The BBC is reporting on a prolonged standoff in The Hague. What started with the Islamist assassination of Theo van Gogh last week is quickly becoming a more wide-spread culture war. (Please, when we talk about "culture wars" in America in reference disagreements over offensive artwork or views of gay marriage, let's remember that there is an actual culture war going on where people want to kill Westerners because of their culture.)
After the van Gogh killing, a series of Muslim and Christian buildings were targets of violence. Now Islamist radicals are engaged in pitched battles with Dutch police and using weapons such as hand-grenades. So what's next?
The European response to Islamist radicalism is by no means set in stone. Europeans may dislike America and they may make a fetish of multiculturalism and moral relativism. But it would be a mistake to underestimate the power of European cultural chauvinism: Once it becomes clear that Islamists are intent on destroying their way of life, too, Europeans may well decide on a hard line. Let's not forget, European pacifism is a relatively new phenomenon. Historically speaking, this is not a group of cultures which shy away from confrontation.
So when will they turn? Who knows. The French became highly agitated a short while ago with Bernard Lewis observed that by the end of the century, France could be a Muslim nation. Tolerance only goes so far.
The good news today is that the Dutch seem to be waking up. The BBC report explains: "Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende told parliament that extremism was undermining democracy. 'We cannot let ourselves be blinded by people who seek to drag us into a spiral of violence,' he said, according to the Associated Press news agency. . . .
"The Dutch Immigration Minister, Rita Verdonk, has warned that EU countries are at risk, because of an increasing radicalism among young Muslims. She said member states must act urgently to improve the integration of foreigners. The minister, whose nation holds the EU presidency, said countries must ensure that immigrants learn the local language and accept Western values . . ."
The Europeans may not be serious about integration yet. But it's a start.
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