Americans like to think that Europeans are sophisticated, and no doubt some of them are. But not in politics. Politically, the peoples of Europe regularly head for the very worst ideas on the horizon.
It is a kind of neurotic compulsion that has haunted them for centuries. When it comes to politics, they are patsies for grand promises. From Napoleon's time onward, all political movements in Europe have been driven by mass delusions. Napoleon was going to conquer Russia. Lenin was going to destroy capitalism. Hitler was going to purify the Aryan race. And now the European Union will Save the Planet and bring permanent Peace on Earth.
Americans are notoriously vulnerable to get—rich—quick schemes, but we have a lot better resistance to peddlers of political paradise. In comparison, in just the last hundred years Europe has managed to kill off entire categories of its own people while chasing after fantasies of national glory, socialist glory and racial glory.
It doesn't seem to occur to Europe that the answer to wild political schemes is a good, solid grasp of everyday reality. Today, Europeans still fall for political hogwash. A decade ago the Socialist Party of France passed a strict 35—hour work week, with punishments for anybody who worked longer, based on the flat—earth fantasy that if everybody worked less it would actually increase the number of jobs. The famously skeptical French simply fell in love with the prospect of a free lunch.
British Labour is even now surrendering national sovereignty, piece by piece, based on the cockeyed idea that Brussels will govern better than Parliament. And rather than millions of citizens marching in the streets to protest this outright robbery, Europeans are just bored with it all, suffering from very sophisticated weltschmertz.
When the Euromedia huffs and puffs about the European Union, trying to sell the proposed European Constitution to voters, many Americans wondered what was going on. Could it be true? Could it be that "Europe has kept the peace for fifty years," as the official EU website proclaims to the world?
Does the EU really have the answer to war and peace, and endless welfare for all? Is it really the new ideal of enlightened world government, as liberals would like us to believe? Or are we seeing just another case of Europe falling in love with its own puffed—up image ——— as it has done so many times before?
Take the Netherlands. Once upon a time the Dutch took pride in their sober common sense. That reputation hase taken a beating in recent years, as they went straight for free pot, free love, and, at the end of life's long celebration, free euthanasia. But Holland has now stubbed its toe on free immigration. It's not that the Dutch are racist. They would just rather not live under Islamic Shari'a law. Multiculturalism is grand, but when it comes to genital mutilation of young girls, dropping concrete walls on gay men, honor killing of women for dating infidels, gang rapes of girls for dressing immodestly, and chopping off the hands of thieves, the romance does begin to fade.
So the Netherlands may be sobering up. Polls show that a majority plans to vote against the EU Constitution, the lifetime career plan for Europe's ruling class. Now the politicians are in a snit about possible Dutch rejection, but ordinary people have not yet lost their minds. Once the Constitution goes into force they will lose their borders, and their country will cease to exist. Welcome to the Islamic Republic of the Europe!
Waking up after decades of political correctness is not easy. The tiny territory of Holland now has 700,000 Muslims who will not speak the language, refuse to accept Dutch laws and customs, import their wives from North Africa, and are determined to convert the heathen by the sword if necessary. Their numbers are growing faster than the ethnic Dutch, who are aging, and will soon depend upon the younger Muslim population for their pension checks.
Like all social democracies, the Netherlands had come to think of itself as immune from hard choices. In this line of thinking, tt was protected by its higher morality, its pure love of mankind. The Dutch deserved their fifty years of good fortune (which, by the way, had nothing whatsoever to do with Uncle Sam paying for Europe's defense). Welcoming massive Islamic fundamentalist immigration was just a way to prove the purity of their good intentions.
Multiculturalism is just another grandiose road to self—glorification; a lot nicer than the Nazis or Soviet ideologies and practices, but just as unreal. The Dutch became patsies for another kind of folly, the temptation to celebrate one's moral superiority. It was the old Euroneurosis all over again.
Today the Netherlands is taking its first tottering steps toward sobriety.
So far they don't inspire much confidence. As the UK Telegraph writes,
"newcomers over 17 will have to pass examinations requiring a basic knowledge of the language, history and culture of Holland. ... In preparation, immigrants must watch a video showing not only windmills, tulips and ancient cities, but also homosexual weddings and examples of Holland's liberal mores and tolerance of drugs. ... The video is so liberal that a "clean" version has been produced for Islamic countries with the scenes of two homosexual bridegrooms kissing and a topless beach excised."
For such stern measures the Dutch Minister for Immigration, Rita Verdonk, is now called the "Iron Lady" by the media. I hope the Iron Lady doesn't really believe that videos about drug use and homosexual weddings (leaving the men kissing each other out — plenty of time to see that for themselves in public) will actually persuade Islamic radicals go for the Dutch way of life. On the contrary, it will just confirm their rock—hard conviction that the Dutch are corrupt to the last degree, and weak—kneed fools to boot. As for passing the examination, traditional Islam has a solution: For jihad, anything is justified, including systematic lying. If the Dutch expect to survive the coming century they will have to get a lot more serious.
The last time Europe struggled with Islamic invasions it took eight centuries to settle the matter. Every school child in Europe learns about the Song of Roland, which celebrates the martyrdom of Charlemagne's knight Roland in the long and bloody war to drive the Saracens out of France and Spain. Today, a thousand years later, Osama Bin Laden is still determined to get Andalusia (and more)back. Radical Islam has a long memory and an absolute will to win. Right now it seems that sophisticated Europe has no will to resist.
James Lewis is a frequent contributor.