The Americans remember 9/11; we remember Madrid (2004), London (2005), Paris (2015), and many other outrages. Innocents have met a violent death at the hands of a few fanatics; thousands have been maimed. Europeans have been feeling under siege even before the new waves of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, and North Africa began reaching us. These fanatics hate our institutions of economic freedom and political representation. They have brought fear to places where the freedom of movement operates peacefully on a daily basis.

The symbolism of the Islamist insurgence is quite plain: Jihadists targeted the pillars of commercial freedom in the United States, and the trains, the underground, and the railway stations in Europe—and a political magazine exemplifying another democratic institution: the free press, independent of any governmental control.

The Continent is less able to defend itself against jihadism than is the United States, for various reasons: geography, demographics, religion, and the political temperament of the European Union elite sitting above the national political structures. How did a liberal, prosperous and optimistic Europe end up with so many problems in such a short time?

I would not endorse any simplistic explanation of a truly complex reality. As a start, we would do well to reread Dostoyevsky’s Demons (1872), that extraordinary novel which presents “the fire in the minds of men” and illuminates the spiritual dimension of ideological radicalism. We could also consult psychiatric handbooks for a better perspective on serial murder.

Some will look into the Bible, in search of a prophecy that could make sense of the moral decline of the West. Let us take the example of France, where nearly ten million people are living under the religious guidance of the Quran in a population of 66 million citizens. Most have an Algerian background, the rest descending from Moroccan, Tunisian, or other African origins, dating back to the former French colonies.

This population arrived in France in the same manner as other westward emigrants, such as the Turkish communities who established themselves in West Germany after the close of World War II, or the hundreds of thousands of Romanians who flocked to France in pursuit of economic opportunity in the wake of the 1989 anticommunist revolution.

The first exodus from the Maghreb to the Mediterranean Riviera was done peacefully. French companies were in search of cheap labor as adult males from North Africa looked for better-paid jobs. The initial phase of integration evolved quite smoothly. The immigrants did not publicly display their Islamic faith and the police recorded only a few incidents of street violence. The newcomers complied with the local customs and did not defy the republican values of modern France. Then, on April 29, 1976, a political decision led to a demographic earthquake.

French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing approved a law allowing for a vast enlargement of the initially small-sized families of immigrants. Unskilled workers from outside Europe started to bring over their wives, children, and relatives. This extended notion of repatriation applied even to cases of bigamy or polygamy. Men who originally married in Mauritania or Mali could provide a French passport to their younger spouses. The French government gave instant naturalization to pregnant women or young mothers with three or four children.

The Parisian elite intended this as a compensatory measure in light of France’s harsh and exploitative colonial history (an open wound since Charles de Gaulle’s 1962 halting of military action in Algeria and accession to that country’s independence). The Marxist intellectuals who led France’s student protests of 1968 now rejoiced. Cosmic justice was being done. The white man, with his Christian dignity and imperialist instincts, could now be chastened. Public references to the glories of France before the Revolution faded away.

As Jean Sévillia pointed out, new history textbooks presented the Crusades as “an aggression launched by the greedy West against a tolerant and refined Islam.”

France, and Europe, seem to be caught in a vice between the self-denigration practiced by a large Marxist-Freudian elite graduating from mainstream universities, on the one hand, and radicalized Islam on the other. Fanaticism has always been the business of a minority, especially when political correctness had already silenced the majority of decent and law-abiding citizens, whether Muslim or non-Muslim.

There are still journalists brave enough to mock the transformation of the Quran into a Mein Kampf, yet some of them end up with bullets in their head. public intellectuals ranging from Jean-François Revel to Alain Besançon have expressed their doubts about the feasibility of multiculturalism. But this isn’t enough.

Europe must address terrorism head-on.

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