(....) in countries like India and China what most people want is the right to work whereas throughout much of Europe the right to holiday may be the main goal.
The sugary excerpt of the day from Alain Finkielkraut who is almost as blind as he is rotten by his self-righteousness:
C'est trop souvent dangereux ou juste inutile d'être trop intelligent et de le savoir !
I am pained to see that the French mode of European civilization is threatened. France is in the process of transforming into a post-national and multicultural society. It seems to me that this enormous transformation does not bring anything good. I am pained to see that the French mode of European civilization is threatened. France is in the process of transforming into a post-national and multicultural society. It seems to me that this enormous transformation does not bring anything good. (...)Today the Muslims in France like to shout in an act of self-assertion: We are just as French as you! It would have never occurred to my parents to say something like that. I would also never say that I am just as French as Charles de Gaulle was.
The EU is now now in the curious position of trying to save lives by barring non-Europeans not only from the rights it cloaks in universal values yet confines to residents only, but also from the 1951 Refugee Convention, which has no local delimitation and qualifies the sovereign control of borders in minor but crucial ways that favour asylum seekers.
Old, but great stuff fromm Amitava Kumar:
As an Indian, I’m raising my kids in the firm belief that sooner or later, everyone in this country [America] is going to look like Kal Penn.
That would make America the handsomest country in the world and an Abercrombie & Fitch's wet dream!
Most times in today’s Europe, the guys beating, burning and killing Jews will be Muslims. Once in a while, it will be somebody else killing the schoolkids. But is it so hard to acknowledge that rapid, transformative, mass Muslim immigration might not be the most obvious aid to social tranquility? That it might possibly pose challenges that would otherwise not have existed — for uncovered women in Oslo, for gays in Amsterdam, for Jews everywhere? Is it so difficult to wonder if, for these and other groups living in a long-shot social experiment devised by their rulers, the price of putting an Islamic crescent in the diversity quilt might be too high? What’s left of Jewish life in Europe is being extinguished remorselessly, one vandalized cemetery, one subway attack at a time. How many Jewish children will be at that school in Toulouse a decade hence? A society that becomes more Muslim eventually becomes less everything else. What is happening on the Continent is tragic, in part because it was entirely unnecessary.
To quote André Breton, l'homme fait un état risible de ce qu'il croit savoir.
Steyn seems not to know(he probably doesn't for reality is meaningless to him) that France has had a president, Sarkozy, for the last five years, who would agree with him and has been ruled by the right since 2002. Of course, as with all fear-mongers and fanatics, the goal is to keep the fear alive because it enables them to remain irrational and hateful.
I agree with Jeremy Harding on this:
The battle against illegal migration is a domestic version of America’s interventions overseas, with many of the same trappings: big manpower commitments, militarisation, pursuit, detection, rendition, loss of life. The Mexican border was already the focus of attention before 9/11; it is now a fixation that shows no signs of abating even as Obama draws down the numbers abroad. Despite war-weariness at home, war has remained the model for curbing illegal immigration; territorial integrity and the preservation of national identity are the goals. Unlike the invasion of Iraq, this is a respectable struggle – all nation states assert the right to secure borders. Yet watertight security is becoming harder to achieve as the global era brings new pressures to bear on the frontier, adding to the older challenge posed by people wishing to move freely. At fortified boundaries, frailty lurks beneath the show of strength.
Most people who are obsessed with illegal immigration want the issue not the solutions for talking about it enables them to talk about an America that either never existed or that is far gone. Illegal immigration is an issue about identity, about the fear of being invaded by others who not only are different, but savages for they don't have any manners or are not cultured for they didn't even have the decency to knock on the door before starting to make themselves at home.
The hot exchange between Perry and Romney (I like Romney, I always have, he reminds me of my sister's dog Blackie which I like as much I can- because it just wants so much to be loved- in spite of the fact that I am not an animal lover. I just don't want to hear him tell me how I should live my life and that I should keep my baby if I become pregnant) in the Las Vegas Debate last night told us everything: illegal immigration to true believers isn't a law enforcement, but an identity issue.
Interesting point from Nathalie Rothschild,which I admit makes all warm and fuzzy:
In fact, the EU’s fear of unregulated migration has been a trump card for Gaddafi. Assuaging this EU fear has been a way for the Libyan leader to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of the West after years of ostracisation. At the same time, threats to close and open borders have become a way for Gaddafi to hold the West to ransom, as he threatens to block trade deals or relax border controls unless Europe meets his demands. So it is not surprising that Gaddafi gave European nations the ultimatum of distancing themselves from the pro-democracy protesters or facing the supposed opening of the immigration floodgates from Africa. This is a real worry for the EU, which preaches about the virtues of democracy and human rights yet which has no interest in defending freedom of movement.
As we have seen with recent events in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere, when people get a taste for freedom there’s no telling what they’ll do to achieve it.
When I was young, I thought at least that Gaddafi (Gadhafi, Khadafi) had presence, now he is just a caricature of the man he once was, even though it was always a bastard, but bastards with presence can be inspiring leaders to the blind.
I agree with Paul Sagar on this:
When Merkel declares that multiculturalism has been a “failure”, she is not only playing to a xenophobic and reactionary gallery, she is also being profoundly short-sighted. Firstly, because she mistakenly focuses only on the day-to-day tensions between different groups that multiculturalism inevitable throws up.
It's incredibly disappointing to realize that Merkel has some Sarkozy within her, which says a lot about the state of the European left for it cannot address issues such as the ones of immigration or law and order without repeating either the errors of Blairism or of Jospinism.
I'm appalled by this line of argument from Peter Schuck:
Revoking citizenship merely for being a member of al Qaeda or giving it material support (both criminal acts) would present a harder question, as would rendering a person stateless. The Constitution rightly protects the citizenship of law-abiding and criminal citizens alike against a government that seeks to exile them. Although loyalty is basic to citizenship, we don't make native-born citizens affirm it. We do require affirmation of loyalty in the naturalization oath, but that is a different context. Requiring loyalty oaths otherwise may infringe First Amendment rights to dissent or to remain silent.
Drawing these lines will be difficult. Yet public fears of citizen-launched terrorism make this task inescapable and will test our conception of both citizenship and the Constitution.
Just suggesting that people who have acquired American citizenship can lose it if they are terrorists makes naturalized citizens second class citizens who always have to prove that they love America more than born Americans. The fact that the question of stripping the American citizens from born Americans when they do something that shames America or threatens its existence or the lives of its citizens is taken seriously by scholars as renowned as Schuck show that for too many people Americanness is not about nationality, but about some imaginary pure and stagnant identity. In short, Peter Schuck and the others who want to revoke the American citizens of Faisal Shahzad are legitimating the point of view of the birthers and the ones who believe that some people can never become real Americans despite of their citizenship or should away be looked with suspicion because they are potential threat to America.
Original take from Professor Bainbridge on the controversy about High School Kids who wore American flags on Cinco de Mayo:
(...)When I was growing up, it was generally regarded as a serious social faux pas to wear orange on St Patrick's Day even if you were descended from Ulster Protestants. It was something you just didn't do. Wearing US flag clothing on Cinco de Mayo is the modern equivalent of wearing range on St Patrick's Day. (...)When I was growing up, you treated the US flag with respect. You didn't make clothing out of it. Indeed, Section 176 of 36 US Code provides rules for respect of the flag, which includes the following: "(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery" and "(j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform." So the kids were not only disrespecting their fellow Hispanic students, they were also disrespecting the flag.
I agree with Bainbridge. Nevertheless, it is my contention that although the whole Cinco de Mayo Flap was much to do about nothing, it is another indication that America just like Europe (as the Brit election showed) no longer knows what to do about Immigration because it is undergoing a identity crisis due to the fact that its politics are relying solely on the erroneous belief that identities and cultures are stable, never evolve and more importantly define a country and its citizens.
Sunny's advice over at Pickled politics on the ways for minorities to have more power in a liberal democracy:
After a while the race and the religion doesn’t even matter: it comes down to numbers. If your numbers or clout is large enough then the establishment will pay lip service. Perhaps the mistake Latinos in the US made was to tilt too far towards the Democrats… removing the Republican incentive to avoid pissing them off. Although it looks like Republicans are paying the price already.
Perhaps what I’m trying to say is that the only way a minority can get over the bigotry is either by expanding in large numbers, or getting very close to the establishment.
There are two major implications of Sunny's advice and both of them bug them. The first is of course that it is acceptable to view having children as a means to an end, especially a political end. Children, thus become little things to enlarge a group giving them limited room to acquire an individuality. The second implication is that identity politics is so supreme that women should see as their mission to expand the numbers of their group by having more children. Women who are part of the minority group thus become essentially breeders since the objective is to have little ones to make their 'people' more powerful. How disturbing !
I agree with Bill Richardson, New Mexico Governor on this:
When immigration is an issue, nobody wins. (...) for Democrats to pass immigration reform before November, party leaders would have to force members from conservative-leaning districts to cast yet another tough vote that could raise the ire of swing voters. But Republicans face longer-term peril — if they continue to push aggressive legislation cracking down on illegal immigrants, Hispanic voters are likely to continue their exodus to the Democratic Party.
The point is that immigration when it is solely a political issue is rarely about realities, but about fantasies and fears that policies can only address by being as radical as the Arizona Immigration bill without resolving the issue, but by being harsh to give the public that their fears are being taken seriously.
Riveting stuff from Eric Kaufmann on Europe and the unlikelihood for it to have a Muslim majority in the next two centuries:
I don’t foresee a Muslim-majority Europe in this century or in the next. Why? Mainly because Muslim birthrates are plunging both in Europe and the Muslim world. Already, Iran, Tunisia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and several other Muslim countries have replacement-level fertility or below. In the UK, Bangladeshi and Pakistani fertility has halved in a generation and is now under 3 children per woman. This means their long-term growth will begin to tail off. The other part of the equation is the rise of non-Muslim immigrant groups (African and West Indian Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and other Eastern faiths) who are also increasing and therefore making Europe more plural and, in the process, rendering it harder for Muslims to increase their share of the population.
I'm not sure that this information will reassure either Mark Steyn or Christopher Caldwell because their belief in Eurabia has become a question of faith and history shows that it is fruitless to reason with the fanatics.
Interesting point from Alex Massie on the issue of immigration and the British election:
Immigration is one of the reasons why, despite everything, the United States' long-term position is likely to be healthier than, say, Japan's. In the British context this does indeed mean this small island is going to have to become more crowded. And there will be costs associated with that.
This isn't a good argument (it may not be meant to be) for immigration. iI presents it as the sole way to achieve long term prosperity and therefore dehumanizes immigrants by giving them the requirement/the j.o.b to be as useful as cattle. Telling people that they have no alternative than to accept immigrants in their country may be true, but it encourages tensions, clashes and the tendency to judge the value of an immigrant solely in economic terms while requiring her/him to do her/his job and to shut up.
Here is Nick Griffin's answer, the Chief of Britain far right party, the BNP the British National Party) to put things mildly, to the question put to me by Iain Dale about the positive side of immigration:
Well, a wide range of curries is a plus. But there again, I've got the recipes.
I'm not appalled, just reassured that I'm right not to take Griffin seriously for he reminds me of Ann Coulter. He has a backbone or a little bit of political culture, he would have put things differently, Neither Geert Wilders nor Jean-Marie Le Pen, who are as far right as Nick Griffin, would have given that answer. In short, Nick Griffin is a clown.
Telling anecdote from Lysiane Gagnon:
A reporter from La Presse spent two days walking around Montreal dressed like a fundamentalist Muslim, with a long black robe and a niqab that covered everything but her eyes, but in most places – in the Metro, fast-food restaurants or on the streets – she went rather unnoticed and was not subjected to any aggressive reaction, except a few hard glances.
Is it possible that the debate about the niqab/burqa/burka/islamic veil isn't about the niqab/burqa/burka/islamic veil but about something else?
Sugary excerpt from Les Perraux's essential article on the different perceptions in Québec and the rest of Canada on the burka/burqa/niqab and what it says about Canada's brand of multiculturalism:
Prominent Quebeckers known for promoting equality, including Mr. Taylor, Mr. Bouchard and Ms. McAndrew, argued the gender segregation that comes with the niqab – along the practical barrier of a covered mouth – was too much to expect from a provincial Immigration Ministry class designed to teach spoken French and help integration.
In the rest of Canada, it was often the mainstream view in Quebec that was shunned.
One Toronto television commentator linked Quebec's fertility subsidies to the banishment of Ms. Ahmed – a barely disguised suggestion that Quebec wants women to be uneducated and pregnant.
Ms. McAndrew argues Canadians looking down on Quebec should consider why debate seems impossible outside the province.
“Public debate in Quebec is vigorous, and the level of the debate is complex. On diversity, the debate is very poor in Canada. It's marshmallow multiculturalism. You're okay, I'm okay,” she said.
“It's tolerance, but it's very soft and will face its own challenges at some point.”
Having addressed this issue several times, I have no doubt that it isn't going to go away because Québec is not going to give up its own views of secularism and integration to please the rest of Canada,. However, the key issue is being ignored in this debate and that is the state shouldn't have the right, any more than religious figures or anybody else, to tell women how to dress and to tell them that they defined by their body and how they present it. Anything else about gender discrimination and equality is gibberish designed to mask a totalitarian view of gender with popular and seemingly modern principles.
The irony of multiculturalism as a political process is that it undermines much of what is valuable about diversity as lived experience. When we talk about diversity, what we mean is that the world is a messy place, full of clashes and conflicts. That's all for the good, for such clashes and conflicts are the stuff of political and cultural engagement.
(...)Multiculturalism, on the other hand, by reposing political problems in terms of culture or faith, transforms political conflicts into a form that makes them neither useful nor resolvable. Rather than ask, for instance, "What are the social roots of racism and what structural changes are required to combat it?" it demands recognition for one's particular identity, public affirmation of one's cultural difference and respect and tolerance for one's cultural and faith beliefs.
Multicultural policies have come to be seen as a means of empowering minority communities and giving them a voice. In reality such policies have empowered not individuals but "community leaders" who owe their position and influence largely to their relationship with the state. Multicultural policies tend to treat minority communities as homogenous wholes, ignoring class, religious, gender and other differences, and leaving many within those communities feeling misrepresented and, indeed, disenfranchised.
Britain's brand of multiculturalism has failed because it placed at its center the cult of diversity and thus sacralized differences in the name of culture and of religion making moral judgments difficult and segregation/sectarianism unavoidable. I'm uncomfortable with drawing sharp distinctions between Britain's multiculturalism and diversity because in the mind of too many those two concepts have merged. Nowadays, people who argues fanatically for diversity are in fact doing so by categorizing people, by hierarchizing particularities, and thus deciding which ones ought to more important than others. The trouble with both multiculturalism and diversity as they are commonly understood is that they lead to desindividualization. People are forced to identity with a group of people in order to matter and to avoid marginalization because identity politics is the most potent form of politics.
To put things more simply, the only acceptable multicultural society is one, which sees that people as individuals, not as member of a group/community/whatever else and recognizes that culture and particularities are never legitimate justifications for the erosion of the social compact and the unjustifiable.
Interesting: explanation of the different visions that Québec and Canada have on the Niqab, and more importantly on integration:
(...) English Canada embraces a multiculturalist ideal: Come to Canada, and bring your differences with you. In French Canada, you can have your differences, “but please do become a Quebecker.”
Quebec's francophone majority identifies itself as a fragile minority that must be ever vigilant against cultural erosion. In that context, collective rights often outweigh individual ones, especially when it comes to language or schooling. Quebec, like France, is also fiercely devoted to secularism. “We've had a long and painful struggle with the place of religion in this society, and a lot of people feel strongly about the separation of church and state,” says Mr. Lagacé.
The Quebec-English differences over immigration and integration echo those between France and Britain. France is contemplating a ban on the burka and niqab. In Britain, any politician who'd dare suggest such a thing would be denounced as a fascist.
In English Canada, provincial government officials are only too eager to distance themselves from intolerant Quebec. “We are an open Ontario,” said a spokeswoman for that province's immigration minister. “In Nova Scotia, people have a right to express themselves any way they wish around their faith,” its immigration minister said.
It makes sense that Québec would want its immigrants to assimilate in order to be Quebeckers first to increase its population and strengthen its special minority status within Canada and Canadian second. The issue is whether it is framing the issue the right way and fighting the right battles. The problem is that these differences that exist within Canada are going to be increasingly difficult to coexist within the same country because they are based on very different visions of society and hierarchy of fundamentals value. The whole niqab episode has shown that even the politicians of Québec don't fully know how immigrants can become 'good ' Québécois, but they know what their fears are, which explains why the focus has been placed on the usual and weakest subjects: visibly "different" women.
Quote of the day from Naema Ahmed, the student who was asked to choose between wearing the niqab and going to class to learn French in Quebec:
It wasn't fair for them to ask me to leave the exam. (...) I feel like the government is following me everywhere.(...) I'll just stay in my house. This will solve the problem.
In Quebec, most agreed with the decision to expel the niqab-wearing woman, including constitutional lawyer Julius Grey, who has defended the right of inmates to smoke in prison and the right of Sikh students to wear ceremonial daggers in class. “Accommodation should not lead to separation,” he said.
Yolande Geadah, an Egyptian-born writer, said: “There is no possible compromise with people with such inflexible attitudes.” Raheel Raza, a Pakistani-born Muslim women's rights activist, said: “When we come to Canada, we're not coming to the Islamic Republic of Canada.”
The irony is that, last fall, Egypt's top Islamic cleric said students and teachers at Cairo's Al-Azhar University would not be allowed to wear face veils in classrooms and dorms on the grounds they had “nothing to do with Islam.” The education ministry later barred the niqab during exams, to prevent students from sending others to take the tests. Although an Egyptian court subsequently ordered a stay on the Al-Azhar ban and overturned the education ministry's decision, we have to ask ourselves: Should Canadian colleges be more tolerant of Islamic fundamentalism than Cairo's universities?
Wow, in what world do we live in to make the argument that a woman becomes dangerous and infectious because of what she wears? And how convincing is it for Lysiane Gagnon to argue that Canada must be as open on the so-called woman's issues as Egyptians? Did I miss a big part of this movie not to be able to understand why the body of a woman can never be fully their own, but an instrument to make either a political or a religious point? I'm forced to realize that Islamists and feminists agree on at least a central issue : a woman is what she wears.
Toby Young, my favorite judge of Top Chef, defends Geert Wilders in the Daily Telegraph by arguing that he is a freedom of speech warrior:
are the Dutch people just fed up with being told they’re not allowed to criticise Muslim extremists because to do so is “Islamophobic”? As a defender of free speech, I don’t believe for one moment that the Koran ought to be banned. But if I was a member of the Dutch electorate I would vote for Geert Wilders’ party nonetheless because I don’t think he deserves to go to jail for 16 months just for arguing that it should.
Wilders doesn’t really want to ban the Koran, of course. It’s a theatrical gesture — a situationist move — designed to underline the absurdity of trying to limit freedom of speech on the grounds that certain words or phrases or images might move people to violence. What Wilders is saying is that if you believe the critics of Muslim extremism should be silenced because their words might incite religious hatred, then, logically, you ought to ban the Koran on the same grounds. It’s not a serious suggestion, so much as a reductio ad absurdum of a completely untenable, illiberal position.
It is for precisely this reason that I have always believed that European countries are wrong to attempt to censor what they consider to be hate speech or speech denying certain historical events such as the Shoah. Hate-speech laws or any other laws that try to limit free speech based on its content always make the extremist the victim. Moreover, they force people such as Toby Young who likes to provoke and who believe that freedom of speech is the most sacred of values to defend Geert Wilders without seeking to see behind the trees. Guided by his orthodoxy about free speech, Young is convinced that Wilders can only be right because that it is always absolutely unjust to try to shut somebody hate because society doesn't like what he is saying or finds it too distasteful. It isn't an erroneous positon to take, just a limited and an absurd one because the conclusion seems to be that victims of censorship are always and absolutely right or rather they cannot be right or even extremist.
The Daily Telegraph has a portrait of Geert Wilders, the Dutch far-right politician whose party is calling for the stop of the Islamization of the Netherlands and increasing its popularity with that message. Sugary excerpt:
Wilders describes his far-Right label as "nonsense".
"My supporters say: 'At last there is someone who dares to say what millions of people think'. That is what I do," Wilders said before the European elections last year, in which the PVV took four of the 25 Dutch seats.
"People are fed up with the government; the leftist elite that has failed them," said Wilders.
(,,,).Arguing that "Islam is the Netherlands' biggest problem," Wilders has urged parliament to ban the Koran, comparing it with Hitler's "Mein Kampf."
He also wants a total ban on the burqa as well as a halt to immigration from Muslim countries and the construction of mosques in the Netherlands.
He is awaiting a hate speech trial trial at home and was barred from entering Britain last year to stop him spreading "hatred and violent messages."
"I want to defend freedom, which I think will disappear into thin air the moment the Islamic ideology gains a stronger foothold on this country," Wilders, who is married to a Hungarian, told AFP.
I'm not alarmed by the ascension of Geert Wilders because his ascension and his views are not new in Europe, Extremism, both on the left and the right, tends to rise everywhere especially in times when there is so economic, social, and political distress, which none of the "legitimate" parties seem to be able to address to the satisfaction of an increasingly impatient and radicalized electorate. One only has to analyze the short, but tumultuous and tragic political career of Pim Portuyn in the Netherlands or even the long and flashy one of Jean-Marie Le Pen to realize that politicians such as Wilders are always very opportunistic, but that they are rarely able to leave any serious political marks or even to ascend to power without cleaning up their message or at least expanding because soon or later two things happen. The first is that their message is co-opted by other political parties who start to pay attention and to realize that they must find less "intolerant" ways to deal with the concerns of the voters who may be unsavory, but are very real. Sarkozy did it very effectively in 2007 and beat Le Pen at his own. The second thing that happens when politicians such as Geert Wilders are actually very good at politics or very ambitious is that soon or later, they come to the realization that they have to widen their message and that Islamization or any other message exploiting the fear of others and of unwelcome change is not enough to be more than a pestilent gadfly.
For these reasons, what I'm really wonder is whether Wilders is ever going to be willing to form a coalition with other Dutch parties of the right if his party becomes a political force or whether he will be content to remain on the margins believing that the system will collapse. I'm also wondering what is Ayaan Hirsi Ali's opinion of Geert Wilders.
I agree with Patrice de Beer this:
(...) the burqa (like the hijab before it) may be less a genuinely important issue in France than a blanket shrouding more fundamental problems - ones that that French society is unable or unwilling to solve.
There are, after all, other ways of addressing the realities of disaffection and refusal of which such Islamic symbols are seen as the expression (...). If, for example, more serious measures were undertaken to ease the integration into French society of young people of non-European origin (many of them Muslim); if an invisible (and often visible) “glass ceiling” that blocks their access to jobs they are qualified for were lifted; if there were more non-white business executives, top civil servants, or MPs elected from within metropolitan France (at present there is just one in this category). So often, politicians (especially but not only from the government side) prefer to pre-empt criticism for their inaction in such areas by projecting blame for France’s defects onto outsiders/immigrants/others (and Muslims above all).
Aleksandar Hemon's pertinent words on the effects that technology has on immigration and more specifically on the immigrants:
I think technology has a neutral value at best; it could be used for good things or bad things. I think it fundamentally changes the situation of assimilation or participation in society. Because you can stay in touch daily with wherever you came from and you can listen to live broadcasts of radio stations or the prayers from the mosques or read daily newspapers, complete with obituaries online. I met a guy in St. Louis, a city that has the largest Bosnian population [in America], who, when he got nostalgic would get on the Web and watch snow fall in Sarajevo.
Ellis Island immigrants, on the other hand, would come in, work hard, be exploited, make it or not make it but even those who made it would go back thirty to forty years later to the village of their origin and they would find that one or two people remembered them. So it was easy to sever connections, and in some ways it was natural: your life was here, your old life was there. But I know a large number of Bosnians in Chicago who send their kids to Bosnia over the summer—school’s over, they send them to Grandma. These kids are bilingual, bicultural. Displacement is not necessarily political. You can go back and forth. Transportation has become relatively cheap. Masses of people are moving around the world: immigrants, refugees, labor migrants. It’s an entirely different world.
I'm wondering whether technology isn't just a tool that is reflecting that the fact that immigration has changed because the world has gotten smaller and also that at the same time, it has become more fragmented. Immigrants when they move to a new country no longer leave everything behind; to the contrary, they are able more often than not to live within a community of their compatriots that has recreated its home environment a best as it could. Globalization may have compressed both time and space, it has made people less willing to change their identities or adapt their culture for those have become too sacred to touch.
Great article in the Boston Review from John R. Bowen refuting the arguments of those who argue that Europe is becoming Eurabia and that it has everything to fear from its increasing "Muslim population." It is a must-read; here is a sugary excerpt:
Some Islamophobes claim that differences in civilization and religion between Islam and Europe will last because a fast-growing Muslim population is poised to take over European cities and establish political control in the name of a global ummah. This argument disputes the notion that Muslim immigrants (and, a fortiori, their children) will do what most immigrants do: adapt. To the contrary, the argument says, multiculturalist—as opposed to assimilationist—policies isolated Muslims just as ummah TV was reaching youth with calls for jihad, and the new generations will continue to be motivated by radical Islam in all areas of their lives: as they plan families, build schools, and riot, all with Islamic political victory as their goal.
(...)In creating sharia councils, British Muslims began to look “separatist,” and some do call for greater authority for sharia mediation. Against that British institutional background, a good number of younger Muslims call for governance “by sharia,” whatever that might mean. French Muslims began to look “corporatist,” as national organizations sought control over local mosque financing; everyone—Muslims included—calls for laïcité (secularity) to be applied equally. Throughout Europe, some Muslims developed ties with transnational groups: intellectual ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, spiritual ones with West African Sufi orders, financial ones with Gulf sheikhs.
In other words, these Islamic political actors have adapted to national opportunity structures with more or less success: more in the cases of British, French, and Belgian Muslims, less in the cases of German, Dutch, and Swedish ones. The organizing that ostensibly proves Islamism is on the rise in fact shows that these immigrants are following the examples of their predecessors. Like Catholics and Jews before them, Muslims build religious schools and associations—usually with external financial aid—and get involved in elections. (...) Muslims are adapting like everyone else and are divided like everyone else.
The burger fuss is of course just the latest manifestation of anxiety over what is perceived to be an assertive Muslim population. The sense of threat lies behind the popular steps to outlaw the full Muslim veil on transport, universities and other state-run services. It also fuelled Sarkozy's four-month great national debate on the nature of French identity. The exercise was called off this month after focusing only the six-million Muslims in France's midst.
(...) The opponents of Quick fastfood and Muslim veils draw on high-minded principles which go back to the equality of the 1789 Revolution and the Republic's more recent principle of laicité, the strict separation of religion from public life.
These "valeurs de la République" are cited by leftists and intellectuals as well as rightwing politicians to deplore the more visible practices of Islam. The argument is that religious behaviour outside the mainstream culture amounts to an act of separateness and should be discouraged (For the ideal of the mainstream, see yesterday's post on white Marianne, symbol of the Revolution). By setting themselves apart from traditional French life, Muslims are being "identitaire" and committing "communautarisme". Equivalent to sectarianism, this means putting one's ethnic or religious identity ahead of Frenchness.
Britain and the United States, with their supposed ghettos, are seen as examples of the ill. Anne Fulda commenting in today's Le Figaro, complained that France has imported communautarisme from the United States along with hamburgers and now it is too late to stop it.
The problem is that the sin of communautarisme has a flexible definition. That is what makes it dubious when applied to Muslims. With France's record in world war two, no-one would publicly accuse the Jewish population of communautarisme, let alone complain to prosecutors. No-one protests against kosher restaurants -- or says Chinese or Italian ones discriminate because they do not offer French cuisine. Try substituting kosher for halal in the complaints over Quick burgers and the effect is offensive.
One of the problems is that France has already americanized on the question of race, religion, and society for it is indeed ghettorized. There are parts of Paris, Marseilles, or Lyon where only members of a "community" and where they do so trying to recreate not only the atmosphere, but the norms of the place that they or their parents left behind. At the crux of the issue is that France no longer has a workable integration model and that instead of accepting and creating a new one, the French elites and bien pensants are improvising according to their ideology, which means either importing parts of the American/British model or trying the impossible by reverting to the "assimilating" one that worked when there were no visible differences between new and old France. It is for that reason that I am one of the very few people who regret that the debate on French identity was a failure. I had believed that it could have been useful not in defining what it means to be French, but to find common ground on the limits of tolerance and at the very least to make once again essential the principle that not citizenship is about both rights and inescapable obligations.
I have been waiting impatiently for Ian Buruma’s take on the French and the burqa. Here it is:
One could take the view that national governments should
enforce laws, but not values. But, whereas most democracies are less prone than
the French Republic is to impose "national values" on their citizens,
the law cannot be totally divorced from shared values either. The fact that
Europeans can marry only one spouse is both a legal and a cultural norm. And
views on sexual, gender, and racial discrimination, which change with time, are
reflected in the laws as well.
On the whole, individual practices, as long as they do no harm to others, should be allowed, even if many people don't particularly like them. It may be undesirable to have people who carry out public functions judges, teachers, or policewomen, for example cover up their faces. But one can impose dress codes for certain jobs, without banning a type of clothing for everyone. After all, we don't have judges and teachers wearing bikinis on the job, either.
There is another, practical, reason why the burqa ban is a bad idea. If we are serious about integrating immigrants into western societies, they should be encouraged to move around in public as much as possible. Banning the burqa would force this tiny minority of women to stay at home, and be even more dependent on their men to deal with the outside world.
So what should be done about practices that are judged to be illiberal, if we don't ban them? Sometimes it is better to do nothing. Living with values that one does not share is a price to be paid for living in a pluralist society.
I have to say that I'm a bit disappointed with Buruma's take for he uses a lot of mambo jumbo when he should be saying that a society whose slogan is Liberté, Egalité et Fraternité cannot focus on the burqa and ban it especially when wearing it can be a choice, one made knowingly by somebody comfortable with submission or whatever else. In other words, picking on the way women dress is a reinforcement of the view that they are not equals to men for afterwards, is there any men’s wear that any government on earth would even entertaining banning by arguing that it symbolizes something? There is none and that is simply because it is accepted that men are individuals and that how they dress is their business as long as they don’t expose their “best friend.”
Sugary excerpt of the day from Nav Purewal's fascinating article in the Walrus:
Canada’s kaleidoscopic shards form a culture more overtly variegated than America’s comparatively homogeneous stew, but they also elide both nations’ colonial pasts, a history that has particularly important implications for Canada’s complicated approaches to assimilation. The truism that everyone here came from somewhere else obliquely acknowledges that English and French imperialism supplanted existing cultures.
Modern Canada is as much a palimpsest as a mosaic, a truth perhaps engrained somewhere in our national consciousness — and one that manifests itself in two divergent traditions of immigrant assimilation. In English Canada, the fraught legacy of cultural imperialism — whether the slaughter of native tribes or the injustice of residential schools — results in a reluctance to impose a uniform Canadian culture on newcomers; whereas Quebec, ever afraid of diluting its francophone heritage, demands that immigrants conform to an atavistic conception of French-Canadian culture.
I am wondering whether both America and Canada integration's models are adaptable and suitable for any other country. I have the suspicion that that the answer is no and these variation of the melting pot model, which in fact lead to fractured societies made of communities (which can cohabit without "mixing" given the size of those countries),but which are in fact legitimated and thus, reinforced by the State (s). The most interesting question has to be whether those models are sustainable. At the time, when analysts such as Bruce Bawer, Christophe Caldwell and Mark Steyn are making loud (and disturbing) noises about the end of Europe as we know to put things more tastefully, I wonder if they should look at America and Canada and wonder what might happen if the communities that form their societies stop having common interest and a share of the apple pie. In other words, what happens when American and Canada become even more unequal, and more "varied societies." Implicitly, I'm suggesting here that identity matters less in wealthy and prospering countries where the poor, and minorities feel that they have a shoot to reach the mountain top. This might suggest that Canada because it is a "fairer" society (one where welfare and universal healthcare are not fighting words) might face great of an identity crisis than America. Unfortunately, literature doesn't have the answer to that question.
Eric Cantona didn't pull his punches when asked about the national debate: "They talk of the Marseillaise, of the French language, but politicians are asses. To be French is to be revolutionary and refusing all this politicking crap."
Precisely. Historical events have shaped the French mindset more than any debates will. The struggle of the French revolutionaries and the first republic up in arms against all the monarchies of the continent was the start of a profound shake-up and national identity construction. The Napoleonic setback and royalist restorations throughout the 19th century sharpened the minds, created deep national divisions, but also prepared for the glorious revolutionary episodes of the second republic (1848-1852) and the Commune (1870). The Franco-Prussian war, the Dreyfus affair, the Third Republic, the law of separation of church and state, followed by the two world wars, Vichy, the Résistance, the Algerian war and decolonisation at large made France as we have known it to be: confrontational, contradictory, unruly, restless, but also profoundly republican and secular.
And let's remember that, according to the National Institute for Demographic Studies, a quarter of the French have at least one grandparent born outside France.
I would like to be able to disagree vehemently with Nick Cohen on this, but I cannot because experience has shown me that he is, alas, in part right when he makes the following point although it takes him to another direction than I because I don't make the mistake of confusing a symptom with the disease:
Pride in American exceptionalism ran through Obama's Nobel peace prize acceptance speech. "In many countries, there is a deep ambivalence about military action today," he told his doubtless deeply ambivalent Norwegian audience. "At times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America." He would take no notice of it. "Make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaida's leaders to lay down their arms." Obama drew a map of a pacifist Europe, unwilling to face reality, and a tough-minded but idealist America ready to defend civilisation with "the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms".
Nowhere has American satisfaction with its uniqueness been more noticeable than in the applause it awards itself for its treatment of immigrants. Articles contrasting the success of the US in integrating Muslims against the failures of Britain have been a regular feature of the American press. Liberals emphasised that immigrants who wanted to leave their old identities behind were helped by a constitution and bill of rights that accepted them as equal citizens.
Conservatives claimed that immigrants could not sit resentfully at home living on welfare payments and developing sectarian grievances, as they could in corrupt Europe, but had to find jobs that inevitably brought them into contact with Americans from other cultures.
(...) Depressingly, Americans seem to be as bad as the British are at recognising the differences between Islam and Islamism. They can no longer, however, get away with pretending that Islamism is an un-American disease. Trying to explain the rise of religious hatreds and identity politics, Obama said in Oslo that "given the dizzying pace of globalisation, and the cultural levelling of modernity, it should come as no surprise that people fear the loss of what they cherish about their particular identities", which was true enough in a platitudinous way.
I wonder if he yet understands that Americans are not exempt from the manias of our time and that his formerly special country is not looking so exceptional any more.
I would like to say amen to these words from Jim Wolfreys on the debate on the definition of Francité (Frenchness) that is occurring in France, but a part of me is resisting it:
At one extreme those who find themselves concentrated in the poorest areas of France do so not out of choice, but through ethnicity and income. Neither Islam nor "ethnic communitarianism" are responsible for such divisions: they are the product of social deprivation and racism. At the other extreme, however, is a section of society that wilfully separates itself from the rest of France. The top 10% of earners choose to live in the most segregated areas of the country, well-heeled districts like Neuilly and St-Cloud on the outskirts of Paris. It is they who have created what Maurin calls "the bourgeois ghetto".I believe that the trap of any debate on national identity, whether it be French, British, Moroccan, or Nigerian, is to cast it in the terms Wolfreys is choosing to frame by emphasizing the risks as if nationals of a country should be afraid to define/decide who they are or who they would to be.There is this morbid and unhealthy connection between patriotism, any attempt to show national price and fascism and there is one between any admission that national identity can grow, change or even be redefined drastically with self-hatred, deculturation, Arabization, de-europeanization, and dewesternization.
If the present debate is to reassert the historic republican values of liberty, equality and fraternity then government priorities will need to be overturned. The targeting of "illegal" immigrants – Besson aims to deport 27,000 people this year, more than double 2002 levels – focuses attention on a tiny proportion of the population. Likewise, high-profile campaigns to impose a republican dress code on Muslims are a distraction from more fundamental divisions shaping French society, divisions determined less by religion than by poverty, racism and inequality. In France, as in Britain, if debates on citizenship are to involve denouncing the extreme right while pandering to its bugbears, they will only obscure the real issues – and in so doing become part of the problem.
Hum, I'm tempted to agree with Samir Shah on this ( I think his main point can be made about the US, France or any other country dealing with a population, which is diverse and mixed), but it would be too easy and moreover, I have the feeling that he is only offering part of the picture even though it is one, which I find both uplifting and depressing because it leaves open the possibility that race doesn't have to doom the future of a country and to pollute its politics:
The plain truth is that Britain is developing an underclass who share more in common with each other than they do with other members of their own ethnic group. What are these traits? Everyone will have their own theories. But here are mine.
The first impediment to progress is a community’s determination to cling on to elements of their own cultural traditions and ways of life. Parents from certain Muslim groups, for example, have a tendency to bring up their children in such a way that they never interact with members of other cultures — restricting the ability of their children to get ahead. Then take the ‘babyfather’ phenomenon. David Cameron has urged Afro-Caribbean fathers to attend to their parental duties — an issue because half of black children live in lone-parent households, double the ratio of whites. Jack Straw made this point rather well with the surprisingly pithy ‘Lads need Dads’. The need for a father is not specific to children of any race.
If we are to hunt for discrimination in 21st-century Britain, then we should look at other factors that make us different. Each distinguishing feature — class, culture, accent, being Northern — plays a part. For example, in some liberal industries such as the media, being right-wing doesn’t help. But why should this surprise us? The kind of people who make decisions — white, middle-class, metropolitan, liberal, male — all think that the best people for the job are, er, white, liberal, metropolitan, middle-class and male. To describe this phenomenon as ‘institutional racism’ (as many are inclined to do) misses the problem by a country mile.
The real problem is what I call ‘cultural cloning’ — the human tendency to recruit in one’s own image. Recruitment, instead of being about picking the best people, becomes a process of finding people like the ones already there. The overwhelming need for a kind of cultural comfort blanket takes precedence over every other consideration — and rules out those whose backgrounds don’t quite fit. This is what a 21st-century Equalities Commission should have in its sights. Cultural cloning is, in my opinion, the main source of discrimination in Britain today.
Sometimes, in spite of himself and I would say by pure luck if I wanted to be needlessly mean, Nick Cohen gets things almost just right:
I don't fully agree with this, but it just shows that too many feel that integration isn't working, I'm wondering if that perception isn't just based on the sense that there isn't enough pie left to share:
I almost agree totally with this:
The reality is that Canadians talk about multiculturalism but don't
practise it. That does not mean we don't embrace diversity. Both Canada
and the United States, because of high levels of immigration, are
diverse societies, but diversity and multiculturalism are not synonyms.
Diversity encompasses a variety of characteristics that differentiate
people, including dress, culinary and musical styles. An example is
Toronto's hugely successful Caribana festival. Such events are hardly
unique to Canada; several major U.S. cities have Caribbean festivals
Diversity is not divisive in secular democracies that respect individual freedom, such as Canada and the United States. On the other hand, culture is not just about superficial differences but also about core values. The people who were attending cock fights in Cloverdale simply don't understand our tender feelings toward animals. This is a difference in values and there is no room for compromise.
The notion that Canada is a mosaic while the United States is a melting pot does not survive scrutiny. In 1994, a study by two University of Toronto sociologists, Jeffrey Reitz and Raymond Breton, found that language retention of third-generation immigrants was less than 1 per cent in both countries. This was significant. One would expect foreign languages to dissolve into the American melting pot. But Canada is supposed to be a mosaic: a set of separate and distinct cultural entities. If it really were a mosaic, ancestral languages would survive through the generations. But they don't, because the offspring of immigrants are quickly absorbed into the dominant language milieux of North America.
I agree with this:
Terry Sanderson on Secularization, Christianity, and the future of Europe:
A Eurobarometer poll (pdf)
reveals that when asked about what they value most, only 7% of
Europeans nominated religion. That same poll tells us that about half
of Europeans think that religion is afforded too much importance. When
asked about what values the European Union represents, the ranking
starts with human rights (37%), then peace (35%), democracy (34%) and
way down last again is religion with only 3%.
So, if Christianity is not the future of Europe, will the continent become Islamic?
The answer is again, no. The capitulation of western governments to the violence of Islamic jihadists and the subsequent channelling of all discourse about Muslims through religious representatives has created the impression that all Muslims are deeply pious and inimical to western values. They are not.
We have been bamboozled by the term "Islamophobia", which suggests that Islam is under systematic persecution in the west. But new research by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (pdf) shows clearly that while people who identify themselves as Muslims are, indeed, victims of much discrimination, by their own account hardly any of it is because of their religion. Another poll showed that young Muslims have a strong desire for westernisation, which again contradicts those who have been appointed to speak for them from the pulpits.
Interesting stuff from Caitlin Moran:
I have to say that the fact that Moran's observations about the linguistic and racial problems of twittering are interesting, they don't make me want to care because she is addressing mundane, pc, and fluffy issues, which come to the center just because they are modern even though they should force the technically aware crowd to the realization that some worldviews and categorizations are just too old and too odd for the new world.
The Guardian on the fall from grace of Rachida Dati, France Sarkozy's justice minister who, no so long ago, was celebrated as a successful example of integration à la française only to be dismissed from the Sun king's court for her exuberance and luxurious taste:
The problem for Dati is that she is no longer useful to Sarkozy precisely because she was solely a symbol. In politics, as anywhere else in life, it is always possible to replace symbols where they are no able to become gain some substance and gravitas by proving that they are about more than their gender, their beauty, their race or their religion . In Dati's case, she remained the glamorous and ambitious woman of Algerian and Moroccan origin, with a admirable life story, but never became fully a political woman with ideas and indispensable skills. In other words, she is just a celebrity and people don't take her seriously because she is perceived as one of Sarkozy's creatures who needs to accept her bannishment because she didn't seize the chance of a lifetime. Most people want her, especially her peers who are competing with her for the king's attention, to fade in the background or to just die of boredom in Strasbourg. The saddest thing about Dati is that she is worth more than her caricature even though she was content with being fluffy because she thought probably that her status as a symbol would protect her from political and public attacks and would stop the French from viewing her as a cold calculating woman who did everything to succeed except studying her craft to become competent. Rachida Dati suffers from the same ill that plagues Sarah Palin, the airhead syndrome except that in her case her minority status and the fact that she does have a compelling rise from poverty to riches immigrant story makes her more sympathetic and less contemptible because some fills that she had/has no control over her political fate and that she had/had few choices in life.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali on what she believes to be an identity crisis in Europe, which makes Europeans unwilling to die for their values such as free speech and willing to tolerate the intolerable from Muslims :
I don't know, but there is something is this Ali's arguments that seems artificial and even insincere. I think that Glenn Greenwald is right to assert that people such Ayaan Hirsi Ali go out of their way to clash with Islam because they believe in global clashes and that there is indeed a clash of civilizations, which must be won by the West by taking the fight to the barbarians. However, it is difficult to deny that there is a malaise within Europe caused not solely by Muslim immigration, but also by the critical debate, which has yet to happen or to least lead to some decisive political action about what it means to be European and whether nationality and citizenship can be about something other than culture especially when the later clashes with the present social compact.
I agree with the sentiments expressed by Kenan Malik, but disagree with the substance of his arguments and his conclusion:
If collecting ethnic/racial stats is to categorize and to force people to identity with an ethnic group, then why keep any kind of statistics at all, why count the numbers of men and women, of adults and children, of single and married people if the presumption is that they identify people according to certain traits, which shouldn't define them and thus fragment a society by encouraging discrimination and ghettoisation. I may be naive, but I don't think that stats lie and create different realities rather they just reflect what is happening because they are a tool. As all instruments, they become dangerous when people are allowed.able to use them to discriminate, which means that it is narrow-minded to argue that they are intrinsically bad and should be used. The point is that modern societies have never, for long, forbidden themselves from using informative tools as ethnic/racial stats based on what may happen, based on the possibility of mischief and of terrible wrongs happening. The sad fact is that we use tools in our societies, which we wished we didn't have to use and which we know can have disastrous effects such as judging the accused and putting them to jail when they are found guilt. We do so even though we know that there are risks that innocent people can end up in jail or that punishment may never lead to rehabilitation, but an aggravation and a multiplication of dangerous behaviors. We do these things because they are necessary for the health of society, its stability and its evolution. We do them while taking all the necessary precautions to avoid wrongs. It is true that ethnic/racial stats are not a panacea and can lead to problems, but it isn't true that societies, which use them don't have choices and can't avoid the wrongs, which may ensue by utilizing them. There is no determinism here and more importantly, no fatality. I'm not going to say that there is no alternative to ethnic/racial stats, but rather that they are a tool not an end. What matters is the how, the hard work of creating policies, which make them use. Everything else, all the bad tings, which may happen depend on our ethics and our willingness to accept that policy still matters.
Arthur Goldhammer on Racial stats and France:
To put it simply, data is king especially if the goal is to have policies that aren't about fear and fantasies, but that actually try to address problems by being in touch with reality. The issue might be that in France as in most Western countries, immigration policy is about everything else but facts and data.
France has had a remarkable tradition (remarkable in every sense of the word) of not counting its minorities. This reluctance to use statistics to identify its minorities has made it harder for the State to fight discrimination or to even fight the increasing accepted idea that there are too many people from the wrong kind of minority groups in France. The problem is that there is no other to even start to deal with minorities and the problem, which they face without using statistics, which actually inform the country about its ethnic, racial make up or whatever else you want to use to acknowledge the fact that France in 2009 is very different from France in 1909. A sugary excerpt from Charles Bremner on this issue:
It is very romantic and idealistic to believe that France is one republic, which shouldn't be divided by numbers even though those numbers reflect only a reality that is irrefutable. The trouble is that even in France, romance doesn't erase human prejudices, doesn't fight discrimination or facilitate integration. France has been increasingly divided by the fact that visible differences are still equated to foreignness and have become the fantasies not only of the extreme right, but of those who believe that it is hard, not to say impossible, to be /to become a normal (read acceptable) French citizen when one looks a certain way, has a certain religion or comes from particular places in the world. It isn't pleasant to count the Blacks, the Arabs, and the others, but until Earth becomes a magical land where ethnicity, race, and all the other categories, which too many love to taut or to decry, don't matter, it is an act, which countries are going to have to do.
Jeremy Harding in the London Review of Books on the French Foreign Legion:
I've always found the Foreign Legion fascinating because it embodied for a long time the idea that nationality could be earned by fighting for France. I think that it isn't what it once was because France has changed and because the French have become ambiguous, not to say reluctant, to have certain groups of people earned citizenship.