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"The Fall and Decline of Europe?"

Reader comment on item: Muslim Europe

Submitted by Carool Kersten (United States), May 17, 2004 at 21:59

"The Fall and Decline of Europe?"

I appreciate your exercise in cultural-historical analysis. Your commentary on "Muslim Europe" is a highly original projection of a possible future trend. As an European I am heartened to see an American take a "Euro-Centric" position and that you describe us as a "most brilliantly successful society" -- a morale booster after certain members of the current US administration dismissed us as 'old Europe'...

You paint a dramatic and bleak picture, but I wonder if it is as unique as you present it to be. Christian civilization itself has wiped out every native culture in the Americas; in earlier stages Islam has put its stamp on what used to be the lands of the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Byzantine civilizations. It has also dramatically changed the cultural landscape of parts of South- and Southeast Asia with its ancient Indic culture. Actually, Islam was firmly entrenched in Southern Europe for centuries until being evicted by a re-envigorated Christian northern Europe.

Maybe cultures oscillate between periods of vigor and decadence (the Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun held such a view). If, however, one wants to subscribe to a 'survival of the fittest' state of affairs among cultures, then maybe the trend is indeed unstoppable and is the fall of Europe unavoidable. On a historical scale measured in millenia rather than decades or even centuries it would not even be considered that much of a tragedy, but just a normal unfolding of events.

However if a recharged Christian Faith is indeed the cure for 'civilizational senility', then I hope that the prescription is not referring to the kind of Christianity propagated by certain unsavory reverends that seem to have the ear of the current US administration. In that case this Roman Catholic 'old European' would rather be a -- moderate -- Muslim: whatever the religious tradition, all fundamentalisms are detrimental to progress.
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