The EU’s Undermining Of National Identity Creates A Space Where Islamist Extremism Freely Grows

Jean Claude Juncker - Manuel Vals - Brussels Attacks - European Union

Eroding national identities while forging an unwanted and unloved new European identity creates a dangerous gap, which Islamist extremists are now exploiting

There is a welcome glimmer of realisation in today’s New York Times that repeated attempts to artificially force political union on the disparate peoples of Europe (alternately by threat and by stealth) is leading to increasingly suboptimal outcomes.

Jochen Bittner writes:

Official Europe has worked hard to move past nationalism, so that there is no German or French Dream. But there’s no European Dream, either, not yet. So new migrants have no spirit to tap into, as they do in the United States. Instead, some Muslims find it more attractive to give their loyalty to Allah, their fellow believers or the Islamic State.

Intelligence services estimate that up to 6,000 jihadists from Western Europe have traveled to join the Islamic State. This enormous figure does not illustrate merely the failures of integration policy. It also shows the failure of mainstream European Muslims to keep their youth immune from extremism.

A result of this mutual apathy is too many Islamists, and too few police and intelligence officers — particularly in Belgium, but not just there. We may have a common European currency, but we still do not have a common European terrorism database. Islamists in Western Europe seem better coordinated than the European authorities hunting them.

There is a creeping awareness too that the head-in-the-sand insistence by many Western leaders that Islamist terror has “nothing to do with Islam” has been a textbook case of wishful thinking overriding political judgement, even common sense:

For the sake of social peace, after the Sept. 11 attacks, and later after the Madrid and London bombings, we told ourselves that Islam and Islamism had nothing to do with each other. But sadly, they do. The peaceful religion can sometimes serve as a slope into a militant anti-Western ideology, especially when this ideology offers a strong sense of belonging amid the mental discomfort of our postmodern societies.

That’s not to say that the article is right about everything. At one point it lapses back into the lazy, unthinking assertion that the European Union is solely responsible for keeping the peace since the Second World War:

So are Germany’s critics right? Is it reasonable to pull up the drawbridge?

In a way, the very question shows the disproportionality of the thought — unless you think it’s worth sacrificing 60 years of peace and international cooperation to the depredations of terrorists. It’s what they want; European disunity, confusion and extremism put them a step closer to the all-out war between Muslims and non-Muslims they so desperately seek.

The notion that the leaders of Islamic State – or radical jihadists in general – could give a hoot whether the Western European countries they so fervently loathe are grouped together under a single political umbrella or under their own auspices is ludicrous beyond words.

The home-grown radical Islamist terrorists from Belgium, Britain and France do not feel any allegiance to Europe or to their own particular country. Their only allegiance is to their warped strain of Islam, which teaches them to loathe anything and everything which does not conform to a very fundamentalist, conservative and specific worldview.

If anything, the European Union’s insistence on subordinating the national identities of individual member states in a thousand ways large and small, and attempting to shoehorn in an artificial new European identity which consistently fails to take root is primarily responsible for allowing a radical Islamist identity to creep in between the cracks.

If the European Union is the vehicle for international collaboration that its cheerleaders consistently claim, then it would focus on intergovernmental co-operation – for that is what will do the most good thwarting future terror attacks. But the EU doesn’t particularly care about co-operation between security services. Such matters are exquisitely boring to the architects and drivers of European political integration, who care only about creating a single European state.

Consider: if the European Union is a benign and non-threatening group of countries coming together to trade and solve common problems (like the threat of Islamist terrorism), why is such a tiny fraction of its budget – and an even smaller percentage of officials’ time – spent on enhancing intergovernmental co-operation so that agencies and forces work seamlessly together when they most need to?

No, the European Union has a flag, anthem and parliament for a reason – because those are the things that matter to them, the building blocks of political union. Sure, the EU’s leaders are happy to take advantage of the Brussels terror attacks – as they do with every other crisis – to declare that the only solution is “more Europe”. But the more Europe they have in mind won’t do a damn thing to thwart future terror attacks. It will only make them more likely.

Building a politically unified European state involves first dissolving existing national identities, and then replacing them with a new European identity commanding the loyalty and affection of the people. The EU has been moderately successful at the former, but absolutely hopeless at the latter. Staggeringly few people see themselves as European first and foremost – nearly all retain primary loyalty to their country, or in some cases to a region – like Scotland or the Basque region.

And as the nation state is undermined on one side while the vaunted new European identity consistently fails to materialise, this creates an ever widening gap which can be filled by Islamist extremist recruiters and terrorists. When there is no healthy sense of national identity, first and second generation immigrants may struggle to assimilate, and sometimes they will find meaning and belonging in undesirable places.

None of this should be shocking. Much of it was entirely predictable. But the European Union – who are now sickeningly claiming that they were the true victims of the attack, as though a self-important bureaucratic talking shop even registers on the Islamic State’s radar – refused to take the threat seriously, because it was too busy building up the appearance and trappings of a state.

Proper co-operation and coordination between national intelligence services does not require a European Parliament, a European Council, a flag, an anthem or pretensions on the world stage. If the EU really cared about keeping its citizens safe first and foremost, it could immediately deprioritise all further steps toward political integration, roll back its outsized role in supranational governance and focus on facilitating the kind of basic inter-governmental cooperation that might have feasibly prevented the Paris and Belgium attacks.

But of course the European Union will never do this in a million years. Because the EU has some other objective, far more important than trifling concerns over national security, on its agenda.

Now what could those other priorities possibly be?

 

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Brussels Attacks: Solidarity With Belgium Today, But What About Tomorrow?

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Solidarity is great. What’s next?

There is a very familiar pattern to all of this.

A bloody Islamist terrorist attack brings carnage and fear to the streets of a major Western city.

Everyone from heads of state to the man next door rush to publicly register their shock and solidarity on Twitter.

Someone inevitably pops up after a few hours to lecture us that there is nothing Islamic about Islamic State, and that we should really be calling them Daesh, or “so-called Islamic State”.

Someone else usually pops up to say something incredibly bigoted or ignorant about all Muslims.

Impromptu shrines appear in a major square of the afflicted city, with candles, chalk drawings and sometimes a bit of impromptu John Lennon.

And the day closes with Europe and America’s major landmarks illuminated to resemble the national flag of the afflicted nation. They’re getting really good at that part now.

Fast forward a day, and plans are well afoot to grant even more powers to the well-meaning but overstretched security services – who were unable to make use of their current extensive powers to thwart the attack – and generally at the expense of our civil liberties. Particularly our rights to privacy and free speech.

Fast forward a month, and we have all moved on. Domestic political concerns, celebrity scandals and daily life have reasserted themselves.

I think we can all agree that we’ve got the public grief, cathartic expressions of solidarity and stern faced authoritarianism down to a fine art at this point.

When are we going to start acknowledging – and maybe even tackling – the root causes?

 

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The Daily Toast: Weaken The Nation State, Breed More Extremism

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When there is no healthy sense of national identity or commonly valued institutions, people inevitably start looking for different groups or subcultures to belong to. We should not be surprised that some turn to radical Islam

Why is one neighbourhood in Brussels rapidly becoming Europe’s chief exporter of homegrown terrorists, the Silicon Valley of Islamist extremism?

Daniel Hannan gives the most convincing answer by admitting something that many others have been furiously ignoring – that Belgium is essentially a “failed state”. It may be an advanced economy and home to the EU bureaucracy, but there is no real sense of national unity for first or second generation immigrants to embrace. And this lack of shared identity provides the fertile ground where extremism inevitably grows.

Hannan writes:

When Americans are afflicted by terrorism, they fly their flag. When Paris was violated, it turned red, white and blue. But in Belgium, you rarely see the national tricolor except on a state building.

Perhaps there is a connection between this lack of national feeling and the readiness with which several second-generation Belgians turn against their adopted country. Many Western European states have disaffected immigrant populations, but none has sent such a high proportion of its nationals to Syria. Molenbeek, the dreary quartier where most of the Paris murderers were raised, is Europe’s jihadi capital.

All human beings crave a sense of belonging. When they get no such sense from their nation, they cast around for more assertive identities. And what could be more assertive, more self-confident, than the monstrous cult of Islamic State?

And goes on to explain why this is a particular problem in Belgium:

The problem is especially severe in Belgium because Belgium is, so to speak, a mini-EU, a multi-national state whose political system is held together largely by public spending. There is no Belgian language, no Belgian culture, no Belgian history. The country is divided between a Dutch-speaking north, containing some 60 per cent of the population, and a French-speaking south. The two communities read separate newspapers, watch separate TV, vote for separate parties. To adapt René Magritte, one of those elusive famous Belgians, ceci n’est pas un pays.

[..] Unsurprisingly, the two communities have turned in on themselves. But where does this leave, say, a Moroccan-origin boy in Molenbeek? What is there for him to be part of? Neither Flemish nor Walloon, his every interaction with the Belgian state will have taught him to despise it. If he got any history at all in school, it will have been presented to him as a hateful chronicle of racism and exploitation. Is it any wonder that he is in the market for something stronger, more assertive?

The frightening thing here is that as goes Belgium, so will go the rest of Europe – at least if the master planners of European unity have their way. They have long regarded the nation state and patriotism as something gauche and vaguely embarrassing, and longed for the time when national identities and borders ceased to matter. Belgium’s unique circumstances mean that they are slightly further along the road to oblivion than the rest of us, having not had a very solid or cohesive identity even before the European Union project landed in their laps. But the same forces are at work in France and Germany and Sweden and Britain, too.

If there is no sense of common identity and purpose in a country, soon it will begin to fracture into an angry group of competing special interests and subcultures, each jostling for favour and becoming increasingly hostile to one another. Only last year, we saw how decades of failing to inculcate a sense of Britishness nearly led to Scotland voting to leave the union. And those kind of consequences are the best case scenario.

The worst case scenario – if we do not get serious about promoting and celebrating our values – is that we see more and more Paris style attacks, committed by people who went to school with us and who carry the same passports as us, but feel absolutely no connection or affinity with us.

We fail to promote and defend British, Western and enlightenment ideas at our peril.

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