Friday, July 15, 2005



Turning nasty

In the wake of the London bombings, a nasty strain of thinking has emerged in the US which threatens to turn the "war on terror" into a global "war on Islam". This began as worries over whether Europe's Muslims posed a threat to the US, with an implicit call for visitors to the US to be screened on the basis of their religion (something the US, to its discredit, now seems to be implementing). It has since morphed into a wider attack on "permissive" European immigration policies. For example, James Pinkerton of Newsweek asks "Can we learn from Britain's mistake?" - the mistake being, in their words,

a disastrous social experiment in Great Britain: the bringing in of large numbers of barely assimilated, barely patriotic and sometimes openly hostile foreigners into that country.

This is coupled with a call for action:

If a group can't be made, one way or another, to abide by the rules of its adopted home country, the group ought not to be living freely in that country.

But as has become tragically clear over the past few days, the UK wasn't the bombers' "adopted" country - it was their country. The London bombers were as British as the Queen. What would the US have the UK do? Start rounding up its Muslim citizens and putting them in camps? Likewise, how can the US do as Pinkerton asks and stop New York from becoming "New Yorkistan"? Evict residents and strip US citizens of their citizenship on the basis of their religion, regardless of their actual actions or beliefs? Herd them onto jumbo jets headed east? Are pogroms and ethnic clensing now really required in the name of American security?

The British response, while not nearly as hysterical, is still worrying. Blair has promised to tackle extremism, by jailing people for "inciting terrorism" and abrogating the ECHR, Refugee Convention and Convention Against Torture in order to deport or exclude refugees with extremist views. It's easy to see the potential for abuse - any criticism of US or British policy in the Middle East could be classified as "incitement". The result, perversely, may be a growth rather than reduction of extremism. The Guardian's Dilpazier Aslam points out that the reluctance of British Muslim leaders to rock the boat by criticising such obvious injustices as Fallujah drives younger Muslims towards extremism. By threatening to criminalise such criticism, the British government will simply strengthen this pull, and allow extremism to fester in secret. Worse, they will also discourage debate on whether the tactics of terrorism can be justified - and it is by winning this debate, rather than by throwing people in jail, that extremist terrorism will be defeated in the long term.

4 comments:

Dear oh dear, I/S, do some breathing excersizes or roll a big joint or something. This is really just pitiful. I'm writing from New Jersey and I assure you that there's been no talk here about throwing Muslims into the first available Starlifter and dropping them somewhere over the ocean near Iceland. As someone who has lived in both America and London, unquestionably America is more racially diverse, more tolerant of difference, and more receptive to the rights of immigrants, be they Korean or Canadian. New York remains the world's premier multi-ethnic city, with more cultures interacting, more languages being spoken on the street than I've seen (or will see) anywhere else. In addition, US Muslims, perhaps feeling less "alienated" than their British/European counterparts, tend to be far less prone to extremism. Muslims still freely roam NY in traditional Muslim garb, because it's assumed that they're NOT friendly to extremist ideology. They're seen as New Yorkers. Bravo to that.

Al of which is a interesting contrast to the revolting column by Dilpazier Aslam in the Guardian. Here's a nice background examination of young Mr. Aslam:

[...] the Guardian article unaccountably omits the fact (presumably for reasons of space) that Mr Aslam is on record as supporting a world-dominant Islamic state, notably in his writings for the London-based site khilafah.com. (Khilafa translates as “Caliphate”. The site’s tagline expresses its aim: “then there will be khilafah rashida [a righteous Caliphate] on the method of Prophethood [i.e., sharia]”.) As he puts it, in an article he co-authored there: “we will have to run an Islamic state which must lead the world, economically, militarily and politically”. his stated fear of “being labelled a terrorist-lover” seems particularly justified in light of another of his khilafah.com articles, in which he specifically calls for violence: “The establishment of Khilafah is our only solution, to fight fire with fire, the state of Israel versus the Khilafah State”.
Incidentally, it should be pointed out that there’s no question whatever about this “Yorkshire lad’s” loyalty to Britain. He has made it quite clear that: “Muslims grant their loyalty and allegiance to their deen and the Ummah, not to a football team or nation state.”


Oh gee. Another 'let's make a huge global Islamic state where infidels can be treted as infidels' Islamicist. Gee. He also dislikes Jews/Israel. Gee, he talks anbout violence in Iraq, but neglects to mention that most civilian casualties (Children getting lollies today) are killed by Islamicist suicide bombers who have no qualms about killing innocents. Gee, what a moral titan. Would you post the writing of a white Supremacist? I would hope not. Why sink to the Guardian's level?

Coming from a small town (Carterton) NZ backround, I dislike many things about America, but certainly also find much here to admire. And I certainly think that history suggests we'll see 'pogroms and ethnic cleanising' again in Europe before we see them here. So why the hysterical anti-Yank frothing?

Posted by Adrienne : 7/15/2005 12:33:00 PM

I do tend to think you get a little OTT when talking about the US.

The latest Pew pollings make interestng reading - http://www.pewtrusts.com/pdf/PRC_global_Terror_0705.pdf

US attitudes towards Muslims rate pretty favouably overall compared to the Europeans. 22% of Americans view Muslims unfavouably compared to 34% in France and 47% in Germany.

Intersting to note too that the percentage of people who don't like the idea of immigration from the Middle East is higher in France and Germany than in Britain.

All of which doesn't quite gel with the notion that the anti-war countries have a better relationship with Muslims.

Posted by Sock Thief : 7/15/2005 12:47:00 PM

I think charges of 'anti-US' are going a bit far - read the first line, 'a nasty strain of thinking has emerged in the US'. Disputing a strain of thinking coming out of a country is not evidence of being 'anti' an entire nation, in the same way as criticising aspects of Israel's foreign policy does not always equate with anti-semitism (although sometimes it can).

Milou

Posted by Anonymous : 7/15/2005 04:23:00 PM

I have to admit I think you're wrong on this one too.

Both your quotes from Pinkerton seem to me entirely sensible. America welcomes immigrants from a lot of different cultures, but it expects them to become Americans first and foremost. People like Mr Dilpazier, who make their allegiance to something else, are treated as a threat, quite justifiably.

The London bombers were not as British as the Queen - they were presumably men like Mr Dilpazier, born in Britain but regarding it as an alien land. The reluctance of other European countries to see Moslem immigration on Britain's scale is hardly surprising under the circumstances.

Posted by Psycho Milt : 7/15/2005 07:56:00 PM