The Violence in England and Sweden

What's going on in England and Sweden?

On Wednesday two men ran down an off-duty British soldier with their car and then proceeded to hack him to death with cleavers and machetes, beheading him, before delivering a rant to bystanders about Islam and the costs of violence against Muslims. The men are reportedly British citizens of Nigerian descent who converted to a violent form of Islam. I will not burden you by linking to the video of the aftermath of the murder, complete with bloodstained hands and weapons. After thinking about it, I decided I wouldn’t even post the image. The thing speaks for itself. British Prime Minister David Cameron described the attack as “an act of terror”.

British media quickly made the rounds of British mosques to secure denunciations of the horrific acts, a practice condemned by The Guardian’s Simon Jenkins on the grounds that doing so validated the political message of the attackers.

More than a thousand miles away, for the last five nights Husby, a district of Stockholm, Sweden, has erupted in violence marked by clashes with police and widespread arson. The spark that touched off the violence is said to have been that Stockholm police shot a 69 year old man who was wielding a knife, a resident of the area, dead. The population of Husby has been characterized as 80% immigrants, mostly Turks, people from the Middle East, and Somalians. They are overwhelmingly Muslims.

Denying that Islam has anything to do with the violence is fatuous but it would be equally facile to say that Islam is causing the violence. The commonality is that over the years both Britain and Sweden have brought in large numbers of immigrants who are dramatically different from the previous native populations in ethnicity, religion, and culture. That may have been done for political, economic, humanitarian, some other reasons, or some combination of all of the above. These immigrant and descended-from-immigrant populations have not been assimilated into the society at large, whether due to the society, the immigrants, or both.

At Foreign Policy Elias Groll has a very interesting post on the violence in Sweden, in which he makes a pertinent observation:

What’s happening in Husby is clearly a symptom of Sweden’s failed effort to integrate its massive immigrant population. Housing segregation is rampant in the country, and Husby is a case study in how immigrant populations have come to dominate Stockholm’s outer suburbs.

He produces a graph which clearly illustrates that immigrants have largely replaced ethnic Swedes in Husby over the period of the last thirty years. Over approximately the same period Sweden has slowly rolled back its cradle-to-grave welfare state, that trend accelerating in recent years. I don’t know what the relationship between the growing immigrant population and the changes in the welfare system might be. They might be unrelated; it might be that one caused the other; it might be that the same economic factors lie behind both.

Whatever the cause of or cure for the violence, it certainly will do little to discourage the growth of nativist, nationalist, or anti-immigrant political parties. In Britain the British National Party has grown from just a handful of voters 30 years ago to about 2% of the vote today. By comparison Labour polls less than 30% of the vote while the Tories polled about 36% in the last elections. In Sweden the Sweden Democrat Party has grown from nothing thirty years ago to almost 6% of the vote today. The Social Democratic Party got about 25% of the vote while the Moderate Party received about 30% of the vote. 2% and 6% don’t sound like much but can be pretty influential in a parliamentary system.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. stonetools says:

    Whatever is the problem, the answer is tax cuts.

    (Conservative response).

  2. john personna says:

    I would put less blame on immigration or even lack of integration, and more on the total madness of a new Crusade in the 21st century.

    Had peace somehow been made, a “Litt

  3. PJ says:

    2% and 6% don’t sound like much but can be pretty influential in a parliamentary system.

    The UK has a a first-past-the-post, so the 2% may result in, for instance, a constituency electing a Labour MP instead of a Conservative MP.

    Sweden on the other hand, currently has a centre-right minority government and the Swedish Democrats holds the balance of power.

  4. john personna says:

    I would put less blame on immigration, or even lack of integration, and more on the total madness of a New Crusade in the 21st century.

    Had peace somehow been made, a “Muslim district” would be as benign as “Chinatown.”

  5. wr says:

    @stonetools: “Whatever is the problem, the answer is tax cuts. ”

    And then impeach Obama.

  6. john personna says:

    Sorry for the double, my thumbs hit the trackpad.

  7. john425 says:

    Neatly sanitized in the Seattle newspapers: The beheading in England was done by a “murderer”
    and the riots in Sweden were by “immigrant youth”

  8. legion says:

    Denying that Islam has anything to do with the violence is fatuous but it would be equally facile to say that Islam is causing the violence.

    This.
    “Hey, we can get away with treating this group like crap!”

    “OMG, this group is full of angry people! Let’s treat them like crap!”

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    @john personna:

    I see no evidence that the people in Sweden are rioting because we invaded Iraq. It’s a situation very similar to the French riots of a couple of years ago. Even if their grandparents were born in Sweden, the ethnic Swedes don’t think of them as Swedish. They’re permanent second-class citizens.

  10. Dave Schuler says:

    @PJ:

    I wish I had more detailed knowledge of contemporary British politics. I think it may be more likely that the BNP is taking votes away from Labour. According to this most people who vote BNP are white working class men.

  11. anjin-san says:

    @ john425

    Neatly sanitized in the Seattle newspapers: The beheading in England was done by a “murderer”
    and the riots in Sweden were by “immigrant youth”

    How about providing links so people can see these quotes in context?

  12. Scott says:

    The issue, it seems, is assimilation. Is it desirable? Is it doable? What are the consequences of non-assimilation? What are the expectations on immigrants of assimilation? Are they implicit or explicit?

    In this country, we’ve had two hundred years of waves of immigrants. Assimilation was sketchy in the 1800s. There are pockets all over the US of unassimilated or imcompletely assimilated immigrants. I’m thinking the Germans in Central Texas who kept their own culture for almost a 100 years. I thinking of Jews in New York City with their Yiddish culture in the first half of the 1900s.

    We take it as a given there is one American culture but that has not been true for most of our history. I suspect that WWII had the effect of acculturating a good part of the population and that is what we remember as the norm.

    What the answer is, I don’t know. It is probably different for each country.

  13. ratufa says:

    I’m just glad that, in America, it couldn’t happen that a pair of Muslims would commit a horrific act of violence. Also, in America, members of minority groups never riot after police shoot/assault one of their group.

    Those crazy Europeans!

  14. michael reynolds says:

    The issue of Muslim immigration should be looked at seriously. I think there’s no point pretending that there isn’t a serious stress between modern western society and Islam.

    First of all, my own prejudices: I’m an atheist and have equal disregard for all religions. Islam seems no more inherently bizarre than Catholicism to me. Nor does it seem more violent when seen in historical context. Spend some time reading about the German Peasants War or the 30 Years War to get an idea of just how sweet Christians are, and that’s when they’re just killing other Christians.

    But Catholicism is a much reduced force in the world. It’s been losing ground since the Reformation. It’s lost its hold on its own homeland of Europe, and now lives on mostly in poorer South American nations and among some ethnic communities in the US. Christianity writ larger isn’t in much better shape. It’s losing ground to agnosticism and atheism even here in the US, arguably the stronghold of Protestantism.

    The upshot is that Christians – while they woud deny it – realize at least subliminally that they are no longer a growing, vital force in the world. They’re just trying to slow the decline, no longer dreaming of imposing their faith across the globe. (The Pope just reached out to atheists, which is a bit of a reversal from burning atheists at the stake.)

    Islam meanwhile still has ambitions. But it appears to me that Muslims actually have bigger problems than Christians do. The faith is very hard to reconcile with modern, western society. In a world where women’s rights are advancing, and gay rights as well, Islam isn’t just behind the curve, it’s a good century behind the curve. Because of a doctrine of inerrancy in the Koran, Islam is hard to change, hard to adapt to different circumstances. Christians with an extra millenium’s of experience in bowing to the winds of change, and with a history of calving off endless splinter denominations, and chastened by the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, are better able to fit themselves into modern society — a society that of course they themselves helped shape.

    Note that Christian countries are moving with breathtaking speed to accept full equality for gay people, while Muslim countries are still jailing and even executing homosexuals. Both faiths start from a position of opposition to homosexuality, but look how quickly and easily the Christian societies shrug off their doctrine and accept the new reality. Oscar Wilde was jailed for being gay in England in 1895; Saudi Arabia actually has a lot of work to do to become as enlightened as the England of 118 years ago.

    Take a rigid, puritanical but ambitious religion — a religion centered in poorer countries, in more rural countries, in petro monarchies and failed states — and run it smack into the chaotic ferment of western society defined by a diminished Christianity and the lingering effects of the Reformation, Renaissance, Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution as well as the newer effects of women’s liberation and now gay liberation, and you have trouble.

    But here’s what’s interesting: you don’t really have very much trouble. Yes, obviously Boston and now Woolwich are extremely troubling. But just as obviously acts like this are sincerely condemned by the overwhelming majority of Muslims. We don’t have bombs going off every day. We don’t have decapitations as a regular feature of modern life. You are in far greater danger of being killed by lightning than by a Muslim terrorist. If you stay off the golf course on stormy days you’ll do more to limit unnecessary deaths than you will by limiting Muslim immigration.

    That said, we have a right as a society to decide who gets to join the club. If you’re going to come here and insist on treating your women like chattel, well, we have a problem with that. No one has to join a new religion to be a good American, but they do have to accept that this is a diverse society with many faiths, and that we will treat all people as equals, regardless of faith, creed, ethnicity or gender. That you do have to accept if you propose to join our club. And you have to accept that with permanent residence must come a transfer of loyalty from the old country to the new. With citizenship must come a change in identity, from whatever you were, to American.

  15. PJ says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    I wish I had more detailed knowledge of contemporary British politics. I think it may be more likely that the BNP is taking votes away from Labour. According to this most people who vote BNP are white working class men.

    I didn’t look it up, I added a “for instance” instead 🙂

    But, I’d agree, it’s more likely that they would take votes from the left.

    And then, in countries without first-past-the-post, they then end up in right-wing government coalitions.

  16. john personna says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    The Scandinavians thought of themselves as a refuge from violence, a place apart, until things like the “draw Muhammad” made them think otherwise.

    We simply cannot remove the Christian/Islamic underpinning of this new global competition.

    (Though of course we often like to pretend otherwise.)

  17. john personna says:

    (And yes there certainly are Islamophobes in both France and Scandinavia.)

  18. john personna says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Never forget the quotes from Americans high and low that we should “just convert them to Christianity.”

    Such people are not terrorists, but neither are they really backing freedom of religion as an exit from religious strife.

  19. stonetools says:

    Labeling the incident in England as “violence” may be going a bit far. It was the murder of one off duty soldier by a few disaffected Muslims. The citizens and eventually the police responded, and the government has the matter in hand. As an incident, it was less “violent” than the Boston bombings, which no one thinks posed any existential question to the United States government.
    As the Swedish riots, they occurred in response to a perceived incident of police injustice against a disaffected minority. That happens quite a bit all over the world. It’s just a first for Sweden.
    We know what works in these situations. First of all, good, restrained, disciplined police work. Secondly, in the case of Sweden, an independent government commission to investigate the incident and whether there is a pattern of police misconduct against minorities. Thirdly, governments need to extend to all its subjects, including minorities, equal opportunity and equal protection of laws. Finally, the government should take affirmative action to help these minorities assimilate into society, while respecting the rights of all citizens.
    There will inevitably be a continuing right wing backlash, as disaffected whites mobilize against the takeover of “their” country. The best solution is not to give in to their demands ( “send the brown people home!”) but push for economic growth and to maintain the social safety net.
    Now this may not be simple or even 100 per cent achievable. But at least we know which way to go.

  20. Lynda says:

    20 years ago two kids in my home town of Warrington were killed by a bomb planted by the IRA. Was this because of lack of integration into England of the Irish immigrants who had fled from the poverty and violence of Northern Ireland? Or was it the lack of integration of Protestant immigrants into Ireland so long ago?

    Or perhaps a complex cocktail of grievances (both real and exaggerated), a poor economy and a history of military occupation and political strife that had radicalized small sections of both the Catholic and Protestant communities to wage a war with each other than spilled out at times onto mainland UK?

    In the almost two decades since the peace deal you only have to travel around Northern Ireland to see that the two communities are still very segregated and sectarian violence flairs even today. I honestly don’t know what the solutions are but if Northern Ireland is any indication this is not just a Muslim/Christian issue and we will be dealing with it for a long time in many countries.

  21. Ernieyeball says:

    @stonetools: Labeling the incident in England as “violence” may be going a bit far.

    So are women who are raped by men because of the clothes they wear not being subjected to violence?

  22. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Take a look at this article by Timothy Garton Ash, which explores six different ways of looking at Islam. Your view is pretty much 1, which in one sentence is we all need to become secularists. (I think this unlikely, whatever its merits).

    My view is 6.

    6 Whatever your view of the relative merits of the west and Islam, the most acute tension comes at the edges where they meet. It arises, in particular, from the direct, personal encounter of young, first- or second-generation Muslim immigrants with western, and especially European, secular modernity. The most seductive system known to humankind, with its polychromatic consumer images of health, wealth, excitement, sex and power, is hugely attractive to young people from often poor, conservative, Muslim backgrounds. But, repelled by its hedonistic excesses or perhaps disappointed in their secret hopes, alienated by the reality of their marginalised lives in the west or feeling themselves rejected by it, a few – a tiny minority – embrace a fierce, extreme, warlike new version of the faith of their fathers. From Mohammed Atta and the Hamburg cell of al-Qaida, through the bombers of Madrid to those of London, this has become a depressingly familiar story.

    This is essentially a (modified) “Clash of Civilizations” approach.I think there is a gigantic struggle going on within Islam about adapting to modern society, and the Muslim violence we see in the west is a spillover of that struggle. There is no silver bullet that will sort out this problem quickly and painlessly. I suggest governments follow the policies I outline above.

  23. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Dave Schuler: I agree with this completely, and it is something I really wish our politicians (and it seems to apply to GOP more than Dem) push for some sort of guest worker / permanent resident alien program as a fix to our immigration problem.

  24. stonetools says:

    @Ernieyeball:

    I didn’t express myself clearly. What I mean its not the kind of “violence’ that people talk about when what they mean is “riot” or “urban uprising.”

  25. john personna says:

    @Lynda:

    Wars centered around religious difference have a sad lasting quality around the globe.

    Which is enough to make me think the effect is there even when it is submerged, or denied. I mean Ann Coulter’s “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity” was widely decried, but that is a long way from saying that Ann was the only person who ever had that thought.

    Or:

    Too much religion at military academies? West Point cadet revives charge.

  26. Rafer Janders says:

    @Scott:

    I thinking of Jews in New York City with their Yiddish culture in the first half of the 1900s.

    There are still plenty of unassimilated Jews in New York City — the ultra-Orthodox Hasidim and other similar sects, for example.

  27. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Your view is pretty much 1, which in one sentence is we all need to become secularists. (I think this unlikely, whatever its merits).

    I reread your post, and I mis-characterized it . My apologies. I wuz wrong!

    Quite a few people do advocate (1), but you didn’t. Having reread your post, I agree with you.

  28. Woody says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Excellent commentary, sir.

    One other factor at play here is time – our (that is, modern) perception of time is profoundly different than it was even fifty years ago. Modern access to information has exacerbated this change.

    Americans have had two centuries to learn and live republican democracy. Expecting nations to instantly adopt a mature democracy is a fool’s errand. This phenomenon is also at play when adopting cultural norms.

    As an Enlightenment people, we welcome change much more than ultratraditional societies as found in other areas of the world. Even in our society, there are plenty of people opposed to Enlightenment ideals as well – but it is they who are bucking 200+ years of habit.

  29. stonetools says:

    @Lynda:

    In the almost two decades since the peace deal you only have to travel around Northern Ireland to see that the two communities are still very segregated and sectarian violence flairs even today. I honestly don’t know what the solutions are but if Northern Ireland is any indication this is not just a Muslim/Christian issue and we will be dealing with it for a long time in many countries.

    I would say that Northern Ireland is actually a sign of hope. Things there might not be rainbows and lollipops, but its a long way from the Bogside riots, “Bloody Sunday” and the “Troubles”, not the mention the whole sorry history of the English oppression of Ireland. Progress has been made, though not as quickly as we would like.

  30. michael reynolds says:

    @stonetools:

    I’m actually not sure the world would be a better place without religion. I’m not a believer myself, but that’s me, not necessarily anyone else. I don’t know if most people require an external construct – a God with all the attendant threats and promises — in order to find a way to behave decently. I do agree with the usual atheist’s sneering dismissal of religion as a crutch, but we have crutches for a reason. I’m not sure the world would be instantly made over in some better way if we just kicked all the crutches.

    So, I’d say I’m somewhere between #1 and #6. Interesting piece. Thanks for linking to it.

  31. john personna says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The framing of that list requires suspension of belief. Nowhere does it list the true faith, and the problems of the true faith. Yet that is what drives fundamentalists on all sides.

    On one level the list is interesting, but on the other it is useless. It is an intellectual’s framing of a non-intellectual problem.

  32. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @michael reynolds: The historical view is fine in and of itself, but it the immediacy of the situation. There’s only one religion that is racking up huge body counts in its name here and now, and it isn’t Catholicism or Christianity or even Zoroastranism.

    And Christianity is hardly not “growing” and “vital.” It’s moved away from temporal power, true, but it’s cultural and moral power is still a huge force in the world — and, for the most part, a force for good.

  33. Andre Kenji says:

    In Germany, where jus soli does not exist, there are several problems with assimilation of their immigrant community. On the other hand, there are no large scale Immigrant riots there, because the level of youth unemployment is low.

    Sweden, United Kingdom and France have high levels of youth unemployment. That´s a much bigger factor than religion or ethnicity. Besides that, when White Europeans riot few people seems to care. The problem is always dark-skinned people rioting.

  34. Andre Kenji says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I’m actually not sure the world would be a better place without religion.

    The places that tried to banish religion from Public Life aren´t pleasant places. Just ask North Koreans.

  35. Scott says:

    @Rafer Janders: That’s true. The attempt by that group in Westchester? to take over a school board and their support by certain conservative elements has got me thinking over the last year. A tangential thought that has been rolling around in my head is this: The drive by the Christian right in this country to attack public education by promoting vouchers, non-standard curriculums, etc. is actually a detriment to the common understanding of what it is to be an American. I know that the right believes that multiculturalism is the culprit but the right is actually attacking at a deeper structural level.

  36. Lynda says:

    @john personna:

    Wars centered around religious difference have a sad lasting quality around the globe.Which is enough to make me think the effect is there even when it is submerged, or denied.

    I agree, for many years post World War 2 Yugoslavia’s ethnic tensions were concealed under Tito’s rule only to flare up on his death.

    @stonetools:

    I would say that Northern Ireland is actually a sign of hope

    Despite my comments so do I. When the Warrington bomb went off I could no more imagine going to Ireland on holiday than visit a war zone and yet I have been several times in recent years. The reduction in violence improved the Irish economy considerably making people happier and less prone to see violence as an option – a virtuous circle.

    However, I think it easy to underestimate how deep seated some of the underlying issues are and how long it takes to move past them.

  37. stonetools says:

    @john personna:

    The framing of that list requires suspension of belief. Nowhere does it list the true faith, and the problems of the true faith. Yet that is what drives fundamentalists on all sides.

    I think the article does deal with the crucial issue, which is why are Muslim fundamentalists driven to violence on such a wide scale? There are Buddhist true believers but they aren’t the ones throwing bombs and flying airplanes intro buildings.

  38. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I love how ready “conservatives” are to dismiss history. History is really only of interest to your tribe if it involves justifying gun ownership. Otherwise history began last week. It’s convenient being able to assign Jim Crow and slavery and the Mexican-American war and imperialism and colonialism and the first 19 centuries of Christianity, when it was red in tooth and claw, to the memory hole.

    Christianity is relatively benign now because secular government and the aforementioned paradigm shifts stripped it of power and left it tame. Of course even now, Christians are busy in west Africa pushing for the murder of gay people, and in our own country militating for attacks on abortion clinics and doing all they can to retard the advance of science and infantilize and dumb down every aspect of our civilization, but yes, overall the neutered Christianity of the present is relatively harmless.

    But of course none of that means anything to you, because what you’re looking for is a rationale for despising someone. Anyone, really, but preferably people who don’t look or sound quite like you. The “other.” The “outsider.” You’ll simply dispose of history, nuance, or anything else that might complicate that goal.

    You know what fiction writers get that most people (even political scientists) don’t? That it’s always about the character’s motivation. In your case the need to hate.

  39. stonetools says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The historical view is fine in and of itself, but it the immediacy of the situation. There’s only one religion that is racking up huge body counts in its name here and now, and it isn’t Catholicism or Christianity or even Zoroastranism.

    Gonna agree with Jenos here for once.It might seem broad minded to say all religions have a problem with fundamentalism, but its Islamic fundamentalism that’s driving the violence world wide. We might think its just a problem with Islam and the West, but we would be wrong. Its Muslims and Catholics in the Philippines, Muslims and Buddhists in Thailand, Muslims and Hindus in India, Muslims and Christians in Africa, Muslim against Muslim in the Middle East.

  40. john personna says:

    @stonetools:

    While I agree in general, we conveniently do not call the Sikh Temple shooting “religious,” right?

    Many religions have gone through violent stages and come around to greater tolerance. Islam has even had periods and places with a great deal more tolerance as well. I think there are places where Jewish and Muslim villages lived in peace for a thousand years.

    Tolerance should be the goal, and to achieve that we can’t be one-sided when viewing … well we distinguish between “hate-crimes” (not “us”) and “terrorism” (them).

    That framing is useful, right? It lets us say that the Temple shooter is not one of “us,” he is a criminal. On the other hand, the terrorist is typical of “them.”

  41. stonetools says:

    @Scott:

    A tangential thought that has been rolling around in my head is this: The drive by the Christian right in this country to attack public education by promoting vouchers, non-standard curriculums, etc. is actually a detriment to the common understanding of what it is to be an American.

    I would disagree with that. Whatever you think of fundamentalists (not a fan here), they’re playing by the rules of American society. Its our job to raise our game and outplay them, not to say that they are un-American. (They would say the same of you). Its when fundamentalists go outside rules that they become a menace.

  42. john personna says:

    This came from Right Wing Watch:

    The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer is doubling-down on his view that the U.S. should ban Muslim immigration, and on Wednesday he called Muslim immigrants a “toxic cancer.” Fischer, who believes that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to Muslims, now claims that the U.S. should use the Book of Numbers when establishing its immigration policy and that Muslims should “be prepared to drop his Islam and his Qur’an at Ellis Island.” According to Fischer, all new immigrants must “convert to Christianity” or “stay home”:

    That last line is a keeper.

  43. john personna says:

    @stonetools:

    Is an abortion clinic bombing a “hate crime” that does not condemn the religion as a whole?

    Let me guess.

  44. stonetools says:

    @john personna:

    While I agree in general, we conveniently do not call the Sikh Temple shooting “religious,” right?

    I agree that there are isolated instances of Christian fundamentalist violence, (and for that matter, Sikh and Buddhist and Hindu violence)and we shouldn’t ignore these instances. But the overwhelming majority of religious violence is by Islamic fundamentalists. It is Islam that is in crisis, unfortunately, and it is mostly Muslims who have to resolve these issues.The problem for the rest of us is how to survive their crisis(to which we in the West have contributed, bothy wittingly and unwittingly).

  45. Scott says:

    @stonetools: I’m not saying they are un-American at all. I’m saying that their actions may have consequences opposite of what they think they are trying to accomplish. I believe they believe they are saving a paradigm of an America they think is disappearing. I just happen to think they are wrong.

  46. john personna says:

    @stonetools:

    There are two things here. One is that we are more ready to generalize about “the other” based on the actions of the few. If the overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful, tolerance is an appropriate response.

    The second thing is that intolerance, even if it only rises to “Muslims are bad” rhetoric, does not advance peace. It contributes to escalation.

  47. anjin-san says:

    @ michael reynolds

    but preferably people who don’t look or sound quite like you.

    Jenos despises anyone who is not a total dork?

  48. stonetools says:

    @john personna:

    I’m not advocating intolerance at all. Rather, I’m advocating that we go beyond tolerance (“You’re violence prone,crazy and backward, but I accept you anyway”) to trying to understand what’s happening with Muslims and offering to help, if we can.
    I do agree that the vast majority of Muslims are law abiding, and peaceful. We should try harder to understand why there are some who are not, if only to better protect ourselves against them. Maybe civics classes tailored to Muslim immigrants?

  49. john personna says:

    @stonetools:

    The reason I’ve peppered my comments with examples of “Muslims are bad” is that I don’t think we can concentrate the fix on the Muslims.

    If we have classes, they should be open, and inclusive, and on “tolerance is good.”

    (This should include tolerance between the religious, agnostic, and atheist.)

  50. Franklin says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    The places that tried to banish religion from Public Life aren´t pleasant places. Just ask North Koreans.

    North Korea isn’t unpleasant because of a lack of religion. It *might* be unpleasant because of the type of leader who would try to dictate religious choices among other things.

  51. michael reynolds says:

    I think if we’re talking about classes for immigrants we might want to start by looking at a shift that I think has occurred in the notion of “The American Dream.”

    When I was a kid I understood “The American Dream” (TAD) to mean that we were all part of a country that valued law, tolerance, freedom and fair play, and that also gave you a good shot at making a decent living.

    Somehow over time TAD came to be defined in purely economic terms. Over time all that law, tolerance, freedom and fair play stuff was dropped and we talked about nothing but houses, cars and picket fences.

    That’s not sufficient, especially when indoctrinating immigrants. We cannot just leave it at, “Hey, open a dry cleaners or an ethnic restaurant and you’re living TAD!” The dream is not to get rich. The dream is to be free, to be part of something wonderful and rare in the history of this planet, and yes, have the opportunity perhaps to get rich.

    If we don’t know what the hell we’re about, how are we going to explain it to immigrants?

  52. john personna says:

    @michael reynolds:

    In America it is more twisted than that, with recent immigrants of an ethnicity often passing the earlier arrivals. Here at least belief in the dream is often enough to make it true.

    We can and should improve even so, agreed.

    (I learned this week that the Dutch saying is that if you don’t take a shot, you have already missed.)

  53. Jenos Idanian says:

    @michael reynolds: You certainly are an expert on hatred — you’ve demonstrated on numerous occasions your psychopathic feelings towards conservatives.

    And there is certainly a use for a historical perspective — but it’s of limited use in this context. And your fixation on it is actually quite reminiscent of the attitudes of the Islamic radicals, who also are quite well-versed on that very one-sided view of Christianity’s history — they seem to think that actions that happened several hundred years ago (and, for us, thousands of miles away) justify committing all kinds of atrocities today.

    And you also seem to share their beliefs that we, the descendants (cultural if nothing else) of those accused of committing these atrocities, have it coming and deserve it.

    You’re awful free with talking about “hatred” in others and how alike the right wing and the Islamists are, but Jesus, you have quite a bit in common with them yourself.

    Maybe someday you’ll realize that, if the Islamists triumph, you’ll be among the first they go after. But that requires a level of self-awareness you seem to lack.

  54. james says:

    if you.her,him or or who ever is gay, has a different god or no god… then just let it go and go on. trying to make others like one self.. we all should think for our self. if disagree with you so what or you disagree with me so what. what it is we are all different.. isnt that what makes it interesting and if we don’t like one another so what no reason to have war.let be and go your own way.i won’t even try to get into what makes anyone tick… i really don’t care as long as you don’t get into my space or me in yours. if you like me for who iam not for what you want me to be great iif not so what i really don’t care.i won’t change for you and i don’t want you to change for me/// if you changed you wouldn’t be you who would it be? think this out for you self…. easy to see.

  55. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    You certainly are an expert on hatred — you’ve demonstrated on numerous occasions your psychopathic feelings towards conservatives.

    No, I have no problem with conservatives. Have you seen any lately? Because racists, nativists, theocons and neocon interventionists are not conservatives. You’re not a conservative.

    And there is certainly a use for a historical perspective — but it’s of limited use in this context. And your fixation on it is actually quite reminiscent of the attitudes of the Islamic radicals, who also are quite well-versed on that very one-sided view of Christianity’s history — they seem to think that actions that happened several hundred years ago (and, for us, thousands of miles away) justify committing all kinds of atrocities today.

    Oooh, excellent smear tactic. Right, I’m secretly just like the Islamists. Like most half-Jewish, atheists who work in the arts I’m very much like Osama Bin Laden. And the evidence for this proposition? That I cite history.

    And you also seem to share their beliefs that we, the descendants (cultural if nothing else) of those accused of committing these atrocities, have it coming and deserve it.

    Your evidence for this? I supported Iraq 1 and Afghanistan and even Iraq 2. I also supported the move against Libya and support the drone war. I’m a hawk. I was for blowing up bad guys before anyone knew what a neocon was. Before you had your first little “I’m the dread warrior Jenos!” wet dream. Which would make your unsupported assertion (in support of your smear) completely wrong, wouldn’t it? (It would also make me wrong about Iraq 2, but that’s a separate issue.)

    You’re awful free with talking about “hatred” in others and how alike the right wing and the Islamists are, but Jesus, you have quite a bit in common with them yourself.

    Repeating your McCarthyite smear.

    Maybe someday you’ll realize that, if the Islamists triumph, you’ll be among the first they go after. But that requires a level of self-awareness you seem to lack.

    And once again, just for good measure, the same smear, the same lack of support, the same ignorance of the facts, the same stupidity in writing something so easily fisked. You’re not smart. You’re not knowledgeable. You’re not insightful. You’re a bargain basement McCarthyite who can’t even make his slanders stick.

  56. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    By the way, if you were half as clever as you think you are you’d know just how goddamned stupid it is to push a position that essentially makes enemies of a billion people.

    What exactly do you think is the advantage for the United States in treating the Muslim population of Indonesia as enemies? What do you think the advantage is in treating the Saudis as enemies? You really want to tell the millions of Muslims living in the US that they are by virtue of their faith enemies of this country? What in God’s name do you think is the upside of that? Have you got some example of religious war that went well for either side?

    What do you think we’re going to do the day after we designate all the Muslims in this country as enemies? Round them up and put them in camps? Do you have some lunatic vision of the entire west uniting in forcibly expelling Muslims like Ferdinand and Isabella expelling the Jews from Spain? Or do we just move straight to extermination?

    Even a moron knows that at the very least you divide rather than unite the potential enemy. Even a fwcking idiot should know that if we’re going to control domestic Muslim terrorism our best ally is the Muslim community. Who else do you think gives leads to the FBI? Who do you think rats out the extremists?

    You don’t spend ten seconds actually thinking about this because for people like you this is all dick measuring. Bullsh!t macho posturing unconnected to reality.

  57. anjin-san says:

    I cite history.

    Bastard.

  58. Andre Kenji says:

    @stonetools:

    We might think its just a problem with Islam and the West, but we would be wrong.

    No, it´s more complicated. There is a large number of ethnic conflicts between Muslims and other religions because there is a large number of Muslims all over the world, specially in Asia and Africa. There are many ethnic conflicts in Asia and Africa between non-Muslims(Tutsis and hutus are Christians, not Muslims, and as far as I can tell you, Joseph Kony is not a Muslim). And many of these “Muslim” riots in Europe involves non-Muslims, like Blacks from the Caribbean.

  59. adi ben zvi says:

    @michael reynolds: few comments to this highly interesting blog.
    1/are the jews and the budists out of this equation?
    2/equality is fien and vital,yet what about survival?

  60. john personna says:

    @adi ben zvi:

    In the US this is not a “survival” issue at all. Not rationally:

    CDC Stats:
    1. Heart disease: 631,636
    2. Cancer: 559,888
    3. Stroke: 137,119
    4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 124,583
    5. Accidents: 121,599
    6. Diabetes: 72,449
    7. Alzheimer’s disease: 72,432
    8. Influenza and Pneumonia: 56,326

    National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC)
    ?. Terrorism: 15,765 world wide (2008)

    Notice that our national rates of death from those other causes dwarf the world-wide total for terrorism.

  61. Kari Q says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I’m fascinated and disturbed by how quick those on the right are to assume that any disagreement is “hatred.” I fear it tells us their own feelings towards those who disagree with them.

  62. Mick says:

    The EDL in England is a fairly tiny far right racist group, beefed up by assorted tough guys who like to fight. But along the way they got a lot of help from the Muslims. Idiots burning books in the street and talking about executing Rushdie, young thugs harrassing women and girls in the streets around Mosques for wearing revealing clothes, etc.

    I think one hopeful sign is that the Muslim leadership are being quite forceful in their criticism of the attack on the soldier. They were much less direct during the Rushdie affair as I recall, and also when the harrassment of women around mosques started happening. Back then their response reminded me of the slippery way the Catholic leadership used to respond to requests for coments on the activities of the IRA. Maybe that will help calm down the conflict.

    There’s plenty of racism and intolerance going around in England, but the Muslim community really needs to do its part and take some responsibility. Not just blame us terrible Brits.

    Mick

  63. Jenos Idanian says:

    @michael reynolds: While you’ve been working on your historic dissertation, a gentleman who appears to be of the Muslim persuasion just killed a French soldier in Paris. Much like the incident in England.

    Your historic focus neatly avoids answering a simple question — how do we stop random Muslims from killing people in the name of their God? Yes, it’s a relatively small percentage of Muslims, but it’s a very high percentage of the politically and/or religiously-inspired killings going on today.

    It looks to me like you’re using “history” as a way to avoid dealing with the hear and now. Or you just don’t think that these killings are that big a problem.