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Diverse immigrants become homogenized in new society

Reader comment on item: It Takes a Ph.D. in Political Science …

Submitted by Jason Keuter (Italy), Oct 20, 2006 at 01:04

Just as most descendants of Calabrians, Genovese, Neapolitans and Tuscans in America refer to themselves as Italian Americans, so will most Muslims in Europe leave behind their former identities and begin to adopt a more uniform identity as European Muslims. The question then becomes: what is the gel that will hold this new cultural identity together?

It doesn't take a PhD to see that radical Islamist ideology will gel the diverse Muslim communities into a new, more single-minded community. The confusion on this point rests with the mistaken notion that radical Islam is of Middle Eastern origin; in fact, it is a mostly European ideology. Readers should direct their attention to the best book on this subject, Paul Berman's Terror and Liberalism.

In many ways, radical Islam parallels communism, which was primarily a western, European ideology exported to Russia. Thus, one need not look to conditions in the Middle East to better understand the origins of radical Islam, but to the breeding ground for all romantic (and ultimately nihilistic) radical ideologies : Western Europe. Recall: it was in London that Stalin and Lenin enjoyed their exile and where Marx wrote the Bible that all sorts of communists psychopaths waved before the eyes of accepting western intellectuals who accepted the slaughter of millions as a reasonable price to pay for ushering in a new millenial age.

Which brings us to the question of whether freedom in the middle east will undercut Islamism in the west. To say that Europe is free and produces radicalism is true, but that is an entirely different situation than Europe and the Middle East being free. If the middle East was free, the best and brightest, those who chafe the most under oppression would not flee from the Middle East, and thus would not come to Europe and have their discontent warped into nihilism by affluent European intellectuals seeking apocalyptic solutions to their ennui. So, Bernard Lewis is right: a free and democratic Middle East could undercut radical Islam.

On another note, while Islamists in Europe are free, I'm not sure the communities in which they live are free. We all know that life for a Muslim girl in say France still involves forced marriages ,etc. Recall the head-dress controversy where many Muslim girls viewed the ban as a wedge against their own communities' oppressive insistence that they wear the veil. If Van Gogh can take a knife through the heart, surely the silent majority of everyday Arabs in thhe Netherlands know better than to be "vocally moderate" as all the pundits urge.

In a sense, then, the solution lies with the willingness of the west to grant the same degree of protection to Muslim immigrants that they would to white, secular Europeans. This would require a re-affirmation of a basic tenet of a liberal-democratic order: namely that people have liberty, except to rob liberty from others. And speaking of freedom, I'm not to sure that the incubation chambers of nihilistic radicalism - colleges and universities - are really as free as they should be.

In the States, demands for accountability from colleges and universities from citizens that do not share the radicalizing mission of so many professors offers hope. But as long as radical professors have coercive power over their students (especially graduate students, whose life ambitions professors can torpedo in a millesecond), then the lamentable intellectual conformity that breeds foolish nihilism will continue unabated. However, in America, as students and families bear more and more of the cost of financing higher education, state legislatures will be more and more inclined to demand less revolutionizing and more bang for everybody's bucks. The radical professoriat is free to prostelyize amongst steel workers and dishwashers all they want - but their tithe paying captive audiences should be freed. Ultimately, then, I think a healthy dose of freedom is in order everywhere.

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