Europe Has Lost Its Way in Culture and Economics

This article first appeared at The Orange County Register

In recent years, many of America’s leading lights have embraced Europe as the model for America. Books like “The European Dream” and “The United States of Europe: The New Super-power and the End of American Supremacy”, both published in 2005, as well the 2010 “The European Promise: Why the European Way is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age” reflected a broadly progressive view that Europe represented the essence of an enlightened future. Many Western journalists, horrified by Donald Trump, have designed Germany’s Chancellor Merkel or France Emmanuel Macron as “new leaders of the Western world.”

Simply put, this is delusional. America under Donald Trump may be polarized and somewhat out of control, but Europe is in clear and imminent decline. The continent is lagging economically, demographically and even culturally, as Politico noted recently, these oft-underappreciated United States.

A generation ago Europe’s cities seemed safe, well-maintained and glorious while ours were often dangerous, debilitated and dying. Today Paris, arguably the most beautiful city ever crafted by humans, is graffiti-scarred and, in the wake of terrorist attacks, struggles to attract enough tourists. Crime, particularly property crime, is palpably worse — my wife’s Parisian relatives warned about not wearing nice jewelry or watches for fear of them being snatched. Once ultra-peaceful London, meanwhile, once the paragon of safety, in some months now has a higher murder rate than an increasingly safe New York.

The Migration Crisis

Uncontrolled and mounting migration drives divisive political discussion on both sides of the Atlantic. Here this is still largely a border control and jobs issue, but in Europe it has become a civilizational one. At a recent conference held at the chateau where Alexis de Tocqueville wrote “Democracy in America,” the biggest issue repeatedly was migration and cultural identity.

Many leading European intellectuals and former political office-holders suggested that, under an assault from predominately Muslim immigrants, the continent was losing both its “soul” and cultural heritage. Europe’s immigrants are mostly poor and unskilled, unlike Arab or Iranian populations here, which tend to be relatively well-educated and entrepreneurial.

Many liberally minded Europeans fear the imposition of Islamic morality — hostile to women’s rights and homosexuals — on their communities. The great EU-sponsored experiment in multi-culturalism is collapsing everywhere, with anti-immigrant parties either in power or in ascendency. Even Germany’s Angela Merkel is losing her battle for open borders inside her own coalition while her closest ally, French President Emmanuel Macron, fighting depressed popularity, has embraced a very hard line against future migration.

In the United States, progressive Democrats may see the new immigrants as cogs for their political machine, as well as a decisive weapon against brutal Trumpism. But, once they are settled, Asian or Latino newcomers seem unlikely to impose their own theology on the country, but instead concentrate on improving themselves.

Read the rest of the article at The Orange County Register