Sunday, November 21, 2004

Pat Buchanan for president of Holland

Justly concerned about a wave of religiously motivated violence, Dutch and other European officials are taking exactly the wrong approach:

European Union justice and interior ministers agreed Friday that new immigrants to the 25-nation bloc should be required to learn local languages, and to adhere to general "European values" that will guide them toward better integration.

Dutch immigration minister Rita Verdonk, who chaired the meeting, said all countries agreed to make integrating newcomers a priority, considering the growing ethnic tensions as EU nations struggle to absorb a steady stream of poor, mostly Muslim immigrants.

The United States is proof that immigrants can keep their own customs even while the nation maintains a common culture, and perhaps because we are a nation of immigrants, we don't quite understand the obsession that same European nations have for cultural purity.

"It's not like we are against immigration," Verdonk said. "If you want to live in the Netherlands, you have to adhere to our rules ... and learn our language."

Highlighting a European-wide problem, Verdonk said that some 500,000 Turkish and Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands don't speak Dutch.

For now, integration policies across the continent vary greatly. Public concerns over immigration have fueled electoral successes for far-right parties in several European countries, including Austria and Italy, where they have joined the national government.

Violence can't be tolerated, and certainly, there is a limit to the amount of accomodations any government can make to those who don't speak its language. But unless the Europeans encourage religious and cultural freedom, they will reap only more violence and a further fracturing of their societies.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget that The Netherlands were home to Benedict Spinoza, a man who somewhat codified the very notion of religious tolerance.

It's also a nation of unfettered pot smoking, legalized prostitution, open air heroin shooting galleries and very liberal immigration policies.

That said, how do you address what most certainly has begun to look almost like a mini-civil war in the tiny country over the last week. This isn't a nation without long ties to Moslem peoples (they ruled Indonesia, the Dutch East Indies, etc., for three centuries).

With the attacks in Spain; the uncovered WMD plots in UK and Italy; the arrests of suspected Jihadist assassins in The Netherlands, Germany and Croatia; a question remains: What is Europe to do with 20 million Moslems, many of whom don't speak the languages of their new countries and don't seem to want to assimilate, which immigrants to the U.S. want to do?

Why would a very devout Moslem culture, newly arrived in The Netherlands, want to merge with hookers, drug dens and pornography? It's not exactly a recipe for success. Not to mention Europe's own cancerous relationship with Chechnya, where Moslems and Christians have been busy slaughtering each other for nearly a decade.

For the Dutch, they realize that the majority of the children in their four largest cities are Moslem. More than 30,000 new Moslems arrive every year. Many have been smuggled in from the killing fields of Chechnya, but others are from hotbeds of unrest in North Africa.

Then there's the Western European Left's newfound hatred of Jews, which is cloaked as "tolerance" for the Moslems in their midst, and the entire mix becomes incendiary.

Why not ask that at least the youngest immigrants -- especially those most likely to become Jihadists -- learn some Dutch? Maybe take a test about the country's history, culture and creed?

That sounds an awful lot like a U.S. test for citizenship. Somehow, we've been able to make it work.

Why not Europa?

2:44 PM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

Believe me, I'm not arguing against basic requirements for citizenship, nor against a basic degree of assimilation. But it is a fact that Europe is growing less and less tolerant of religion in general, and they have a history of being much more resitant to immigration that the U.S.

I think a good place to start is to admit Turkey into the EU. In spite of its problems, Turkey proves to the West and the Arab world that a nation can be both Islamist and democratic.

5:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ironically, Europe has been overly tolerant of Jihadic Islam, not because it's a religion, but because the European left determined that it was the expression of a people under attack by western capitalism, the CIA and Israel (read "Jews").

The Jew hatred of the left is matched only by the traditional Jew hatred on the far right, which makes a combustible situation (note the number of attacks against Jews by both skinheads and Moslem thugs in France, Germany, Slovakia, The Czech Republic, etc.).

Europe is awakening to the fact that Jihadic Islam is very much a political expression of hatred, that it targets western institutions because of their very tolerance, and they're transnational, frustrating traditional police tactics.

Let's be very blunt here. While the vast majority of Moslems in their midst are peaceful, hard working souls, a very large minority of them not only tolerate Jihadist terrorism, but foster the cancer in their communities and protest any crackdown on it.

Moslems now make up more than one out of every 10 French men. But half of the prison population (in a country that doesn't exactly lock people up unless they're guilty of particularly violent crimes) is made up of young, Moslem men. This is a huge social problem, and it focuses on the very demographic likely to sow terror.

Turkey, as you might recall, won't become a full member of the EU for more than a decade if Ankara gets the nod from Brussells, so it will take time before it is economically merged with western Europe. And it's not really the Turks (non-Arab Moslems) that have been the terror threats: It's the young men from the Gulf countries and North Africa.

So, what is Europe to do? The bulk of their low-wage workforce is increasingly young, male and Islamic at a time when a great deal of young, male Moslems are attracted to world terrorism.

What if a sizable portion of America's Latino immigrants decided they wanted to start killing our filmmakers, fire bombing our synagogues and blowing up our Amtrack stations? How would we respond?

I'm not suggesting for Europe a quarantine on people of faith. That's absurd and criminal. It violates everything a democrat (small d) holds sacred.

But everytime I visit Europe, I'm struck by the tension between a seething, male, Jihadist culture and the staid, middle aged, secular, white Europa that seems unable to understand the shifting calculas of violence.

This is the Faustian bargain the European New Left struck -- a filthy hatred of Jews, the U.S., capitalism, etc., encapsulated in such heroes as Osama. Well, maybe they'll get their bellyful of all they used to treasure.

10:44 AM

Blogger the urban fox said...

Oh dear. There's a lot of misunderstanding and misdirected bile here.

Firstly, the western European left, as you term it, do not express "hatred of Jews". This is an inflammatory and irresponsible remark. I presume you are referring to the fact that, unlike many Americans, Europeans express criticism of aspects of Israeli government policy when they feel it due. They feel equally free to question the policies of all other national governments, including their own. Criticism of a state government is a very different thing from anti-Semitism, and it is a serious slur on Europeans to frame it in these terms.

Many Americans seem to get nervous when the policies of the government of Israel are so much as discussed, as though the act of questioning is itself somehow inherently wrong. But taking a critical viewpoint of the machinations of a national government has no bearing whatsoever on a person's concept of Jewish people, any more than criticism of Silvio Berlusconi's Italian government is inherently anti-Catholic or anti-Italian, for example.

I am displeased with my own British government at present, as are many other Europeans. That does not make them - or me - anti-British or anti-Christian. The suggestion that the two concepts are interchangeable is ludicrous. I believe Colin Powell himself was quoted as saying something along the lines of "Questioning the government of the state of Israel is not anti-Semitism". I'm shocked that anyone needs that basic premise to be spelt out, but there it is.

Secondly, I don't agree that Europe is becoming "less and less tolerant of religion in general". If anything, I believe we are moving towards a new era of pan-religionism which arises from the personal secularity of much of the continent.

Lately I have read an astonishing amount of vitriol about Islam written by Americans, mostly serving only to showcase the writers' own ignorance, but also offering an insight into just how intolerant some American Christians seem to be becoming. And many of these spiteful articles appear in mainstream publications, which would certainly not be allowed to happen here. As an example, one well-known British TV personality who wrote an anti-Arab article in a national newspaper was promptly sacked and nationally vilified. Exposing his prejudice publicly cost him his job and his reputation.

Granted, the American anti-Muslim stance may not be a national pattern. Perhaps it just happens that the ones who are the most extreme shout the loudest, so they're the ones we hear most. Who knows. But either way, the most vehement religion-based hatred I read is almost entirely from anti-Muslim, highly religious Christian Americans. Not Europeans, whether Muslim or otherwise.

As well as this, fundamentalist Christians in America seem to be less and less tolerant of their secular brethren. I have heard stories of Democrats being called "Christ haters" in the street. This sort of casual, daily polarisation is unheard of in the majority of Europe. If any country or continent can be said to be further entrenched in intolerance than ever before, I would venture to suggest that it is not Europe. But a steadily magnifying clash of religious viewpoints can certainly be found in the United States.

Lastly, melodramatic comparisons between "seething, male, Jihadist culture and the staid, middle aged, secular, white Europa" and hysterical hypotheses like "What if a sizable portion of America's Latino immigrants decided they wanted to start killing our filmmakers, fire bombing our synagogues and blowing up our Amtrack stations? How would we respond?" only serve to obfuscate the issue further.

Need I remind you that a single filmmaker in the Netherlands was killed? This is a hideous crime and we can probably infer a lot about the nature of religious fundamentalism from it. But it hardly counts as an epidemic.

To comment on a "refusal" to "assimilate" is to ignore all the issues surrounding immigration, the reason people feel compelled to flee their own countries, the time it takes to become fluent in a new language, etc. It also suggests that other cultures must be homogenised into the cultures of their host, that they do not enrich their host nation in their original form. This is racist rubbish. Britain's most popular national dish is Bangladeshi, for a start. Our country would be unrecognisable today if it wasn't for the contribution of foreign cultures merged into our own via immigration. I'd hate to lose that cultural enrichment through pointless 'assimilation' initiatives. Let new arrivals live their lives however they like. Our countries will be all the richer for it.

The term "sizable portion" is also misrepresentation. To suggest there is a huge gang of Muslims causing widespread civil disturbance in Europe is not only factually incorrect, it may also constitute a hate crime under our proposed new "incitement to religious hatred" legislation.

It may surprise you to learn that there are innumerable numbers of Muslims living peaceful, integrated lives in Europe, minding their own businesses. Sadly, some of our citizens are gradually finding themselves being demonised by a few ideological troublemakers who have absolutely no grasp of the complexities of the situation. I hope our diverse continental community is sufficiently strong to withstand the propaganda of those who seek simplistic answers to complex social issues.

If everyone who has an outspoken opinion on this matter actually took time to research Middle Eastern / North African issues fully, they might find out just why outsider perception of American foreign policy frequently whips up a storm of protest among the residents and expatriates of many Muslim countries. And before you retort that this statement must mean I am advocating anti-US violence, please be assured I am not. Feelings of anger are not the same as terrorism. Terrorism is violence undertaken by a small minority of individual criminals who do not speak for an entire religion. London was ravaged by IRA terrorism in the late 20th century, but nobody suggests all Catholics or those who advocate the reunification of Ireland are murderers. Blatantly, this would be ridiculous. The same applies to sweeping generalisations about Muslims or those who have a problem with US foreign policy.

My apologies for the slightly heated tone of this response, but I've read far too much of this sort of thing lately and I'm mindful of the inter-community damage it could cause. As a European, I feel duty bound to speak up for those of us who live in peaceful multi-faith, multi-cultural communities and welcome all our neighbours equally.

8:12 PM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

It was good to hear you weigh in on this. Obviously, you are better suited to discuss what is happening presently in Europe than we are. But I would also hasten to add that the same holds true for us in regard to the United States--yes, there are a lot of vocal Christian fundamentalists who would like nothing better than to destroy the separation of church and state. Some are dangerously close to power. But even a Democrat like me doesn't believe they represent a majority of the people who voted for this administration, and I still have enough faith in our society and form of government to anticipate a backlash if they overreach. I'v yet to be called a "Christ hater." But the day is still young.

I also agree wholeheartedly that Israel, as a nation, must be judged as other nations, and that critism of Israel is not tantamount to anti-semiticism. Israel is not blameless in its conflict with the Palestinians. But when Americans hear about the French talking about renaming streets in honor Yasser Arafat--a sentiment that I realize may not be shared by a majority of Europeans--we have to wonder where their moral compass is. Believing in Palestinian statehood is an acceptable position. Honoring the man who ordered the deaths of innocents is not.

10:14 AM


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