What I am about for argue for may strike long time readers of Samizdata as strange, given that I have written so many articles deploring racism, calling for open borders and taking various pro-immigration positions. None of my views on those things have changed one iota but clearly Britain and the western world generally has a problem with the Muslim communities in their midst. If Muslims really do share a broad consensus of opposition to free speech and the social liberalism that defines us, then Muslims are quite unlike any other community who have demonstrably integrated and assimilated over time, such as the Irish, Poles, Afro-Caribbeans, Sikhs, Hindus, Chinese, etc.. If Britain’s Muslims wish to both be separate but also have a veto over how non-Muslims are permitted to discuss them, then they are a cohesive political and social problem. So how does a tolerant, cosmopolitan, pro-immigration, free market capitalist, social individualist (‘libertarian’ if you insist) react to the threat posed by an intolerant and even barbaric cultural-religious minority in the midst of his society? Here is where I put myself ‘beyond the pale’ with some people. The short answer is… discrimination.
I have long argued that intolerant Islamic values are a problem that needs to be opposed, not accommodated. However people in the Muslim community need to be opposed not for being Muslims but for refusing to integrate into British society. As so many ethnic groups have successfully (even if not always effortlessly) integrated and assimilated into tolerant British society, the problem is not mass immigration, the problem is Islam and the antithetical values it brings. In short, the problem is Muslim mass immigration and the refusal to reciprocate tolerance for tolerance.
However it is important to keep in mind that Islam is not a race or an ethnicity, it is a religion, and therefore it is a choice. As a result, when the BBC says that the police have arrested a group of “Asian men on suspicion of terrorist offenses”, they are doing everyone a great dis-service by making a remark which is by any reasonable definition racist in the most literal sense. It does not matter that the people in question are ‘Asian’, what matters is that they are Muslim. Race and ethnicity is not the issue and to suggest otherwise is racist: the political consequences of a specific religion and its associated culture, that is the issue. Social mechanisms are the natural defence against people who do not integrate. Inter-marriage and economic participation are the natural rewards for people who do. The evidence that Afro-Caribbean people are now well and truly ‘British’ is the high levels of inter-marriage. But although the state does not force individuals to marry others against their will, it does indeed force the owners of the means of production to rent houses to, and offer jobs to, un-assimilated people. In short, the law prevents discrimination on pretty much any basis. And I would argue that although blanket discrimination against a person on the grounds of their race or ethnicity is almost always a bad thing, discrimination on the basis of a person’s beliefs can be a very good thing indeed. Few Guardian readers seem to have a problem ‘discriminating’ against racists.
If if a woman walks into my office in a burqua and asks for a job, clearly she has not assimilated and I frankly I would rather not hire her for that reason alone, which of course can get me in trouble with the authorities for ‘discrimination’. Yet it is discrimination that is the natural pressure that entourages assimilation. Why should I have to associate with people I do not wish to? If I have the right to free association, surely that must include dis-association. For me to be willing to hire that woman she need do nothing more than take the damn burqua off and make me comfortable that she is not likely to be deeply alien to the rest of my employees. The carrot for assimilating (or at least accommodating) the host culture is economic participation and social harmony, the stick is discrimination and it is a stick the state does not allow people to use. As usual, the state is not your friend, unless you are a Muslim bigot of course.
That is a mistake. We do not need to restrict immigration to defend ourselves, we just need to make people who refuse to integrate a great deal less welcome. Islam and the intolerant social values it imposes are a choice, not a matter of genes, and if you cannot judge a person based on their choices, you cannot judge them for anything, which is preposterous. If most Muslims really do reject the core values that make Britain what it is then they cannot complain if increasing numbers of British people reject the core values of what makes Islam what it is and react accordingly. It is really quite simple to adopt the trappings of ‘Britishness’ and fit in. Jews do not have to stop being Jews to also be British, cannot Muslims also find a way? Perhaps not. But the consequences for not assimilating need to be significant. If Muslim separatists dislike the reception they get, the solution is both simple and quite inexpensive.