In this sense, many of these books offer a variation on the conservative Cold War vision of Europe as vulnerable to the spread of communism -- only now, Muslims have replaced Soviets and Euro-communists as the enemies. The continuity in clichés with the Europhobic literature of the 1970s and 1980s is striking: In both periods Europe is described with terms like appeasing, impotent, asexual, feminine, post-nationalistic, irreligious, apologetic, self-loathing, naive, decadent, and so forth.
Clichés are not the only reason why the foundations of the Eurabia literature are shaky. By relying chiefly on anecdotes rather than data, these books misrepresent the complex evolving picture of Islam in Europe. They also eliminate social and economic conditions, including discrimination, from the picture. "There is considerably more phobia vis-à-vis Westerners and things Western than Islamophobia," Laqueur opines in The Last Days of Europe (2007). Leaving out poverty and racism (which, pace Laqueur, is a daily problem for Europe's nonwhites, Muslim or not), the Eurabia writers overemphasize culture and religion in explaining tensions and lay the blame solely on Muslims.
After the 2005 riots in French banlieues, for example, independent studies pointed to the same factors: police violence, discrimination, unemployment, and a large youth population in the housing projects where the trouble erupted. But the Eurabia authors weren't impressed. Immigrants don't have much to complain about, they claim, so the riots were all about jihad, or, as Caldwell suggests in his recent book, "the Arab cause." "Even if they did not believe in Islam, they believed in Team Islam," he writes.
This is not, of course, to suggest that things are going well. The bleak vignettes and shocking tales about social tensions and violence linked to Islamism, like the killing of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, are indeed part of the picture. But the paradox of this genre is that it dwells on the heated controversies and tensions taking place in Europe while at the same time claiming that Europeans are in denial of their problems. And the emphasis on the anecdotal tends to obscure the fact that, from the fight over minarets in Switzerland to the debate over headscarves in France, current tensions are part of a normal and democratic process of adjustment, not the first signs of an impending catastrophe.
Beyond all the sloppy anecdotal evidence, the Eurabia literature relies on two major false assumptions. The first is demographic. The literature holds that Europe will be Islamic at the end of the century "at the very latest," with Muslim majorities in some European countries "in the foreseeable future," in the words of Bernard Lewis in his 2007 pamphlet, "Europe and Islam." That's because "native populations are aging and fading and being supplanted remorselessly by a young Muslim demographic," Steyn explains in America Alone (2006). "Europe will be semi-Islamic in its politico-cultural character within a generation."
If these books insist so much on the future, it is because current figures are unimpressive. According to the higher range of estimates by the U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC), there are already as many as 18 million Muslims in Western Europe, or 4.5 percent of the population. The percentage is even lower for the 27-country European Union as a whole. The future will certainly see an increase, but it's hard to imagine that Europe will even reach the 10 percent mark (except in some countries or cities). For one thing, as the same NIC study indicates and demographers agree, fertility rates among Muslims are sharply declining as children of immigrants gradually conform to prevailing social and economic norms. Nor is immigration still a major source of newly minted European Muslims. Only about 500,000 people a year come legally to Europe from Muslim-majority countries, with an even smaller number coming illegally -- meaning that the annual influx is a fraction of a percent of the European population.