We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Richard Miniter stops short

He could have taken his article to this conclusion but perhaps he thought the baggage that would come with it would distract from his intended points. In order for my ‘friendly amendment’ to make sense, it is important to understand what “multiculturalism” really means. Multiculturalism is not a recent ideology. Only the name is new. Most of you are far more familiar with it as “separate but equal”. Wikipedia says:

Multiculturalism is an ideology advocating that society should consist of, or at least allow and include, distinct cultural and religious groups, with equal status.

Separate but equal … segregationism. Multiculturalism as an ideology is diametrically opposed to integration and assimilation. Some have noted a difference in the formation of terrorists in America as compared with Europe but without necessarily attributing it to America’s still comparatively high cultural emphasis and expectation of newcomers to assimilate.

The absence of significant terrorist attacks or even advanced terrorist plots in the United States since Sept. 11 is good news that cannot entirely be explained by increased intelligence or heightened security. It suggests America’s Muslim population may be less susceptible than Europe’s Muslim population, if not entirely immune, to jihadist ideology. In fact, countervailing voices may exist within the American Muslim community.

So what does this have to do with Richard Miniter? He wrote an excellent article published in The American Legion Magazine reviewing several researcher’s findings on what traits terrorists have in common.

Miniter says [my underscore]:

Terrorism is an extension of politics by deadly means. Its goals are inherently political, not economic. The chief aim of most significant terrorist campaigns – from the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka to al-Qaeda – is to force a government to yield sovereign control to the terror group over some slice of territory. … These are not economic goals, but political ones.

I emphasized that point because wherever control is extended, whether in the banlieues of France, by withdrawal of troops from other regions by Spain, or communities anywhere in the first world where policing is stymied and made ineffective by a cultural barrier, terrorists have achieved their goal and are ready to extend their ambitions.

In his review of the studies, Miniter makes a list of three phases in the making of a terrorist.

Alienation. Sageman’s sample reveals that 80 percent are in some way totally excluded from the society in which they live. They are foreign students who do not fit in, or they are immigrants to Europe who do not assimilate. Seventy percent of the terrorists in Sageman’s sample joined a terror group when they were living outside their home countries.

This is where multiculturalism excels. By preventing pressures for, and benefits of assimilation, multiculturalism creates and entrenches precisely the metrocosms where terrorism best germinates. Healthy societies embrace newcomers. While sometimes sloppy or crude, this social embrace is always far better in the long run than encapsulating aliens in a cocoon of ‘respect’. This misguided segregation and self censorship is the surest way to leave people from other cultures feeling alien and unwelcome.

Personal bonds. Eighty-eight percent of terrorists in the Sageman study are related by blood, marriage or friendship to other terrorists. Sixty percent worship at one of 10 mosques worldwide or attended one of two now-closed schools in Indonesia. “You’re talking about a very select, small group of people,” Sageman concludes.

Like this one, perhaps? Once a mindset of terrorism has caught flame, it needs protection and encouragement to develop. It benefits from cultural isolation with highly constrained outside contact and networks independent of the host culture. There must be cultural barriers in place that confine bonding and loyalties to the like-minded. Terrorism cannot thrive in a diverse and interactive community where the structure of the society compels interaction with the larger community. We see this also in some communities in the US where it is considered preferable to shield a violent criminal than to ‘snitch‘ to the outside police.

Group dynamics. Once a network of friendships evolves into a cell, certain group dynamics take over. Cell members feel they cannot betray their friends. The suicide bombers in Spain are a perfect example, Sageman writes. “Seven terrorists sharing an apartment and one saying, ‘Tonight we’re all going to go, guys.’ Individually, they probably would not have done it.

Once the mindset is established and the ambition is formed, it needs to grow, protected, so that it can finish its material and spiritual phase of preparation. It must be located in a place wherethe law and law enforcement is held at bay and, when it cannot be, is at least unable to recognize or understand the dynamics and significance of what little it does see. Terrorism comes from a social group that seals itself against outside discovery and investigation.

Multiculturalism allows each layer of protection to exist like a matryoshka doll. The inner most doll is the terrorist with each of the outer dolls representing another of the necessary shells protecting it. It is this final phase at which most of our interventions are occurring. It should be small consolation to us that we are catching terrorists only after they leave the protection of the many shells and begin taking position for their attack, when we are simultaneously harboring the incubation of a steady supply of them as a consequence of our multicultural policies.

We need to recognize Multiculturalism for what it is. “Separate but equal” in a politically correct wrapper.

120 comments to Richard Miniter stops short

  • the other rob

    Spot on, Midwesterner! I’ve often commented that, when visiting the USA and happening to meet first generation immigrants, the answer to “where are you from?” is always a very proud “America.”

    It’s not a great leap from that level of belongingness to not wanting to blow it up.

  • Wordly

    US’s strength is that it’s a country founded on liberal ideas (=Constitution), instead of loyalty to a specific cultural or ethnic group.

    By contrast, you can only be Finnish if your parents were.And their parents.At the least, they should’ve been white.

    Of course, we could put out a decree that says immigrants must wear sweatsuits and frown a lot.Maybe that will help.

    Seriously, it will help to assimilate people if they have something to assimilate to.Most nation-states are little more than a form of glorified cousin-fucking.

  • Steevo

    This misguided segregation and self censorship is the surest way to leave people from other cultures feeling alien and unwelcome.

    I think you make very good observations, in sync and with proper extension to Miniter’s.

    I would like to mention one factor I believe gives some qualification. We simply do not know how many planned attacks have been stopped in America. A couple years ago I read from what appeared to be a credible source a specific number of thwarted attempts which was significant to me -a number I don’t recall now. If just a few were successful I wonder if this discussion would place less emphasis on America’s ability to assimilate? I’m not disagreeing with your fundamental premise of the alienating nature of multicultural ideology allowing for increased potential but I question if assimilation is ‘as good’ in our country to inhibit terrorist incentive. I don’t doubt it has been a major factor and probably makes us relatively safer than Europe.

  • Other Rob: how many of them were Muslims?

    Mid’s points are very well taken. However, for assimilation and integration to work, there has to be a willingness to assimilate and integrate. I don’t think I’ll surprise anyone by saying that there are people who come to the US for purely material reasons. Nothing wrong with that in itself (I happened to be one of those at the time). Question is, how many of them are willing or even able to identify with its values.

  • Jacob

    Multiculturalism is just wrong or false.
    It says that all cultures are equal. This is not true. Multiculturalism is based on a false assumption.

  • Gabriel

    The assumption of multicultrualism is that all cultures have their own value system and hence it is impossible to pronounce some better or worse according to a universal set of criteria, you have to pick one or another value system and hence your judgement is partial. This is trivially true, but useless as a basis for immigration policy.

    Post-modernists are, as my Scottish relative say, the coo’s tail. They take obvious truths that normal people figured out when they were very young and got over and spin ridiculous philosophies and political ideologies out of them.

    e.g.
    “People’s opinions are influenced by the background in which they were raised.”
    “Yeah, no shit sherlock,”
    “So there’s no such thing as objective truth.”
    “?”

  • Counting Cats

    Ok, the reason I have always opposed multiculturalism is because I expected precisely this. Multiculturalism encourages ghettoisation. Guaranteed to. And cultural ghettos are guaranteed to generate problems.

    Value of a culture is not the issue, a failure to mix the melting pot is guaranteed to result in cultural friction between competing cultures. Although it doesn’t help that Islam has built in structures discouraging integration.

    A society with a few small peaceful separatist groups can smile tolerantly and let them get on with it (Hasidic Jews, Amish). But large numbers of people with competing sets of values? Unstable, deeply unstable.

  • Jameson

    Immigrants in Los Angeles are, in my experience, just as cynical and alienated as those in London. I suspect it is less to do with political ideology, and more to do with the concentration of large numbers of people who do not feel like they belong in the host culture.

  • freeman too

    If people feel they do not belong in a host culture, they instinctively gather more of themselves into tighter groups, putting up barriers (both subtle and belligerent) and sealing themselves into some sort of ghetto. In turn this promotes a further distancing as others resent this continuing grouping and attendant inflexibility.

    They may well be angry or disillusioned because they are not “integrated” but often it is a feeling that emanates from them – or if they didn’t start it they certainly are going to continue damn well not being integrated.

    In the UK there is some evidence of a tradition of “live and let live” but it is a gesture by people who already occupy these islands, not a dictat from elsewhere. Multiculturalism is an intellectual myth from people who imagine they don’t have to integrate because they too are in their own tight communities (politicians, media luvvies, university professors, etc) who exist in a narrow world and believe they know best as they “have thought about this.”

    Multicults love the idea of a large, fluid society but often they pick the terms on which they interface with it. Labour leaders sending their kids to private and not state schools sums it up neatly.

    One of the primary groups who despise this multicultural approach are the Muslims, who not only want their tribal customs in their host country but earnestly want it for everyone else too. Convert to our way or there will be trouble, which good old Bin Liner trotted out the other day. We can however guarantee that multicults will be among the first up against the wall when Sharia law is accepted.

    As far as people and groups like this are concerned those trite little western intellectuals help by promoting other values, sometimes ahead of common sense or local tradition. Multiculturalism has become a stick with which to beat people, wielded by people suposedly far cleverer than you and me, or waved by people who actually don’t want multi anything.

  • Deltawingman

    Separate but Equal. There is another word for that too, coined in South Africa. Apartheid.

  • Brendan Halfweeg

    I’m not equating multiculturalism with segregation or apartheid is as useful as it first appears. Segregation in the US was an acceptable way of preventing African Americans exercising their civil liberties, it was instituionalised racism. Apartheid actually denied civil liberties absolutely to those of non-European background.

    Multiculturalism is different, it seeks to subsidise immigrant groups’ cultural choices and educate the rest of the citizenry of the equality (if not of the validity) of those cultural choices. Not only that, but it also tries to eliminate those aspects of the host culture which are offensive to the newcomers. I don’t think the architects of segregation or apartheid had any great love of the culture of those they were seeking to keep separate.

    Multiculturism is a beauty contest whereby everyone gets a blue ribbon simply because they turned up.

  • Brendan Halfweeg

    My first line should begin reading:

    I’m not sure equating multiculturalism…

  • Midwesterner

    With respect to ghettos, I coined the word “metrocosm” because ghetto, while capturing the appearance, does not at all capture the dynamic of the enclaves we are discussing.

    I googled the ‘word’ and by the time I had scrolled through the pages, only had thirty hits. One of them was a suggestion of the word by a cemmenter in this thread on (brace yourself) the Daily Kos. The commenter ‘Ernest T Bass’ appears to be suggesting it in much the same context that I am using it.

    What I mean by this word is taken from the Greek roots. (in Greek μήτηÏ, mÄ“tÄ“r = mother + κόσμος (kosmos) “world”) In appearance it is the superficially similar to a ghetto but opposite in the ways that matter. A ghetto is enforced from outside and constricts its inhabitants. It is a meta-context embedded within a larger host and is finite and sometimes terminal in outlook.

    A “metrocosm” as I use the word, is formed from within, and is pushing against its surroundings rather than the inverse. It is a meta-context embedded within a larger host that is an incubator for growth. I use it expressly to refer to any aggressive and expansive insular subcultures within a host culture. This aggressive insularity only works if the host culture is either unable or unwilling to exert itself over the invading culture.

    All cultures desire to maintain chosen features when they arrive in a new country. It is how the country responds to them that is important.

    I debated the appropriateness of using a ‘mother’ term for a patriarchal society, but decided to use it anyway because that part is not relevant. A “metrocosm” is in its baldest sense, a womb for the growth new combatants in their campaign for that subculture’s growth.

  • WalterBowsell

    Multiculturalism, or at least the illusion of such, will only work if the host culture’s attributes (again illusion will suffice) are allowed to be flaunted as bigger and more important than those of new cultures.

    In countries where the idea of nationality and pride of citizenship are seen as negatives (no flags at Australian rock concerts, no Georges crosses in English schools) because they might cause offence, new cultures will be encouraged to flaunt their own cultural attributes as greater to that of the host or at the very least a necessity due to the absence of a proud and defined host culture.

    I firmly believe that the American pride of nationality no matter how firmly rooted in reality it may or may not be is one of that countries saving graces against the sort of vile cultural relativism that will soon equate female genital mutilation with Christmas trees in the airport.

    No one can argue that a countries culture will and needs to change over the course of time. The trick is to allow this change happen at a slow and gradual pace. This involves ignoring the requests of new cultures to a degree as you would ignore the tantrums of a spoilt and moody child. That old chestnut “because I said so” as an answer to any outrageous requests works wonders.

  • Alice

    Thanks, Mid, for a thoughtful & thought-provoking analysis. I never thought of the link between segregation & multiculturalism before.

    But there may be more to it than that. You mentioned the Amish — who choose to separate themselves and are no problem to anyone.

    Then consider the Mormons, who are heavily focused within their own community, but still encourage every young man to spend two years outside their community spreading the Word.

    What seems to be different about the Islamists is not their desire to be separate nor their desire to spread their religion — it is their use of violence.

    One of the many bad features of multiculturalism is the stupid idea that all (non-western) cultures are equal — and of course automatically better than the silly old Graeco-Roman foundations of European culture. Question is — how to deal with a culture that embraces violence directed against non-believers?

    There is no question how the liberal guardians of mult-culti would react to the emergence of, say, a Crusading Christian sect which offered non-Christians the choice between conversion & depth. So why do they tolerate violent Islamists? It looks like the multi-cultis cannot shake that old manipulative white liberal guilt.

    The other side of that question is about the non-violent supporters of Islam. If the hypothetical Crusading Christian sect emerged, there is no question that their violence would be condemned in every church in the land. Why do “moderate” followers of Islam not eject the violent from their community? Maybe all cultures are not equal.

  • Paul Marks

    Sadly the drive to assimilate and the belief in “Americanism” or “American ness” is less now than it has even been.

    “How can you know that Paul? You have never been to the United States”.

    O.K. But who can put his hand on his heart and say that all (or even most) Muslims born in the United States feel American first and Muslim second?

    Even when there is no conflict of religion (and whether we like it or not the conflict between Islam and the West goes back more than a thousand years and is not going to end anytime soon), there is less assimilation than there used to be.

    For example do the immigrants from south of the border (legal as well as illegal) really feel “American”?

    No doubt some do, but do most?

    What matters is not the colour of a person’s skin, but the ideas in their head.

    And American education and most of the American media (including Hollywood) is more ANTI American than it has ever been.

    Let us say someone is a “Mexican-American” (the very term ignores Teddy Roosevelt’s warning, but let us leave that aside).

    What are American schools and MODERN American films going to tell him about (say) the war of 1848?

    Are they going to say it was good or bad that California (and so on) became part of the United States?

    Ditto with language. Far from demanding English, schools even in Texas are now experimenting with teaching in Spanish (again ignoring the warnings of Teddy Roosevelt – and ignoring experience from California that mixing up language in school is TERRIBLE for the children of immigrants).

    It would be nice to think that a nation could be held together by a Constitution alone (although, of course, much of the Constitution of the United States has been a dead letter for a very long time indeed). But in reality a basic political loyality (based on history, not on race) and a basic common culture are also needed.

    The sort of thing that gets weaker every day.

  • the other rob

    Alisa: Only a couple of them. That said, while thinking about the answer to your question, I realise that I may have been slightly over optimistic. I have met a few taxi drivers, whose immigration status I had no reason to know (or religion, for that matter, though in the case of the Sikhs I was able to guess) who described themselves as being from India.

    Still and all, I can’t help wondering whether US Islam might be a little bit less mental than the flavour we get over here.

  • I’ll start believing all cultures are equal when the people who assert that believe it. If the culture of Berzerkistan is as good as mine, why isn’t mine as good as theirs? Equality should be commutative, damn it, and until it is, I’ll hold by my culture.

  • Rob: sure. I did say that Mid makes a good point. But all it means is that multiculturalism is conducive to home-grown terrorism*. It does not mean that the elimination of the former will totally eradicate the latter.

    *Still a good enough reason to do away with it, if the fact that it is just so damn nauseating was not enough.

  • Cultural equivalence was one of the wedges that the Gramscian termites used to undermine Western society to thus further the Revolution. Multiculturalism was the bastard child,as half witted as it is pernicious,using all the ploys and outrages of the old left to divide and rule.

  • Midwesterner

    Paul,

    I think you know me well enough to know I agree with your assessment of America. This is why I spoke comparatively w/re to Europe. Clearly our situation with ‘Mexican-America’ or more comprehensively Hispanic-American is a problem area.

    I grew up on the edge of an insular Puerto Rican enclave. Crime was developing rapidly and my father’s company relocated to somewhere safer. It was shortly after that the FALN terrorists sought (against the will of most Puerto Ricans) ‘independence’ for Puerto Rico. (See Miniter’s comments about ‘political control’ above)

    I think your assessment of America is accurate and does not bode well for our future.

    I will point out again to some here that it is not how the immigrants attempt to behave, it is how they are permitted to behave. One language of government, one set of laws. The Hispanic community in the US is being helped to set up a parallel society much as the Muslim one is in Europe. If a government finds need to accommodate someone in another language, they should be providing translators, not other-language government. Translators should only be provided at the governments expense when it is the government acting against the individual (prosecutions, etc). Any body seeking to avail themselves of the benefits of government should be made to do so in the language of the host society. I include in this latter category everything from trade and vehicle licensing to entitlements and ‘benefits’.

  • Joshua

    O.K. But who can put his hand on his heart and say that all (or even most) Muslims born in the United States feel American first and Muslim second?

    Well, obviously it won’t be all, and I’m not even going to bite and say “most” since I really don’t know that many Muslims, but my impression of most of the ones I’ve met is that they are assimilating quite nicely here (Canada is a completely different story of course) and do indeed consider themselves Americans.

    To the extent that I understand Midwesterner to mean that it is Hispanics more than Muslims who are being encouraged to set up a parallel society here (and I realize I’m putting words in his mouth), I completely agree. That seems to be the real analogue to the issues involving Muslim assimilation in Europe.

    Even so, I’m a bit less alarmed about allowing education in Spanish than the rest of you. Such schools existed for German immigrants in large numbers for decades (and German was even the second official language of Pennsylvania until the late 1950s), and the German community was every bit as exclusive and arrogant as the Spanish-speaking community sometimes can be today. In spite of all their best efforts, German never took hold, and that is because the children of immigrants will tend to adopt the ambient language. Even if Hispanics can manage to, as the Germans did, set up communities where Spanish is the ambient language, they will not be able to achieve this for even the majority of the hispanic immigrant population in the US. It is isolated communities within what they like to style their “community” that are Spanish-only, and it seems unlikely to me that they will be able to establish a large enough number of such communities to reach the critical mass necessary to keep the whole pattern going over several generations.

    I don’t mean to imply that I am not concerned about the situation regarding Latin (mostly Mexican) immigrants – just that I am more concerned about the legal and cultural aspects of it than the “danger” that Spanish will be able to set itself up as a second language within the US.

    I am concerned about the legal issues because I think lots of amnesty overtures send the wrong signal about the rule of law (by rewarding lawbreakers at the expense of those legitimate immigrants who jumped through all our hoops).

    I am concerned about cultural issues because – as Mr. Marks rightly notes – too few Americans are shocked by images such as immigrants holding up Mexican flags (rather than our own) while demanding their “right” to come here in violation of our procedures. Too many native-born Americans seem too willing to sell their culture down the river these days.

    But as for Spanish education in some schools in California, I very seriously doubt that will prove to be much of a problem (much the same way as teaching Creationism in a few schools in Kansas will not mean that the entire American scientific community comes crashing down – as many would have it — though of course I realize that teaching one unit in one subject isn’t quite on the same scale as teaching all classes in a foreign language).

    I suppose it will prove to be a hindrance to those students who retain Spanish as their primary language in this English-speaking country, and it should be fought on those grounds. But speaking as a professional Linguist, there is no reason to worry that allowing Spanish-only public schools here and there will tilt the balance to a foothold for Spanish becoming a second, separate language in the US. All it will do is handicap the students who attend these schools when it comes time to pursue a career outside the automobile repair and food service industries – probably persuading most of them to have nothing to do with such schools when it comes time to raise their own kids, actually.

  • RAB

    Brave post Mid my friend.
    I would prefer to go short , funny and to the point, as I usually try to. This one is too complex. It may end up of Marksian length.
    I was going to start by saying that I grew up in a monoculture being born in Britain in the 50s.
    But that’s not really true. Britain has always been 4 Nations vieing with each other. Mainly the three Celtic ones resenting the power of the English one, continually blameing the English for all their woes. Some real, most imagined. Yet we together evolved a unique balance that managed to forge the largest Empire the world has ever known. More by accident than malice aforthought.
    The differences even in the 50s were tangible between us indiginous people, but outright hatred and hostility was rare.
    We managed to fight as one through two world wars and win. We were encouraged to feel British even though we were Welsh, Scottish, Irish and English. The slight differences (though they were always more than slight) were glossed over in the cause of unity.
    Our main differences then were of class. The class war waged by socialism, communism lite if you like ,was the front line of our conscious battles.
    Socialism preached that we are all equal, but somehow the “rich” had stolen everything and made the poor poor. Redress and retribution had to be made. This thought is still uppermost in the minds of ardent socialists.The Empire of course, was also stolen goods.
    The very simplistic idea of Workers of the World Unite was the one that led to the concept that all cultures are also equal and that the supposed downtrodden from wherever they may originate from ,be uplifted whatever the cost to the indiginous population.
    We had an Empire that the socialists thought we never should have had. The socialists came to power in 1948 and bent over backwards to give it all back to those they thought had been maltreated for centuries, and as fast as possible.
    Hence the balls up of the partition of India that led to millions of deaths. Our fault in absentia, not in commission. Also the pull out of Kenya, Nigeria, Rhodesia etc.
    We gave back stable and prosperous countries and economies to those who shouted the loudest for us to leave. The smart folk from those countries have followed us right back here to Britain. Knowing the corruption and massacre that would follow our withdrawl from their homelands. They were right.Many others have followed right along behind them.
    But we have had our borders open for so long now, there is no way we can get back to some kind of stability. Socialism has told them their rights and encouraged all who come here to do their own thing and not muck in with the already fragile alliance the indiginous population had held together for a thousand years because they are just as good as us.So why should they? That is multiculturalism.
    Ha! then they foisted devolution on us! A very bad and divisive idea that has no recall mechanism to it. It is done and we are stuck with it.
    We now have the prospect of people from the same village in India, who arrive in the UK and one ends up in Glasgow encouraged to think himself scottish, another in Cardiff, to think himself Welsh and both to hate their brother who ends up in Bradford because he is encouraged to be English. How sane is this?
    Thing is though our immigrants are smarter than this. They know who they are, and will continue to be. However much Socialism pleads with them to be Workers of the World united!
    My Hindu friends hate the Muslims. The Somalis hate the Jamacans and the Jamacans hate them right back. the Muslims hate everybody , and even other muslims cos their the wrong sect.
    Good ol Socialism eh?
    Workers of the world- You Fight!
    Each other.

  • Midwesterner

    Joshua,

    I’ve wondered about why it is turning out differently with the Spanish language population. Looking back certainly at Midwestern history, there has been much education in other languages. Why does it seem to be turning out so differently this time? I think it comes down to two factors that are unprecedented. One, the wide ranging welfare state. Like your comment suggests, the ambitious ones (legal or not) adapt and learn English. But at time when ever higher percentages of all Americans live off of the state in some way, and when social programs are administered in Spanish, it is easier to never adapt. But the big difference is the shear numbers this time. Spanish language speakers are far bigger of a share of the population nationally than any group ever (save English speakers).

    Since this is a national and not just a regional or local population, the things that other language ghettos were missing, national news and entertainment outlets in their tongue, exist now along with large enough populations to show national political power. All of the previous language ghettos I found where isolated once they stepped out of the neighborhood. There were Norwegian immigrants in the Dakotas that went 3(?) generations without speaking English. But none of these groups could move around the country and exist in a parallel society. Spanish speakers can and do. None of these other groups (or Spanish speakers in other times) had the huge degree of clout at a national level and the political savvy to work the political system.

  • Midwesterner

    Well, RAB, I enjoyed the long comment. My eyes are a bit strained but it was interesting and enlightening.

    I have an observation and a question for you (or any others). I know many immigrants to the US and there is a type that has been mentioned by others in this thread, that out-Americans those of us who were born here. They came here expecting something and they are going to find it if they have to make it. They are the ones who struggle with newly learned English to insist they are “American”.

    I have suspected that something similar happens with some immigrants to Britain. People who have a historically based perception of Britain and come looking for it. Are there any or many immigrants that are more pro-British than the native British?

  • Midwesterner-

    I’ve wondered about why it is turning out differently with the Spanish language population.

    I’m not so convinced things are turning out differently for (this particular wave of) the Spanish-speaking population in actuality. But assuming you’re right and they are, I would submit that the more likely cause is that there’s an endless flow of them made possible by the bleak political future in their homecountries coupled with the willingness of certain “administrators” (the so-called Commander in Chief among them) to ignore the law to “help” them get here. Mass German, Irish and Italian immigration were all fairly time-limited things – because the situations in the homecountries eventually improved enough to stop it. In the case of Spanish-speakers, we’re really not dealing with single countries or political situations (though I guess Mexico is the most prominent at the moment). So it’s a trend in a unique position to continue, unfortunately.

    If there’s going to be a Spanish-speaking foothold in the US, I think it will have more to do with the fact that they can keep replenishing the base of native speakers more than with the fact that they are getting social services in Spanish. Immigrant languages wither and die; they lose out to the ambient language in all cases. They only ever survive this by cutting themselves off in such a way that their children are unaware, in some important sense, that they are living in a larger nation (and fostering this illusion is much less possible today in the age of mass media than it was for isolated Norwegian farming communities a century ago; it was largely a lost cause even then). However, I’m not sure what happens when there is an endless (and possibly ever-increasing) supply – spanning several generations – of native speakers to keep the language alive – so maybe this makes today’s Spanish-speaking immigrants special.

    The fact that they are getting social services at all – where they wouldn’t have been 100 years ago – may well also play an important role, as you say (though I doubt it would ever be decisive in and of itself). Alright – I’ll change what I said and agree that it worries me that we’re paying people not to work – for all the usual reasons, of course, as well as the added reason that it may be sustaining “unnatural” linguistic communities within the greater English-speaking community.

    As for it having to do with available entertainment and news in Spanish – well, all that stuff was available to the Germans too. They had schools, newspapers with near-national circulation, and there was no shortage of German theaters etc. And German immigration was spread out over the whole of the Midwest (the Irish and Norwegians et al were more concentrated in their chosen cities/regions) – so in that sense they had the base for a trans-national community in the sense you talk about.

    I’ll have to concede that the Germans never had the same level of political clout. Certainly they wanted it and actively sought it, but they don’t seem to have had as much success as the Spanish-speakers organizing a political lobby. I suppose that will have been a result of the fact that American culture is more socialist and happy to blame itself for everything today, even (especially?) problems it hasn’t caused, than it was back then.

    Alright, so there is a case that this population may be exceptional. I would just like to say that, linguistically speaking, they have huge hurdles to overcome getting an established linguistic foothold in a nation as otherwise monolingual as the US (of course there are many languages spoken here, but there is really only one language of prestige, regardless of the absence of official status for it). Maybe the differences you outlined (and I expanded on) are enough, maybe they aren’t. Time will tell. Certainly I agree that the US needs to stop apologizing for speaking English when that is the established national language both in terms of history/tradition as well as simple demographics.

  • RAB

    It’s beddy bobbo time for me, being twenty past three Mid, but the short answer is… I think No.
    It is very hard to find anyone who thinks themselves actually British these days, even amongst us who have been here since the ice sheets receeded.
    We’d like to, but Socialism has done it’s work well!
    Thing is we have never had to think about it before.
    Now is definately the time. Or it may be too late!

  • Counting Cats

    Are there any or many immigrants that are more pro-British than the native British?

    Yes, me.

    When I first went to London I was a died in the wool Anglophile. Had always been one, would always be one.

    I am somewhat more cynical about the Brits now, but I still regard them as an admirable people, and as Imperialists, somewhat preferable to the French, Dutch, Belgians, Portuguese and Spanish. I still have no idea why Britain is turning itself into just another European country, given that its institutions and attitudes have proven so much more stable, honest and conducive to development over the centuries than those of, say, well, just about anyone.

  • The real problem with the Spanish language issue in the US is not the fact that the Latinos want to teach their kids their language, but that they want it paid with tax dollars. I am sure that the Germans in the MW mentioned above did not have this “luxury”, and taught their kids German at home or in private schools. There are western countries that are bi-, and even tri-lingual, and it seems to work reasonably well most of the time. Spanish is a European language that has a lot in common with English (through Latin), so I would say that this should be viewed as the least of the problems which arise from immigration. Which leads me back to the original premise: how big is the chance that the Latino community becomes a hotbed for terrorism in the way the Muslim communities in Europe have become?

    Speaking of Germans (OT): some 15 years ago or so, when I was still subscribed to Time magazine, they published a survey that showed the German ancestry to be the most prevalent among American citizens – I wonder how much truth is there in this.

    Counting Cats: I am very curious as to where you are from – you don’t have to answer, obviously. And, I strongly agree with your last paragraph.

  • Let’s see. “Assimilation” = “Using one’s person and property in a similar way to those around you, by following the the “cultural norms” of those around you.” Meanwhile, “libertarianism” = “the belief in a full right to dispose of your person and property as you see fit.”

    Seems to me that libertarianism entails that people shouldn’t have to “assimilate” if they don’t want to.

    There is the counter-position of the Borg, of course: “You will be assimilated; resistance is futile.”

  • Paul Marks

    Joshua

    It is not a matter of teaching in Spanish (and the rest of the use of the language by government) proving to be a problem in the future in California – IT HAS ALREADY HAD TERRIBLE EFFECTS, not least for the children of immigrants themselves. As for the German language example – that dog will not hunt, the United States did not have a long land border with any German speaking country and no part of the United States had a history of being part of a German speaking country.

    Sadly votes to end these social experiments were struck down by the courts – the Judges in this matter (as in so many matters) are determined to do all they can to destroy the United States (the influence of Marcuse as well as of Gramsci – via the university education of the people who one day become judges).

    “But as a libertarian you should not believe in government schools”.

    Quite so. But that does not mean that, whilst they exist, I do not care what goes on in them.

    Ditto other government activities (libraries and so on).

    There is no reason what-so-ever why an Hispanic should not make a good American (I can think of half a dozen people I see on Fox News every week, for a start), but only if American culture and history is presented in its best light, i.e. if people are led to WANT to become Americans (not just live in the United States and get benefits of various sorts).

    Muslims:

    Islam is what it is.

    There is the basic theology (as expressed in the holy writings of Islam) and there is the matter of history (which is NOT how the liberals present it).

    If most Muslims were converting to Christianity (or to atheism) there would be no problem. However, as things are, there is always the danger that nominal Muslims (the nice people one meets) could at some point get interested in their religion and become active Muslims.

    Such restorations of Islamic belief (moving away from laxness and toleration of others) has happened many times in history – in many places.

    “But Christians have committed the most terrible crimes in the name of their faith”.

    Quite so, but Jesus did not – Mohammed did.

    This is a difference in kind at the very foundation of the two religions.

  • Seems to me that libertarianism entails that people shouldn’t have to “assimilate” if they don’t want to.

    Libertarianism holds that people shouldn’t be legally forced to assimilate. So in that sense, you’re right. However, Libertarianism also very definitely holds that any decision not to assimilate on the part of new immigrants should NOT be made at the expense of the rest of us. That is to say, they are free to choose not to assimilate if they wish, but we should not be forced to pay to support this decision – in, e.g., the form of providing them what Midwesterner calls a parallel legal society, complete with compulsory education in Spanish, driver’s license tests in Spanish, courts and police that operate in Spanish, etc. As I was trying to argue in my earlier comments, the resources needed to sustain an alternative linguistic community within a monolingual society are huge – because it simply doesn’t happen that immigrant languages take hold. The deck is very much stacked against them. I don’t object (on any legal grounds) to their trying to set up an alternative linguistic community, I just don’t think that I should be taxed to help them fight nature in this way. Nor do I think that Spanish should be adopted as an alternative legal language until they have established their parallel linguistic community – which, to date, they have not. Allowing people to interact with the government in Spanish at this point is putting the cart before the horse and amounts to a subsidy.

    This is a consistent Libertarian position. People are free to attempt the impossible; they are not free to require me to help foot the bill for their pet projects. That’s all.

  • RAB

    Quite so Paul. I am listening to someone on 5 live right now discussing Ossies latest video and what it’s purpose is.
    The thrust is that the militants are targeting Europe mainly to radicalise their own moderate Muslims. They wish to force them to take sides and do not wish them to get too comfortable in their new home.
    They wish to push the non muslim populations of Europe into a violent backlash that will move the average muslim to their side as either active or at the very least passive but support roles. Hiding activists and storing weapons and explosives for them.
    Like Alisa, I too am curious Counting Cats (thanks for the attitude by he way. I just havent met anyone like you in a long time).
    To answer the question as to why we are turning ourselves into just another European country, the short answer is that since the early 70s, when the arse was out of our collective trousers economically thanks to the policies of various Labour Governments, and little improvement from Tory ones, we have been told that we will go bankrupt if we do not join the collective.
    The main villain though was the Traitor Heath. A self obsessed buffoon of a man who forced us into Europe out of his own personal conviction.
    Cabinet papers were released last year under the 25 year rule, that stated that Heath set up a committee of Civil Servants to evaluate the benefits and disadvantages of EU membership (Common Market then.Softly softly catchee monkey you see).
    They came back and reported that on balance the disadvantages far outweighed the benefits. Heath binned the report and ordered the civil servants to “Get us in at all costs”
    I did not see one article that howled with outrage at this blatent decepetion. I couldn’t believe it!

  • As for the German language example – that dog will not hunt, the United States did not have a long land border with any German speaking country and no part of the United States had a history of being part of a German speaking country.

    Hmm… I think I was pretty clear in my concession earlier that if there is anything special about Spanish in the US it is precisely that – that there is an endless supply of Spanish-speaking immigrants, which would not have been the case with the Germans earlier. The border certainly plays a role in making that “endless supply” a reality, and in that sense you’re probably right. However, I don’t think too much focus should be put on the border itself. The critical factor is how long a wave of immigration (i.e. over how many generations) can be sustained. It wouldn’t have mattered whether or not German-speaking countries had a border with the US if they could have kept the troops marching over here longer than they did, I suspect.

    It is not a matter of teaching in Spanish (and the rest of the use of the language by government) proving to be a problem in the future in California – IT HAS ALREADY HAD TERRIBLE EFFECTS, not least for the children of immigrants themselves.

    This will not do. You will need to supply some examples for this argument to be convincing.

    And just to be clear – we agree that immigrants have the right to send their children to private Spanish-only schools, yes? The “catastrophic” effects of doing so be what they will – so long as they foot the bill?

    It is not my responsibility to help immigrants assimilate any more than it is my responsibility to help them refuse to assimilate. What they do when they get here is their responsibility, to be done at their own expense. I agree that the government should not be helping them refuse to assimilate. However, I think a lot of people here are confusing short-term gains with sustainability. The children of immigrants will, in all cases, adopt the ambient language, rather than the language of their parents, as their primary language (though the second generation often remains bilingual). That is scientifically well-established; feel free to check the literature for yourself. A handful of schools taught in Spanish will not be enough to sustain a parallel Spanish-speaking nation in this English-speaking country. The objection is that our tax money is funding Spanish-speaking schools – not merely that they exist as there is very little danger that they will be successful on the kind of scale they need to be to realize all the fears of the ‘English-only’ crowd.

    There is no reason what-so-ever why an Hispanic should not make a good American (I can think of half a dozen people I see on Fox News every week, for a start), but only if American culture and history is presented in its best light, i.e. if people are led to WANT to become Americans (not just live in the United States and get benefits of various sorts).

    I certainly have no objections to this. We should definitely stop teaching a skewed view of American history wherein America is always on the bad side of any controversy. However – and again, just to be clear – I think it would be just as bad to err on the other side – i.e. the way Japan does it, writing history textbooks that are essentially works of fiction for the purpose of painting their own country in a good light. Ideally, history texts should emphasize what’s good about the US, yes, but not at the expense of truth. I realize you have not tried to argue that we should invent history for the purpose of assimilating immigrants, but I thought the point worth emphasizing all the same.
    There are limits to how far you can go “presenting history in its best light.”

    “But Christians have committed the most terrible crimes in the name of their faith”.

    Quite so, but Jesus did not – Mohammed did.

    This is a difference in kind at the very foundation of the two religions.

    Well, fine, but how many Christians do you really know who live entirely by the Bible (or have even read the whole thing through)? Religions are largely matters of convenience. They reflect the things believers want to hear. If a group of Christians decides they want to slaughter whole tribes of natives, a suitable interpretation of the Bible can be found that will allow it. Likewise, if Muslims want to settle down and eat at the table with the rest of us, no doubt a suitable interpretation of the Koran can be found that will allow that too. It is, I think, no accident that most of the baddies come from Saudi Arabia. That is a country where the local religious culture encourages all kinds of savagery. There are comparatively fewer terrorists from other Muslim countries, where the local religious culture is not so harsh.

  • Midwesterner

    Mexico has a philosophy called “mañana” or “tomorrow”. I wonder how much this has to do with a lower intensity of conquest. But the Puerto Rican FALN definitely played hard ball and conducted several terrorist attacks. The terrorist’s intent (absolutely predicted by Miniter’s article) was to pry Puerto Rico away from the USA in spite of a repeatedtly expressed intent by Puerto Rican voters to maintain commonwealth status (which means Puerto Rico compares most closely to statehood but with more autonomy and less representation.

    Regarding the prevalence of German ancestry, certainly true here in Wisconsin. And if any of you are ever at University of Wisconsin-Madison, go to the Rathskellar in the Union and have a look around. The Rath is the social center of the campus. My father actually learned more German than he did the language of his own parents, who immigrated without a word of English.

  • Midwesterner

    Joshua,

    Well, fine, but how many Christians do you really know who live entirely by the Bible (or have even read the whole thing through)?

    I have to part ways with you on the Bible says what you want it to claim. It does not. Anytime you find someone making those kinds of claims for violence, theft or whatever, they will ALWAYS resort to the Old Testament. Whenever my father heard those claims, he would set the people back to the New Testament to find it and surprise, there is nothing from Christ to support it. Paul has a very good point there.

    Regarding familiarity with the Bible, as you spend more time in the Midwest away from universities, you will find that regular churchgoers (and many others) are far more familiar than you think. My father read a chapter a day for his entire life and that was above and beyond all his regular, church based studying. Attend almost any Evangelical church’s adult Sunday school classes and you will be amazed at the depth and accuracy of what is taught.

    For the record, I advocate for agnosticism but was raised in an Evangelical family and community.

  • Midwesterner

    Joshua,

    If there’s going to be a Spanish-speaking foothold in the US, I think it will have more to do with the fact that they can keep replenishing the base of native speakers more than with the fact that they are getting social services in Spanish. Immigrant languages wither and die; they lose out to the ambient language in all cases.

    Go to any retail store in the nation. Go down any aisle and pick up any product. Read the box and pull out the instructions. You will find Spanish. No other immigrant group ever even remotely approached that level of ubiquity. Now, you are confused, ask any sales staff “habla espanol?” and in any store of any size any where in the nation, odds are extremely high they will find you someone. No other immigrant group ever achieved that level of ubiquity either.

    (In major grocery store franchises in the Southwest aimed at Anglo customers, I have needed to go the “Do you speak English?” route and wait while they tried to find me someone.)

    The only other ubiquitous language here is all products intended for Canada have French on them. But in the US, if you need French language assistance in a store, good luck. The odds are far lower. And do we really want to pursue a Canadian language model?

    Europeans will think this comment strange because you are used to seeing instructions in a dozen languages. That is because Europe was and still is in most ways not a nation.

  • Midwesterner

    There is one utterly intractable problem with attempting to conduct government in two languages. The two sets of laws will be in different languages (duh!) and this means they can never be certain to agree. Judges will need to learn the law in both languages and reconcile them and enforce an interpretation that best accommodates both language versions.

    This means that citizens will have to do something similar. We have probably thousands of million of laws, statues, rules, regulations, guidelines, standards, etc in the US Fed and state governments. There is no possible way even in good faith to make them all agree in two languages. They can’t even agree in one. And after the political spin lobbiests infiltrate the reconciliation phase of markup … !?

    This means there can either be subjective law where people have to comply with whatever court they happen to find their selves in. Or we must have two parallel systems of laws. Which means, in fairness, we must be free to choose which one we want.

    No matter how it is attempted, all laws must be in one language or bedlam and ultimately civil chaos will be the result.

  • Paul Marks

    Midwestener

    Mexicans can be rather active if they want to be – think of the vast numbers of people who were killed after 1910. They are not always sleepy people.

    Joshua.

    I apologize for misunderstanding your German example.

    “Give me an example of a terrible effect”.

    O.K. How about the messed up economic chances of the children of immigrants (that was not true of German immigrants in the 19th century).

    Or the separate (and hostile) culture that is forming, or has already formed.

    Religion.

    Sorry religion is not totally flexible.

    If a person wants to be “like Jesus” that may indeed mean (for some people) that they go around overturning money changers tables. But the liberation theology people are really athiests (Marxists in this case0 – and this is shown by the fact that whenever they took over an order of priests on nuns (or whatever) in the Roman Catholic Church that order went into to DECLINE.

    If a person wants to be like Mohammed they are going to study the words and life of Mohammed.

    What do you think that is likely to lead to?

    Jesus was not into capturing towns by armed invasion, killing or enslaving those who did not accept his religion, raping children (and so on, and so on).

  • Paul Marks

    “But most Muslims are really nice people. And some of the greatest cultural achievements in the history of humanity have been produced by Muslims”.

    Totally true, and not relevant.

    A nominal Muslim is not a problem, a Muslim who tries to follow the teachings and example of Mohammed is.

    This is the unexploded bomb principle.

    When Gordon first went to the Sudan the population was tolerant in matters of religion (although the old Christian kingdoms of Sudan had only been finally destroyed a couple of centuries before) and culturally tolerant as well – bare breasted women and other such.

    Gordon went away for a few years, and on his return found the situation totally changed.

    The “Mahdi” did not operate in a void, he took a potential that was there and exploited it.

    He argued, quite correctly, that the people were lax – they were not following their religion. Of course he exterminated all who defied him, but many followed him willingly (being led to feel shame for the previous tolerant laxity).

    Such restorers of Islamic values are many in Muslim history.

  • If a person wants to be like Mohammed they are going to study the words and life of Mohammed.

    What do you think that is likely to lead to?

    I think it is likely to lead to exactly what you say – killing, arrogance, conquest, etc. My point was that the overall percentage of people in any religion who are so serious tends to be rather small – at least in civilized countries. I hate to sound like a Marxist here, but I really do think that as economic conditions in the Muslim world improve, such fundamentalism will become less attractive. Muslims will begin to do what Western Christians do – which is adopt a decidedly milder version of the philosophy than is outlined in the actual book. Religion takes on a wholly different character when people are fed and happy – and that is because people who are fed and happy tend to be less religious on the whole. (And right, I’m completely aware that Bin Laden never suffered. There are always such eccentrics in the world, regardless of social class. As a general social trend, though, I think most of the people doing the actual suicide bombing are in dire straits, and it is, after all, the general attitude of Muslims we’re interested in, not the fringe, which can never be controlled and exists in any society, regardless of dominant religion.)

    To put it differently:

    A nominal Muslim is not a problem, a Muslim who tries to follow the teachings and example of Mohammed is.

    Right, I agree. And I think there will be more “nominal Muslims” as a percentage of the total as things improve for them – just as most Christians are now “nominal Christians” in the West. Simple belief in Islam, in other words, does not doom one to be an enemy of a free society. Perhaps a literal interpretation of Islam does, but there won’t always be as much of that going around as there is today.

    O.K. How about the messed up economic chances of the children of immigrants (that was not true of German immigrants in the 19th century).

    I think we’re talking past each other here, then. In my original comment, I said “I suppose it will prove to be a hindrance to those students who retain Spanish as their primary language in this English-speaking country, and it should be fought on those grounds.” and “All it will do is handicap the students who attend these schools when it comes time to pursue a career outside the automobile repair and food service industries – probably persuading most of them to have nothing to do with such schools when it comes time to raise their own kids, actually.” So I don’t disagree with you that Spanish-only public schools are a hindrance to the people who attend them and should be fought on those grounds. My concern was with correcting the impression that these schools alone would lead to heightened ability to resist assimilation. Again, I think it has almost nothing to do with the presence of such schools here and there. It’s more a matter of whether the population of native speakers can be replenished with each generation to an adequate degree. I’m willing to admit (and have admitted) that there is cause to worry here, just because there may well be no end to the waves of sp-speaking immigrants coming in. But the mere presence of schools that cater to them is not enough to allow them to establish a foothold – just as it hasn’t been for other equally-dedicated mmigrant groups in the past.

    In any case, it’s my fault. I shouldn’t have asked for examples of “catastrophic consequences” for the students involved since that’s not really my primary concern here. I’m actually talking about something else, and shouldn’t have written a comment as though I were interested in ensuring the best possible educational conditions for the children of incoming immigrants because I am not really so interested in that. Certainly the leftist urge to segregate everyone into ghettoized communities should be fought – but this is a more general issue than the immigration issue, and I am afraid I have been mixing topics. Sorry.

  • No matter how it is attempted, all laws must be in one language or bedlam and ultimately civil chaos will be the result.

    This may be a bit overstated. Canada has issues with this, but not nearly to the degree you are suggesting. It is, as countries go, very stable on the whole, though there are certainly legal interpretational issues here and there.

    Go to any retail store in the nation. Go down any aisle and pick up any product. Read the box and pull out the instructions. You will find Spanish. No other immigrant group ever even remotely approached that level of ubiquity. Now, you are confused, ask any sales staff “habla espanol?” and in any store of any size any where in the nation, odds are extremely high they will find you someone. No other immigrant group ever achieved that level of ubiquity either.

    Just to keep the record straight here – I have no objections to stores providing Spanish services if that’s something they think will help them make profits. The difference with Canada is that those French labels on products are required by law. I hope you understand that I am not advocating requiring Spanish labels, or Spanish service, by law. Quite the contrary.

    As for the ubiquity, however, point partly taken.

    Nevertheless, English remains the ambient language in the overwhelming majority of American stores. It is the dominant spoken language heard in the background, the language most prominently displayed, and the language in which it is easiest to interact with the store employees. This means that the children of the people availing themselves of Spanish services are highly likely to adopt English rather than Spanish as their dominant language in spite of the best efforts of their parents. That has been the whole point of explaining that immigrant children adopt the ambient language rather than the language of their household. The language they choose to adopt need not be the language they use most during the day, in fact – at least, not when they’re very young. It need only be the socially prominent language – which English is in most parts of the country. It is true that a Spanish-only existence is available to people who really want it. But such things have been available to immigrant populations in the past, and those populations all assimilated, with time. In short, I see that Spanish is more ubiquitous than German or Italian were in the past, but I am not convinced that even this level of ubiquity is enough to overcome the well-documented patterns of immigrant populations. Children of immigrants, though possibly bilingual, are always dominant in the ambient language. Unless English ceases to be the ambient language in large swathes of the country, Spanish is unlikely to survive here more than another generation or two.

  • RobtE

    Are there any or many immigrants that are more pro-British than the native British?

    Yes, indeed. In my case, I am an immigrant twice over – first to England and then to Tyneside.

    As for being pro-British, I cannot remember having wanted to live in any other country. I believed that everything I admired or thought worthy was to be found here. And my day-to-day encounters with the English have tended, largely, to bear that belief out.

    Unfortunately, whatever disillusion or cynicism I’ve picked up has been almost entirely learned from the picture of Britain shown to me by our media – in particular, Radio4.

  • Midwesterner

    But Canada has the advantage of being able to divide along geographical lines. The US does not. And I do think it is only a slight exaggeration to say that Canada is very much two divisible nations standing behind one international face. From Boston to Minneapolis, and just about everywhere else, you will find high populations of Spanish speakers. We could never divide up by state or province. I really don’t think the Canadian model is good for them (but they don’t have much choice) and certainly I don’t think it could work here.

    I am citing the virtually universal Spanish language labeling as evidence of the problem, not the problem itself. If I was marketing a product, I would almost certainly label it in Spanish both for marketing purposes and to protect against product liability lawsuits for not providing Spanish language instructions.

    If there’s going to be a Spanish-speaking foothold in the US, I think it will have more to do with the fact that they can keep replenishing the base of native speakers more than with the fact that they are getting social services in Spanish. Immigrant languages wither and die; they lose out to the ambient language in all cases.

    This thing reminds me of something else that is unique to this latest Spanish trend. The revolving residence. Even among legal aliens and even some immigrants, there is a back and forth across the border and a continuous contact with the ‘Old’ country.

    My grandparents never again saw the country they left. Their only communication was by post.

    If English remains permanently the language of the USA, I think it will be because it remains permanently the language of international trade and business. If it loses that status internationally, it could well lose it here too.

    I can not think of any … with your expertise, maybe you can. Has there ever been a time in US history where it was possible to live in the world culture of another language from within our borders? The most similar circumstance that comes to my mind is the Norman conquest of England in which the Norman culture was able to remain (I think) quite well connected to France. But of course, look at what happened to language subsequent to that.

    My fundamental concern is to have only one language of government and only one set of laws. Beyond that, as for what happens in the streets, let the market decide. If we hold government to the one-language standard, what will probably happen is what usually happens. English will grow and include much from Spanish that becomes generally accepted and understood English. Eventually the absorbed language will find its way into our laws. But there must only ever be one set of laws and the regulations, procedures, etc that derive from them.

    Does that seem reasonable and like a good standard to you?

  • Gabriel

    As per usual when a Muslim apologist makes the Tu Quoqe argument to a Christian, the Christian responds that this is all the Old Testament and the New Covenant is perfect on the violence front.
    The first thing to point out is that this is demonstrable horseshit. Jesus was prefectly clear that he came not to “bring peace, but a sword” and, actually, if you bother to stop your ignorant twittering and bloody well read the bible you’ll find that there is more violence the pound per pound in the New testament than the old.
    The Old Testment contains many history books and – guess what?- History contains a hell of a lot of violence. There is not, though, a senstence, nay not a word, in the whole Old Testament that is remotely as hateful, vengeful and violent as Revelations. Lest we forget, Christians worship, as Acts records, a god who kills people for the grievous sin of owning property. (The fact that Jesus was a mentally unstable communist is a relatively trivial fact.)

    If you perfectly followed the New Testament, to borrow the analogy used, you’d establish nothing more nor less than a totalitarian death cult. Such cults should be stamped out with maximum discretion. If worst comes to worst they might infect the high-ups and then, hell, you might end up almost destroying western civilization and plunging your continent into centuries of intestinal war.

    Secondly, does it never occur to these New covenant fundamentalists* to ask why it is hat the past 2000 years were not characterised by a constant stream of pogroms and repression by the Jews on Christians? Why, if the New Testament is such a wondeful panacea, are Jews not a bunch of violent thugs? Which testament did Hitler ban: your wonderful New one wherin it is desribed how your Moloch–god sentences people to eternal hellfire before they are born, or the Old one? Would you prefer to live in 18th century England or America, whose inhabitants were noted for their remarkable affinity with the Hebrew bible, or contemporary Spain where the use of Old Testament names was an offence?

    For some reason Christians assume that everyone thinks their Covenant of pure love is so great, to the extent that they haven’t even processed the possibility that some people find it to be evil. Not, I hasten to add, that it is perverted by evil men, but that it is intrinsically evil itself. That is why Hitchen’s latest work, despite being cock, is, at least, refreshing.

    *I use the term because, as it happens, disparaging the Old Testament is a violation of the 39 articles and, at least in British terms, makes you a heretic. I would not impugn proper christianity with the views propagated on this thread.

    (As it happens I think, broadly speaking, Christianity is a good thing and has been so for many centuries, but it is good only to the extent it remembers the messages of justice and freedom taught by the Old Testament and rejected by the New).

  • Gabriel

    Btw anyone who makes the claim that the Old Testament and the Koran are similar has either never read one or both of the pair or is a flat-out moron who couldnt pass an O-level literature course.

  • RobtE

    Midwesterner –

    …something else that is unique to this latest Spanish trend. The revolving residence. Even among legal aliens and even some immigrants, there is a back and forth across the border and a continuous contact with the ‘Old’ country.

    It’s not as unique as you might think. The history of immigration into the US between Independence and WWI can be divided into two loose periods. The dividing line is somewhere around 1890.

    In the first period, the migrants were predominantly from northern and northwestern Europe. After about 1890 the primary centre of immigration switched to southern and eastern Europe.

    This second group – Italians, Austro-Hungarians, Poles, Russians, etc – differed significantly in several ways from the previous immigrants. For one thing, they tended to be significantly poorer and more poorly educated. Secondly, there was a greater degree of travel back and forth to the Old Country. The Italians in particular were known for their to-and-fro-ing. My great-grandfather did it. Like many of his compatriots, he worked a few years in the US, saved a lot of money and then went back to Italy and spent it.

  • RAB

    Sorry Gabriel but you will have to give me some references here.
    I have read both the old and New Testement and have an O level in religion. The old fashioned kind. Not the pick n mix bit of everybody’s religion they dish up now.
    Not read the Koran I must confess, life is to short (well mine certainly would be if its advocates saw my lifestyle!)
    I also have an O and A level in Literature.
    Now if I remember rightly (it has been 30 years) Jesus went around saying things like “Blessed are the peacemakers” (not the cheesemakers. Listen up at the back there) and “Turn the other cheek” “Love your enemy”.
    He came into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey not an armoured charger, with twelve blokes who didn’t have a penknife between them.
    Where the friggin hell is the violence in the New Testement???

  • Midwesterner

    Er … Gabriel?

    Maybe you want to see if you can do a little better than that. To provide a little more background for your not to “bring peace, but a sword” reference. If you read on in Mathew (which you are referencing), a couple of verses later you will find “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me”. It is kind of hard to carry a cross and wield a sword simultaneously, don’t you think? Or could this have been rhetoric?

    The generally accepted teaching in any church I ever attended is that the ‘sword’ was the ‘word’ or law, separating believers from non-believers. By the way the New Testament is written, the first four books are different people’s recollection of the same things. So look to Luke’s version of Jesus’ statement. In the King Jame’s version it is “1 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: The NASB is similar with “51 Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division;

    Also, it seems you are inclined to confuse Christ’s apocalyptic predictions his instructions.

    I think if you are going to make such sweeping assertions about Christ’s teaching, you need to reference them. And I have no inclination to turn this into a theology thread. It holds no interest to me except as a guide to the various adherent’s root beliefs.

    As for your vague assertion that Acts says Christians worship a God who kills property owners, a reference might be nice?

  • RobtE

    As for your vague assertion that Acts says Christians worship a God who kills property owners, a reference might be nice?

    I assume it’s a reference to the story of Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5. If so, it’s a complete and utter misunderstaning of what the story is about.

  • My fundamental concern is to have only one language of government and only one set of laws. Beyond that, as for what happens in the streets, let the market decide. If we hold government to the one-language standard, what will probably happen is what usually happens. English will grow and include much from Spanish that becomes generally accepted and understood English. Eventually the absorbed language will find its way into our laws. But there must only ever be one set of laws and the regulations, procedures, etc that derive from them.

    Does that seem reasonable and like a good standard to you?

    Of course. I don’t think anything in my comments can have given the impression that I am advocating a Canada-style system. My point was simply to argue that what seems like linguistic isolationism now will in all probability not last (and the major reason for that being because – precisely as you say – the Spanish-speaking population is not sequestered off in a Quebec-like quasi-nation of its own – thus English is the ambient language in their communities, and their children will end up learning it as dominant language whether their parents wish it or not). There are, as I have conceded, reasons to worry that this group of immigrants may prove more resistant than others – I just don’t necessarily agree on what all of the reasons for concern are, or with the degree of concern that I’m hearing here. That’s all.

    Certainly I agree with you that nations are better off with only one language of law, and I hope the US is able to keep English as the de facto national language here – if for no other reasons than that I am an English speaker, and (more importantly) because this maintains continuity with the established legal tradition. However, were the Spanish-speakers to succeed in becoming the majority linguistic community here, I’m not sure how we could justly refuse to adopt legal code in Spanish at that point.

    Fortunately, from what is known about immigrant linguistic behavior, I will be very surprised if that day ever arrives.

  • Midwesterner

    RobtE,

    That would be funny interpretation, indeed. I was always taught (I think correctly) that the sin A & S were being punished for was attempting to lie to God. My dad always said they should have either kept the money or given the money, but not kept some and said they gave all of it. For others, here is a fairly mainstream interpretation of that story.

    Joshua, I could see laws in two languages, just not one law in two languages. There can only be one law regardless of language. I think we agree. I hope your predictions are correct. And I give a lot of credence to them.

    BTW, I heard something (I don’t have a link) that after decades of fading, regional accents are making a slow comeback. Is that true? If so, it doesn’t make sense to me. Is this something you know or have heard anything about?

  • Joshua,

    I think you are exactly correct. The implication of your view, however, implies that “multi-cultuaralism” and “non-assimilation” are not the problem. The problem lies in forcing others to pay for living under seperate cultural processes.

    Richard

  • Midwesterner

    Joshua,

    I should clarify that. I didn’t say it well.

    I can see laws in two languages under one government. Example being maybe Spanish language laws exclusive to Puerto Rico that are written, read and interpretted in Spanish. It would be a problem as cases moved through the appellate system, but …

    But I can not see single laws with two distinct language versions. That would be a political playground.

  • RobtE

    Midwesterner –

    “A political playground” is a masterpiece of understatement, to put it mildly. From a linguistic viewpoint, it’s impossible.

    No two languages can be mapped to each other one-for-one. Leave aside so-called untranslatable words that require circumlocutions to express in English. Even basic vocabulary carries with it a set of baggage that only native speakers may be aware of. It’s the old distinction between denotation and connotation.

    We know from case law that legal cases can and do sometimes depend on determining the probable intended shading of a particular word or phrase. Suppose a law exists in two languages, both of which are equally valid. And suppose a dispute arises as to the exact meaning of a statute. You can work out the potential difficulties. For me, the thought of it makes my eyeballs bleed.

  • Gabriel

    Maybe you want to see if you can do a little better than that. To provide a little more background for your not to “bring peace, but a sword” reference. If you read on in Mathew (which you are referencing), a couple of verses later you will find “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me”. It is kind of hard to carry a cross and wield a sword simultaneously, don’t you think? Or could this have been rhetoric?

    The generally accepted teaching in any church I ever attended is that the ‘sword’ was the ‘word’ or law, separating believers from non-believers. By the way the New Testament is written, the first four books are different people’s recollection of the same things. So look to Luke’s version of Jesus’ statement. In the King Jame’s version it is “1 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: The NASB is similar with “51 Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division;

    What exactly do you think this proves? The fact is that Jesus’ intention was to sow dissension, almost certainly of a violent nature. I do not regard this as something a founder of a religion should be doing.

    This is exactly it. Christian and non-Christian alike both lazily assume that the New Testament is just *obviously* a praiseworthy moral document. After this conclusion has been reached then one can start cutting up the verses to fit their procrustean bed.

    That would be funny interpretation, indeed. I was always taught (I think correctly) that the sin A & S were being punished for was attempting to lie to God. My dad always said they should have either kept the money or given the money, but not kept some and said they gave all of it. For others, here is a fairly mainstream interpretation of that story.

    Yawn. Their crime was failing to fulfil the requirements of the apocalyptic cult they had joined, namely owning no property. If they had kept the money they would have been expelled from the cult and thus damned to eternal torture, so that won’t wash.
    In any case, let’s say you’re correct, I gurantee you I can find an explanation of any part of the OT that you find objectionable that meets the same moral criteria (remember your explantion still has G-d killing liars. Do you go around in death squads killing liars huh, do you?)

    think if you are going to make such sweeping assertions about Christ’s teaching, you need to reference them.

    Oh, but of course. You can, naturally, rag on my bible all you want, with no specificity at all. After all, Jewish on Christian violence has demonstrated the superiority of New testament ethics to Old beyond the point where we really need any more evidence, no? No?

    Now if I remember rightly (it has been 30 years) Jesus went around saying things like “Blessed are the peacemakers” (not the cheesemakers. Listen up at the back there) and “Turn the other cheek” “Love your enemy”.

    Jesus also referred to Gentiles as swine, he said a lot of things, mostly contradictory, it’s kind of what ranting demagogues do. People came to Jonestown with a dream of peace and love in their head too, y’know, that’s how cults commonly work. The violent denoument that Jesus was longing for is clearly present. Why do you think he told his followers to buy swords, for fencing?

    Where the friggin hell is the violence in the New Testement???

    Too answer your question in one word: Revelations.
    How many people do you estimate would have to die for a river to flow with blood?

  • Midwesterner

    For me, the thought of it makes my eyeballs bleed.

    You’re from Texas?

    :-)

  • Midwesterner

    Gabriel,

    Nobody attacked Judaism. Your uncalled for vendetta against Christianity is inappropriate, plain wrong and completely off topic.

    The topic is multiculturalism.

  • RobtE

    Gabriel –

    remember your explantion still has G-d killing liars.

    The “G-d” construction is something I’ve only ever seen in Jewish writings. Can we conclude from your use that you’re coming at the question from a Jewish viewpoint? I ask only because I wish to understand where it is you’re coming from.

    Too answer your question in one word: Revelations.
    How many people do you estimate would have to die for a river to flow with blood?

    Look, I don’t want to hijack this thread and make it a theological discussion. That said, however, you do realise, don’t you, that Revelation (no “s”) makes sense only in the light of the OT prophets. Almost all the imagery used in the Revelation is a direct reference to the OT.

  • I really don’t see the point of arguing who’s book is better. All writings, including scriptures, are subject to interpretation. Any idea, no matter how noble and peaceful, can be twisted for purposes neither noble, nor peaceful. It’s the interpretation that matters.

    …but I really do think that as economic conditions in the Muslim world improve, such fundamentalism will become less attractive.

    But there is a catch: that same fundamentalism is preventing the economic improvement.

    I think that there is one major point that is generally overlooked in these discussions: religion and culture are two sides of the same coin. the way I see it is that certain religions originated from certain cultures. Later, when they are adopted by different cultures,they are modified to suite that particular culture (although I tend to think that these adoptions aren’t purely incidental).

  • Gabriel

    I have to part ways with you on the Bible says what you want it to claim. It does not. Anytime you find someone making those kinds of claims for violence, theft or whatever, they will ALWAYS resort to the Old Testament. Whenever my father heard those claims, he would set the people back to the New Testament to find it and surprise, there is nothing from Christ to support it.

    This is an attack on Judaism, of a very common type – the fact you don’t recognise it says it all. (Just to head it off, I am not accusing you of anti-semitism.)

    Nevertheless I will desist, except to say that the Old Testament bad, New Testament good line has been possibly the most successful part of the Gramsican cultural left’s attempt to subvert and pervert the western moral tradition.

  • The Old Testament contains many history books and – guess what?- History contains a hell of a lot of violence.

    What about all the laws in the Torah? “Eye for eye”, for example?

  • Midwesterner

    No Gabriel, it is not. It is a statement that the new Testament’s stands pertaining to physical violence have to do with receiving it. My statements make no judgment whatsoever about what is found in the Old Testament, or any other Book for that matter. You are free to defend that as you see fit, but not in this thread.

  • Midwesterner

    Alisa,

    religion and culture are two sides of the same coin.

    Very much so. If I ever had to live in a theocratic state, it would be one run by this religion. However, they precluded that possibility in number 5. Also, I don’t think this platform is still formally practiced by anyone. As I recall, it was replaced by the Columbus platform.

    I wonder about your last paragraph. It seems that creative and free thinking societies have the capacity to incubate destructive religions. Not something that is well understood, I think.

  • Pa Annoyed

    “How many people do you estimate would have to die for a river to flow with blood?”

    Khalid bin Walid says “about 70,000, give or take.”

  • Gabriel

    . We recognize, in the modern era of universal culture of heart and intellect, the approaching of the realization of Israel s great Messianic hope for the establishment of the kingdom of truth, justice, and peace among all men.

    You do know what Reform Judaism was a front for? I’ll give you a clue.

    In full accordance with the spirit of the Mosaic legislation, which strives to regulate the relations between rich and poor, we deem it our duty to participate in the great task of modern times, to solve, on the basis of justice and righteousness, the problems presented by the contrasts and evils of the present organization of society.

    They didn’t even really bother to hide it because that would have taken too much work, which is why they say things like this

    We reassert the doctrine of Judaism that the soul is immortal, grounding the belief on the divine nature of human spirit, which forever finds bliss in righteousness and misery in wickedness. We reject as ideas not rooted in Judaism, the beliefs both in bodily resurrection

    Alisa, I can’t imagine why anyone would have a problem with punishment being proportional to crime. I believe Augustine nipped that one in the bud long ago, but, like I said, I’ll obey the orders of the threadowner.
    The point that I was trying to make is that the problem with Islam is not that they do not have anything like the New Testament among their canon, you should re-direct your search … but I suppose I should have just said that.

  • Midwesterner-

    But I can not see single laws with two distinct language versions. That would be a political playground.

    I agree it’s to be avoided. I should add Canada gets away with it largely because Quebec has a separate legal system.

    BTW, I heard something (I don’t have a link) that after decades of fading, regional accents are making a slow comeback. Is that true? If so, it doesn’t make sense to me. Is this something you know or have heard anything about?

    This is a claim I have often heard made but never substantiated. I’m not saying it’s false, just that I’ve never seen the data. Sociolinguistics isn’t my particular subfield. I’ll ask some friends who would know. (I personally find it implausible. Certainly it’s not the case for me or my sister. My parents have thick North Carolina accents; we don’t.)

  • Midwesterner

    Thank you, Gabriel.

    You demonstrate how easy it can be for someone like me to think I understand somebody else’s religion. Hhmmm… maybe it’s just better to judge the individual adherents of a religion on the basis of their own claims and deeds? Not try telling them what they believe?

    Now can we please go back on topic?

  • Midwesterner

    Thanks, Joshua. Your read on it sounds about like mine. But I’ve heard the claim made several times. Enough to make me wonder. If you hear anything interesting, LMK.

  • Richard-

    I think you are exactly correct. The implication of your view, however, implies that “multi-cultuaralism” and “non-assimilation” are not the problem. The problem lies in forcing others to pay for living under seperate cultural processes.

    Right, so probably I’ve stated my case too strongly. I don’t want to write “multiculturalism” off as a culprit entirely. ;-)

  • RAB

    My things have moved on a pace since I went to dinner havent they!
    Gabriel.
    I am an atheist. I studied it but did not believe a word of it. I was brought up in a Welsh Non conformist chapel tradition. The books of the Bible were written by men long after the events recalled had supposedly happened. Long acknowledged to be the fact. Revelations looks and feels like something of an aboration added by some swivel eyed type that bears little relationship to the rest of the books of the New Testement that relate the story of Jesus and his teachings. Quite a few books were left out as not being cosher as it were. The ones that were in and those that were out was decided at a Church council meeting back in whenever, 9th Century? I dont do consensus religion any more than I believe consensus science.
    The gist is the world is going to end. Any scientist will tell you the same.The task for the human race is not to still be here when that inevitability happens.
    This contrasts with Muslims belief that the Koran is the direct and dictated word of God.
    Two languages and one Law? Try this-

    http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/cms/12003.htm

    Now then Multiculturalism anyone!

  • Gabriel: crime and punishment was not really my point, but my last comment was not important enough, not to mention OT, so let’s just forget it.

    Mid:

    It seems that creative and free thinking societies have the capacity to incubate destructive religions.

    Can you give an example?

  • Midwesterner –

    It’s apparently a claim made by William Labov on the basis of his dialect research – to the effect that regional dialects are more different now than they were 100 years ago. He measures this mostly phonologically (i.e. pronounciation not grammar). I have no idea what his criteria for saying so are as I haven’t read much of his work. He has several landmark books out that you can easily check for specifics, though.

    At least, this is the answer I got in email this morning. I don’t have any friends who directly do Dialectology – but a friend of a friend does, and I’m still waiting to hear from her. I imagine she will say roughly the same thing, though. Labov is the name that always comes up when talking about Dialectology.

  • Paul Marks

    I apologize if we are talking past each other Joshua.

    But I am NOT talking about “Spanish only” schools (or Spanish only anything). I am talking about schools that are not “English only”, unless the children are totally embraced in English they, and the United States, are in real trouble. “But I know of people who….” yes, no doubt – but I bet they were mostly people from comfortable backgrounds (to use your economic point) not poor children (or poor adults).

    This is quite different for Islamic terrorism – there economics will not do what you think it will, if anything it works the other way.

    When Muslims are very poor (subsistance leve), what matters is the family and the clan-tribe.

    It is only when people get better off that they become interested in such things as Pan Islamic idenity.

    It is no accident that many of the terrorists are from wealthy backgrounds.

    The neocon dream that (1960’s Star Trek, “all the way with L.B.J.”, style) “schools and hospitals” and other nice things are going to win hearts and minds is deluded.

    State schools can be as Islamic as schools funded by Muslim charities (so more state schools in Pakistan are not going to solve anything) and many rich people give money to the worst groups in the Islamic world (so more rich Muslims is not going to solve anything either).

    I do not see the neocons supporting Christian schools in Afghanistan or Jewish ones (not a joke – there is a Jewish school in Birmingham England that is majority Muslim – King David’s school).

    There used to be big network of Christian mission schools in Pakistan (where young Muslims learnt that Christians were neither monsters or natural slaves), but that stupid secular socialist Bhutto closed them down in the early 1970’s.

    His daughter (by some accounts) is almost as stupid as he was (so who is Washington D.C. thinking of supporting? Yes you guessed correctly).

    You should be interested in this, as if “economic progress” leads to a reduction in support for radical Islam (your theory not mine) then the Pakistan People’s Party should be kept as far away from power as possible.

    Judaism.

    I do not have much of a problem with a “tooth for a tooth” myself. It is a limiting clause (punishment should be in proportion to the crime) – even in the 1820’s English law had death as the punishment for hundreds of crimes (some quite minor). Although, I believe, that only the Ten Commandments (and a few other things) are the direct word of God – a lot Jewish law is the interpretations of human beings.

    Pius human beings no doubt – but still human beings.

    I have more of a problem with such things as the Book of Joshua (no attack on the Joshua on this thread).

    Invading the lands of other people, exterminating the population of entire cities (and so on).

    Although I have made the comment on another thread it is worth making it again – I do not think that Joshua interpreted want God wanted correctly.

    “But you are not a Jew, neither in belief or in blood” (the National Socialists would have gassed me as they gassed relatives, but orthodox Jews trace the line down the female line and my mother was a Power).

    Well my Aunt is (and a pius orthodox one at that) and her opinion on this matter is no different from mine.

    In fact I have never met a Jew who held that Joshua acted correctly.

    Ask Muslims if they will attack the actions of Mohammed.

  • Midwesterner

    Alisa,

    I use ‘religion’ generally to mean any organized group that claims they know the one and only purpose for the existence of humans. The destructive religions (some recognized but some not normally thought of as religions ie Marxism, Communism, Nazism, ‘Greens’) attempt to turn all of society to their purposes. Since they know the one and only proper structure and true purpose for humanity, some of the more extreme examples consider themselves entitled to kill others and in all cases, they claim authority to govern them. I think it proper to consider these other belief systems as religions because they always contain a theological stand that they use to justify their authority. (Agnosticism makes a lousy platform for a demagogue.) Even the atheistic demagogues use the no-god theology as a weapon to attack opponents. And they can use it to make all of the category of claims and authorities normally associated with religions.

    This is not to say all religions are bad. There are some that specifically disavow authority over others. I thought I had found one of the rare examples until Gabriel set me straight. Rereading that last paragraph of the platform with his guidance was a disappointment to me, but I am quite sure he is correct. In any case, I still say not all religions/belief-systems are necessarily bad. Only that all bad beliefs claim a moral authority over others.

  • But I am NOT talking about “Spanish only” schools (or Spanish only anything). I am talking about schools that are not “English only”, unless the children are totally embraced in English they, and the United States, are in real trouble.

    As I have tried to explain, the United States is not in trouble until this becomes a general trend that enables large sections of the population to grow up without exposure to English of any kind. A handful of hispanic communities here and there with Spanish-only schools will only handicap the children they send there; they will not manage to change the linguistic culture of the nation. The children of this wave immigrants will in general adopt the ambient language (English) just like every other group did because that is what the children of immigrants always do.

    I object to Spanish-only public schools because: (a) they are a brazen attempt to avoid assimilation paid partly at my expense and (b) they will handicap the children who attend in their attempts (should they make them) to integrate into American society later in life. I am NOT, however, all that worried that this attempt to avoid assimilation will succeed. All it will succeed in doing is delaying the inevitable linguistic assimilation by at most another generation.

    IF there is a danger of America going bilingual, it is because there is a virtually unlimited supply of new generations of Spanish-speaking immigrants. THAT is what it would take to establish a stable foothold covering enough territory for a long enough time. That (coupled with a general PC-multiculturalist willingness to bend over backward for anything that’s not traditionally American) might be enough to set up Spanish as the ambient language in large enough sections of the country to pose a threat, yes. But the presence of local schools here and there taught all in Spanish is hurting no one but the children who attend those schools. It is not an indication that the United States is in “real trouble.”

    When Muslims are very poor (subsistance leve), what matters is the family and the clan-tribe.

    It is only when people get better off that they become interested in such things as Pan Islamic idenity.

    Yes, and when they get better off still, they stop worrying about pan-Islamic identity again and start buying SUVs and going to the beach for fun.

    I don’t have a problem with the idea that Islam as written is virulent. It is. But people don’t generally take up arms and fight if they have a lot to lose and little to gain. Back when Europe was poor, religion used to be the dominant concern there too. Once production began to pick up, so did secularism, and religion itself became increasingly private, individual, and moderate. Islam as we know it now can’t thrive in the modern world. People who are Islamists manage by living physically in the modern world but mentally in some other medieval world. That requires a great deal of mental effort.

    It will never be the case that there are no Islamists, no terrorists, no jihadists, whatever. But it will come to be the case that their numbers are smaller and smaller and eventually vanish into insignificance as Muslims in the Middle East get more educated, own businesses, travel around a bit and meet the other citizens of the world, etc. Muslim fundamentalism will become like Christian fundamentalism is today – something that confines itself to small towns and is talked about more than actually practiced. There is no “Christian” nation anywhere in the industrialized world that actually takes Christianity seriously anymore. There are annoying blue laws, and that’s really about all.

    The only theocratic political movements I know are among Third World people. That isn’t to say that pampered First World intellectuals don’t sometimes participate – looking to soothe existential angst or what have you – but the movements themselves are sustained by Third Worlders. Unless Allah is real and the Koran is not fiction, I can’t think of any reason why Islam and Islam alone should be resistant to the pressures of civilization. No, I can’t buy it. Once Muslims in general get richer and have a stake in the material world, they, like every other religion has done in the past, will start picking and choosing the bits they want to believe in – and those bits will be the ones that allow them to leave their neighbors alone and mow the lawn on Saturday. Religion, quite simply, will become less important to them just as it has done for nearly everyone in the West.

  • Midwesterner

    Joshua,

    Thanks for that info. It gives me a handle on something I didn’t even know quite how to search. I can see (as a temporary phase) that while the internet functions as a written medium, phonology could diverge. But as audio-video becomes a greater part of internet communication, I think the radio/TV driven homogenization of phonology while continue.

    Although it could also sustain the capacity of very different cultures to survive in distant places from their base. What I find dangerous about Multiculturalism is the enforced segregation by a minority within both the host and sub cultures interfering in the natural progressions that you describe in your comments. Multiculturalism is a synergy between the two cultures forces for enforced segregation. The host culture must in no way enforce the segregation of the sub group and it must also not allow itself to be used by a minority of the subculture to enforce segregation on the rest of that subculture.

  • Midwesterner

    Yes, and when they get better off still, they stop worrying about pan-Islamic identity again and start buying SUVs and going to the beach for fun.

    Unfortunately, this statement is demonstrably wrong. There is no upper level of wealth at which the pan-Islamic types “start buying SUVs and going to the beach for fun.” The epitome of Islamic terrorist, Osama bin Laden, comes from a family that is rich even by Saudi Arabian ideas of wealth.

    I encourage you to read Richard Miniter’s article again. Wealth/poverty and terrorism is the essential point he is addressing.

  • The epitome of Islamic terrorist, Osama bin Laden, comes from a family that is rich even by Saudi Arabian ideas of wealth.

    Osama bin Laden is the exception that proves the rule. There are always eccentrics who deviate. Kirk Cameron, for example, didn’t become an evangelical until after he was famous, and there was nothing in his family background that would have predicted it. I would not want to conclude from the existence of Kirk Cameron that Hollywood actors in general are fundamentalist Christians!

    I am concerned with the general trend in the Islamic world, because that is all that it is practically feasible to ever be concerned about. There will always be a radical Islamic fringe. The question is whether the Islamic street is so radicalized. At present, there is broad cultural support at least for the motives of the terrorists in the Islamic world. This will not always be the case.

    Bin Laden can be what he will. The average Saudi rich kid is a spoiled playboy who boozes and wenches with the best of them. Just like rich kids of all religious backgrounds the world over.

  • Midwesterner

    You are making a mistake of logic here. It is entirely possible for the great majority of a subset to come from a particular part of the entire set. But this does not mean that that particular part must entirely be made of the subset.

    Most mass murderers are male. You are male. This does not mean you are a mass murderer. But neither does it mean that mass murderers are not disproportionately male. They are.

    Most terrorists are found to come from the high end of the financial and educational spectrum. (Did you read either the article or the research it cited?) This in no way means that wealth and education creates terrorism. But it DOES mean that wealth and education not only don’t reduce terrorism, they correlate with it.

    Also, a small distinction, it is not necessarily the “motives” of the terrorists that the Muslim in the street supports. As long as there is a legitimate death threat against opponents, “why” they do what they do (or don’t do) is speculative. The vast majority of Muslims do not support terrorism, they just do not actively resist terrorists. (Although that may be changing.) Please read the research that Miniter cites. If you have a problem with the quoted researchers’ methods, that is a point to be made, but you are making a contrary claim in the face of the research without providing any contrary data (or data at all).

    Osama bin Laden is not an anomaly. He is an exaggeration of the norm.

  • Most terrorists are found to come from the high end of the financial and educational spectrum. (Did you read either the article or the research it cited?)

    No, I hadn’t read it. I jumped in this thread to argue the linguistic point. I have read it now, and I will have to concede that my stereotype of an islamic terrorist is badly skewed.

    However, I don’t think that completely undermines my historical point. Religion is currently a dominant force in Arab society, as it generally is in poorer societies. It was a dominant force in Europe as well before Europe joined the modern world.

    I do not believe that there is anything about Islam that makes it so exceptional that it will not follow the same historical trend that other religions before it have followed – which is to say that it will become moderate and tolerant and in general play less of a role in people’s lives as the society that hosts it liberalizes.

    Religious extremists in modern Europe and America are relatively tame. This was not always the case.

    I think probably the explanation has to do more with where middle-class alienated people run when they decide to go radical. In Europe and the US they become Socialists and Anarchists – because these are the ideologies that seem sufficiently radical, pure and (most importatnly) “scary” to them. In Arabia they become Islamists – because Islam in its current strain (at least in Arabia) is radical, violent, “scary,” etc. My point is that Islam will not always be this way. It will weaken and change, as all other religions have weakened and changed, when Arabia as a whole is more modern.

    I do apologize for my ignorance of the profile of an average Islamic terrorist.

  • Nick M

    Joshua,

    They’ve had 1400 years and and the likes of OBL, Zawahari, Abu Hamza, Ahmandinajad are just the same as big Mo. In fact they’ve gone backwards compared to the syncretic Islamic cultures of the caliphate. And that ended in 1253(?).

    “When Arabia is more modern” – yeah, right. With a few exceptions (Dubai) that just ain’t happening. Even if it were, how long you gonna wait for Islam to have a Renaisance, a Reformation and an Enlightenment?

    Personally, I just don’t see it happening. If you take the nasty and weird bits out of Islam you’re left with something that Muhammed would not even vaguely recognize. I suspect Jesus though would recognize much modern Christianity.

    The problem with Islam is that it was founded by a deeply vile man. You might as well argue that Nazism could’ve been “reformed”.

  • Midwesterner

    Don’t apologize. It’s the generally accepted, MSM promulgated explanation.

    ideologies that seem sufficiently radical, pure and (most importatnly) “scary” to them.

    Heh! What could be scarier than an ideology hawked by an ominous indigo website with guns and radically rational, subversive books at the banner head?

    It will weaken and change, as all other religions have weakened and changed, when Arabia as a whole is more modern.

    Yeah, but do we really want to live through somebody else’s Dark Age? If they would keep their Dark Age in their own countries, we probably wouldn’t mind so much.

  • Alice


    Religion is currently a dominant force in Arab society, as it generally is in poorer societies. It was a dominant force in Europe as well before Europe joined the modern world

    .

    Well, I don’t know how you determine if religion is a “dominant force” in something so complex and varied as a society of millions of human beings. But if we use things like building churches, church attendance, public prayers, etc, it is fairly clear that religion was a strong force in Europe at least through the Great War and arguably through World War II. If abandoning religion is the definition of “joining the modern world”, then Europe signed up somewhere between 40 & 80 years ago — a human lifetime or less.

    There have been many periods throughout recorded history of religious declines, revivals, schisms, etc. It is rather presumptuous to assume that the post-WWII decline of Christianity in Europe represents a whole new norm — the final accession of Europe to the club of the “modern world” (wonder who the earlier members were?) — rather than simply the latest swing in certain continuously-changing societies.

    The whole rickety theory of Arabs eventually outgrowing religion sounds a little like the “end of history”-meme — the one that now looks so Sep 10.

  • The whole rickety theory of Arabs eventually outgrowing religion sounds a little like the “end of history”-meme — the one that now looks so Sep 10.

    Actually, I’ll confess to believing in something like that. I think humanity improves with time (though in the same way that the stock market does – through cycles of bust and boom, just with the general average value increasing over time), and outgrowing religion (which I suppose it’s pretty clear I think is superstitious nonsense) counts as “improving” in my book, yeah.

    I’m not going to try to argue this point here (I suppose it counts as “off topic”) – but it’s only fair, when someone calls me on my biases, to admit them.

    With regard to the point about Europe abandoning churchgoing only a generation or so ago – I definitely see your point, but I disagree that that’s the relevant measure to this discussion. The relevant measure is just when a religion becomes moderate enough that wars are no longer fought primarily over it. I would say that for most of Europe Christianity reached that point in the 19th (or even the 18th) century. This isn’t to say that there weren’t plenty of true believers running around Europe, just that Christianity ceased to be a real political danger. It remained (and remains) a political annoyance, but it has largely stopped being the primary cause of wars (in the way that Islam still is today) – at least in Europe.

  • The relevant measure is just when a religion becomes moderate enough that wars are no longer fought primarily over it.

    I realized as soon as I typed this that I’m going to get jumped on just for the way it’s worded. Of course we can nitpick all day over what causes this that or the other war, so it would have been better to say that the relevant measure is when religion stops being a motive for people to fight – the way that Islam remains a motive for people to fight today.

    Yes, I further realize that there were wars in Europe in the 19th century in which religion could be said to be a motive. But I maintain that the general pattern had stopped by then.

  • Mid: I agree with you, I always think of religion as an ideology that has the distinction of being backed up by a Higher Being(s). That is a bit simplistic, because in actuality there are other distinctions. One of them is the fact that the 5(?) major religions that exist today are steeped in centuries of history of their respective cultures, and are (or at least were until very recently – see Alice’s last comment) an organic part of these cultures. Ideologies are, almost by definition, much smaller in scope, at least if measured on the axis of time. It took less than a century for communism to collapse, and about a decade or so for Nazism to do the same.

  • My last comment was made to support the line of thought that very strongly ties certain religions to certain cultures. Along that particular line, Islam does not come in very favorable light, at least when tied to the ME, particularly Arab culture. Another point against Islam: during the Dark Ages Christianity and the developing Western culture that was tied to it, did not have a close proximity and intense interaction, and competition, with another, much more developed culture. In other words, there was no WTC for Christians to envy and to attack.

    Yeah, but do we really want to live through somebody else’s Dark Age? If they would keep their Dark Age in their own countries, we probably wouldn’t mind so much.

    A very good point.

  • Midwesterner

    In the conversation so far, we have discussed the closer comparison of Hispanic relations in the USA as having the character that appears to incubate Islamic terrorism in Europe. I tried to think of Islamic terrorists that did not arrive in the US already with the intent. The only one I can think of off hand is Jose Padilla.

    Jose Padilla was born in Brooklyn, New York, but later moved to Chicago, Illinois where he joined the Maniac Latin Disciples street gang and was arrested several times. During his gang years, he maintained several aliases, such as José Rivera, José Alicea, José Hernandez, and José Ortiz. He was convicted of aggravated assault as a juvenile when a gang member he kicked in the head died.[1] After serving his last jail sentence, he converted to Islam,[2].

    Curious.

  • Nick M

    Alisa,
    I’m not sure Nazism counts as an ideology because it’s pretty much by definition not exportable. The Wehrmacht didn’t rampage around Europe looking for “converts”. The Greens & the Communists…

    Mid,
    Jose Padilla is very typical. In Jason Burke’s book on Al-Queda (called “Al Queda”) Burke identifies two very common-classes of terrorists. There are the brains and the muscle, The brains (Atta, Al Zawahari) are invariably middle-class and educated. Then there’s musle – the petty thugs and drop-outs (Richard Reid, Al Zarqawi) who discover Islam in stir. Burke provides, I think, a rather good analysis of the reasons for both these groups to choose jihad but it’s rather to long to go into right here, right now.

    I will though add a thought of my own. Europe has a very large muslim prison population. This is not widely publicized but a lot of our “standard” petty thugs are muslims and you know how cliques form in prisons. kids of “muslim heritage” are likely to hang with the muslims and “rediscover” their faith. Add that to the fact that they’re angry young men and pretty much unemployable in mainstream society (UK Pakistani males do appallingly at school) and on their release they gravitate to hanging round the mosque a lot.

    We have a lot more to fear from the 18 year old Pakistani who is pimping his car and living fast and loose by dealing E than the 18 year old who is pious and devout. Unfortunately the former is very common because it’s not unusual for the parents, faced with the task of controlling their teenage sons in the land of vice to make a tacit deal: accept an arranged marriage in a few years time and we’ll turn a blind eye. That’s got to be quite an odd way to live.

    I probably should’ve fleshed that all out more but I’ll leave the epic posts to Mr Marks!

  • Nick, re Nazism: true, but beside the point I was making.

    We have a lot more to fear from the 18 year old Pakistani who is pimping his car and living fast and loose by dealing E than the 18 year old who is pious and devout.

    What makes you think so?

  • Nick, re Nazism: true, but beside the point I was making.

    We have a lot more to fear from the 18 year old Pakistani who is pimping his car and living fast and loose by dealing E than the 18 year old who is pious and devout.

    What makes you think so?

  • Mid, take a look at this. The PDF file linked within takes forever to download – I might try later.

  • Midwesterner

    Alisa,

    I printed it off and skimmed it during breakfast. Here is the first paragraph of the preface –

    In December 2005, the Dubai Consortium invited
    Adel Imam, Sir Bob Geldof and I to address the
    Nelson Mandela Benefit Dinner in Dubai. On that
    occasion, I presented the concept of ‘an inclusive
    world’. I argued that exclusion caused by
    comprehensive relative deprivation fostered terrorism
    and extremism and therefore that it was necessary to
    create inclusive structures to dissuade young people
    from taking up violence. My concept of inclusion
    extended from local communities to the global power
    structure. As I was speaking in Dubai, I particularly
    focussed on the Middle East.

    That kind of gets a range on the work. It continues in a predictable way. The first paragraph of Part I, says a lot about the author’s meta-context. –

    The period since the end of the Cold War has been characterised by some scholars as the Clash of Civilisations. […] By definition, those who are
    civilised do not clash; they reason it out. Those who
    clash are not civilised. Thus, the clash is always between the uncivilised.

    A little more –

    In the absence of a universally accepted definition of terrorism, it is best to be guided by the unanimous resolution of the United Nations. […] This resolution builds on the UN Security Council Resolution 1566 (2004), which categorically rejected all acts of violence with objectives to influence politics or policies against civilians and non-combatants.

    I imagine that policy might have altered allied tactics in WWII. But we mustn’t judge, must we?

    Even so, I continued to scan, hoping for statistics. The discussion of the US began with –

    In Europe, right wing extremism is racist, ultranationalist and xenophobic, but not religious. In the United States, racism is not comparatively strong,
    but Evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity is on
    the rise.

    But don’t worry, those Evangelicals haven’t gotten to the blowing things up part of their plan. –

    The rise of religious fundamentalism in the United States is currently limited to a non-violent social agenda,

    But be careful because later we learn that –

    As of now, Evangelical Christian movement as
    well as the latent White supremacist groups represent
    extremism, a force aiming to change the mindset of
    people and character of the society by using aggressive
    propaganda and persuasion strategies.

    After that sentence, the author goes on to say they “do not represent terrorism” etc.

    An interesting bit I heard on MSM a few weeks back was a rather surprised sounding reader stating that Evangelicals were (among?) the most integrated institutions in America. Which sure matches my observations. Integrated ethnically, economically, educationally…

    The entire pattern of the paper is to use suggestive language throughout to hammer an agenda. One of the four parts of the book is devoted entirely to the “Arab Islamic Renaissance” in which we learn that

    It is possible to revive the Arab spirit by drawing constructive lessons from the region’s own history. The Islamic cultural tradition can supply such a vision, leading to the resurgence of science, technology, rationality and progress across the Middle East.

    If you really want to read the entire thing, good luck.

  • Midwesterner

    Alisa, about John Walker Lindh, curious. In my original article, I quoted Miniter –

    Alienation. Sageman’s sample reveals that 80 percent are in some way totally excluded from the society in which they live.

    I looked in the link you gave me and the first thing that jumped out at me was –

    Walker was sickly as a boy due to an intestinal disorder, after briefly attending several middle schools his family opted to homeschool him starting in 1993, when he was 12.[citation needed]

    During this time, Walker was a shut-in, rarely leaving home but increasingly participating in IRC internet chat rooms. He became a devoted fan of hip-hop music, and engaged in extensive discussions on Usenet newsgroups about the music, sometimes pretending to be African American.[2] During this time, Walker saw the Spike Lee film Malcolm X which made a deep impression on him, and began his interest in Islam.

    At age 14 Walker’s health improved and he enrolled at Redwood High School as a freshman. He struggled to fit in though, and after 5 months he left the school for an independent study program, eventually earning a GED at age 16.

    I’m not sure if it is significant but it is, again, curious.

  • Midwesterner

    Nick M,

    I don’t have the book by Burke so I looked at lots of reviews to see if I could find out where he got his statistics from. I failed in that effort (all though everybody seems to agree he is ‘well documented’) but I did find a couple of reviews that seem to challenge the thugs-for-muscle interpretation of the book.

    From Spike Magazine

    They are rooted firmly in a disenchanted middle-class, whether doctors like al-Zawarhi or rich businessmen like bin Laden himself. They are disenchanted chiefly due to a hurt sense of national (or pan-national/religious) decline. They are utterly hostile to religious tolerance, the Enlightenment, Jews, women or minority rights, and also to socialism and the labour movement at large. Indeed, al-Banna himself was an explicit admirer of Nazi Germany. As Burke shows, the hard-core of the real “terrorist cells” taking action against the West are profoundly educated and middle-class themselves. That an increasing minority come from genuinely impoverished backgrounds in the last two years (as he also demonstrates) only goes to show the counter-productive effect Western activities have had. There is still a key difference however, on the whole, to the masses tacitly sympathising with atrocities through desperation and those carrying them out themselves.

    And from a reviewer on Amazon

    If anything, he wrote, there were three al-Qaedas. One is what he called “the al-Qaeda hardcore,” based in Afghanistan, comprised of men such as bin Laden, Mohammed Atef, Abu Zubaydah, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and others, a small group of militants, generally Afghan war veterans. Then there “the associate members of al-Qaeda,” long-term associates of bin Laden and the hardcore, not usually based in Afghanistan, who accepted missions from them, acted as intermediaries and recruiters for not only the hardcore but for others, and also undertook projects of their own. The third group is vast, amorphous, and hard to define, basically the movement of modern radical Islam itself, with its myriad cells, domestic groups, and individuals.

    So I couldn’t actually find statistics or even statements to support the two social tier idea. If you can, could you quote just a few of his stats? How do they compare with the stats that Miniter’s sources were using?

    Thanks.

  • Nick M

    Mid,
    Jihadi background stats might be a little tricky. But… Ooops – I think Burke specifically used the “muscle” line with wrt to 9/11. His book definitely left me with the impression that there are smart manipulative ones such as bin Laden and Zawahiri and the dupes like Richard Reid who are taken in by them. He specifically states (at some point – I’ll look it up) that Islamic terrorists tend to have two types of background – highly educated or criminals. I can’t remember what evidence he backs this up with but I’ll look that up too. Of course this always depends upon the “definition thing”. The crims used on operations are most certainly disposable. Note the way the Spike mag uses the phrase “hard-core”.

    Alisa,
    Sorry about the Nazi thing – I’m on Pay as You Go dial-up so I type furiously.

    In answer to you question. Well, I thought I’d given it, sort of. I guess it’s basically that if you return to the religion of your roots or whatever whilst feeling alienated from general society and angry (and that applies to many young men in prison) you do it zealously. Well, there’s not much else to do in prison is there? And if it’s a violent religion like Islam and the imams are saying that the Zionist Crusaders are at war with Islam and have been for centuries then you want to do your bit. Abu Hamza had a chequered past until he returned to the fold. The one bloke jailed over the London MoToons demo was a drug-dealer on parole, Al Zarqawi was another drug-dealer, Richard Reid was a petty crook… Maybe they all some personal meaning from jihad. As far as the middle class ones are concerned. I suspect it’s more general than personal.

  • RAB

    For some reason Charles Manson comes to mind.
    An habitual criminal (no I’m not going to go there! I’m trying to be serious)
    Who took the whole hippie ethos of love and peace and turned it on it’s head because he learned it not on the streets but second hand in his 6 by 4 cell in San Quentin or somewhere similar.

  • Midwesterner

    Nick M,

    You’re scientifically trained. What did you think of Berrebi’s method? What he did was compile a data base of 285 suicide bombers based on articles about them in Arab language magazines published by terrorist organizations. As I non-scientist, I can see shortcomings in the data selection method, but none that could be manipulated by the researcher. From the article –

    He found that suicide bombers tend to come from better-off families than average. Less than 15 percent of suicide bombers are from poor families, while 30 percent of Palestinians of comparable age – 16 to 50 in both samples – are poor. Nor are they uneducated. Some 60 percent of suicide attackers in Israel or the Palestinian territories have attended or completed college, compared to less than 20 percent of the Palestinian population.

    And a another researcher linked in the article –

    Foreign fighters in Iraq hail from the same backgrounds as other radical Islamic killers. Israeli researcher Reuven Paz studied 154 Arab terrorists killed in Iraq in 2004 and found that many were married, well-educated and from well-off Saudi families. His research was based on Web postings by radical Islamic groups, notices not meant for the outside world but for the friends and families of deceased militants.

    The “many” in that second quote suggests it is less than a majority. I guess I’ve hung around Samizdata enough that I look with jaundiced eye upon claims sans backing data. Reid’s case fits Burke’s explanation quite well, but what about the bomber doctors, etc? That is why I’m hoping for hard data either for or against Miniter’s interpretation.

  • Midwesterner

    RAB,

    I don’t know much of anything about Manson. I think a comparison boils down to whether or not he was ‘crazy’.

    Sageman’s study challenges other notions about terrorists. He finds, on the whole, that al-Qaeda recruits are not immature or easily impressionable youngsters. They join the bin Laden network at an average age of 26.

    Are they crazy? Sageman doesn’t think so. “As a psychiatrist, originally I was looking for any characteristics common to these men. But only four of the 400 had any hint of a disorder. This is below the worldwide base rate for thought disorders. So they are as healthy as the general population.”

  • Nick: I gues I tend to think of the pimps and the dealers as more pliable, guys who can be reasoned with, or bribed. It’s the devout and the pious that scare me much more.

    Mid: sorry I made you waste all that paper and ink. The thing that caught my eye in that Wiki article was the market angle through which the terrorist structures can be viewed. I found it interesting, and was hoping the paper would elaborate on that – naive.

    You are obviously right about alienation. Look up what Ted the Unabomber’s mother related about his childhood – very instructive. As to Lindh, just to make sure that we are on the same page: I brought him up as a counterexample, because I thought that you were trying to stress Padilla’s being a Mexican.

  • Midwesterner

    Alisa,

    I understood that and was already viewing the matter in terms of percentages of alienated versus socialized terrorists. But as I read it, it occurred to me that the argument being posited (by me and others) is that if alienation is a factor in developing a terrorist mindset, and multiculturalism is institutionalized alienation, perhaps this was not a contrary case, but rather a parallel case.

    But ethnic (for lack of a better word) terrorists are actually social creatures (with each other) and terrorists like Unabomber are not. Which would suggest to me that multiculturalism would incubate disproportionately higher group terrorism as it concentrates the alienated together.

    Am I reasoning clearly or have I overlooked something important?

  • Nick M

    Mid, Alisa,

    Sorry folks.

    I have been trying to play catch-up too quickly on my 56k line with loads of other stuff to do. I have tried to express complex thoughts (and suspicions) and I’ve done badly. I shall be back to you on this and I hope I interest.

    I will though agree definitely with something RAB implied – some of these folks are just plain evil.

  • RAB

    Thanks for that Nick, but I’m not sure I was that focused when I posted about Charlie Manson.
    What I kinda meant ( see ,still infocused) was that Manson had already spent most of his life in jail.
    That is a regime where power is at it’s most medieval in our modern society. Force rules.
    Much like an Islamic society.
    Charlie wasn’t mad exactly. He smelled weakness and instantly exploited it when he became briefly a free man again. Just as Islam does today.
    Exploits our weaknesses that is.

  • Mid: when alienated socialize, they by definition cease to be alienated as persons. They might, though, project their personal alienation to the group. Thus, instead of a personal alienation from the larger (host) society, you can get an alienation of a group from that society. Here, however, the theory becomes more complex, as they tend to do when social groups are discussed. One of the reasons is that numbers (groups’ sizes in absolute numbers as well as their percentages relative to the host societies) come into play. (If there is a sociologist reading this: feel free to tear the above apart:-)) I just thought about Hamburg (Atta et al) and France. There is a big problem with Musilms in France, as we all know, but I have not heard of any AQ connections there – am I wrong?

    I have to go for a while – let me know what you think in the meantime.

  • Nick: my sympathies on the 56K line:-)

  • Midwesterner

    (Underscore and bold, mine.)

    He decided to compile one of the world’s largest terrorist databases outside government hands. He collected 400 biographies, mostly al-Qaeda members, from public records like court documents and began listing them. Fusing his skills as a CIA officer with those of forensic psychiatry, he began looking for patterns visible only after surveying large numbers of cases.

    What Sageman discovered confounds most of the conventional wisdom about terrorists. These people are not poor, nor are they deprived of opportunities. “(A)bout three-fourths of global Salafi Mujahedin (the radical Islamic movement of which al-Qaeda is a part) was solidly upper or middle class,” he writes.

    The vast majority, 90 percent, came from caring, intact families. Sixty-three percent had attended college, as compared with the customary 5 percent to 6 percent for the rest of the Third World. In many ways, the majority of terrorists are the best and brightest of their societies.

    What about the roughly one-quarter of terrorists from poor backgrounds? They are found to be either Arab emigrants from Morocco or Algeria, or French Catholics who converted to Islam, often in French prisons. Most are beneficiaries of a generous European welfare state, receiving free or low-cost housing, free education – including medical or law school – free health care and a small stipend for daily expenses. By Third World standards, these people are not poor, but rich. What these poorer terrorists have in common with their well-heeled comrades is a sense of social exclusion or alienation, a point to which I will return.

    What, then, transforms these men from pillars of their societies to enemies of ours? Sageman isn’t surprised by the lack of evidence for mental disorders. “While terrorism is a profoundly anti-social activity, from the terrorists’ point of view, it is also a highly social one,” he said. “It is carried out by groups, groups that don’t tolerate sociopaths like Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.”

    I think that something ‘new’ has turned up in the data. I hope Paul Marks stops by the thread because I think he would be able to provide some historical context. I think that what is occurring is a phenomenon that is directly a result of a host society indulging an alien society within it.

    I said earlier that all (I’ll qualify that now with ‘almost all’) immigrants seek to retain their old society. Sometimes through choice, some times because they don’t understand fundamental differences in the new society. What matters is not the intentions of the immigrants, it is how the host society treats them and how much it is willing to forfeit its own societal norms to allow the establishment of previously alien norms.

    You can see why I think Paul could provide a lot of historical cases for this and probably pretty clear examples of the consequences. This is why I coined the term “metrocosm”. Because a “ghetto”, while superficially similar, is a fundamentally different phenomenon. A “ghetto” is a prison within the host society. A “metrocosm” is a beachhead for its invasion.

  • I did read the article, and I appreciate it’s points. Personally, I abandoned the “poverty causes terrorism” line of thinking as soon as the identities of the 19 of 9/11 became known. I also see the point about alienation. I can see the Mexican culture expanding beyond the lines of the “metrocosm” and “invading” the larger culture, but I tend to see it happening quite peacefully*. If that is your concern, and not necessarily terrorism, then we can agree. We could probably argue about how much of a problem that would be, but that is a different story.

    *I have been thinking about the reasons, so maybe later about that.

  • Midwesterner

    I am not so confident that terrorism is off of the table in US/Hispanic relations. While we have not had much inside the US since the FALN/Puerto Rican ‘Independance’ movement, terrorism against US companies, and companies identified with the US is occurring even now south of the border. (Check the date on that story.) It is an ongoing pattern that targets companies like “General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Volkswagen and, most recently, Honda,” and earlier “Honda, Nissan, Hershey’s, Kellogg, Grupo Modelo and other multinational companies”. This site appears to be sympathetic to the terrorists.

    While we may not be the direct target this time (from the storys this group seems to be targeting foreign companies in conjunction with regional leftist politics), clearly the tactic is on the table. I think history shows that when certain conditions are met, terrorism germinates in the political arena.

    I’d like to hear about your ‘maybe later’ thinking. It sounds relevant.

  • Paul Marks

    As I tried to explain:

    Traditional societies in the Islamic world vary, but often what is important is family or tribe-clan.

    It is only when there is economic progress that ideas about Islamic idenity tend to break this down.

    For example, in Britain radical Islam appeals to the modernized, to the people who are no longer interested in the orders of family elders and look for something else in their lives.

    Joshua may be quite correct about people living in the modern world but not having modern ideas – but there we are.

    “But Western culture will….”

    What “Western Culture” would that be?

    Pop music, fast food and casual sex?

    This is not a culture – it is a void. It is not actually evil – it is just nothing (if is of no value – no meaning or worth).

    When the West was growing strong the above was NOT its culture – modern “culture” is decay. Even such things as dress and styles of building are radically inferior to a century ago (we are scruffy, even those among us who have money, – and we build mostly rubbish). Our technolgy is superior (so we have higher material living standards), but that technology is the result of very different habits of thought and work than exist now. We are living on past glories.

    It is possible that a young Muslim looking for meaning in his life (having abandoned tradition of family elders and so on) would have been converted to strong Christianity or even strong Atheism.

    But conversion to “I could not give a shit, pass the glue”, that is not very inspiring.

    The contempt the enemy have for Western “culture” does not astonish me – it IS contemptable. But the enemy are not going to improve things, they will simply fill the void with evil (which is worse).

    As Jessie Owens said when attacked by radicals for representing the United States (in spite of the wicked way that black people were often treated) “there is nothing wrong with this country that Hitler is going to fix”.

    Hispanic immigrants to the United States:

    You are just wrong Joshua.

    “There is only a problem if the children have no exposure to English” is false.

    Mixed up languages at school (or in other important places) is a terrible thing. It means that the children will not learn any language well.

    It must be one language or the other (period), and if the language is Spanish the taxpayer funded school should be in Mexico (funded by Mexican tax payers). Local school boards in the United States being neither local (“consolidation” has being going on for the best part of a century) nor the primary source of funds any more (State and even Federal taxpayer money is important now).

    Of course government schools should not exist at all, but if they do the above should be the rule.

    “But I know lots of people who spoke lots of languages as children and ….”

    Yes lots of well off people, and even they had one main language at school.

    For the poor taxpayer financed “tolerance” is a terrible thing.

    Another way of thinking about this is to get rid of the skin colour nonsense totally.

    The situation is NOT that of Switzerland – with say lots of French speakers going to a German speaking Canton and turning it into a French speaking one (although that has never happened).

    The situation is more like Belguim

    The French speakers are the same race as the Flemish speakers.

    But the French speakers tend to go for taxpayers money, via government jobs (either with the national government or with the E.U.) or via welfare.

    How do you think the Flemish speakers would react if they discovered that the French speakers had a much higher birth rate (in reality they do not – but this is an “what if” example) and were being added to by lots of French speaking immigrants?

    Actually the Flemish have other problems (such as the Muslims who are taking over Flemish towns), but the hatred of the French speakers (the same race as themselves) is still there – and it was strong even in the boom, full employment, times of the 1960s (when the French speakers were busy taking over Brussels).

    Human beings are social creatures – tribal.

    If you come to my land do you come to join my tribe – in which case you may be welcome.

    Or do you come as an invader – in which case you are not welcome.

    Do the people from the south come to join the American tribe, or do they not?

    That is the question.

    The new people must prove beyond all reasonable doubt (the burden of proof is on them) that they come to join – otherwise the great experiment of the last couple of decades will fail.

    “But other sorts of people have come in the past….”

    As you said yourself – not from countries with a land border with the United States.

    Not from a culture that regards much of the land now part of the United States as rightly NOT being part of the United States.

    Not at a time when American culture was on its knees (with most of them mainstream media and education system driven by a fanatical hatred of traditional Western culture in general and the United States in particular). Thus making assimilation unattractive (assimlate into what? “Snoop Dog”?)

    And not in these numbers.

    For example, even the Italian immigration was not on the same scale. Nor did it cover the whole country.

    There are States over a thousand miles from Mexico and which were NEVER part of the Hispanic world, who have a growing Hispanic population. And, no, they do not seem to be assimilating.

    Let us hope that things change and they do assimilate. Although I suspect that will depend on the United States itself changing (or rather changing back in some ways) so that there is something more worth assimilating into.

    They same could be said of the relationship between the Muslims in Europe and the various European nations.

  • Well, Mid, I don’t have anything solid for “maybe later”, I am afraid. I did have two two things in mind. One is the question: to what extent the Mexican and the American cultures are really different. I am fairly familiar with the latter, but very little with the former. What leads me to some optimism on this front is the fact that Mexicans are Christians. But when I go back to my culture vs. religion angle, I am at a loss. It could be that it was merely by historical accident that Mexicans did not convert to Islam en masse, (imagine that Arabs were still in charge in Spain in 1492), and that they will actually do so in the next few years, because Islam could be much more compatible with their indigenous culture than Christianity.

    Another point I was thinking about, and touched on in one of my previous comments, is the numbers. It seems to me that at the current rate, Mexicans will outnumber the Anglos soon and overwhelmingly enough for them to make whatever alienation they are feeling now a thing of the past. Why use terrorism, when you get everything you want on a golden platter anyway?

  • Mixed up languages at school (or in other important places) is a terrible thing. It means that the children will not learn any language well.

    Where have I denied that? I have explicitly stated that my concern is not with whether “no child is left behind” but rather with whether the Spanish-speakers will be able to establish a linguistic foothold in the US. I have conceded – more than once, in fact – that bilingual and Spanish-language schools are not good for the children who attend them. They are to be opposed on those grounds. I’m really not sure what else you want me to say.

    “But other sorts of people have come in the past….”

    As you said yourself – not from countries with a land border with the United States.

    And as I myself also said, I do not believe the border to be consequential in and of itself. The question is one of sustainable numbers.

    Let us hope that things change and they do assimilate. Although I suspect that will depend on the United States itself changing (or rather changing back in some ways) so that there is something more worth assimilating into.

    I rather suspect you are overestimating Mexico here. Mexico is good at getting its citizens to wave the flag, but it’s a bit like Korea that way. Its citizens do not actually like living there.

    For example, even the Italian immigration was not on the same scale. Nor did it cover the whole country.

    Which is why I have made the German example prominent in my comments. The Germans immigrated in large numbers across several regions and aggressively tried to maintain their language and culture, much in the way the hispanics are doing now.

  • Sunfish

    Pop music, fast food and casual sex?

    This is not a culture – it is a void. It is not actually evil – it is just nothing (if is of no value – no meaning or worth).

    They may be meaningless. They may represent no more than a void. However, I would hesitate to call them actually worthless.

    Pop music provides fuel for parody: without Madonna, there could be no Weird Al. If we’re thinking the same thing when we think of “pop.”

    Taco Bell, no matter what else, remains cheap and edible as convenience food goes.

    And casual sex? Preferable to formal cold showers, even if free love is priced right.

    Now, if you really wanted me to be serious about this, I’d have suggested that pop music, fast food, and casual sex are side effects of Western culture rather than the culture itself. The culture is one in which people can seek out their own values if they don’t like the ones already presented tp them.

    However, after the day I’ve had, I’ve no desire to be serious.

    Alisa:

    It could be that it was merely by historical accident that Mexicans did not convert to Islam en masse, (imagine that Arabs were still in charge in Spain in 1492), and that they will actually do so in the next few years, because Islam could be much more compatible with their indigenous culture than Christianity.

    A religion that forbids pork, alcohol, or female skin will not make significant inroads at Colfax and Federal. I’m not thrilled with the government’s failure to secure that border, but I don’t see a wave of conversion to Islam coming.

  • Well, that’s excellent news:-)

  • Midwesterner

    Why use terrorism, when you get everything you want on a golden platter anyway?

    True enough. But the problem with golden platters is what happens when, whether by choice or necessity, the platter is empty. That is when we will learn who is immigrating to the US culture and who is invading its territory.

    Like Sunfish, I don’t see Islam making significant inroads in the Mexican American community. However, it is for different reasons. They still have a strong Roman Catholic base. This provides an historically strong counter force to Islam, and it responds to ‘sin’ by requiring penance and granting forgiveness, not with amputations of everything up to and including your head.

    As for “A religion that forbids pork, alcohol, or female skin will not make significant inroads”, they same could easily have been thought true of Indonesia’s animists and some others there. Yet Indonesia is now the largest Muslim population in the world.

    When Paul Marks says “This is not a culture – it is a void. It is not actually evil – it is just nothing (if is of no value – no meaning or worth)”, I agree exactly with what I think he means. “Pop music, fast food and casual sex”, are not capable of producing satisfaction, only craving and addiction. In them selves, they are not evil, but they don’t satisfy any spiritual need for purpose.

    Joshua, I think WWI and WWII had a very strong influence specifically on German American’s desire to be American. Those two wars forced them to choose sides. (Just like the British royal family’s name change in WWI.) If anything, they caused German Americans to attempt to be more American than everybody else. At least that was my father’s recollection of the WWII years. He knew many German speakers prior but not so much after. They quit, as my sister would say, flaunting it.

  • Paul Marks

    Joshua was correct – we are talking past each other (and once that has started it is very hard to get back into communication).

    However, I will say that I think Joshua is mistaken in thinking that the present immigration of Hispanics is like the immigration of Germans in the 19th century – mistaken due to some of the factors that he, himself, has mentioned.

    Sunfish.

    I am sorry you had a bad day. Given your line of work a bad day could be very bad indeed.

    I think that both you (in the positive humour) and Midwesterner (in the philosophical point) are correct in what you say about modern “culture”.

    Still it is difficult for me to talk on this subject – as I am an UNCULTURED man myself.

    The late journalist Frank Johnson (a man I much admired) was fond of pointing out that many factory workers some decades ago knew more about such things as serious art, literature and music than many “educated” people do now.

    The vast network of working men’s institutes, societies and clubs had (over his life time) had collapsed into nothing more than drinking dens. And serious literature and music were no longer to be found in most homes.

    My own case shows this.

    My father had no formal qualifications what-so-ever (I have several university degrees) and came from a working class background (and died poor).

    Yet my father could read German (although he only visited the country once) as well as English and had a working knowledge of several other languages – I can not and do not.

    My father had a good knowledge of serious literature – I do not.

    My father had a decent level of practical scientific knowledge – with me there might as well be demons inside the television set for all I know, and I am incapable of a whole serious of practical tasks that he could do without batting an eyelid (gardening, plumbing, electrical work…….)

    Sadly I am typical of the modern world.

    Both without true culture (in either the arts or sciences) and lacking in practical abilities.

    Most modern people (including me) even find anything beyond basic cooking difficult.

  • Paul Marks

    One example.

    In an idle moment (my father had very few idle moments – even in his 80’s) my father once carved a crocodile from a tooth brush.

    I could not carve a crocodile to save my life – even if I was given proper materials and tools (rather than a plastic tooth brush and a random knife).

    And the products of the modern “Colleges of Arts” could not either – they can neither carve or draw or paint.

    This is cultural decline.

  • Valerie

    Alisa, “an eye for an eye” refers to proportionate punishment, not the supposed imperative of “getting even”.

  • Valerie: Gabriel has already addressed that point on this thread (about three and a half years ago:-)), and I conceded.