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Der Spiegel: Provocative!

The German magazine interviews Weekly Standard senior editor Christopher Caldwell about Muslims in Europe.

2:00 PM, Jan 9, 2010 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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Der Spiegel: Provocative!

Minarets dot the skyline during a Cairo sunset.

On a few occasions and much to its credit, Der Spiegel has gone out in search of that odd species (to most Germans, at least) known as the conservative—and in particular, conservative intellectuals who make powerful arguments. (Some Germans with whom I've spoken could not admit to being persuaded by the likes of, say, Robert Kagan. What they normally say is, "He is provocative.") Last October the magazine interviewed Weekly Standard contributing editor Charles Krauthammer who must have surely left readers mystified by his opinions. When asked about President Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Krauthammer replied, "It is so comical. Absurd. Any prize that goes to Kellogg and Briand, Le Duc Tho and Arafat, and Rigoberta Menchú, and ends up with Obama, tells you all you need to know. For Obama it's not very good because it reaffirms the stereotypes about him as the empty celebrity." Wahnsinn!

And just last month my colleague Christopher Caldwell was interviewed about Europe's efforts to integrate the Muslim population. "Islam poses difficulties that other immigrant groups do not," said Caldwell. "Part of it is the growth of political Islam in the world in the last half-century. A large minority of European Muslims feel solidarity with the Muslim community abroad, and they feel at the same time that the West is at war with this world. That makes the transition into a European identity more difficult. But I think the problems at the cultural level are more important." He goes on, "A lot of overly optimistic people expect Muslims to give up, or to modify, their religion over time. They're going to change in some way, but we don't really know how. And attitudes around religion provide a lot of potential for conflict—the attitudes towards women, towards family relations, sexual freedom or gay rights.... When an insecure, malleable, relativistic culture meets a culture that is anchored, confident and strengthened by common doctrines, it is generally the former that changes to suit the latter." Doppelwahnsinn!

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