Beginning in the post-World War II era, Europe was in need of workers to pad its depleted work force. A natural place to look was North Africa, in former colonies of Spain and France. While it was assumed that migration would be short-term, the reality is that the men who came to work stayed, and later brought over their families. Europe made no plan for how to house and assimilate these families (see Christopher Caldwell’s excellent book, “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe,” for an in-depth discussion of this topic).Where there are no mediating institutions, there's no mediation. Thus Paris and Brussels. Betsy Newmark notes the deconstruction of the mediating institutions might be under way in the United States as well.
More to the point, Europe was uncomfortable asking its Muslim communities to assimilate. European leaders felt that would be too reminiscent of the colonial era. Their guilt and newfound “enlightenment” guided them to leave these people to their communities, culture, and religion. At the same time, however, they also ostracized them. What resulted was tight-knit majority-Muslim enclaves often on the outskirts of major European cities (like Saint Denis on the outer edge of Paris, where one of the Paris attackers was found).
Here in the United States, we've done a better job of assimilating immigrants into our culture, but those efforts have been deteriorating as more and more people, especially leftists, are more interested in criticizing the United States and American culture than looking to inculcate such a thing as "American values" in immigrants. Look at the demise of the term "melting pot," which used to be the aim of our approach to immigrants.If the blame-America-first mentality were confined to the likes of public radio and the victim studies departments, the assimilation might proceed anyway. But there's Donald Trump, pointing out that among the third world opportunity-seekers are the third-world troublemakers, but pointing it out in a way that is likely to antagonize the opportunity-seekers. Max Boot calls that campaign approach a strategic error.
In fact, only a tiny percentage of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims is waging war on us. To defeat those Islamic extremists, we will need the cooperation of moderate Muslim states and of the Muslims who live in the West.There are policy generalizations to the United States versions of les banlieues, if you know where to look.
A large part of the reason why European states such as Belgium and France have such major terrorist problems is because they have done such a poor job of assimilating Muslim immigrants. The United States has less of a problem in no small part because we have done a better job of assimilation. Trump’s crude attacks on Muslims risk undoing all of that progress. Trump could not possibly do more damage to our security if he were an actual ISIL agent.