Gene Expression

Why we need to respect religion

How a Film Triggered a Global Panic:

But Balkenende is only doing what he believes is the best thing to do under the circumstances. Meanwhile, both the secretary general of NATO and Iran’s deputy foreign minister have offered the Dutch advice on how to neutralize Wilders: by invoking Article 29 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

According to Article 29, individual rights must be limited when it comes to respect for the freedoms of others and where the public order makes this necessary. Ironically, the man who invoked this article is the deputy foreign minister of a country, Iran, where homosexuals are publicly hanged and adulteresses are stoned to death, and when this happens, no one there invokes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Iranian ambassador to the Netherlands also told a group of journalists that freedom of speech is “not unlimited.”

When asked whether the Netherlands could expect a boycott on Dutch products if the Wilders film is shown, the ambassador was evasive but clear. “All options are on the table,” he said. “No one can say what will happen.”

Hans Gert P├Âttering, the president of the European Parliament, issued a similar statement. He called upon the media to impose a “code of behavior” on itself and not to publish anything that could be perceived as “derogatory” by members of religious groups. He also warned the Dutch not to “make a contribution to violence because of our freedom.” These clear words of appeasement, which the chief EU parliamentarian directed against the victims and not the perpetrators of violence, urging the former to be on their best behavior, were — as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote — the result of “anticipated fear” and sounded “dangerously like self-censorship.”

i-82388ada26eb9a64b3f993a25726accc-pig_blood_koran_02.jpgLet’s get real here. It isn’t just any religious gorup; it is a religious group which has produced a militant wing intent on rolling back the Enlightenment’s victories for the right to blasphemy their One True God at the edge of the scimitar. Christian fundamentalists are problematic for a host of reasons, but the central tendency of modern Islam is shockingly illiberal, and I believe that mass media and modern information technology is resulting in less assimilation of Muslims to liberal norms than would otherwise be the case. Those norms include the right to blaspheme without fearing life & limb, a normal fear for most of human history when it came to dissenters against the dominant supernatural paradigm of a given society.

Above you see an image of the head of a pig with a book in its mouth. That is all.

Related: Is your mother a slut?.

Comments

  1. #1 Dan
    March 21, 2008

    and I believe that mass media and modern information technology is resulting in less assimilation of Muslims to liberal norms than would otherwise be the case.

    So it’s the fault of the West’s mass media that the Muslim world is, on the whole, shockingly illiberal?? If we respect them, they’ll be nice??

    With all due respect to you, that’s a load of crap.

  2. #2 Ponder Stibbons
    March 21, 2008

    Uhh, Razib didn’t say whose mass media it was, and just because mass media is a contributing cause to the lack of assimilation of Muslims, doesn’t mean that the people behind said media are responsible for the lack of assimilation.

  3. #3 RNB
    March 21, 2008

    I think the influence of the internet is a minor point. The main thrust of the post seems to be incredulity that even the UN would rather suppress and criticize the victims of violence rather than the actual perpetrators of violence. For evidence we have Gilders, Taslima Nasrin, Salman Rushdie, anyone in “Islamic” lands who even tries to argue that supposed divine revelations should not be taken literally. We need to defend criticism of ideas. There are undoubtedly passages in the holy book that encourage theofascism, and it cannot be wrong to question them.

  4. #4 Dan
    March 21, 2008

    Ponder,
    Actually, by citing a Dutch filmmaker, Razib does appear to say whose mass media that he was referring to. The rest of his post however invokes the mass media in the general sense, implying the mass media to which this Dutch filmmaker belongs. Moreover, Razib doesn’t distance himself from his post’s title as far as I can tell.

    I guess it just isn’t clear to me what the main thrust of this post is.

  5. #5 Ponder Stibbons
    March 21, 2008

    Dan,

    I didn’t read Razib’s mention of the mass media that way. I interpreted it as referring to the spread of radical Islamic ideas through the mass media (their own mass media and their own websites).

  6. #6 Escuerd
    March 21, 2008

    This is the first time I’ve seen someone else with the same translation (by Maulana Muhammad Ali) of the Qur’an that I have. Not too popular, I found.

  7. #7 Dan
    March 21, 2008

    Ponder,
    Ohh… you may be right there. It still isn’t crystal clear that that is what Razib meant, but it does make a heck of a lot more sense.

    Sorry Razib! ;-)

  8. #8 Zack
    March 21, 2008

    It’s ironic that the Quranic translation in that image is that of Muhammad Ali. He was the leader of the Lahori group of the Ahmadis and the Ahmadis are generally not considered Muslim by the orthodox Muslims. In fact, extremists are intent on not giving Ahmadis any freedom of religion and some even consider all Ahmadis apostates.

  9. #9 Bang Gully
    March 21, 2008

    “Christian fundamentalists are problematic for a host of reasons, but the central tendency of modern Islam is shockingly illiberal”

    No, the “central tendency” of modern Islam changes depending on where you are.

    I really don’t understand why you got your panties all in a bunch about this. Jews have been doing this for decades now. You can’t criticise Jews or you will be labeled an “anti-Semite.” It’s fine, if they have the organisation and influence to do it, I can understand. I mean it wasn’t long ago that the “Enlightened” Europeans were cooking them in gas chambers.

    Speaking of Europeans and gas chambers, the point keeps on coming up of one religious group having a history of violence whenever criticised. Well a couple of protests, and some deaths of some Dutchmen aren’t cool, but I would be worried of Europeans and the demonisation of Muslims right now. They used to demonise Jews with cartoons all the time, now they’re using the same stereotype just replace the yarmulke with the kufi. Last time, the European masses were shouting about the threat from Muslims it wasn’t a good look. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_crusades

    The article is also very telling.

    “Whatever its intent, his message was heard. In early March, a few hundred Afghans demonstrated against the Wilders film in the northern Afghani city of Mazar-e-Sharif, where they burned Dutch flags and called for the withdrawal of Dutch NATO units from Afghanistan. This prompted NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer to express his concern that broadcasting the film could have an “impact” on the troops stationed in Afghanistan.”

    If there were no Dutch troops there, I’d be willing to bet there would be hardly any protests. Why are there Western troops in Afghanistan, and Iraq? I thought the Muslims were violent? Of course, someone here will answer “Well, if we didn’t send armies there, those violent goatfuckers would kill us and burn all of Voltaire’s writings.” Of course it is our right to invade sovereign territories and not be tried under own ideas and laws of what is just. Westerners beleive in Western civilization for everybody but themselves.

    Anyway, this Wilders character is a moron. He’s like Hal Turner with a creative streak. I wouldn’t have an issue with his thoughts on Islam. But here’s the thing, Islam is not abstract, to him and to many others in Europe, Islam is Muslims, physical people who live there. He’s called them “goat fuckers” and wants to bring the “country back to its people.” When this rhetoric accelerates, in European history it has led to violence and genocide. Therefore, I think it’s right that Muslims try their hardest to make such views marginal. Just like the same way, hatred and vitriol against Jews and Blacks in this country is looked down upon.

  10. #10 Icepick
    March 21, 2008

    Razib, despite having lost the tan, I think you looked much whiter yesterday.

  11. #11 Eric
    March 21, 2008

    Razib, Bravo.

  12. #12 razib
    March 21, 2008

    Jews have been doing this for decades now. You can’t criticise Jews or you will be labeled an “anti-Semite.”

    the jewish issue is confused by the fact that jews have been attacked as a religion, and as a ethno-racial group. blaspheming against the jewish religion and attacking jews as an ethnicity are two different things though some jews and non-jews elide this difference. there is a long history in european society of emphasizing these t`wo aspects at different times, and with secularization the latter came the fore (the nazis, for example did not exterminate karaites because they argued they weren’t ethnically jews despite their religion).

    Last time, the European masses were shouting about the threat from Muslims it wasn’t a good look.

    LOL. the crusades happened 700-1000 years ago. long last time?

    So it’s the fault of the West’s mass media that the Muslim world is, on the whole, shockingly illiberal?? If we respect them, they’ll be nice??

    you need chill ;-) that sort of subtext reading is kind of dumb, though i guess pretty normal in american discourse. you know that that’s a picture of a pig with a koran in its mouth, right?

  13. #13 razib
    March 21, 2008

    . But here’s the thing, Islam is not abstract, to him and to many others in Europe, Islam is Muslims, physical people who live there.

    well, i think what european non-muslims see of european muslims is usually not very pretty, so think it’s understandable.

  14. #14 razib
    March 21, 2008

    If there were no Dutch troops there, I’d be willing to bet there would be hardly any protests. Why are there Western troops in Afghanistan, and Iraq? I thought the Muslims were violent?

    these are not trivial issues, but there weren’t western troops in the middle east in 1989 during ‘the satanic verses’ controversy, were there? i think some of these tendencies among western muslims has mostly to do with the fact that many are immigrant communities who aren’t used to seeing religion denigrated in the public forum. they should get used to it, and not compare their beliefs to their human rights. the fact that american muslims don’t tend to react in the same way as european muslims suggest that the underlying differences in demographic parameters can’t be ignored.

  15. #15 jaakkeli
    March 21, 2008

    BTW, in a lot of European countries Razib would now be under police investigation and his blog would be shut down. This isn’t hyperbole; I can tell you plenty of examples.

    You can’t criticise Jews or you will be labeled an “anti-Semite.”

    You can do this just fine in many countries. Over here, you can indeed again happily demand that all Jews be put to death, as long as you are a) a socialist or a Muslim and b) doing it together with some swarthy people. It’s just standard stuff for socialist demonstrations. Similarily, you can be as anti-gay as you wish, as long as you include some Muslims in your movement. You can beat your wife or your daughter, if you’re Muslim – plenty of European countries have legal precedents of acquittal because of the “culture” defense. Muslim hatred is “authentic” and “part of their culture”, so to oppose it is a form of hate speech by the European majority. Since we imagined all the hate in the world to come from blonde people wearing swastikas and made rules only for blonde people, we’re utterly powerless against hateful swarthy people.

    Everyone’s going around talking about “root causes” of Muslim anger. Why isn’t anyone talking about “root causes” of European anger? It’s the same thing: the feeling of utter powerlessness as we feel we’re under assault. We’re importing masses of people who can attack Jews, gays and women with near impunity because of the rules invented by our own “anti-fascists”. It’s their “culture”. We can’t judge. To speak of the problems or to demand that Muslim criminals be appropriately punished, “culture” be damned, is a form of “hate speech”. To question Muslim immigration might actually put in you jail.

    When you’ve declared that some popular opinion – such as opposition to Muslim immigration – is simply beyond civil discourse, you shouldn’t be at all surprised that popular figures will emerge from the not very civil circles. The more Muslims will attempt to crack down on free speech and people who speak of what Europeans consider valuable, either by violence or through state intimidation by co-operation with multiculturalist ideologues, the more hateful Europeans will grow.

    (Note, BTW, that European anti-Semitism lives on the most in those countries that tried to crack down on free speech the most. Non-immigrant anti-Semitism is basically nonexistent in Finland, which doesn’t have anti-Holocaust-denial or anti-Nazi laws and only has incitement laws that are rarely used (ie. you can buy Mein Kampf and Holocaust denial literature just fine and the national leader of neo-Nazis was considered an amusing quasi-celebrity for a while – as a result Naziism is considered familiarily ridiculous instead of scarily forbidden). Anti-Semitism dropped most drastically in the United States where free speech is guaranteed better than anywhere else.)

  16. #16 razib
    March 21, 2008

    When you’ve declared that some popular opinion – such as opposition to Muslim immigration – is simply beyond civil discourse, you shouldn’t be at all surprised that popular figures will emerge from the not very civil circles. The more Muslims will attempt to crack down on free speech and people who speak of what Europeans consider valuable, either by violence or through state intimidation by co-operation with multiculturalist ideologues, the more hateful Europeans will grow.

    i think this is right. pressure-cooker dynamics.

  17. #17 Bang Gully
    March 21, 2008

    “the jewish issue is confused by the fact that jews have been attacked as a religion, and as a ethno-racial group. blaspheming against the jewish religion and attacking jews as an ethnicity are two different things though some jews and non-jews elide this difference. there is a long history in european society of emphasizing these t`wo aspects at different times, and with secularization the latter came the fore (the nazis, for example did not exterminate karaites because they argued they weren’t ethnically jews despite their religion).”

    I don’t see what difference it makes. People like Wilders are not academics. They’re not criticising the isnad of the hadith here. They’re simply saying racist nonsense against Muslims and trying to “bring the nation back to its people.” This is not simply a freedom of speech issue where Westerners need to uphold some Enlightenment values on principle: That argument is generally a load of bull.

    In general, if you look at the “far right” rhetoric in Euro countries, there is no parsing out of different nationalities when it comes to Muslims. They’re all Muslims and they’re all coming out to get us, according to these people. They don’t make exceptions if you’re Morroccan vs. Algerian or Senegalese. Matter of fact, they might even get more angry at a black African Christian as much as an Arab, especially if he’s holding hands with a blonde maiden! They don’t like immigrants, period. Muslims just got numbers.

    “these are not trivial issues, but there weren’t western troops in the middle east in 1989 during ‘the satanic verses’ controversy, were there? i think some of these tendencies among western muslims has mostly to do with the fact that many are immigrant communities who aren’t used to seeing religion denigrated in the public forum. they should get used to it, and not compare their beliefs to their human rights. the fact that american muslims don’t tend to react in the same way as european muslims suggest that the underlying differences in demographic parameters can’t be ignored.”

    Well, the Satanic Verse controversy, unsurprisingly started in Iran, where there weren’t Western troops directly, but definitely Western countries have meddled in Iran’s affairs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Ajax. The American gov’t supported the tyrant in Iran before the Revolution and also the tyrant (Saddam) in Iraq, who the Iranians were fighting with. Even still, the hyped up “anger in the Muslim world” was probably not even as big as the protests throughout the world against the second Iraq War. Like I said before, one suicide bomber has the impact of a hundred soldiers. A couple hundred protestors here and there make the whole Muslim world seem crazy.

    As for these tendencies being some product of Muslim immigrants not knowing abotu Western culture… Jyllands posten refused to post pictures of Jesus in their newspaper, but have printed the Muhammed pictures twice now. You will go to jail for denying the Holocaust in Europe. You can’t say certain shit in the West, period. Or you can say it, but it will get marginialised whether by society or by special interest groups speaking against it like the Jewish peoples have done.

    There’s a number of reasons why Muslims in America might not react the same way as Muslims in Europe. One is economics and sociological profile of Muslims; the other is economics and sociological profile of the ones who are anti-Muslims. Generally speaking, this kind of anti-Muslim hate exists here in America, but amongst red state, Christian white male types whose views are marginalised from the mainstream. If the blue state liberals said this stuff in the cities, there would be much more talk about it, and Muslims would react because there are more Muslims in Blue states than red. In Europe however it’s not so cut and dry. Many elites in the cities are openly racist towards immigrants and this kind of stuff that Wilders is making could pass for art.

  18. #18 razib
    March 21, 2008

    bang gully, muslims are using racism against immigrants as a way to shield their religion from criticism. simple as that. (christians have tried to do similar, but with less success, e.g., “people of faith”) there are other complex issues at work, but that’s not the focus of this post. the intent of wilders is less important than the fact that he’s engaging desecration, which is a liberty that is accepted for anyone. being right about all the others issues you point to doesn’t change that.

  19. #19 Bang Gully
    March 21, 2008

    Jaakkeli,

    Then you people concerned with all this “end of Western civ” shit should kick out the pasty “socialists” as well since they are enabling it by their laws. See the thing is most immigrants and non-white minorities get kicked in the head while their “white” helpers don’t have to leave there country. See, first you said it was “socialists” who were trying to ban stuff, then you said “Muslims.” My guess is that most of the laws are passed by white socialists for the benefit of Muslims, but who’se gonna get their head kicked in and told to go home? Not the white boys, I’ll tell you that.

    Whites in Europe and America have a cultural clash within their own race. They need to fight it with each other and not use minorities as scapegoats. Basically angry white males needs to beat up on effete white males and call it a day.

  20. #20 jaakkeli
    March 21, 2008

    This is not simply a freedom of speech issue where Westerners need to uphold some Enlightenment values on principle: That argument is generally a load of bull.

    To the contrary, it is exactly a glorious Enlightenment issue! The Enlightenment wasn’t about some moderate Christians suddenly deciding that maybe we should be a little kinder towards heretics from now on. What the Muslim world needs is Voltaires, not “moderates”. If they are ever to be dragged to the modern world the way Christians were, their taboos must be broken over and over again, they have to be made fun of and their sacred figures must be mocked and denounced over and over again until it’s no longer an issue.

    In general, if you look at the “far right” rhetoric in Euro countries, there is no parsing out of different nationalities when it comes to Muslims. They’re all Muslims and they’re all coming out to get us, according to these people. They don’t make exceptions if you’re Morroccan vs. Algerian or Senegalese.

    Nonsense. Plenty of Europeans make distinctions in Muslim ethnicities, including ones that follow old ethnic biases. In Finland, lots of people just love the Turks, since Turkey has often been a historical enemy of Russia and the Turkic peoples are historical neighbours of the Finnic peoples, having produced certain connections and hopes for common plots. In the Balkans, it’s the opposite, since the Turks are the historical oppressors there and they’re widely hated even by those who do not hate Muslims. And so on.

    Matter of fact, they might even get more angry at a black African Christian as much as an Arab, especially if he’s holding hands with a blonde maiden!

    Strangely, the assumption is that the immigrant holding hands would be male. That’s a *major* issue small countries have with the conservative immigrants: they want to date everyone else’s women, but they’ll not only react violently towards suitors who try to approach their women (which we could take), they’ll actually attack the women for it. They want to keep a maximal dating pool for themselves and to minimize everyone else’s dating pool by threats of violence against both men and women. Expecting young males not to hate Muslims for this attitude is simply ridiculous.

    For a comparison, gypsies are usually similarily violently protective of gypsy women, but they also ostracize males who date native women. Because of that, there is no resentment over the issue: it’s understood that gypsies keep to themselves and gypsies who start mixing with non-gypsies have simply decided to integrate and stop being gypsies. Muslim males want to eat the cake and keep it too. You can’t try that without becoming hated.

    They don’t like immigrants, period. Muslims just got numbers.

    Muslims are just a minority of immigrants here and they’re the ones who create all the issues. There is also some trouble with non-Muslim Africans, but that’s minor compared to the issues with Muslims.

    (As for what the issues are, do you want me to post crime and employment statistics? They’re very real issues, not merely racist imagination.)

  21. #21 jaakkeli
    March 21, 2008

    See the thing is most immigrants and non-white minorities get kicked in the head while their “white” helpers don’t have to leave there country.

    Incorrect. The last time we had the left-right battle, boatloads of leftists were kicked out of the country (along with the tens of thousands that were basically murdered – which, of course, only happened because they lost, since otherwise it would’ve been tens of thousands of rightists instead of thousands of rightists). There is, BTW, even a specific Finnish word for throwing an insufficiently rightist person out of the country (I mean, literally, kidnapping and driving to the border and throwing someone out).

    That’s pretty much what we’re looking at if we restart the “culture war”. Islam just might be the spark.

    Whites in Europe and America have a cultural clash within their own race. They need to fight it with each other and not use minorities as scapegoats.

    Muslims are not “scapegoats” in the issue, they are the issue.

    Basically angry white males needs to beat up on effete white males and call it a day.

    If that is where we’re heading, not a single dark person will survive the event.

  22. #22 razib
    March 21, 2008

    i would also disagree that anti-immigrant types make no distinctions. a dutch acquaintance, an fan of fortyun, observed that the “turks are OK” compared to the moroccans, because for whatever reason the turks who come to the netherlands are more secular and less clannish, on average. additionally, christian, muslim and hindu surinamese or indonesians (often xtian ambonese who were loyal to the dutch) don’t elicit the same anger outside of the hard-core racist set because they aren’t as adversarial toward the dutch (though standard race issues apply).

    numbers also matter. poland has had a small but non-trivial tatar muslim community.

  23. #23 razib
    March 21, 2008

    also, on a purely consequential level does enforcement of anti-hate speech laws result in less hatred? i doubt it. anti-semitism isn’t a big deal in most of europe today because there are few jews outside russia, france and england, so that’s not a good test. anti-hate speech laws are good for leader of muslim communities who want to reinforce their control and focal position in society as respectable mediators.

  24. #24 Bert
    March 21, 2008

    a dutch acquaintance, an fan of fortyun, observed that the “turks are OK” compared to the moroccans, because for whatever reason the turks who come to the netherlands are more secular and less clannish, on average
    A small correction from another dutchman, the turks have a more strict control over their community in Holland. Therefore young turkish men do not tend to be as violent as the moroccans. The flip side is that the turks don’t have a good control of the Dutch language compared to the maroccans, the turks stick to themselves. This makes integration a bit difficult in Dutch society.

    For the different ethnic moroccan groups (berber etc.) Dutch is a kind of lingua franca. This gives them a good opportunity to integrate in Dutch society, but the maroccan community itself has very little control. Moroccan young men usually are the ones who are in the news as hooligans, criminals and the like.

    To make a crude generalization, turks are disciplined but poorly integrated. Moroccans are better integrated but rather disfunctional.

    I certainly wouldn’t call the turks more secular (maybe in Turkey perhaps). Most turks and morocans in Holland are considered quite religious. One doesn’t leave islam that easely.

  25. #25 razib
    March 21, 2008

    bert, thanks. btw, re: muslim groups, among turks in germany i believe there is a difference between alevis and sunnis. the former are a persecuted minority in turkey, so they tend to be less hostile toward european culture. it is also important to note that some immigrant communities preserve older folkways than home countries. i know this is true in the united states, where many south asians who came in the 70s retain the outlook of south asian in 1975, and hugh pope claims this is so for german turks, who maintain customs and traditions retained from anatolia in the 1950s and 60s.

  26. #26 Bert
    March 21, 2008

    Razib, what causes friction in the turkish community is whether one is a kurd or a ethnic turk. A turkish sunni friend of my wouldn’t have much problems with alevis, kurds on the other hand. The kurds are considered the more backward, you know, honour killings and that kind of stuff. The ethnic turks are more of a mix bag, eihter they are extremely nationalistic (most “dutch” turks consider themselves turkish, anything else is inconceivable), or they are orthodox muslems, or they are somewhat western (atheist are extremely rare, also in Turkey).

    Usually imigrants keep their “folksy way” because their culture from the motherland they brought with them is frozen in time. Maybe because isolation in their new country keeps them sticking them to the old way. Usually immigrant groups integrate in the larger society and they have only a dated memory of the old motherland. Personnaly I think immigrants adapt to their adopted fatherland. For instance conservative asians and their offspring in the USA will americanize. There really is no other way, except returning to the old country.

    Oddly, there was alway an influx of turks and moroccans in the dutch muslem communities. Appearantly this has rather strenthened backward attitudes in the turkish and moroccan communities. People just kept marrying family from the motherland. We didn’t see what happened to all the other immigrant goups, namely integration. IMHO it was the influx of fresh orthodox muslems from Turkey en Morocco which kept the Dutch Moroccan and Turkish communities from westernizing and integrating. No frozen 50s attitude necessary.

    Recently it has become much more difficult to buy a bride from Turkey or Morocco (after dumping the old model). Dutch Turks and Moroccans are now increasingly marrying among themselves (if I may believe the statistics). I’m curious what this wil mean for integration.

  27. #27 razib
    March 21, 2008

    The ethnic turks are more of a mix bag, eihter they are extremely nationalistic (most “dutch” turks consider themselves turkish, anything else is inconceivable), or they are orthodox muslems, or they are somewhat western (atheist are extremely rare, also in Turkey).

    this is a contrast with french “muslims,” a large number of whom are atheists like french “christians.” (you can check survey data, but also the difference between numbers of muslims by profession vs. estimates based on number of immigrants & children from muslim countries)

  28. #28 Danny
    March 21, 2008

    If Islam is going to change, the best way to do that is to show them that European civilization is a lot better than theirs. Call me a dumb dhimmi, but gratuitously offensive & juvenile statements like the pig & koran picture aren’t doing that.

    Otherwise, I agree that the film must not be suppressed. Just as there are consequences for showing the film, there are consequences for not showing the film, especially in a country when such voices have been killed off before.

  29. #29 Bert
    March 21, 2008

    No doubt that because of disenfranchisement large groups of youths in the French banlieus a lot of youngsters will find their “muslims” roots.

    But I think the French have a better chance of integrating migrants in their society then us Dutch. They have done it for centuries with succes. One can truely become French (Sarkozy is of hungarian stock) or an American citizen for that matter.

    In Holland there is still a little bit too much of an ethnic dimension in being Dutch. I think it will take a couple of years until we are at the same level as the French and the Americans. Yet a lot of immigrants are already quite Dutch (asians, south-americans etc.).

  30. #30 Caledonian
    March 21, 2008

    Call me a dumb dhimmi, but gratuitously offensive & juvenile statements like the pig & koran picture aren’t doing that.

    On the contrary, the fact that razib can publish ‘gratuitously offensive and juvenile’ statements, and not be silenced by people who feel it is offensive and juvenile, is compelling evidence that the society in which he exists is superior to the Islamic world.

  31. #31 razib
    March 21, 2008

    He’s like Hal Turner with a creative streak.

    btw, does hal turner have to have bodyguards for protection because of threats to his life? the analogy to the european jewry gets really stretched when you consider who is actually under a clear & present physical threat and who is posing that threat (which obviously isn’t abstract potential after van gogh).

  32. #32 jaakkeli
    March 22, 2008

    (Sarkozy is of hungarian stock)

    He isn’t. His father is Hungarian, his mother is not, and he has grown up in France. In most countries, this would make you a native (of the native ethnicity) without any questions.

    The immigrant background gets emphasized because of his politics.

    In Holland there is still a little bit too much of an ethnic dimension in being Dutch.

    What is wrong with that? The way things have worked here for centuries, you can either keep to yourself and preserve your community (as long as you drop any customs that do not fit our law and as long as you do it all on your own time and money) or you can start marrying the natives and thus have your children join the Finnish ethnicity. This works perfectly well regardless of the origin of one parent. It worked perfectly well with Europeans, gypsies, Jews and the older Muslims (Tatars) and the trickle of 3rd world immigrants we’ve had, so far. Now, the left has decided to fuck it all up: we need to “de-emphasize the ethnic dimension of Finnishness” or whatever and throw money on social programs to boost the immigrants’ connection to their culture of origin. The system wasn’t broken, now it is.

    Some Germanic countries and the US have, for historical reasons, a partly (or mostly) racial concept of ethnicity. That’s not shared by many peoples of the world, at all. You probably could find a way around that.

  33. #33 Bert
    March 23, 2008

    Hi Jaakeli

    Your nit-picking. In most countries it would be an issue. Just look at the whole Obama thing or, in an extreme case, african politics. Still, in the media Sarkozy background as an immigrant son was singled out. The great thing of France (and of the USA) is that it is possible to become president, even an immigrants son.

    Which brings me to the ethnic thing. I don’t know about the Finnish, but the Dutch identity is mostly an artificial invention. Only 4 centuries ago (give or take) it didn’t excisted. Even in 19th century a lot of people wouldn’t considered themselves “Nederlander” (or, god forbid, Hollands). This “ethnicity” is crafted by the state, because it deemed it an good tool for nation building.

    Ethnicity IMHO is nothing more than another form of tribalism. It may work perfectly well for an nation in an consolidation fase, most nationalist movements in the last two centuries are based on ethinicity. But in a modern western society it can be an hinderness. For instance it can shut out immigrants from attaining a higher station in society, because “they are not us”.

    Jaakeli, we live in an individualist society. You can’t force people in their own little ethnic box. What are you going to do with all those Finnish people who don’t give a damn about your ethnicity and refuse to belong to some ethnic group? Are you going to put them in a camp for not being ethnic enough?

    Whether you like it or not we don’t live in the age of our grandparents (3 of mine were born in 1897). The last 50 years have seen a profound change in western society. At least in Holland more and more people are getting more preoccupied with their individualism and less with their ethnicity.

    Just look at the young people, most dream about being an international superstar or sports-person, they don’t want to be a folksy type dancing in a stupid costume for the tourists. And they clearly don’t give hoot for their parents folksy culture. All they want is to be a citizen, not a museum attraction.

    I, Jaakeli, was born and raised as an Dutchman. Now I consider myself a westerner. And, BTW, just like Razib a rightwing atheist one. Cheers, Bert.

  34. #34 jaakkeli
    March 25, 2008

    The great thing of France (and of the USA) is that it is possible to become president, even an immigrants son.

    The first President of Finland was mainly of Dutch roots. He’s about as revered as the saviour of Finland as Atat├╝rk is in Turkey. This is just not unusual at all. We’ve had plenty of prominent politicians of immigrant or minority background. Back when the supposedly evil nationalism was a major force in politics, it was hardly an issue and a lot of the first nationalists had part Germanic or Jewish roots.

    Which brings me to the ethnic thing. I don’t know about the Finnish, but the Dutch identity is mostly an artificial invention. Only 4 centuries ago (give or take) it didn’t excisted. Even in 19th century a lot of people wouldn’t considered themselves “Nederlander” (or, god forbid, Hollands).

    Well, yes, there is certainly a difference. Dutch and the surrounding Germanic languages are at least as close to each other as what we consider to be dialects of Finnish and there are clear differences between Finns of different regions. We’re very obviously distinct from all our land neighbours and internally more diverse.

    But in a modern western society it can be an hinderness. For instance it can shut out immigrants from attaining a higher station in society, because “they are not us”.

    Rubbish. It has not stopped the many prominent people of various ethnicies we’ve had and Finland is by far the most nationalist of Western European countries. If they’re capable and willing to fit in, they will do it.

    What are you going to do with all those Finnish people who don’t give a damn about your ethnicity and refuse to belong to some ethnic group

    There are no such people. You don’t not belong to an ethnic group and, in general, the people who most strongly insist on “not being a part of any group” are the ones who most strongly act tribal. (Of Americans, the ones with the strongest de facto white tribal identity are… the liberals who insist that they’re above race. Really. It gets very obvious when you interact them: it’s an inevitable worldview conflict as they imagine that I consider them part of the same tribe, believing that I should follow the same codes and have special solidarity for them. But I don’t identify with whites at all: I identify with Finns, regardless of appearance.)

    It is also obvious that people who believe themselves to be not rooted or not “tribal” are the least cosmopolitan ones. The people who have the easiest time being friendly with the mysterious otherkind are people like me who have a strong sense of an identity – the otherkind isn’t so mysterious when you’re conscious of your own background and how it differs. The fruitcake multicultis I know who dress up in Arab robes for solidarity and insist that they’re not a part of any tribal group do not exactly have a solid basis for interacting with the immigrants. And you don’t have to be such an obvious fruitcake to be on the same basis: I’ve known loads of people who insist that their own group (whether it’s whites or some European nationality) doesn’t have “culture” or “mores”, that they’re some sort of an un-people made up of only individuals. It’s never so.

    You cannot eliminate tribalism and you shouldn’t, because it’s how human societies work, it’s like trying to eliminate friendship (isn’t that discriminatory? why don’t you want to be everyone’s friend? we should have anti-hate laws to make everyone everyone’s friend!). Disaster would follow. The results of attempting to build a society following ideology that goes against funtamental human nature (even the nature of the fools who believe they’re above it) are visible right next door to us. It was the same thing – “selfishness has no place in a modern society!” Well, great, but selfishness just happens to be human. It doesn’t go away by declaration and people who claim to not be selfish still generally put themselves before others, even as they often really believe that they’re not selfish (and in fact those people are the most ruthlessly selfish ones; the ones who are conscious of their selfis tendencies are the generous ones).

    The only effective policy with ethnicity is live and let live. In Finland, a non-Finn won’t become a Finn no matter how hard he tries, but he doesn’t have to – background really does not block you from achievement. If he insists that he should have the right to become a Finn, he’ll only get brutal rejection and hostility; if some left-wing social engineers decide to impose rules that Finns should start considering non-Finns Finns to be more inclusive or whatever, Finnish attitudes will turn extremely negative towards people of foreign background. Right now, regardless of ethnic background, you can intermarry and join the Finnish ethnicity that way. That should be good enough.

    This is how the tribe works and it’s just fine. Social engineering to fix what isn’t broken is the road to disaster.

  35. #35 jaakkeli
    March 25, 2008

    Jesus, that’s ridiculous. I need to start my own blog.

  36. #36 Bert
    March 26, 2008

    Yes, you should. But you’re missing my point. Ethnicitity is an artificial construct. It can change or become part of a greater ethnicity (what has happened in Holland). It can also become obsolete. As we can see happening now with the younger generations.

    Again, I don’t know much about Finland and what I read in your responds Finland will remain just a possible holiday destination. In the Netherlands people start to feel they don’t have an ethinicity because of their individualism, just like me (and no, I’m not tribal. In our part of the world we haven’t been tribal since the early middle-ages).

    One day the Dutch ethnicity will be gone, that’s just the natural order of things. And with the fast changes in technology and science probably sooner than later.

    Anywhoo. Good luck with you blog :-) Cheers Bert

  37. #37 jaakkeli
    March 26, 2008

    Ethnicitity is an artificial construct.

    Again, so is friendship. Nobody would really argue with that: it’s all in your (and your friend’s) head. Does that mean that we should or could give up friendship? No, it’s something hard-wired in the human brain. Lefties go on an on about how ethnicity, nations and all that is “constructed”, as if that’s not obvious to everyone and as if pointing it out would make people stop caring about them.

    The tendency to categorize people in orders of relatedness is another hardwired thing that just won’t go away. There are, of course, multiple layers in this – your brother is (assumed to be) more related than your cousin, your co-ethnic is (assumed to be) more related than a close ethnic who is more related than someone from the other side of the globe – there always has been, always will. Neither you nor most Dutchmen are immune to this. You get more emotional about events in the Netherlands than in, say, Guatemala, which you probably don’t even follow. You also likely get more emotional about events in Belgium than events in Guatemala. The boundaries and layers may change, but the tendency will not go away, because it’s human nature.

    In the Netherlands people start to feel they don’t have an ethinicity because of their individualism

    It’s easy to feel “individual” when you’re surrounded by people just like you and nations that are hardly different from you. You can note that resistance to immigrants from very different cultures is, of Western countries, the highest in Finland and Greece – the two countries which are surrounded by not very close ethnicities and which exist on a major civilizational frontier. We are well familiar with civilizational friction, much because we had to put up with being ruled by entirely alien people for long. Countries like Sweden, the UK and the Netherlands who have the opposite situation and no experience of being ruled by entirely alien thinking, so they’re the most naive about immigration from distant cultures.

    My guess is that you’ll have a pretty rude awakening, if a significant number of Dutch really believe this stuff about “becoming more individual” or whatever. Nationalism became a major force with inventions like the steam engine and the rise of widespread literacy, things that made people more educated of their differences (there were no ideological nationalists when people would only meet people of their own ethnicity). Similarily, increased travel will make people more aware of ethnic differences, not less. Ethnicity, culture and religion will matter more in the future, not less.

  38. #38 windy
    March 26, 2008

    Well, yes, there is certainly a difference. Dutch and the surrounding Germanic languages are at least as close to each other as what we consider to be dialects of Finnish

    This might be an exaggeration, unless you only count Frisian and Plattdeutsch?

    And I suppose that the history of the Dutch ethnicity goes back further than we can guess from the use of the name. Similar claims have been made in Finland – for example, that because most people didn’t call themselves ‘Finns’ until recently, no such thing as a Finnish ethnicity ‘existed’ before the last century (unfortunately, I don’t remember which public ‘intellectual’ proposed this)

    For example, from Wikipedia:
    “In the 16th-century invention of a suitably antique origin myth for the Dutch people that would be expressive of their self-identification as separate from their neighbors in the national struggle with Spain of the Eighty Years War for Dutch independence, the Batavians came to be regarded as their eponymous ancestors.”

  39. #39 Marc
    March 27, 2008

    Nationalism became a major force with inventions like the steam engine and the rise of widespread literacy, things that made people more educated of their differences (there were no ideological nationalists when people would only meet people of their own ethnicity). Similarily, increased travel will make people more aware of ethnic differences, not less. Ethnicity, culture and religion will matter more in the future, not less.

    I wanted to argue with this, but then I remembered all those bloggers pointing out how Obama fared best among white voters in the lilly-white states.

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