Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Monday, April 28th, 2008.


Discouraged

Democratic Party

Sorry I’ve been a bit absent. I’m very busy, and also very discouraged. The Democratic nomination process is still a mess. The situation in Iraq is deteriorating. Civil liberties are still eroding. George Bush is still President. What else is new?

The Rev. Wright story won’t go away. Apparently the Rev. has made some public appearances that made him look crazier and, by association, Senator Obama look worse. The wingnuts, the Clintonistas and the media generally are eating it up. Conventional wisdom is shaping up that Obama had better make another statement about Wright that puts more distance between them. I don’t have much else to say that Steve Benen didn’t say already.

While American media obsesses about the Wright non-issue, the rest of the world is still reeling from Hillary Clinton’s outrageously irresponsible threat to “totally obliterate” Iran if Iran attacked Israel. Bill Kristol reveals the GOP’s Dem nominee preference by praising Hillary Clinton. See also Gary Younge, “Hillary has cynically turned to the one argument she has left: race.”

Here is a terribly sad story in today’s New York Times. Right-wing bigots are doing everything they can to alienate Muslim Americans and push them toward becoming jihadists.

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, critics of radical Islam focused largely on terrorism, scrutinizing Muslim-American charities or asserting links between Muslim organizations and violent groups like Hamas. But as the authorities have stepped up the war on terror, those critics have shifted their gaze to a new frontier, what they describe as law-abiding Muslim-Americans who are imposing their religious values in the public domain.

Mr. Pipes and others reel off a list of examples: Muslim cabdrivers in Minneapolis who have refused to take passengers carrying liquor; municipal pools and a gym at Harvard that have adopted female-only hours to accommodate Muslim women; candidates for office who are suspected of supporting political Islam; and banks that are offering financial products compliant with sharia, the Islamic code of law.

The danger, Mr. Pipes says, is that the United States stands to become another England or France, a place where Muslims are balkanized and ultimately threaten to impose sharia.

So his answer to this is to balkanize and marginalize Muslim Americans and make them feel like strangers in their own country. Brilliant.

“It is hard to see how violence, how terrorism will lead to the implementation of sharia,” Mr. Pipes said. “It is much easier to see how, working through the system — the school system, the media, the religious organizations, the government, businesses and the like — you can promote radical Islam.”

Mr. Pipes refers to this new enemy as the “lawful Islamists.”

First of all, this ought to demonstrate for the dittoheads why separation of church and state is important. As long as the establishment clause of the Constitution is in effect and extended (through the 14th Amendment) to apply to the states, “sharia law” could not be imposed on American citizens even if a Muslim majority were around to impose it. But since we’re talking about the same clueless wonders who think that “separation of church and state” is a liberal plot to destroy Jesus, I suppose we’re asking to much to get them to, you know, think.

This reminds me of an article by James Fallows in the September 2006 Atlantic, “Declaring Victory.” Fallows interviewed several antiterrorism experts, and some said one of the reasons there has been no serious acts of Islamic terrorism in the U.S. since 9/11 is that Muslim Americans are not, on the whole, interested.

The dispersed nature of the new al-Qaeda creates other difficulties for potential terrorists. For one, the recruitment of self-starter cells within the United States is thought to have failed so far. Spain, England, France, and the Netherlands are among the countries alarmed to find Islamic extremists among people whose families have lived in Europe for two or three generations. “The patriotism of the American Muslim community has been grossly underreported,” says Marc Sageman, who has studied the process by which people decide to join or leave terrorist networks. According to Daniel Benjamin, a former official on the National Security Council and coauthor of The Next Attack, Muslims in America “have been our first line of defense.” Even though many have been “unnerved by a law-enforcement approach that might have been inevitable but was still disturbing,” the community has been “pretty much immune to the jihadist virus.”

Something about the Arab and Muslim immigrants who have come to America, or about their absorption here, has made them basically similar to other well-assimilated American ethnic groups—and basically different from the estranged Muslim underclass of much of Europe. Sageman points out that western European countries, taken together, have slightly more than twice as large a Muslim population as does the United States (roughly 6 million in the United States, versus 6 million in France, 3 million in Germany, 2 million in the United Kingdom, more than a million in Italy, and several million elsewhere). But most measures of Muslim disaffection or upheaval in Europe—arrests, riots, violence based on religion—show it to be ten to fifty times worse than here.

The median income of Muslims in France, Germany, and Britain is lower than that of people in those countries as a whole. The median income of Arab Americans (many of whom are Christians originally from Lebanon) is actually higher than the overall American one. So are their business-ownership rate and their possession of college and graduate degrees. The same is true of most other groups who have been here for several generations, a fact that in turn underscores the normality of the Arab and Muslim experience. The difference between the European and American assimilation of Muslims becomes most apparent in the second generation, when American Muslims are culturally and economically Americanized and many European Muslims often develop a sharper sense of alienation. “If you ask a second-generation American Muslim,” says Robert Leiken, author of Bearers of Global Jihad: Immigration and National Security After 9/11, “he will say, ‘I’m an American and a Muslim.’ A second-generation Turk in Germany is a Turk, and a French Moroccan doesn’t know what he is.”

However, leave it to the usual knuckleheads on the Right to do what al Qaeda couldn’t — turn Muslim Americans into jihadists.

See also “Obama Team Remains Unshaken.”

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