Monday, August 31, 2009

Taking on Islamophobia

I was pleased to see that Pankaj Mishra has addressed head-on fear mongers like Niall Ferguson and Christopher Caldwell who argue that the increase in Muslim immigration to Europe risks "Islamicization" and the decline of liberal Enlightenment values. In his recent book review, "A culture of fear", Mishra points out not only the statistical inaccuracies but also the political and philosophical flaws of such an approach. In Mishra's words:
Multi-ethnic Europe is an immutable fact, and needs, appropriately, a more inclusive, open-ended identity, one derived more from its pluralistic and relatively peaceful present, and supranational future, than its brutishly nationalist and imperialist past. Writing in 1937 about the minority then most despised in Europe, Joseph Roth predicted that "Jews will only attain complete equality, and the dignity of external freedom, once their 'host nations' have attained their own inner freedom, as well as the dignity conferred by sympathy for the plight of others". This proved to be too much to ask of Europe in 1937. But the moral challenge has not gone away - civilisation remains an ideal rather than an irreversible achievement - and the dangers of leaving it unmet are incalculable.
Well worth a read!

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