Despite the million people on the streets of Paris, the outpouring of sentiment against terrorism, the presence of world leaders and the signs that said "Je suis Charlie," the Muslim terrorists are winning the war in Europe; in fact, they may have already won.
Immediately after the attack on 9/11, President George W. Bush said that we are engaged in a war in which we will prevail. He struck a chord of determination and hopefulness. Many in the United States embraced these sentiments, as did our allies in Europe. The first major stone was cast and the free world was ready to respond.
But after the bloodshed in Paris, the mood has shifted. There is an unwillingness to confront reality. President François Hollande of France said these acts of violence do not represent Islam. Two weeks earlier, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said a "revolution within Islam" must take place to challenge violence inherent in the religion. Obviously Europeans cannot address reality; they are lost in a fog of misperception and they have lost the war on their soil.
Recognizing the demographic nightmare of low birthrates, European leaders like former British Prime Minister Tony Blair invited North Africans of Muslim faith to become Europeans. They came in droves, but they came as Muslims, not as future Europeans. As former president of Libya Moammar Gadhafi noted, Libya would get on so much better with France if Frenchmen would only convert to Islam. That statement, which seemed ribald several decades ago, is quite poignant today.
Muslim migrants poured into the crevices of Europe seeking communities removed from mainstream life. These were voluntary ghettoes established to maintain sharia, communities run by imams very often with the most radical sensibility. Rather than attempt to integrate these Muslims into French or British or Dutch culture, authorities averted their gaze. They allowed autonomous governments within the larger national framework. A part of Malmo, the third-largest city in Sweden, is a Muslim sanctuary where all others are unwelcome. The Muslim quarter in Brussels is a fortress controlled by imams. Banlieues in Paris are areas where the gendarmes are not permitted — a sentence which has the tacit support of government leaders.
The consequence of this avoidance policy is the rise of radicalism. Should present trends continue — which seems likely — Islamic control seems inevitable. Europeans do not have the stomach for reprisals, nor can they easily shift policy and attitudes. Kurt Wilders, in Holland, warned of these developments and he was excoriated for revealing a truth that most Europeans did not want to hear.
The die is cast. Europe's slide is Islam's gain. It is hard to believe that on the Champs-Élysées women in full burkas parade the esplanade, but men who once wore Jewish headgear are afraid to display symbols of their faith. Clearly, it is hard to admit that Europe has lost its virtue, tradition and splendid history, but that is the case. Europeans caught in the grip of fear and cautious about insulting Muslims have retreated behind the façade of relativism. They do not know what they believe and have even been embarrassed by the great accomplishments of the past. However, the imams do know what they believe and are often fanatical about those beliefs.
The naive faith that modernity welcomes freedom, that democracy will inexorably succeed, is called into question across the continent. Even the bloodshed on the streets of Paris has not been a wake-up call. For whom the bell tolls? It tolls for those who cannot awake from a deep sleep. It tolls for the naive who were unwilling to recognize the plight before them.
I love the Europe of the past, the one with sophistication, artistic accomplishment, elegant attire, inspired conversation and the birthplace of democratic principles. But that Europe lost this recent war and we are all the worse for it.
London is president of the London Center for Policy Research.