital to the U.S. as a major ally since World War II and is the source from which the U.S. was in fact patterned.
Providing positions of several other analysts on the topic, who are also discussed in an article published in The National Interest on March 1, 2007, Pipes said there are three views of the situation: “…the Islamization of Europe is imminent, the Muslim presence in Europe will be rejected and the third view – is that everybody gets along.” There might be yet other prospects – and Pipes said he encourages input on the subject.
Pipes offered perspectives from an indigenous European point of view and also an Islamic view on the areas of faith, demography and sense of heritage or culture.
Europe is highly secularized – “post-Christian.” Last week, at the 50th anniversary of the European Union, said Pipes, there was no mention of Christianity. In Europe, Christian faith is seen as a detriment to running for office. And there are empty churches and cathedrals on Sunday, as compared with full mosques on Fridays.
With regard to demographics, indigenous Europeans are not reproducing at the level at which Muslims are. Europe needs working immigrants because it has shown its “inability to sustain its own population.” For various reasons, including geographic proximity and violence in Muslim countries – Muslims are filling those jobs in Europe.
And a most complex problem, is that of the loss of identity that’s taken place in Europe. “There’s an alienation by many Europeans from their heritage,” that it’s not worth fighting for and there’s some shame in some of those histories, such as racism, imperialism and fascism, said Pipes. Probably “most robust” in its pride and sense of identity is France and probably the least robust – the U.K. and Sweden. Immigrants come in with their own agendas and criticisms of European tradition and culture – thus, Islamism takes hold, such as was the case with London’s 7/7 bombers who had no sense of ‘Britishness’ (this is also discussed in Pipes’s article in The National Interest).
“Into this void march Islam and Muslims.” Muslims have a “buoyant faith” and “sense of superiority,” that “could not be more different from the state of Christianity in Europe.” “When combined with a jihadi sensibility, this leads many Muslims to see Europe as a continent ripe for conversion and domination.” Pipes quotes some Muslims, such as Omar Bakri Mohammed, “I want Britain to become an Islamic state. I want to see the flag of Islam raised at 10 Downing Street.” These kinds of comments are common. “You hear them all the time,” said Pipes.
In addition, Muslim fertility rates are much higher than the rest of Europe. In Brussels, the name of Mohammad is the most popular name for baby boys.
And immigrant Muslims tend to have a disdain for European civilization – “We have something better” (than pornography, divorce, homosexuality, etc.) – is the idea. There’s the “vehement secularism” and lack of social identity on the one hand and the “vehement religiosity” and sense of Islamic identity.
Said Pipes in conclusion, an argument can be made that Islamization of Europe, “Eurabia,” will indeed happen, “…because the yin of Europe and the yang of Islam fit quite perfectly”– low and high religiosity, low and high fertility and low and high cultural identity.
Or, Europe could reject the trend at some point. European countries have begun to show some signs of fighting Muslim demands for special treatment, such as those involving hijabs (worn where others aren’t permitted to wear identifying garb), calling for the removal of Christmas from certain venues and an end to deeply ingrained practices such as wine served at dinners. Between these demands and terrorist attacks, there could be a backlash, possibly in a violent form if people are pushed too far (something Pipes doesn’t advocate; he simply states it is a possible outcome). It’s probably more likely that indigenous Europeans will respond peacefully, he said.
Or – the third possibility – everyone gets along, indigenous Europeans and immigrant Muslims find a way to live peacefully. Not likely, said Pipes. The possibility of Muslims all simply accepting historic European traditions, “can virtually be dismissed from consideration.”
In the question and answer period, mostly thoughtful questions stimulated further discussion, although there was one male student who characterized radical Christianity as being just as dangerous as radical Islam. (He was for secular society, which he claimed is the best.)
A Brooklyn, New York student asked why Muslims have been able to assimilate better in the United States than in Europe. Some of those reasons include the American Constitution, a most unique document in the world. Another reason, Europe in the 50s and 60s sought unskilled labor, whereas America in that same period put its emphasis on education. The U.S. began as an immigrant nation. “We’ve been in this business for a long time.” There’s a willingness to accept outsiders here. “We stand for ideas. Most European countries are extended families.”
A student asked Pipes why he’s advocating racial supremacy in Europe. He responded, “Did anybody hear that?” “No,” was the audience response. “I’m saying that this is a cultural matter, on both sides of the problem. The Europeans are not giving the immigrants a chance to become Europeans. The immigrants are not interested in becoming Europeans.” “I don’t have views on racism and which race is better than other races. It’s not a subject I think about or talk about.”
Director of Freiburg University in Berlin, Germany, Klaus Tiedemann, asked for pragmatic suggestions on changing the tension “that just isn’t going away” – ways to encourage moderate Muslims to prevail. Pipes responded that all Western governments and institutions have an inability to discern the difference between moderate Muslims and non-moderates. Over and over again, there’s a predilection for them to work with non-moderates. Radical Islam needs to be understood and recognized. Muslims who are ready to work within the system are the key. Those Muslims who want Muslims to integrate into larger society should be helped to gain in stature, and they should be given the means to promote their views.
“It’s a very difficult process.” Pipes noted that he wrote an article last week on the subject, 'Bolstering Moderate Muslims,' in which he also speaks about those who’ve failed to discern who is and who isn’t moderate, within the United States, including FBI Director Robert Mueller and State Department Undersecretary Karen Hughes. Give the Muslims a platform, “who are on our side.”
Asked what’s being done in Europe to help the situation, Pipes said, “There are some efforts to alleviate these problems, but they’re not serious.” In Europe, he said, there’s “a strange double-attitude” towards immigrants and Muslims, including “a tendency to look at them as victims, people who have a claim to money and other benefits because of racism, imperialism, fascism and some of the other evils of European life – but on the other hand, a deep unwillingness to accept them.” Whereas Americans tend to employ immigrants, Europe tends to put them out of sight and mind, where they don’t advance into the ranks of everyone else. “It’s very frustrating for the Muslims, because they cannot advance. There is a very low glass ceiling.” An effort was made in France with the formation of an association to help Muslims, but it failed, because the organization was taken over by Islamists, said Pipes.
A student said that radicalization of European Muslims is due to their second-class status. Pipes responded, “On the level of socio-economic problems, the United States has it right and the Europeans have it wrong,” but at the level of radical Islam, however, “we do not have it better than they do. There are as many problems concerning extremists and violence in the United States as in Europe.” “Radical Islam knows no sociology,” and he noted that all of the 9/11 hijackers were privileged and educated. There are plenty of other examples in the U.S., such as a “highly paid Intel engineer” in Portland, Oregon who’s now in jail for wanting to join the Taliban and kill Americans.
It’s a matter of an attraction to “this radical, utopian ideology.” “That is not something that can be dealt with through jobs and acceptance.” “What it has to do with is a sense of identity, a sense of frustration that the umma, the Muslim world, is in bad shape.”
A student asked what Europe can do to better deal with what’s happening. “It is not completely hopeless,” said Pipes. There are steps that can be taken. Muslims can “push away the elements of supremacism and cultural antagonism and disdain for the country” by other Muslims, “and accept that they are part of the country.” Cultural differences are fine, but Europe needs to determine what it means to be a Swede, a Brit, or whatever. Also, many Muslims come with an arrogant sense, demanding special rights to accommodate their religion. Some of these accommodations may seem small at first glance, but taken as a part of a whole, that can also include things like female genital mutilation and honor killings – the slippery slope of accommodation can’t be taken lightly.
It shouldn’t be so hard to take a stand on this, said Pipes. And he said, “I reject the Sharia. I reject Islamic law. I don’t want to live under Islamic law. I don’t want immigrants or Congress to tell me that this is now the way we are, that the Constitution has been replaced with the Qur’an. Maybe you want that. But I don’t.”
“All of us are just making stabs in the dark at this point as what the answer is. It needs to be far more debated and discussed.”
These, said Dr. Pipes, are elusive issues. But when Islamists make their views clear, we need to pay attention.
Walking out after the lecture, a student said, “I didn’t like that he waited until the end to say anything about moderate Muslims.”
The student must not have been listening – a symptom of what’s afflicting America as well as Europe.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28, 2007