Sunday, October 30, 2005
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The trouble with European Muslims....
One of the central tenets of the global war on terror and the National Security Strategy is that the primary source of ant-American terror comes from the Arab Middle East. Some, like Peter Bergen, challenge this assumption, arguing that the bigger threat comes disaffected Muslims living in Western societies.
Bill Powell has a long, disturbing essay in Time for Europe that makes Bergen's point for him. The nut paragraphs:
The most disturbing aspect of Powell's story is that the turn to radicalism appears to be inculcated among second-generation Muslims:
posted by Dan on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM
Here is where we break out Occam's razor. It is the 'slow growth' economies of "Old Europe" that is the problem? But I seem to recall that the capital of the fast growth economy of our buddies the British was just just rattled by bombers, and of course there are plenty of 'Brits' in Guatanamo. So maybe it isn't the whether the economy is neoliberal or socialist. Maybe there is another problem.
Heck, lets look at ourselves and our free market, fast growth economy. Did not the idiot American Jihadi start out his journey to Islam in the good old U S of A? Weren't there a whole slew of would-be terrorists in Buffalo New York , some American born? Didn't the FBI just expel a radical preacher from a Lodi, California mosque (Stuck in Lodi Again will never have the same meaning). Didn't the local Muslims, including the American born, protest? Didn't four of the 9/11 hijackers find aid in living, working and generally getting along amongst the Muslim Arab community of San Diego California.
Wake up folks, mass immigration --especially mass immigration from Muslim countries --is not only harmful to local environments and to low wage workers. It has way more potential for damage.posted by: Charles Martel on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
I question the reasoning here. It reminds me of the old joke about being ejected from an airplane flying at 20,000 feet: it's not the fall that kills you, it's the landing.posted by: Dave Schuler on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
Charles, I agree with your first part but wholeheartedly disagree with your last paragraph.
The Crisis in European on its Muslims is more than just "slow growth" - but rather deep social issues. And, I would think that if the US had an influx of Muslim Magreb immigrants, we would face the same problems.
As for your last point - being in the Bay Area, where everyone is an immigrant of one sort of another, I cant see any evidence to justify that claim. But, this is not to say that all forms of immigration is good. Maybe there are some forms that are negative.posted by: StrategyUnit on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
"One of the central tenets of the global war on terror and the National Security Strategy is that the primary source of ant-American terror comes from the Arab Middle East. Some, like Peter Bergen, challenge this assumption, arguing that the bigger threat comes disaffected Muslims living in Western societies."
This is a false opposition. Liberalizing the Middle East is the best and probably the only way of deflating the reactionary and fundamentalist fantasies that have become so common among muslims in Europe. Outsiders always seek to bolster their sense of self-worth by over-emphasizing aspects of their original culture. This is particularly true for immigrants of the second and third generation. The average muslim in Western Europe is more islamist than the average muslim in the Middle East. Liberalizing the Middle East would allow European muslims to adapt to aspects of Western culture where this had previously been seen as a betrayal of their self-respect as having a different identity. European countries with muslim populations should therefore have been the first to support the Bush strategy of transforming the Middle East.
Of course this project, which is a form of liberal imperialism, would have been better served if it had actually been sold as such, rather than as a war about WMDs simply.posted by: European on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
1. The war was not "just" sold on the basis of WMD. However, in the legalisms of that most corrupt of bodies, the UN, there was no other "legal" basis for justification. Events since then have shown the ridiculous charade of "international law". The Oil-for-buying-political -allies program, the genocide in Darfur, and so on show that regardless of its origins, the UN is now a tool for authoritarian regimes to slow or reverse the liberalization of people from the power structures that enslave them.
In the US, there was plenty of other reasons discussed in the runup to war, to the point that Democrats were complaining that, "They keep changing the reason!" Then, by the summer of 2003, when it was apparent that ending the formal governance of Saddam was insufficient, the Dems started with their, "The President failed to make the case that there was an imminent threat." As if the President had tried and failed. In reality the President had explicitly stated that we can't wait until the threat is imminent. The Dems were scrupulously accurate in the specifics, and calculatedly misleading in their intent -- very much a lesson in Clintonian communication.
There -- I feel a little better. To get back on topic...
2. A liberalizing Middle East will not ONLY give European-born Muslims an ideological alternative to Salafism, but will also give them an economically viable way to move to Muslim majority countries, if they want to. Self-selection will help resolve some of those issues.
MGposted by: MG on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
How long util there is open civil war in western Europen countries between minority Muslims and everyone else?
I'm guessing about 2025, when the birth rate disparities will have increased the size of the minority and the failure to assimilate will become critical.
Immigration is usually a positive, wide open immigration for the wrong reasons courts disaster.
And speaking of our southern border........posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
But, this is not to say that all forms of immigration is good. Maybe there are some forms that are negative.
Here's a recent example from just 80 miles away from you: Saturday's protest against the California Border Patrol.
Those on the other side included the Communist-linked ANSWER, former Socialist candidate Peter Camejo, and people carrying signs accusing Americans of being illegal aliens and calling for no border at all.
What a bunch of powerless, fringe nuts! you might be saying.
Except, while the AP reports on a couple signs, they don't go into much more depth, and they reserve that for the end of their article.
And, the WaPo and other papers cut off the damning parts.
And, in the past the LAT has called ANSWER an "anti-war and anti-racism group". And, they've called the racial separatist group MEChA a "Chicano rights group".
And, several members of California's legislature are former members of that group, something that the LAT has refused to discuss.
And, in Illinois there's even a state Senator who wants to join a committee that advises the Senate... of Mexico. So, he's be representing both American and Mexican interests at the same time.
All of those above gain political power from massive illegal immigration.
And, the more people here who don't recognize our borders, the worse all this is going to get.
So, yeah, we do need to be a bit careful.posted by: Illegal immigration news on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
"I'm guessing about 2025, when the birth rate disparities will have increased the size of the minority and the failure to assimilate will become critical." Ah! but by that time, the snooty French and all so sophisticated Euros would have assimulated to the Muslim culture. The Supreme head of the Anglican Mosque would pay homage to the ayatollahs in Iran. Islam is like a "roach motel", once you checked in, you cannot check out. Anyway, if you have to pray five times a day, you wouldn't have time to think. No thinking,no enlightenment, women hide under their burqas, men hide behind their long beard.posted by: ic on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
The post you all are commenting on took a pretty nuanced approach to Islam as a religion and towards Muslims as a whole and even Muslim immigrants to Europe more narrowly. If only your comments had taken the same approach. I have lived in majority Muslim countries for three years and I could count on one hand the number of women I have seen in anything resembling a burka. I have met plenty of very pious Muslims of various stripes--men who pray five times a day and have no beard, women who cover their hair but hang out in cafes with their university friends men and women, men who don't drink and fast during Ramadan but don't pray five times a day, men with a callous on their foreheads from praying who wouldn't take money from the hand of a woman, religious skeptics who still call themselves Muslims. Some are closed minded and obnoxious about proselytizing, some are quite open minded and make no attempt to show me the light. If you judged their books by their covers, you would be surprised in all sorts of ways if you got to know them. I suppose there isn't much point in responding to someone who calls Islam a "roach motel," but I hope anyone reading this will think twice about generalizing about Muslims any more than they generalize about Christians, who range from Catholics to Pentacostalists to Unitarians to Quakers and come in all sorts of individual flavors.
This isn't to say that political Islam isn't a real problem. I would like to see the political culture of the region change, but I think that the "democratic domino" crowd are fools for thinking that this can be achieved by military intervention. Think of our own experience with social engineering. Since LBJ instituted the "Great Society" programs in the 60's we have spent, George Will wrote a few weeks ago, over 6 trillion dollars on anti-poverty programs narrowly defined. This is in our own country, intervening to try to change a society we know intimately, and we have failed miserably. So how are we supposed to reengineer societies like Iraq, whose language and dynamics we really don't know well at all? How these societies find their way into the future, or don't, is up to them. There is not much we can do to change their course. And given the dislike of the US in the region, for justifiable and unjustifiable reasons, the best thing to do on our part may be to stay away from anyone whose views we find appealing for fear of tainting them with our approval.
The article is interesting. For the Europeans, many of whom, in my experience, are quick to denounce American racism, the shoe is on the other foot. True multiculturalism can be a very tricky thing to negociate in a liberal democracy if the differences in political culture between communities is too broad and the political spectrum too diverse. But they have done a first rate job of alienating their Muslim population. I hope they are able to sort it out for all our sakes.posted by: Ken on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
Ken - very well said.
Actually a lot of the extreme put downs of Islam in both Europe and N. America tends to come from people who have never lived in a Muslim country or fraternized to any extent with Muslim people.
Islam has its taboos and superstitions, like most other religions, and it certainly has its share of fanatics ... however there is another side to Islam you can only understand by living in an Islamic society.
I grew up in Kano, N. Nigeria where the Hausa people are almost exclusively Muslim. My father was friendly with a number of Alhajis, so called because they made the Haj to Mecca. One of these men had a stable of polo ponies and I had an open invitation to go riding whenever I wanted.As European expatriats we were treated with the utmost civility and courtesy.
As a teenager I used to ride my bike to the school I attended (the only white kid in all-African institution). I remember cycling by the old walled city and dye pits. I especially recall the Kano mosque - a gorgeous spectacle with soaring minarets. There was a rhythmn to the life and a sense of security. The local people demonstrated great piety and were very accepting of the "infidels" in their midst. I never once had any derogatory word spoken to me by any of my Muslim school mates with respect to my religion or culture.
I think the reaction that is happening among second and third generation Muslim youths in Europe is understandable. Their parents often ended up doing menial jobs and frequently encountered racism. It isn't a stretch to say many were treated like second class citizens. It's hardly surprising that these kids feel resentment toward a host society that barely tolerated their presence and made use of the cheap labor their parents had to offer.
Having said that, I am not naive enough to believe that what is happening in Europe is simply a reaction to social discrimination. Within Islam there is indeed a radical element with a powerful aggrandizing tendency. This isn't something new either. In 1974, former Algerian President Houari Boumedienne said the following in a speech to the U.N.:
"One day millions of men will leave the southern hemisphere to go to the northern hemisphere. And they will not go there as friends. Because they will go there to conquer it. And they will conquer it with their sons. The wombs of our women will give us victory."
It is true that Islamic immigrants to Europe have shown themselves to be resistant to assimilation. This isn't merely passive resistance either - we are now seeing clever attempts to exploit European "guilt", liberal sensitivities and politcal correctness codes in order to obtain various types of political concessions.
The Jihadist enthusiasts in Europe are mostly young, but they are by no means lacking in savvy. An Islamist underground has emerged, and many youths see Jihadist chic as the ultimate in cool (and this includes disaffected youth that isn't Muslim). It's a trans-global culture. I've heard it referred to as "the trans-global hip-hop ummah" (ummah meaning "community"). It uses modern technology and music to get out the message. This phenomena, although largely underground, is a lot bigger than many people imagine.
Hollywood has even been tapping into the appetite for subversion that characterizes the counter-culture which opposes the Bush world view. Movies like "Terminus", "No True Glory: The Battle for Fallujah", "V For Vendetta" and other new releases all feed into this counter-culture.
The hype and glam may seem innocent enough, but it is also a powerful recruiting tool. Robert Leiken, director of National Security Studies at the Nixon Centre, made the telling discovery that of 373 Jihadists he studied, around a quarter were European Union citizens. In cities like Milan, there is are organizational networks that recruit volunteers and even suicide bombers, many of whom end up in the Middle East. Some of these Milan-based Jihadists have ties to groups such as Ansar al-Salam.
So social disaffection and marginalization has moved beyond mere disaffection and outbreaks of delinquency, into a serious attempt on the part of some to undermine the democratic societies in which they live.
I feel the approach to this challenge must include the Muslim community at large. There needs to be a clear message that terrorism is unacceptable. As Rushdie stated recently, there needs to be reform within European Islam and a new approach that allows for a working balance between traditional Islamic values and the values of a free society. This is happening already and in sometimes surprising ways.
A symbol of changing attitudes within the Muslim community is reflected by the furor surrounding the scanty tennis attire of a young lady named Sania Mirza. She is only a teenager and has shown tremendous personal courage in challenging Islamic traditions with respect to female attire. Interestingly enough many European Muslims are huge fans of Mirza. Of course this is only a minor side-drama but it does suggest that many are open to new approaches to age-old customs and traditions.posted by: Aidan Maconachy on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
Just once, I wish someone would bother to look for trends elsewhere. People might be enlightened by taking a look at ultramontane Roman Catholicism and that ideology's unsavoury associations with all manner of imperialistic and fascist political ideologies. But then, some people might not like what they see about themselves.posted by: Randy McDonald on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
Great post thibaud - wholeheartedly concur!posted by: Aidan Maconachy on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
The root of the difference between Europe and the US as regards our respective islamic minorities is that Americans, though they may not use the word, actually practice and believe in multiculturalism owing to a long and deep-rooted tradition of encouraging religious minorities to immigrate here, build communities, and worship more or less as they see fit. The European approach remains corporatist (in hte mUssolini sense of the term), seeking to organize and co-opt the leadership of the minority group under paternalistic state structures like France's absurd muslim parliament.
Parallel to this is the expectation of most religious minority immigrants to Europe that they will be eligible for generous welfare benefits, as opposed to no such expectation for those coming to the US. The European approach is guranteed to attract a high proportion of resenters; ours is far more likely to attract strivers.
This is a constant through our history. From the quakers to catholics and later mormons, jews, muslims and sikhs, religious difference has always been considered normal and acceptable by most residents of this country, and more importantly, by the state, which has welcomed religious minorities not only for their help in alleviating labor shortages and thus enhancing the political power of thinly-populated new states but also for the immgrants' entrepreneurial zeal and wealth creation. We see this even today, in the welcome given to Vietnamese and South American immigrants in depopulating great plains states and in the Bosnian immigrants in St Louis.
In short, with some notable exceptions (mainly Know-Nothing agitation against Irish Catholics in the mid-19c), by and large the American experience with religious minorities is to welcome them as enablers of liberal capitalism, not shun them as a subversive element. Laissez-faire-- in the economic and the cultural realm-- is the best policy approach toward muslim immigrants. Let Sarkozy and his peers try to corral and co-opt their resentful subjects. Give us the strivers, and we'll continue to provide them opportunities and then leave them and their communities alone to make money, build businesses and families and pursue happiness.
posted by: thibaud on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
Western religious tyranny in the past does not justify Islamic religious terror in the present. It's that simple.posted by: John Kneeland on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
I'd disagree with the writers emphasis on unemployment as a motivator for jihad. Yes, most French and Belgian muslims are unemployed hopeless cases but several of the British jihadis came from families which were successful both economically and socially.
And I'd also disagree with the exclusive emphasis on Iraq as the motive. What is really causing the problem is that young jihadis are trying to emulate the deeds of 80s and 90s generation of jihadis who fought in the failed jihads of Algeria, Egypt, Chechnya, Bosnia, Afghanistan etc, and who were allowed to settle in Europe by the foolish policies of previous governments.posted by: Martin Adamson on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
Randy, take a look at this site:
And then give me a link to the Catholic equivalent. I will then admit to being enlightened.posted by: Justin on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
Fourth Night of Riots in Paris
posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
I agree with you regarding the differences between US and EU immigration. I made similar comments in my recent postposted by: Sandra on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
Not all policy changes amount to social engineering. Social engineering is an overshooting of what is possible. Conservatives are in favor of prudent action, i.e. right policies. LBJ's Great Society went against human nature. THAT is why conservatives called his works social engineering, an overshooting of what is possible, and opposed them.
Japan, Germany, Korea, and Taiwan are all examples of societies that have maintained their original characters, except in a liberal shape. There is no reason to think the same trick cannot be performed with Muslim societies.posted by: anonymous on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
Would one say that the solution to, say, Hispanic gangs in the DC area is to invade a matin American country and liberalize must of Latin American ? Are there more cost-effective and possibly less disruptive measures that could be undertaken ? Did we (largely) get rid of Irish gangs in the US through "liberalizing" Ireland or was it simply a result of growing prosperity among the Irish ? And Puerto Rico is part of a democracy, that hasn't stopped Puerto Rican gangs in some areas of the US.
Even if the ME were to be totally liberalized, no one thinks that it would take less than 2 decades and few people would think that even then we would not still see underground (but smaller) terrorist groups in the ME, which could still attract alienated youth in Germany or France and still see an underground pipeline form.
Given that there are terrorists in democratic Europe and India, the notion that democratizing the ME would get rid of terrorism in Europe strikes me as overly optimistic.
This is definitely wrong.posted by: erg on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
Naturally. When Paul Wolfowitz, one of the chief architects of the war, explained that WMDs were the main causus belli, he was just hallucinating what the administration had been doing.
You're right. How come some people are such traitorous fools as not to realize that the US should have the right to invade any country at any time, under any circumstances !!
Hey, when it comes to corruption, the UN is a mere piker when it comes to the Bush administration. The number of kickbacks in the Oil for Food program total around $2B in 10 years. Disgraceful, but not a spot on the corruption seen in the IRaq rebuilding in which $10 B was apparently lost or misallocated in 1-2 years.
We saw how fully the US respected the democratic views of people around the world in the run up to war. Yes, dictatorships opposed the war, but in most instances, their people opposed the war too. Democracies in East or West Europe that supported the war did so over the wishes of their people who opposed it.
Now, of course, American policy is not made by what the populace of other countries wish. Still, to see some of these fervent neo-con democrats being perfectly willing to override the democratic wishes of others is a clear indication of their hypocrisy.
The main reason cited was WMDs. You can lie all you want about it, but even the architects of the war cite it. The secondary reason given for the war was Al-Qaeda links, which were always rather weak (and turned out to be non-existent).
Actually that refrain came after the war. When it was discovered that the WMDs didn't exist, that the Al Qaeda links didn't exist, at that point, one new rational after another was introduced.
As opposed to the VP, who was unscruplously inaccurate and exaggerating.
And here we thought that democracy would solve everything. It hasn't solved the problem in West Europe, but doing so in the Middle East will solve everything.posted by: Jon on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
In many ways religious minority communities represent the very best of America: self-reliant communities who create wealth through hard work, mutual assistance and a dedication to their children's welfare. Let Europe have the resenter muslims, and give us the hardworking, law-abiding strivers who want little more than to build communities and wealth and be left alone.posted by: thibaud on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
change last phrase from "who want litle more than..." to "who expect from the state nothing more than..." Obviously, they want a great deal from life; they simply do not look to the state to provide it.posted by: thibaud on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
I want some of what you are smokin', man.
The fact is we have our own immigrant terrorists and second generation immigration terrorists. Think those Muslim kids in Buffalo. Think the Egyptian that shot up the El Al counter and LAX. Think Islamicist leaders of the Lodi, CA Mosque.
Spend a few hours on the Center for Immigration Studies website and find out how Somali's (Muslims) game the system. Then read out ethnic economic networks -- we are not talking 'self-help', we are talking about communities that discriminate against others to help themselves. If a native-born white engaged in some of the practices that, say, Chinese 'entreprenuers' engaged in, they would be facing EOC complaints and fines. Take a look at the H1-B database , Indian 'entreprenuers' hiring other Indian's for their code-shops. NOT hiring Americans. Immigrant entreprenuers in general benefit themselves, their families and their kingroups. They don't benefit the native born much. Hardly worth the externalities they cause.
Restore pre-1965 immigration law!posted by: charles martel on 10.30.05 at 10:58 AM [permalink]
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