Dispatches from the Creation Wars

In Which I Agree With the Worldnutdaily

It doesn’t happen often, but this article appears to be on the money. I couldn’t care less whether the first Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison, swears in on the Bible, the Quran, or on a copy of Penthouse Forum for that matter. But I do care about theocracy, whether in Christian form or Muslim form, and it appears that Ellison has close ties to an openly theocratic Muslim group. Less than 2 weeks after being elected, Ellison spoke at a conference of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF).

The conference was sponsored by American Open University, a Muslim distance learning college that apparently is responsible for training most of the NAIF members. AOU was founded by Jaafar Sheikh Idris, who preaches a very theocratic version of Islam. Most disturbingly, he explicitly advocates theocracy for the United States, arguing that no Muslim could possibly support a secular society that separates church from state. Many of the lecturers at AOP are members of the NAIF.

The WND article quotes Idris on a number of issues. I went and looked at his webpage and those quotes are not out of context or distorted. This guy is a real theocrat with very, very dangerous views. An example:

“No Muslim could become president in a secular regime, for in order to pledge loyalty to the constitution, a Muslim would have to abandon part of his belief and embrace the belief of secularism – which is practically another religion. For Muslims, the word ‘religion’ does not only refer to a collection of beliefs and rituals, it refers to a way of life which includes all values, behaviors and details of living,” Idris says. “Separation of religion and state is not an option for Muslims because it requires us to abandon [Allah's] decree for that of a man.”

Another example:

“There is a basic difference between Islam and this form of democracy,” he says. “The basic difference is that in Islam it is [Allah's] law as expressed in the Quran and the Sunna that is the supreme law within the limits of which people have the right to legislate.

“No one can be a Muslim who makes or freely accepts or believes that anyone has the right to make or accept legislation that is contrary to that divine law,” Idris adds. “Examples of such violations include the legalization of alcoholic drinks, gambling, homosexuality, usury or interest, and even adoption.”

Should this be a concern? Absolutely. it’s every bit as much a concern as the many Christians in Congress with ties to Christian Reconstructionist groups. It doesn’t necessarily mean that Ellison is a theocrat; I know people, like Herb Titus, who speak to reconstructionist groups but are not reconstructionists or genuine theocrats themselves. But it certainly raises a red flag for me. In fact, it raises a larger issue for me, one I’m rather unsettled about.

The United States is large enough that what Muslim immigration we have does not make a significant difference in our culture. It’s also true, at least in my experience, that a large percentage of the Muslims who emigrate to the US are very well educated, often in Western schools and often trained in scientific fields in particular, and thus they tend to have a largely Western outlook. That is, a sizable portion of them, probably a majority, are not of the fundamentalist variety and generally support the notion of a secular state, religious freedom, and so forth.

Even the religious right’s agenda in America pales in comparison to the theocratic vision of radical Muslims like Idris. Yet the Muslim American community has generally not aligned themselves even with that comparatively mild anti-gay agenda (compared to those who would stone them to death, that is) or supported it in any significant numbers. But in Europe, where national populations are smaller and Muslim immigration much higher and generally less well educated, such immigration is causing them enormous problems.

Some prominent voices in Europe, like Oriana Fallaci, have openly called for limits on such immigration, on the grounds that allowing massive numbers of people who reject the basic tenets of a free secular state inevitably undermines a country’s culture in very specific ways. And frankly, I’m beginning to think they’re right. You need look no further than the Netherlands, one of the world’s most open and tolerant nations, where radical Muslim immigrants have been attacking gays in Amsterdam and issuing death threats against those who speak out against their barbarism (and of course, murdered Theo Van Gogh after he made a documentary film about the mistreatment of women in Islam).

As a general rule, I am in favor of open (legal) immigration. Even more strongly, I am opposed to applying religious or ideological litmus tests to determine who can and can’t come into a country. But I think there is an argument to be made for restricting immigration for those who do not accept the most basic premises of this country (or European countries). I don’t know how it can be done fairly or objectively, and I’m not entirely comfortable even suggesting it.

But can a free society remain free in the long term if a larger and larger percentage of its population rejects the very notion of freedom? I don’t think it can. I’m certainly not in favor of censoring those ideas when advocated in this country; like all bad ideas, the best way to combat them is with ideological confrontation, with more speech. But I know this: radical Islam is the most dangerous and reactionary movement in the world today. It is the very definition of barbarism. And a civilized society cannot survive long if it allows barbarians inside where they can undermine that society.

How to prevent it without preventing all Muslims from coming in? I don’t know. And I cannot support such a policy. I know too many good and decent Muslims who are as appalled by this barbarism as I am, who support the ideals of freedom and equality as strongly as I do. I cannot let them be sacrificed for the sins of others who put the same label on their beliefs. I’m certainly open to suggestions, including the suggestion that maybe my concerns here are entirely unfounded. Frankly, I hope they are. But what’s going on in Europe and elsewhere suggests that there’s a real problem here and it doesn’t have an easy solution.

Comments

  1. #1 kehrsam
    December 7, 2006

    The answer is assimilation, and we can learn from the Europeans how not to do it. First, make sure there are jobs for the immigrants before allowing the immigation. We’re fine here with regard to Muslims, not so good on illegals.

    Second, try not to allow ghettoes where the old culture can be reinforced. Third, make it difficult for the kids to avoid public schools and other means of socialization.

    Remember, immigrants come here looking for a better life, and the only way of achieving that is to compromise with our society. We should make sure they do.

    Oh by the way, it wouldn’t hurt to buy BritBrit some panties.

  2. #2 MJ Memphis
    December 7, 2006

    “But I think there is an argument to be made for restricting immigration for those who do not accept the most basic premises of this country (or European countries). ”

    So which basic premises would you base this on? Unfortunately, there are very few that could get a near-universal consensus within the country.

  3. #3 Will
    December 7, 2006

    Is this a situation where Worldnutdaily sees a Muslim doing something and they get concerned, but ignore any Christians who would support theocracy?

  4. #4 gwangung
    December 7, 2006

    The answer is assimilation, and we can learn from the Europeans how not to do it. First, make sure there are jobs for the immigrants before allowing the immigation. We’re fine here with regard to Muslims, not so good on illegals.

    You know, it worked fine…IS working fine with Asian Americans.

    Second, try not to allow ghettoes where the old culture can be reinforced. Third, make it difficult for the kids to avoid public schools and other means of socialization.

    Actually, having “ghettoes” is not a problem. There have always been ghettoes for ALL immigrant groups (Little Italy, Germantown, etc.) and they have generally faded away or been made a part of American culture itself. The real key is using schools to socialize the second generations and inculcating them with American culture (and not the literal teaching of American culture–you need the arts to help propogate values. I’ve never understood why conservative pundits haven’t pushed for stronger classical education and arts funding–by default, they’re allowing pop culture, containing the very elements they’re opposed to, to become the default culture of the next generation).

  5. #5 kehrsam
    December 7, 2006

    gwangung: Yes, I know we have had ghettoes in the past. My point was, they don’t help the assimilation any. Thus, if it can be avoided with current immigrants, we should try to do so.

    Case in point. In my city, we have taken in several thousand immigrants from Byelorus and Ukraine. Their sponsors have been very careful to spread them around, and although most are in one general section of town, they are still a minority there. As a group they are enjoying tremendous success. They have retained considerable continuity with the old culture, but are thoroughly assimilating, especially the kids. Had they all been placed in the same public housing ghetto, I doubt things would have gone nearly as fast or smoothly.

    As to classical education, I’m with you. Multiculturalism is nice, I have no objection to adding to the canon. But squelching western civ because it isn’t PC is just stupid.

  6. #6 Julia
    December 7, 2006

    Ed says,

    Some prominent voices in Europe, like Oriana Fallaci, have openly called for limits on such immigration, on the grounds that allowing massive numbers of people who reject the basic tenets of a free secular state inevitably undermines a country’s culture in very specific ways. And frankly, I’m beginning to think they’re right.

    I think that immigration must have some sort of limits in order to allow time and space for assimilation. A country is a finite space, just as is a building or a boat or a bus. It makes no sense to me that while we don’t hesitate to set limits on how many people can crowd in at once in other finite spaces, some people believe that there should be no limits on how many new people crowd into a country in a given amount of time.

    European cultures appear to be threatened, I think, because at least parts of Europe have been taking in too many new people in too short a time period. At some rate of immigration, immigrants are no longer absorbed; instead, the local culture is absorbed into the new cultures.

    If the basic premises of each country’s culture are hard to define, all the more reason to seek out definitions. In our country, for example, free speech and other freedoms for the individuals are surely among those premises, worth defending against theocracy and against being overwhelmed by immigrant cultures that deny these values.

    Of course, controlling immigration isn’t a problem if one considers a country to be only physical space and not a cultural entity. In that case, people can crowd in until they don’t like the crowd level and go somewhere else.

  7. #7 Caliban
    December 7, 2006

    I don’t know if this is true or not, but Sam Harris claims in his new book that France will be a Muslim majority in 20 years even if they stopped immigration today. He also claims that the birtrate of European Muslims is three times that of thier European neighbors.

    If this is true, it frightens me. Harris also remarks that the only people who have spoken up about this so far have been facists, which doesn’t bode well.

    While moderate Muslims aren’t a problem, there are millions of other Muslims that i think are a problem. To me I don’t care if a dangerous ideology is religous or secular if it’s deeply ingrained with bigotry, intolerance and hatred.

    It’s like saying, you know, not all Nazi’s are extremists. Some Nazi’s are “moderate” and it would be unfair to characterise them with thier more radical followers.

    If the ideology is basicly incompatible with such notions as religous freedom, liberty and democracy, then i don’t want any of those people immigrating to where i am.

    I think moderate Muslims are simply people who have been indocrinated into Islam as children, have grown up and don’t really believe it anymore, but maintain their Muslim identity because it’s been such a large part of thier world. Which, is pretty much how i see most “moderate” Christians too.

  8. #8 themann1086
    December 7, 2006

    Just like to point out that these same concerns were raised in this country when we experienced a large influx of Eastern European and Asian immigrants. The whole “their cultures don’t support freedom etc” thing is an old concern that is nothing new, and frankly doesn’t concern me overly much if only because it never had a serious impact on “freedom” in this country.

    The natives seem to do more harm to freedom than the newbies.

  9. #9 Caliban
    December 7, 2006

    themannn1086, So if i understand you correctly, you wouldn’t have a problem with a family moving in next to you that believes in Muslim “Honor Killings”?

  10. #10 DragonScholar
    December 7, 2006

    Allow me to pontificate.

    For me, the question of assimilation comes down to what I call metaculture. Any society that wishes to be mutlicultural needs an overarcing metaculture of values that allow the different groups to thrive together. There may be differences, but the shared values among groups (metaculuture) allow people to co-exist. I also see one caveat: the metaculture must take precidence in public and political policy over the sub-cultures.

    The metaculture requires assimilation into it, teaching of it, and acknowledging of it. People also have to be willing to assimilate – it’s a tradeoff for the benefits.

    I think America, for instance, has a rickety, if at times effective metaculture – basic ideas of free speech, tolerance, etc. However, compared to some European countries, we don’t seem to do a half bad job of integration of at least some groups.

    So for us, I’d say the answer is ensuring that our metaculture, the “American” values that still let you be Jewish, gay, atheist, evangelical, etc. and still accept your neighbors are propigated and reinforced and celebrated. And that immigrants do learn their importance.

    The irony, of course, is that the metaculture of America is often under attack by groups like the religious right, who despise pluralism, want all politicians sworn in on a Bible, etc. These of course are the people ALSO likely to fear there are murderous Muslims under their beds who don’t accept American values – but the religious right, ironically, doesn’t either.

    Pontification off.

  11. #11 ThomasHobbes
    December 7, 2006

    Even the otherwise liberal and tolerant countries of Europe (Sweden, The Netherlands, Denmark) have done a poor job of assimilating their immigrants. The reasons are varied, but I agree with DragonScholar most closely–besides the physical and economic barriers to integration, many European countries seem to associate citizenship with the cultural identity of their particular country, and not the acceptance of a metaculture that undergirds the whole nation. That is, even if you become a naturalized citizen, you’ll never be a full citizen because you were born elsewhere.

    Accordingly, naturalized immigrant citizens are not referred to as “citizens,” but rather “naturalized immigrants.” The children of naturalized immigrants are “second generation naturalized immigrants.” Sometimes that even extends to the third generation; now, I won’t be so mindless as to claim that it’s all these countries’ fault, but they certainly aren’t helping matters with the current approach. Where people feel marginalized, extremism gains a solid foothold.

  12. #12 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    December 7, 2006

    themannn1086, So if i understand you correctly, you wouldn’t have a problem with a family moving in next to you that believes in Muslim “Honor Killings”?

    Not any more or any less than I’d want anyone who believes in killing disobedient children moving next door.

  13. #13 gwangung
    December 7, 2006

    Yes, I know we have had ghettoes in the past. My point was, they don’t help the assimilation any.

    Do you have evidence for this, or is this blanket assertion?

    I think it’s far more probable that if you move to take it away, if you are active in denying that heritage, you are, in fact, perpetuating it. It enables a persecution and emphasizes the differences.

    Far better to treat it with benign indifference.

  14. #14 Ed Brayton
    December 7, 2006

    Will wrote:

    Is this a situation where Worldnutdaily sees a Muslim doing something and they get concerned, but ignore any Christians who would support theocracy?

    Oh, absolutely. There’s no doubt how hypocritical they are. For crying out loud, they have theocrats like Roy Moore, Gary DeMar and Andrew Sandlin writing for them. They are concerned only about Muslim theocracy, not Christian theocracy. I’m concerned about both, but I’m a lot more concerned about the former at this point.

  15. #15 Caliban
    December 7, 2006

    Rev. BigDumbChimp, I see your point. But most Christians today ignore those parts of the bible that command killing people. Where as “honor killing” is still actually performed today.

  16. #16 themann1086
    December 7, 2006

    themannn1086, So if i understand you correctly, you wouldn’t have a problem with a family moving in next to you that believes in Muslim “Honor Killings”?

    Red herring much? That wasn’t my point, and you’re reading more into my text than what was actually said.

    Also, I try to avoid NIMBY statements and beliefs. I’m greatly disturbed that anyone anywhere believes in honor killings, regardless of their proximity to me. That said, I don’t see any real potential government action that could be taken that wouldn’t be both oppressive and discriminatory along racial/religious lines. We already have laws on the books against honor killings, and many states have hate crime legislation that enhances the punishment based on motivation [hatred of a particular religious group is on most lists], so I don’t see the need to freak out about other cultures coming to the U.S. There are actions we can take to both better respect that culture’s uniqueness AND better assimilate it into respecting our state’s founding principles. See John Rawls.

  17. #17 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    December 7, 2006

    Rev. BigDumbChimp, I see your point. But most Christians today ignore those parts of the bible that command killing people. Where as “honor killing” is still actually performed today.

    Really? Honor killing is actually performed in the US today?

  18. #18 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    December 7, 2006

    Sorry that was a bit more snarky than I wanted to come off. But you see my point?

  19. #19 Caliban
    December 7, 2006

    No, not really. That’s why the topic of the post is addressing immigration: people coming from other places who DO do those sorts of things.

  20. #20 Ed Brayton
    December 7, 2006

    Thanks everyone for some good points in the above comments, and thanks for keeping the conversation polite as well. A couple points that jump out that seem very accurate to me:

    1. DragonScholar’s notion of a metaculture that allows for some basic agreements between diverse groups is very, very important. I think it is the key to why the US has been so successful at assimilating enormous amounts of immigrants and actually having that fuel our economy and large parts of our larger culture. But can that metaculture be effective in regards to a group of immigrants that explicitly rejects that the core ideas it contains, even considers those core ideas to be evil and satanic?

    2. The notion that marginalization leads to radicalism seems quite accurate to me. One of the reasons we’ve had little problem with this in the US so far, compared to Europe, is that our Muslim immigrants tend to be well educated, often coming here for college in the first place, and thus not as prone to such radicalism. In Europe, on the other hand, I understand that most of the immigration they’ve experienced has been poor and uneducated and suffer very high rates of unemployment and poverty. As has been pointed out, this is a breeding ground for radicalizing a population.

    3. One of the unfortunate things about this discussion, as someone pointed out above, is that the recognition that this is a problem has been made primarily by the hardcore anti-immigrant right, which immediately makes even raising the issue suspect to everyone else (including me, by the way). But that fact does not mean that it’s not a problem, nor does it mean that the rest of us should ignore it, or just cede the entire issue, to the xenophobes. I was cognizant of that when I wrote this post, which is why I said that I’m uncomfortable even raising the issue and my own views are decidedly unsettled.

    I’m glad to see that everyone seems to be taking it seriously without throwing around nasty accusations, and I’m grateful for some of the ideas. And no one has gone to the two idiotic extremes of claiming either that we should forbid all Muslims from coming here (something I cannot and will not support) or the cultural relativism of saying that there’s no way to judge that our ideas are better than theirs. Freedom of religion IS better than killing apostates and infidels; tolerance IS better than stoning gays to death; equality IS better than killing anyone who teaches a girl to read. Anyone who really believes otherwise is welcome to test their theories by going to live in Northern Pakistan or Saudi Arabia; I suspect their minds would change very quickly.

  21. #21 Caliban
    December 7, 2006

    I was having a discussion about this the other day with someone. Imagine living in France where your population demographic is predicted to radically change in the next 20 years by an influx of immigrants who (for whatever reasons) are not being integrated into your own culture but, rather, by thier eventual, sheer numbers will be able to replace it with a religous culture that is totally alien (and often hostile)to you. I would think that that would be a rather fightening place to be in.

  22. #22 Jeff Hebert
    December 7, 2006

    I also think the comment about European immigrants (particularly in France) not becoming “citizens” is important. You’re not French, you just happen to be a legal immigrant there. In the US, because we don’t have a native population and our culture rests on a scant 200+ years, when you become a citizen you’re just as much of a citizen as someone whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower.

    I also think it’s important to note that America’s (meta)culture is very, very powerful. The more formal ideals set out in the Constitution are deeply appealing ones — liberty, freedom, opportunity. Those are things that motivated people from all over the world can appreciate.

    And pop culture is even more powerful, in a different kind of way. I don’t think immigrants from poorer nations are prepared for the kind of all-out assault our children and citizens are raised in. You can laugh at it, but kids are awash in American culture through TV, the internet, their schools, every minute of the day. By the second generation those kids aren’t just visiting members of their parents’ country — they’re Americans.

    I say this as a second-generation American myself. My grandparents on my mother’s side came directly from Lebanon. My mother speaks only a little Arabic, and was completely Americanized (she was born here). I consider myself completely American, with an interesting cultural heritage on the side. Our culture is much, much more powerful and all-pervasive in this country than people give it credit for.

    There’s a reason Michael Jordan was, at one time, more globally recognized than anyone but Santa Claus. And next on the list, if I recall correctly, was Ronald McDonald. It is my belief (hope?) that our American culture is powerful enough to assimilate even radical Muslims within a generation. The short term is much more problematic, and I don’t have any good solutions for it, but over the long haul I am very optimistic that at some level, the vast majority of those who resettle here truly becomes an “American”.

  23. #23 DragonScholar
    December 7, 2006

    Ed (and all),

    Regarding the metaculture concept:
    Ed said:
    But can that metaculture be effective in regards to a group of immigrants that explicitly rejects that the core ideas it contains, even considers those core ideas to be evil and satanic?

    And my answer simply is “no.” It can’t. If your culture is seen to top metaculture, then simply, you’re not going to function well in the metaculture at best, likely isolate yourself on average, and possibly seek to change it. By changing it you undermine what you’re joining.

    As I noted, I see ths as not just an immigration problem – we have people HERE in America challenging the metaculture, and ironically making it both harder to assimilate immigrants, but also legitimizing the destruction of the metaculture. How can we tell someone of one religion that their fundamentalism doesn’t fit into America, and accomodate other fundamentalists who don’t really accept metaculture either. This presents a real problem as how can we promote metaculture when a part of our society is openly arguing it should be destroyed.

    Beyond this issue, I see the solution simply is acculturation and assimilation. We need to make sure (as a country and individuals) that immigrants get treated fairly, get access to jobs, etc. We also need to ensure our citizenship standards DO include metacultural elements of tolerance and understanding and soforth. Also, and I’m getting crotchety, I’d like to see better civics classes in our schools.

    If no one fights for our metaculture, then we’ll be left with our individual cultures at war. And integrating immigrants will be more difficult – they’ll just walk into a culture war.

  24. #24 Leni
    December 7, 2006

    themann wrote:

    …and many states have hate crime legislation that enhances the punishment based on motivation [hatred of a particular religious group is on most lists], so I don’t see the need to freak out about other cultures coming to the U.S.

    I don’t think anyone is freaking out on “other cultures”. At least not in this thread.

    The aversion here is to the allowance of a mass influx of people who not only hate your culture but want to detroy it. People with seriously dangerous ideas. And by dangerous I don’t mean “politically unpopular”; I mean murderous, barbaric, cruel and insane.

    Also, it’s irrelevent that some previous accusations involving Asians or other immigrants were false, exgaggerated or even hysterical. That has nothing to do with the current situation.

  25. #25 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    December 7, 2006

    No, not really. That’s why the topic of the post is addressing immigration: people coming from other places who DO do those sorts of things.

    I would assume that our legal system would deal with those who perform honor killings just the same as those who currently live in the country who “perform” other types of killings. However I’m not going to be impose “NIMBY” on an immigrant anymore than I would on an inner city family that maybe be trying to do the same thing that immigrants are. Move to a place that may afford them a better way of life.

    And I’ll be honest. I don’t know how what is both just to immigrants wanting to come here for a better life and what is looking out for the health of the country and it’s existing population can be resolved. But I do know that assuming that large groups of a culture or a population are a danger at face value is not how I’d like to see our country act. Yes there are parts of cultures that are not going to jive with ours. Honor killings are a prime example. But we don’t allow any sort of killing so that’s inherent. Those who do it should be punished.

    There need to be guidelines on an individual basis for those entering the country and they need to be better enforced. Are we there yet No. Can we get there? Hopefully.

  26. #26 Coin
    December 7, 2006

    But I think there is an argument to be made for restricting immigration for those who do not accept the most basic premises of this country (or European countries).

    Who gets to decide what those “most basic premises” are?

    I mean, it’s quite clear to me that many people on the American political scene don’t accept what I consider to be the “most basic premises” of the country, but that doesn’t mean I get to call for them to be stripped of citizenship.

  27. #27 ThomasHobbes
    December 7, 2006

    Ed and Dragonscholar bring up an excellent point regarding the metaculture idea: what happens when that idea is resisted, instead with the assertion that one’s own set of cultural values triumphs any of the adopted country? I agree in that I don’t think that there is much to be done in that circumstance; that certainly doesn’t eliminate the importance of a metaculture–many, perhaps most, people exposed to that culture (even if it conflicts with their previously held beliefs) will find a way to reconcile in a reasonable way. A few people will still believe in all sorts of loony things, but those people will believe in loony things no matter what you present them with. If they’re citizens already, that is their right and it should be protected to the utmost, assuming of course they don’t do anything illegal.

    But what if they’re not? What if a citizenship candidate refuses to accept the validity of separation of church and state, or of a representative government (how would you know, is really the first question)? What beliefs, if any, would be valid reasons to deny citizenship? How would the INS go about controlling this?

    All I can say is that I’m glad I don’t have to make policy decisions about stuff like this.

  28. #28 Jeff Hebert
    December 7, 2006

    Coin said:

    Who gets to decide what those “most basic premises” are?

    There’s the rub. I don’t know the answer to that question, and it’s the thing that frightens me most. My gut instinct is that centrally-organized solutions (some bureaucracy comes up with a list to check off) don’t work as well as decentralized, market-driven ones. If the surrounding meta-culture is persuasive and pervasive enough, it can overcome any sort of counter-cultural ideas the prospective immigrant might bring to the table, if not immediately then in time. If that’s the case then it would seem to be wiser to reinforce that metaculture as much as possible. That way even those who managed to “fool the list” would be assimilated.

    I am starting to sound like the Borg, which can’t possibly be a good thing. Sigh. I’m with ThomasHobbes, I’m glad I don’t have to make policy decisions like this either.

  29. #29 Coin
    December 7, 2006

    Where as “honor killing” is still actually performed today

    I propose we address this problem by making killing illegal.

  30. #30 Kristjan Wager
    December 7, 2006

    I have a few points that I think is relevant to this discussion. I appologize in advance if it appears less than coherrent – it has been a long day.
    Since I live in Denmark, many of my examples will relate to Denmark.

    I think there is a big problem with talking about Muslims as some kind of monolitic block – as Iraq should have shown people, there is a big difference between different Muslim sects. Also, a Muslim from Morocco is different from a Muslim from Somalia, who again is different from a Muslim from iraq, Iran, Chechenya, Singapore, Indonesia or Malaysia. Don’t forget that there are hundreds of millions of Muslims all over the world.

    The assimilation problems with Muslims in Europe, is not as much grounded in the religious differences, or even the cultural differences, as much as educational differences and the simple fact that the Muslims were considered temporary visitors.

    When Denmark invited Turkish people to work in Denmark in the Sixties, they didn’t consider the fact that these people might stay long enough to start up new lives in Denmark. They should have done so, as there are plenty of historical precedenses – Polish farmers and Dutch farmers have been two large influxes in the past.

    A large percentage (a small majority in fact) of the Turkish people who came to Denmark, were from Kurdish villages, and many (most?) couldn’t read or write neither Kurdish nor Turkish. This makes it very hard to learn to read and write a new language, especially if you are doing manual labour. However, when the manual labour becomes to hard for you, or it stops existing, the lack of reading and writing skills, is a very big barrier to get new work. Work you need to get assimilated.

    Now, to the fact about ethnic French being a minority in the future – this is standard retorics, but it simple doesn’t take into consideration that there is a decline in the birthrate of immigrants’ decendents.
    I don’t know the rates for France, but in Denmark, the children of immigrants only get a small percentage more children than the norm, and their childrens’ birthrate fits well into the norm.

    About the conflict with the metaculture that has been debated. Well, there are a few religious people who think that their cultural values have precedence – they can be Muslims, Christians, Hindus, or whatever else. However, there is (thankfully) very few of these. Muslims get noticed more in the Western world, because they appear “different” from others, but it’s actually only very few who cannot reconcile their values, with the society they live in.

    Within the last month, the results of a study of the Danish Muslim cultures were publiced.
    The focus was on how radical those cultures are, and it was found that in all of Denmark, there is somewhere in the region of 20 to 30 extremist Muslims. This in a country of 6 million people, including several hundred thousand Muslims.
    Yet, these people are in the focus all the time, making people think that all Muslims are extremists, ready to turn Denmark into a Muslim country.

  31. #31 Kristjan Wager
    December 7, 2006

    One point more – shouldn’t we differentiate between ‘assimilate’ and ‘integrate’? Integrate means to include others, while assimilate means to make the like us. I think the first should be the goal, not the second.

  32. #32 themann1086
    December 7, 2006

    I don’t think anyone is freaking out on “other cultures”. At least not in this thread.

    True; poor word choice on my part. I was getting tired of using the word “concerned”.

    The aversion here is to the allowance of a mass influx of people who not only hate your culture but want to detroy it. People with seriously dangerous ideas. And by dangerous I don’t mean “politically unpopular”; I mean murderous, barbaric, cruel and insane.

    Also, it’s irrelevent that some previous accusations involving Asians or other immigrants were false, exgaggerated or even hysterical. That has nothing to do with the current situation.

    I don’t think it’s irrelevant; I think it puts this into a larger context that moves the debate from The Clash of Civilizations (which I don’t think anyone here is talking about) that wingers like to babble on about, to Immigrants and the Native State which seems to predominate the discussion here.

  33. #33 ThomasHobbes
    December 7, 2006

    Kristjan–absolutely on point. Integration is a noble and necessary goal, in my opinion (that is, if the ultimate aim is to create a cohesive and ideologically robust nation), and one that is much easier to approach than assimilation. A strong push for assimilation–that is, to make them like us–can even breed resentment and anger, with the group being assimilated angry at the dominant culture for its perceived imperialism. I most certainly don’t believe that having everyone think the same thing or practice the same cultural traditions is a sign of a health country (nor is it a sign of weakness per se), but a well-integrated country requires neither of those things.

  34. #34 khan
    December 7, 2006

    “Less than 2 weeks after being elected, Ellison spoke at a conference of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF).

    The conference was sponsored by American Open University, a Muslim distance learning college that apparently is responsible for training most of the NAIF members. AOU was founded by Jaafar Sheikh Idris, who preaches a very theocratic version of Islam. Most disturbingly, he explicitly advocates theocracy for the United States, arguing that no Muslim could possibly support a secular society that separates church from state. Many of the lecturers at AOP are members of the NAIF.”
    ==================================
    An elected official spoke at a conference.

    Said conference sponsored by a university.

    Said university founded by a person.

    Said person favors theocracy.
    ——————-
    Was the university Bob Jones U, Liberty U, or American Open U?

  35. #35 DragonScholar
    December 7, 2006

    ThomasHobbes asked on how we screen immigrants. And though I relate to not wanting to make such decisions, hey, I’ve already opened my yap, I might as well wade on in ;)

    There needs to be, before anything else, an idea of what metacultural standards we need to follow. Though I think many are actually kind of obvious, its worth discussing, especially as some of my fellow citizens apparently dislike American values like tolerance, freedom, etc.

    First, in screening immigrants, there’s past involements and activities. If you’re part of radical groups, etc. it may be a big strike against you (note that in some countries membership is NOT optional, so obviously there’s different standards for, say, different countries). I’d also argue country history plays something of a role, depending on our relations with that country and that’s country’s history.

    Then there’s the integration process – citizenship tests, resident status, behavior while waiting for citizenship, and soforth. It gives people time to become part of the culture – or to screw up and show they can’t.

    Finally, lets be honest – the threat of deportation should be there. If you get involved with dangerous or radical groups, send money to groups with questionable ties, etc. deportation of naturalized immigrants should be an option.

    No, its not always nice and no making these decisions will annoy people. But my take is that, on subjects like this, you can finda functional solution that will also annoy the majority of people the least.

    Kristjan Wager – good point on integrate and assimilate. I kind of meant more “integrate” but I tended to use assimilate in the less aggressive sense.

  36. #36 Kristjan Wager
    December 7, 2006

    DragonScholar, do the same things apply to refugees? Usually the people who are worst at integrating are refugees. Would you deport a refugee who sent money back to groups in his old country? Remember that some groups that are well-repsected now, have been considered dangerous in the past; the best example of this, is the ANC.

  37. #37 gwangung
    December 7, 2006

    Cripes.

    Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat its mistakes.

    I see nothing in these arguments that hasn’t been said about German, Chinese, Japanese or Filipino immigrants.

  38. #38 Caliban
    December 7, 2006

    Caliban: “Where as “honor killing” is still actually performed today”

    Coin : “I propose we address this problem by making killing illegal.”

    Gosh! What an amazing idea. I’m sure that once we make killing illegal we won’t have to worry about murder anymore. :)

    Honor Killings and similiar misogonistic attacks occurr in plenty of places where it is illegal to do so. It’s the religous ideology that supports anti-social behaviours like honor killings that is the issue. Honor killings are merely one example of a religously motivated/sanctioned ideology that our society simply would not be able to assimilate (I can’t use that word without feeling the Borg either).

    Also, comparring this to Irish or Asian immigration from America’s past doesn’t pass muster for me. The Irish did not immigrate to America thinking that Americans were “Infidels” or that it was thier solemn duty to overthrough our evil, secular society with a foundamentalist theocracy.

  39. #39 AndyS
    December 7, 2006

    I agree with gwangung (we’ve become fearful of other groups in the past) and Kristjan Wager (the European experience is different).

  40. #40 themann1086
    December 7, 2006

    Also, comparring this to Irish or Asian immigration from America’s past doesn’t pass muster for me. The Irish did not immigrate to America thinking that Americans were “Infidels” or that it was thier solemn duty to overthrough our evil, secular society with a foundamentalist theocracy.

    Most Muslims don’t, either. Immigrants from Eastern Europe were labeled “anarchists”, and then “communists”, and we’re all well aware of the accusations against Japanese immigrants. So I think it’s a legit comparison.

  41. #41 TWood
    December 7, 2006

    The main problem with Islam is that it is primarily a political system operating under the guise/protection of a religion. It’s very difficult to fight a religion but we’ve had success defeating political systems – See: Communism. Since we’re not inclined to attack Islam as a religion, the struggle needs to be reframed as a political one.

    Pointing out the barbarity of the civil laws Islam brings is one way. Another, which I’ve not seen much of, is to start highlighting the behavior of the individuals leading Islam. I suspect we’ll see a very blemished bunch acting only in their own self-interest.

  42. #42 Caliban
    December 7, 2006

    Well, here’s a snipet from an intresting Poll on such things i just pulled down:

    “In Pakistan, however, a narrow majority (51%) places some measure of confidence in bin Laden, a slight increase from 45% in 2003. And in Jordan, support for the Al Qaeda leader has risen over the last two years from 55% to a current 60%, including 25% who say they have a lot of confidence in him. Unsurprisingly, support for bin Laden in non-Muslim countries is measured in the small single digits.”

    http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=248

    The report states that support for suicide bombers is going down in the mid-east, which is great. However, the numbers are still bad enough to warrant serious concern.

    I know of no ethnic or religous immigrant group from our past or present that even remotely resembles statistics like these.

  43. #43 Ed Brayton
    December 7, 2006

    themann wrote:

    Most Muslims don’t, either.

    And many do. Anyone who denies that is simply living in a fantasy world. The fact that this absolutely incontrovertible fact may have been falsely claimed against other groups in the past has no bearing on the validity of that claim now. The fact that most Muslims don’t is irrelevant; I have clearly aimed this at those who do (and I’ve written at great length of the need to reach out to and strengthen the position of moderate Muslims around the world). This is like saying that because some people are falsely accused of rape, anyone who is accused of rape must also be falsely accused; that’s just nonsense. No one in their right mind could possibly deny that there is an enormous number of radical Muslims, tens of millions at the very least and probably more like a couple hundred million or more, that really are the enemies of every enlightenment ideal. They hold to the most regressive and barbaric ideology in the world today, and many of their followers are, quite literally as we type, murdering people around the world. A large number of their followers are also forming sizable blocs in many of our European allies. This is a serious issue. I don’t have a solution. But it seems to me that to just brush it off because someone said something similar about another group in the past is folly, and dangerous folly at that.

  44. #44 Coin
    December 7, 2006

    This is like saying that because some people are falsely accused of rape, anyone who is accused of rape must also be falsely accused; that’s just nonsense.

    How about saying that because some people are falsely accused of rape, anyone who is accused of rape must be considered innocent until personally proven guilty?

  45. #45 Ed Brayton
    December 7, 2006

    Coin-

    That is true regardless of whether there have been false accusations in the past. The point I’ve been trying to make is that the existence of a huge group of radical Muslims who reject the most basic premises of freedom or equality is not a supposition; it’s a fact. We know this because they say so, quite bluntly, as Idris did in the quotes from this post. There is no mystery here or any doubt that this movement exists and is spread around the world. The only relevant questions are A) how do we distinguish them from moderate Muslims (which we all agree is necessary) and B) what do we do about them in terms of immigration? I don’t have answers to those questions. But I categorically reject the notion that merely because similar accusations may have been falsely aimed at others in the past, asking those questions or making those accusations must be false now.

  46. #46 Pascal Leduc
    December 7, 2006

    People have been complaining about how immigrants arent integrating into society since the first human from another tribe moved to ours.

    The fact is people arent very much different no matter where they come from. Of course the food changes, the clothing, the customs change, but those things are unimportant, what realy matters is far more pervasive, far stronger and couldent be changed if immigration was increased 10-fold, you cant give a man or woman, be they muslim or anything else, rights and expect that they will just trow them away when somebody else tells them to.

    We are fundamentaly selfish creature and once we have something we do not give it up easily. The new middle eastern wave of immigration is no different, and within two generations they will be no different from the people they immigrated to because what makes an american society or a european society is not the food the customs the prayers or the language it is the idea that all men are made equal that they all deserve an oppertunity, that you cant limit him or restrict what he does without good reason. Such an idea simply cant be extinguished no matter how hatefull the speech or horrifying the punishment that is assured to come if people dare to be free.

    I guess the fundamental problem with anti immigration people is that they see these fundamental ideas as weak and fleeting, that they must be protected from strong light and harsh opinion for fear that they may evaporate like the morning mist. I however harbor no fear, Let liberty and freedom stand against the armies of Christianists, Islamists, Stalinists and any other -ist you can find and I harbor no doubt as to the outcome of the battle.

  47. #47 DragonScholar
    December 7, 2006

    Wow, more to answer

    Kristjan Wager – I figure refugees would be treated differently. Cuntries, policies, etc. would probably be reviewed annually.

  48. #48 twincats
    December 7, 2006

    If the worry is about Muslims who cannot or will not recognize the need for separation of church and state, perhaps we should study how the Turks deal with this problem, Turkey being a secular democracy with a 97% Muslim population which by accounts is getting more fundamentalist all the time.

  49. #49 Leni
    December 8, 2006

    I don’t think it’s irrelevant; I think it puts this into a larger context that moves the debate from The Clash of Civilizations (which I don’t think anyone here is talking about) that wingers like to babble on about, to Immigrants and the Native State which seems to predominate the discussion here.

    So, we’re going from a Clash of Civilizations to immigrants vs. native state?

    I don’t really see how that gets us anywhere. What exactly is the difference?

    I understand and share your concern for people who do not deserve mistreatment. Not just in their home countries, but especially when they emmigrate. I personally would never want to compound the suffering on new immigrants simply because I did not want to distinguish them from their less polite countrymen.

    But that isn’t really what’s being discussed. So it is about a new context, just perhaps not the one you meant. For example, has Europe experienced immigrant populations with this sort of virulent hatred of them before? Granted, not every person who moves to Europe feels that way, but certainly large, troubling numbers of them do.

    Why shouldn’t we ask these questions?

    It’s new to us. It’s less new (I imagine) to many of the people fleeing theocratic Muslim states, but shouldn’t we be able to figure out some way to deal with it? Rather than just dismiss it outright as xenophobia or some such thing?

  50. #50 Kristjan Wager
    December 8, 2006

    The point I’ve been trying to make is that the existence of a huge group of radical Muslims who reject the most basic premises of freedom or equality is not a supposition; it’s a fact

    But those people don’t live in Western countries. There are more Christians who “reject the most basic premises of freedom or equality” in the US than there are Muslims who do so. If you don’t think so, read up on Christian Identity and similar movements.

    I see a lot of generalizing, but few facts – you can say that it’s a fact that there exist a “huge group of radical Muslims”, but how can you know? As I said, when Denmark actually investigated this, they found extremely few extremists, who took up a lot of space in the public mind.

  51. #51 Caliban
    December 8, 2006

    “I see a lot of generalizing, but few facts”

    Facts: http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=248

  52. #52 Leni
    December 8, 2006

    Kristjan Wager wrote:

    But those people don’t live in Western countries. There are more Christians who “reject the most basic premises of freedom or equality” in the US than there are Muslims who do so. If you don’t think so, read up on Christian Identity and similar movements.

    Yes many of them do live in Western Countries, but even if they didn’t, pointing a finger eslewhere does nothing to absolve Muslims of these criticisms, nor does it do anything to allay concerns about islamic extremism and terrorism.

    This is not to say there aren’t other kinds of extremists out there that we should be worried about. Of course there are, we just aren’t talking about them at this very moment.

  53. #53 Kristjan Wager
    December 8, 2006

    Yes many of them do live in Western Countries, but even if they didn’t, pointing a finger eslewhere does nothing to absolve Muslims of these criticisms, nor does it do anything to allay concerns about islamic extremism and terrorism.

    We are talking in the context of Western countries, so Muslim extremists outside the Western countries are not relevant to the discussion, And, please provide some kind of reference to any source that shows that “many of them do live in Western Countries”. As I said, when Denmark actually researched it, it turned out that there were very few extremists Muslims in Denmark, despite the common perception.

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