Drabble's drivel and sinking Europe

Posted: Oct 01, 2004 12:00 AM

 "My anti-Americanism has become almost uncontrollable. It has possessed me, like a disease. It rises up in my throat like acid reflux, that fashionable American sickness. I now loathe the United States and what it has done to Iraq and the rest of the helpless world. I can hardly bear to see the faces of Bush and Rumsfeld, or to watch their posturing body language, or to hear their self-satisfied and incoherent platitudes."

 So proclaimed novelist Margaret Drabble in the London Daily Telegraph. Her screed continued for 700 words -- words like "grotesque" and "hideous" made appearances, along with the ritual denunciation of burgers, Disney, Coca-Cola and imperialism.

 Drabble is hardly alone. The hate-America club is not at all exclusive, and many of its dues-paying members are Americans themselves. But while Sen. John Kerry is quite worried about our standing with Europeans like Drabble, and castigates President Bush for not doing more to suck up to the French and Germans, most of us look at anti-Americanism and see one thing above all others -- envy. The Europeans held sway in the world and practiced true imperialism within living memory. Not only can they still recall the taste of power, they have yet to part with their self-importance.

 How else to account for this virulent America-hatred in so many European hearts? When you look out at the world from Vienna or Stockholm or Manchester and search for something to deplore, what do you see?

 You see Russia spiraling down into dictatorship after a brief interlude of struggling democracy. You see North Korea, arms salesman to the world's criminals, boasting of nuclear capability. You see genocide in Darfur. And of course, you see the ghastly face of terrorism in Madrid, Bali, New York, Washington, Tel Aviv and most especially Baghdad, where terrorists grab and behead innocent Americans and Europeans, and proudly videotape their savagery. But where do many Europeans focus their wrath? On the United States.

 Drabble is right to compare her America-hatred to a disease. There is something sickly about the European approach to the world. There may even be something suicidal in it. Europeans excoriate America even as they stand on quicksand. In what Middle Eastern scholar Daniel Pipes calls the biggest story of our time, Europe is disappearing.

 The minimum birthrate necessary to keep a society going is 2.1 children per woman. Europe's birthrate is 1.5 and falling. The immigrants who are taking the place of Germans, Italians, French and others are largely Muslim. In contrast to the irreligious native Europeans, Muslim immigrants are passionate about their faith and highly fertile. It is estimated that in England, Muslim worshippers at mosques already outnumber congregants of the Church of England every weekend.

 About 5 percent of the European Union is now Muslim, and historian Bernard Lewis told a German newspaper that Europe would be majority Islamic by the end of this century "at the latest." At present, more than 15 percent of the 16-24 age group in France is Muslim. In Brussels, one quarter of those under the age of 25 is Muslim. Muslims also account for 25 percent of the population of Marseille, and 20 percent of the population of Malmo, Sweden. Immigration, both legal and illegal, from Islamic countries continues. As Timothy Savage has noted in The Washington Quarterly, the United Nations estimates that Europe's native population will decline by 100 million or more in the next 50 years. The Muslim minority in Europe is quite fecund, however, and will double in size by 2015.

 Yet while some Europeans are dismayed by these trends, something (political correctness?) prevents them from even discussing the subject. Civilizations don't just disappear, they are overtaken by others who are hungrier, more aggressive and more energetic.

 Has Europe lost its elan vital, its life force? Is it, as the poet Yeats wrote in 1921, that "the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity"? Is it possible that Europe can summon the energy to hate the United States, but not to ensure its own survival as a Christian civilization?