Sunday, March 18, 2007

Misunderstandings from Afar

A recent article by Daniel Pipes called Europe's Stark Options contains paragraphs which clearly show that there is a deep divide between perceptions of reality in some circles on either side of the Atlantic. As one of the “options”, Pipes suggests the following:
A nativist movement throughout Europe is forming largely unnoticed beneath our eyes. However meager its record so far, it has huge potential. Parties opposed to immigration and Islam generally have neo-fascist backgrounds but are growing more respectable over time, shedding their antisemitic origins and their dubious economic theories, focusing instead on the questions of faith, demography, and identity, and learning about Islam and Muslims. The British National Party and Belgium’s Vlaamse Belang offer two examples of such a move toward respectability, which may one day be followed by electability. The presidential race in France in 2002 came down to a contest between Jacques Chirac and the neo-fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Not only does this strange article contain no reference to the real problems that beset Europe at the present time, most of which are associated with the resurgence of a powerful Russia and the vicissitudes of energy politics - it fails to acknowledge that Europe is currently undergoing one of the most dramatic and profound changes in its history, changes that are bound up with the reassociation of countries such as Poland, Czechia, Hungary and the Baltic States, the reorganization of NATO, and the future accession of Georgia, Ukraine and other former Soviet states to the European fold.

Instead, the reader is presented with the notion that neo-fascist parties may somehow become “respectable” in Europe, and that this may help to resolve the social problems of the region…

To be fair, however, at the end of the piece, Professor Pipes does acknowledge that from an American perspective
The novelty and magnitude of Europe’s predicament make it difficult to understand, tempting to overlook, and nearly impossible to predict. Europe marches us all into terra incognita.
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