The “Muslim Problem”

Anti-immigration and anti-Muslim conservatives aren’t racist, they swear. They’re just concerned. About, you know, democracy and our way of life and human rights and money and stuff. All this talk about the current administration being a wee bit Nazi-like and the moral compass of our country seriously slipping and comparing the current conversations about Islam and Muslims to conversations in the past about Jews and Japanese-Americans — that’s all totally ridiculous.

I mean, just because Mark Steyn wants to eradicate Muslims and laments that a new Holocaust wouldn’t be possible (because European conservatives are just so old), he doesn’t actually hate Muslims. He isn’t really a soulless bastard with a taste for genocide. He’s just… concerned.

What I point out, though, is that, even if you’re hot for a new Holocaust, demography tells. There are no Hitlers to hand. When Mr Peters cites the success of Jean Marie Le Pen’s National Front, he overlooks not only Le Pen’s recent overtures to Muslims but also the fact that M Le Pen is pushing 80. As a general rule, when 600 octogenarians are up against 200 teenagers, bet on the teens. In five or ten years’ time, who precisely is going to organize mass deportations from French cities in which the native/Muslim youth-population ratio is already – right now – 55/45?

If only young people were more politically active, eh Mark?


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29 comments for “The “Muslim Problem”

  1. Bitter Scribe
    November 30, 2006 at 4:19 pm

    I think Steyn is about to become the next Joseph Sobran. If not Westbrook Pegler (although I certainly don’t see Steyn winning a Pulitzer).

  2. Una
    November 30, 2006 at 4:57 pm

    Mark Sten is a racist, intellectually dishonest creep. Thanks, but no thanks, Steyn. You can take your “We must have more white babies!!!” nonsense and shove it.

    -from a woman Brussels.

  3. Una
    November 30, 2006 at 4:57 pm

    in Brussels*

    …………….it’s been a long day.

  4. November 30, 2006 at 5:56 pm

    In five or ten years’ time, who precisely is going to organize mass deportations from French cities in which the native/Muslim youth-population ratio is already – right now – 55/45?

    No one.

    *satisfied smirk*

  5. November 30, 2006 at 5:57 pm

    So where exactly are the errors in these articles? Are you denying the possibility for a major demographic shift, or are you saying it is trivial?

    I’m just curious to know where you stand on, you know, the guys actual arguments.

  6. zuzu
    November 30, 2006 at 6:03 pm

    If only young people were more politically active, eh Mark?

    For Steyn, it’s a question of fecundity rather than political activity.

  7. November 30, 2006 at 6:46 pm

    So where exactly are the errors in these articles? Are you denying the possibility for a major demographic shift, or are you saying it is trivial?

    I’m just curious to know where you stand on, you know, the guys actual arguments.

    I’m not denying the fact that certain segments of the world population are “out-breeding” others. I just don’t see why we’re panicking about the fact that white people may become a smaller portion of the pie. Doesn’t seem like all that big of a deal to me.

    Regarding the “Islamization” thing, any fundamentalist interpretation of religion bothers me. But the problem isn’t Islam itself, it’s fundamentalists (and we certainly have a fair share of those here, too). And so trying to “out-breed” them is shit. My solution? Promote human rights. Make human rights ideals so pervasive that they’re considered basics, not privileges. Of course, this would entail the United States to seriously shape up, so I’m not sure it’ll happen any time soon.

  8. November 30, 2006 at 6:49 pm

    A “new Holocaust”? WTF?!

  9. KnifeGhost
    November 30, 2006 at 7:49 pm

    A “new Holocaust”? WTF?!

    “Not that the first one was good. *cough* Um…. Y’know, if if even happened. Not saying it didn’t, just that… Uh…… If it did happen, which it did, it would have been totally bad. Unless it didn’t happen, in which case, this would be the _first_ holocaust. But this one would be maybe good a bit? The old one, though, would havebeen bad. _Was_ bad. The old holocaust was bad. If it happened.

    Um…. Shit.”

  10. November 30, 2006 at 8:13 pm

    So where exactly are the errors in these articles? Are you denying the possibility for a major demographic shift, or are you saying it is trivial?

    To summarize the post I pinged this thread with, European racism doesn’t work that way. France’s basic self-conception is as one citizen nation where everyone is equal. Since everyone is equal, there’s no discrimination, and no affirmative action or active enforcement of equal pay laws or crackdown on police racism is needed. In reality, there is plenty of discrimination, which the French government doesn’t do anything about.

    In India, the main right-wing party had no trouble inciting anti-Muslim riots when it was in power. The French Gaullists are more delicate and subtle than that.

    As for a demographic shift, Europe could stem the tide by 2015, if it stopped following what in the US and Canada is considered a very conservative approach to race. European governments need to start telling their Muslim minorities, “Dress however you like, worship however you like, and eat whatever you like. And if some asshole doesn’t hire you or pays you less because he hates your kind, we’re going to slap a fine on him that will make our 60%-ish tax rates look mild.” That sort of thing works a lot better than socially excluding them and then exasperatedly asking, “Why, oh, why don’t they integrate?”.

  11. November 30, 2006 at 8:17 pm

    Further, the French conception of “being French” doesn’t encompass minorities or immigrants at all. I’m not even sure that they’re asking “why don’t they integrate?” — the basic assumption is that they aren’t French, they will never really be French, and so they will be tolerated but they will never actually be accepted, no matter what they do. As you say, it’s a recipe for disaster.

  12. ACS
    November 30, 2006 at 8:54 pm

    The European anti-Muslim sentiment arises out of several different impulses, only one of them being racism. I don’t mean to discount the racist element in the support for European anti-Islamic politicans, but in the Netherlands and Scandinavia, the conservative tendencies of Muslim immigrants have been the rallying point for an attack on Muslim immigrants as being a threat to values important to the left. The welfare state, women’s rights, and gay rights have all been rallying points for a nationalist attack on the growing number of Muslims in liberal host countries.

    Leaders like Pim Fortuyn and parties like the Danish People’s Party argue that it’s Islam that’s intolerant, not them. Though they’ve been characterized as being from the right in America, they’re not recognizable to me as anything I would identify as “the right.”

    I suppose I’m just uncomfortable to see racist nationalism deployed in support of views I support — I’d always deluded myself into believing “the left,” even the institutional left, was less prone to that.

    — ACS

  13. kate
    November 30, 2006 at 8:57 pm

    I’m not even sure that they’re asking “why don’t they integrate?” — the basic assumption is that they aren’t French, they will never really be French,

    You know, this is exactly the sum of the analysis I received from a french women I know who is presently living and working here. She speaks of the ‘real france’ of the ‘old france’ of catholicism and everything that French stands for — white, european, fois gras, etc. The others that are coming in are not French, they are Morroccans, they are Muslims, they are proud to be who they are! as she says over and over again with horror. They have no respect for France and France as we know it shall be lost!

    Of course we in America have the same style of bigotry, just that when speaking of black people or native americans, it sounds really, really stupid. When speaking of spanish people, its ignorant and unacceptable.

    When the French women speaks about the invaders, she’s dead serious and swears shes not a bigot — we just don’t understand they’re under siege!

  14. exangelena
    November 30, 2006 at 9:15 pm

    Hmmm, a lot of these right-wing Islamphobes who say they’re not really racist, they just don’t want to live under the Sharia, probably wouldn’t be thrilled if a bunch of conservative black Baptists or Mexican Catholics moved into their neighborhood. And started having children.

  15. kate
    November 30, 2006 at 10:30 pm

    Indeed exangelena

  16. Rockit
    November 30, 2006 at 10:58 pm

    Hmm, I think I agree with ACS a lot more than I do with Alon Levy. A lot of the anti-Islamic rhetoric going on in Europe is focusing on the more right-wing elements of the faith, rather than race or anything like that. I would speculate that black baptists wouldn’t be seen as as much of a threat because they share similar beliefs. There isn’t the fear that one of them might end up strapping a bomb to themselves and setting it off on a crowded train.

    Of course the chances of that happening in Paris are remote. I think the problem is that the radical Islamic community thrives on the kind of european liberalism that AL is talking about/promoting. They can set themselves up in an immigrant community and recruit members by pointing at American actions and equating them with an anti-Islamic agenda. Then when the state intervenes, they can say, ‘you see, western governments are all anti-Islamic deep down.’

    Perhaps the answer is to stop picking out Muslim communities for criticism (and to be fair, in this country a large part of that is the middle right-wing press) and make a point of saying that Islam is good, but the extremists aren’t. In order to do that, it’s going to be necessary to get some prominent moderate Muslims on board and to listen to them, which so far European governments have been reluctant to do because they’re scared of being seen as kowtowing to them .

  17. exangelena
    December 1, 2006 at 12:08 am

    Some more thoughts on this-
    In my experience (Asian-American in the US), I suspect the same people who command usually nonwhite immigrants to assimilate or get the hell out of the country and foam at the mouth about different religions/outfits/whatever are the ones who don’t see me as American. The ones who always want to know the details of where I’m from and what language I speak, even though I speak English with an American accent, dress like Americans and have mostly American friends. Because to those people, American doesn’t necessarily equal speaking English or acting American (whatever that may be) – American equals white.

  18. twf
    December 1, 2006 at 12:34 am

    During a job interview in the Netherlands yesterday, the conversation strayed into the issue of banning burqas and headscarves. The interviewer told me he had a problem with Islam because they didn’t believe women were equal and they were threatening the Dutch culture of equality. I didn’t want to argue with someone interviewing me for a job, so I just said nothing.

    Off topic: In three of my four interviews for this job, I was asked about my marital status. Is this legal in the Netherlands? Standard? So much for the culture of women’s equality.

  19. Georgiana
    December 1, 2006 at 12:42 am

    I don’t know about the Netherlands, but at least my experience in France was just as kate said. The French can’t wrap their head around being French and being Muslim and Moroccan. These three things are inconceivable. Which is a huge part of the problem. How do you become French? They don’t know. The Germans don’t really know either, etc.

    The US has all sorts of integration and race issues, but at least in theory we do consider that if you are born here you are a US citizen. We have wronged citizens (and still do) but they can at least claim they are citizens. And we have a messy, yucky path to citizenship, but it (again in theory), country of origin isn’t a barrier to getting citizenship. Most of Europe still doesn’t offer that. Germany just passed (or is considering) a law to make citizens of its residents who are of Turkish descent, but born and raised in Germany. And I’m not sure they would have the right to Turkish citizenship (open question).

  20. December 1, 2006 at 3:50 am

    Further, the French conception of “being French” doesn’t encompass minorities or immigrants at all.

    Are you talking about the practice or the theory? In theory, the French conception of being French accepts minorities and immigrants without trouble, as long as they fully assimilate into French culture immediately. France has had more immigration than any other country in Europe in the last 150 years, as a result of its low population growth in the 19th and early 20th centuries. All of these immigrants’ descendants are now being taught that their ancestors were Gauls.

    The practice is of course different, but it’s the theory that causes so much trouble. It’s not as if Americans are immune to racism; but the American conception of race, ethnicity, and immigration acknowledges the existence of racism and accepts hyphenated Americans, whereas the French conception doesn’t.

    The US has all sorts of integration and race issues, but at least in theory we do consider that if you are born here you are a US citizen.

    France used to be just like that. If you were born to resident parents in France, you were a French citizen by birth. In 1992 they changed the law so that you’d only be a citizen if you had no other citizenship; otherwise you’d have to request citizenship at 18.

    The main European country whose self-conception is ethnic is Germany (though apart from Britain, most European countries are closer to Germany than to France). It used to be that France gave everyone born in France citizenship while Germany made it impossible for non-Germans to be naturalized and gave only citizens’ children citizenship. Now Germany and France are converging to similar policies, but it’s a fairly recent thing.

    Leaders like Pim Fortuyn and parties like the Danish People’s Party argue that it’s Islam that’s intolerant, not them. Though they’ve been characterized as being from the right in America, they’re not recognizable to me as anything I would identify as “the right.”

    And yet Denmark has an immigration law there needs to be an international treaty against, and NL is trying to ban the burqa. Blaming Islam for that is about as sensible as blaming communism for McCarthyism.

    Besides, outside Scandinavia and NL, anti-immigrant politics is strongly coupled to conservatism on other issues – anti-Semitism, police power, crime, and I presume women’s rights and homosexuality. Le Pen and Haider are anti-Semitic. The National Democrats are Nazis with “Democrats” in their party name. The British National Party doesn’t even allow non-Caucasian members.

    I think the problem is that the radical Islamic community thrives on the kind of european liberalism that AL is talking about/promoting. They can set themselves up in an immigrant community and recruit members by pointing at American actions and equating them with an anti-Islamic agenda.

    You’re confusing Europe with Canada. In Canada, there are traces of anti-American Islamism. In Europe, Islamism is mostly a result of frustration at unemployment, job discrimination, housing discrimination, and police racism. The immediate trigger of the 2005 riots was that two Algerian-French youths were running away from cops when they accidentally electrocuted themselves on an electric fence. It’s illegal to take ethnic statistics in France, but Arab unemployment there is apparently 30%, compared with 10% for the general population. In Germany, Turkish unemployment is 44%; in 1933, Hitler won against a background of a general unemployment rate around 40%.

  21. December 1, 2006 at 6:44 am

    While my other comment’s in the moderation queue, read this post of mine, which explains precisely what Europe’s conceptions of immigration are (France’s conception is not exactly what Jill says it is), and why they’re problematic.

  22. Rockit
    December 1, 2006 at 10:40 pm

    Well, not really Alon. I was taking it from the situation here in the UK, which is of course the US’s main ally in the ‘war against terror’.

  23. EricP
    December 3, 2006 at 5:59 pm

    I’m not denying the fact that certain segments of the world population are “out-breeding” others. I just don’t see why we’re panicking about the fact that white people may become a smaller portion of the pie. Doesn’t seem like all that big of a deal to me.

    Having read Stein’s book, I can tell that you probably haven’t. Or you have drawn the wrong conclusions. Being “white” has nothing to do with it, it is western culture that is at risk, not the white race. I don’t think he even talks about race at all. Several Asian countries, most south-American countries, India, today essentially embrace some form of western culture. They may be more socialist than the US but they accept the same basic precepts.

    On the otherhand, even the most moderate of Islamic countries see women as, at best, different-class citizens (they might object to second-class but they are definitely not equal). Many, the closer they are to sharia law, view women as a much lower form of life than men. These countries are also much less interested in individual rights, press freedom, freedom of religion and other issues that members of western civilization take for granted. Today in the west, Muslim-culture is a minority and lacks the power directly control our laws. With the current demographics that is going to change fast. It is our values that are at risk if we continue current trends, not any one race.

    “Panicking” isn’t really an issue. For many parts of Europe, the issue has already been decided. Statistics and demographics make it inevitable. When a country stops reproducing to replace themselves, they are essentially giving up.

    In the article linked to, Stein is commenting, in response to someone else, that even Nazi-style barbarity couldn’t save them even if it came to that. They can’t do it – period. He’s not lamenting it, he’s telling someone else, who thinks that it will happen, that even something like that wouldn’t work. It is the equivilant of saying “even nuking Bagdad wouldn’t solve the problems in Iraq” (and yes, I have read rare opinions suggesting the nuking Bagdad), it is a statement of fact, not a suggestion that we try. Or a wish that it happen.

    On this blog, major discussions take place about the Christian right’s attempts to limit women’s right to abortion, etc. The Christian right acounts for about 20-25% of the American population. How will France eventually deal with an increasingly radicalized Muslim population makes up 40% and agrees that it takes 4 male witnesses to prove a rape?

    I’m glad that I’m not living over there.

  24. December 4, 2006 at 1:41 am

    Several Asian countries, most south-American countries, India, today essentially embrace some form of western culture. They may be more socialist than the US but they accept the same basic precepts.

    On the otherhand, even the most moderate of Islamic countries see women as, at best, different-class citizens (they might object to second-class but they are definitely not equal).

    India has more gender inequality than any Muslim-majority country outside South Asia, except Afghanistan. Officially India guarantees gender equality, but in practice family law is entirely religious, and traditional Hinduism is no better than traditional Christianity or Islam on gender issues. Indian villages practice purda, or seclusion (i.e. women are not allowed to leave the house). Families openly value boys more than girls, to the point of practicing sex-selective abortion. Relative gender equality in India is limited to the urban middle-class, but the urban middle-class is fairly gender equal in Turkey and most Arab countries.

    Also, what you say about Muslim countries used to be true for Catholic countries. The traditional Italian views about gender are closer to current Palestinian views than to current Swedish views. Hell, the views about gender most Jewish immigrants to the US came with were backward even by the standards of turn-of-the-century North America, and if the ultra-Orthodox birthrate in Israel is any indication, they outbred even today’s Turkish-Germans and Algerian-French. And yet, somehow they started secularizing, left Brooklyn Heights and Williamsburg for other parts of the US, and became the US’s most liberal religious group.

  25. December 5, 2006 at 5:50 am

    I suspect the same people who command usually nonwhite immigrants to assimilate or get the hell out of the country and foam at the mouth about different religions/outfits/whatever are the ones who don’t see me as American. The ones who always want to know the details of where I’m from and what language I speak, even though I speak English with an American accent, dress like Americans and have mostly American friends. Because to those people, American doesn’t necessarily equal speaking English or acting American (whatever that may be) – American equals white.

    That’s funny, I was just thinking about this from another perspective.

    I grew up in a community that was mainly white and Asian, and I had a lot of Asian friends. And even those who were American citizens called whites like me “Americans,” as if they weren’t. I always thought that was kind of sad.

    As for the Steyn column, I find it surprising that nobody has pointed out that Jill has taken his remarks waaaay out of context. Steyn wasn’t calling for a new Holocaust of Euro Muslims, he was reacting to this column by Ralph Peters, which suggested that a history of European racial bloodthirstiness would actually lead to said Holocaust, with the US military bailing the Muslims out.

    If people would actually read Peters’ column and Steyn’s reaction to it, they might find out that Jill’s characterization of Steyn as “a soulless bastard with a taste for genocide” is wholly nasty, ugly, and dishonest.

    You can find all of the links here.

  26. exangelena
    December 5, 2006 at 10:46 am

    Sean M. – Well, it’s possible that these Asians and Asian Americans have internalized racism. As I said earlier, even though I speak English and live in a part of the country with a lot of Asians who are citizens, people still ask me where I’m from or what language I speak. Furthermore, some Asian countries, like Japan, the Koreas and China, are fairly ethnically homogeneous (although not as homogeneous as they’d like to pretend) and in those cultures, race and ethnicity are closely tied to nation/citizenship.
    I don’t think that Peters is that far off – there is a lot of racism in Europe. Violence against (sometimes Muslim/Middle Eastern) immigrants occurred before the rise of Islamist terrorism and today, there are groups that are not Muslim, such as Indians, Chinese and Africans, who suffer racial attacks.

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