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Leaving Each Other Alone

Moslems shouldn't protest the cartoons, but the West shouldn't interfere in their affairs either.

by James Leroy Wilson
February 16, 2006

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Leaving Each Other Alone
The world could use more empathy. People in the West do not understand Moslems who were raised with a worldview shaped by the Koran, poverty, and American military and political domination of their homelands. Many Westerners therefore do not understand how some cartoons about the prophet Mohammed can provoke rage in the Muslim world. After all, Christians don't get violent when their faith is offended, so why should Muslims?
 
But one wonders: if these cartoons were published in a Danish newspaper ten, twenty, or thirty years ago, would we have seen this reaction? Unlikely, even if they were readily accessible to the world, as they are in our Internet age. Tthe rage provoked by the cartoons should be seen in the context of a long train of Western insults against the Moslem world. The recent release of additional Abu Ghraib photographs of prisoner abuse should remind us that many Muslim complaints against the West in general and America in particular are legitimate. Even if the complaint against the cartoons is not, by itself, a cause for outrage, it could be seen as a "last straw."
 
To be frank, however, I suspect that much of this crisis has been manufactured by governments and spies. A lot of politicians can gain from this, and government thrives by manufacturing and perpetuating crises, not by ending them. But even were this not so, we should ask if the West, and the United States in particular, is going about Islamic relations the right way.
 
For the first thing we must insist is that publishing these cartoons is entirely within the bounds of a free society and a free press. A government that would censor them is hostile to Western liberal values. Indeed, a government that would even pressure or discourage their publication is hostile to these values. And it is here that empathy with the Moslem worldview must end; our laws and freedoms within our own borders must trump the sensitivities of both Muslim minorities in our country, and of Muslim opinion worldwide. If ever there was a time to tell an immigrant, "If you don't like it, go back where you came from," it would be to a Muslim immigrant in Denmark offended by these cartoons.
 
Unfortunately, the West has a lot to live down. We have over-compensated our history of Negro slavery, anti-Semitism, and colonialism with Political Correctness. To even speak honestly or frankly about issues of race, religion, and immigration enrages the multiculturalists. When minorities riot, it's always the government's fault. When they are disproportionately poor, it's because of bigotry. And so the French government surrendered to rioters, when it should have bashed their skulls. But Political Correctness may well become the death of Europe. As Europe invites Moslems in while the birthrates of the native white population falls, we could see Islamic domination of the entire continent within a century. Only when Political Correctness is replaced with Shari'a law, will we conclude that Political Correctness was a bad idea.
 
Or maybe not. If something good can come out of these riots, it may be a sense of solidarity created in Europe on behalf of free expression. A dozen more newspapers have published the cartoons, although as far as I'm aware only one American newspaper has had the guts to do so. If there is one confrontation with the Moslem world that is actually justified, this is it. The West should not take orders from Muslim clerics. And if Moslems have a problem with that, then the West should cut off Moslem immigration and encourage Moslem immigrants who are already here to leave. This, by the way, would also make it harder for Moslem terrorists to enter and attack Western countries.
 
At the same time, just as the West shouldn't cater to the demands of the Muslim world, the West shouldn't interfere in the Moslem world either. If we export "democracy" only to see Hamas elected in Palestine and Islamic theocrats elected in Iraq, and if tens of thousands of Moslems march against freedom of expression, then how can the West possibly use force to conform the Moslem world to its values?
 
The nations of Europe and North America would do well to pursue pretty much the opposite course of what they are now doing. Withdraw aid, arms, and troops, and declare neutrality in the Middle East and elsewhere in the Moslem world. Take away their wholly legitimate complaints against us. See incidents of terrorism drastically fall. At the same time, western countries should repeal their Politcally Correct laws, beginning with immigration policy. The Moslem culture isn't just significantly different from, but also opposed to, Western culture. This is what these protests illustrate the most. With a large enough population, Moslems will seek political and religious domination. Countries have a right to discriminate in their selection of immigrants, and have an obligation to do so if a foreign people pose a threat to its laws and institutions.
 
The world is big enough for both Western liberalism and Islam. They can co-exist in peace. But aside from trade, I think it is best that the two be separated from each other, and have as little to do with each other as possible. For where they mix, there is conflict. And that's a conflict that the West can't win.

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Brian Mack from Grand Rapids, MI writes:
February 16, 2006
JLW wrote: The nations of Europe and North America would do well to pursue pretty much the opposite course of what they are now doing. Withdraw aid, arms, and troops, and declare neutrality in the Middle East and elsewhere in the Muslim world. Take away their wholly legitimate complaints against us. See incidents of terrorism drastically fall. At the same time, western countries should repeal their Politcally Correct laws, beginning with immigration policy. The Muslim culture isn't just significantly different from, but also opposed to, Western culture.

For better or for worse, the approach that you suggest is impossible in my view. We are in a damned if you do, damned if you don't position in the Middle East. I would dispute the charecterization that Muslim culture cannot coexist with western culture. I dare say that there are many thousands of American Muslims who would also object to that suggestion. There is a difference between mainstream Muslims and radical Islamists. Radical Islamists have bastardized Mohammed's teachings for their own ends. They insist that they don't want western aid, because it comes with some attachment to western culture. However, the withdrawal of western aid would illicit a much greater outcry from the global community. We would be relinquishing a critical opportunity to fundamentally make the world a better place. As I see it, this is the greater threat to our best interests.

Withdrawal would certainly NOT end terrorism, as the terrorists would simply trump up another excuse to continue their jihad. They are also not primarily interested in converting the infidel to Islam. Rather, like all dictatorships, Radical Islamists are first and foremost interested in perpetuating their own power. They have chosen the vehicles of terrorism and jihad for drawing the disenfranchised, or to quote Thomas Friedman the humiliated, to their cause. Without the Great Satan as an enemy, they would have no leverage for centralizing their power. The greatest threat that we pose to radical Islamists is not Desperate Housewives, Jack Daniels, and McDonald's. What threatens them is education, enlightenment, and the self actualization of their own people.

Limiting immigration and in effect the cross-polination of the world's cultures is also a bad idea. The biggest loser in such a scenario would inevitably be us. We now exist in a global community. To believe otherwise is to have our collective heads in the sand. To suggest that we can somehow impose a seperation of Muslim and Christian societies, according to national borders is ridiculous and impossible. Not only that, but to do so would be detrimental to our own national economic interests.

On the contrary (and much to my own dismay) we must press forward in the prosecution of the war on terror. We must do so in order to invite more of the third world to a seat at the international economic table. In doing so, we will gradually shift people away from their feelings of humiliation and perpetual hoplessness. Where there is hope there is prosperity. Where there is progress, there is a vested interest in maintaining peace and stability.

Nicholas Thomson from San Francisco. writes:
February 18, 2006
I think we should back off highly visual and aggressive foreign policies and take a more behind the scenes approach to ridding terrorism. I do feel that the brakes are now off and there is a locomotive that is about to careen off the rails. Interesting times though. And scary too.

James Leroy Wilson from Independent Country writes:
February 20, 2006
Brian's comments in quotation marks, followed by my reply:

Brian: I would dispute the charecterization that Muslim culture cannot coexist with western culture. I dare say that there are many thousands of American Muslims who would also object to that suggestion.

Americans value religions that command us to pay taxes and that discourages our daughters from becoming strippers. I don't dispute that Islam probably accomplishes this. But it also preaches that non-Muslims should, at best, be second-class citizens. Islam does not make a distinction between religion and politics, between theology and political philosophy. Let's not pretend it does.

Brian: There is a difference between mainstream Muslims and radical Islamists.

But it's all relative. There are also extreme Lutherans and moderate Lutherans, yet the extremist Lutherans do not call for violence.

Brian: the withdrawal of western aid would illicit a much greater outcry from the global community. We would be relinquishing a critical opportunity to fundamentally make the world a better place.

Outcry from whom? China? Hugo Chavez? Robert Mugabe? Who cares? Much of anti-American resentment in the Middle East comes precisely because our aid props up corrupt regimes. And is used for other programs they resent, such as birth control.

Brian: Withdrawal would certainly NOT end terrorism, as the terrorists would simply trump up another excuse to continue their jihad.

Terrorism is a tactic against foreign occupation. For instance, 9-11 was triggered by American troop presence in an Islamic holy land. See The Logic of Suicide Terrorism (http://www.amconmag.com/2005_07_18/article.html). Terrorism is abhorrent, but the underlying complaints against imperialism and foreign occupation are well-grounded

Brian: . They have chosen the vehicles of terrorism and jihad for drawing the disenfranchised, or to quote Thomas Friedman the humiliated, to their cause.

So let's not humiliate them anymore by interfering in their affairs and propping up their regimes!

Brian: Limiting immigration and in effect the cross-polination of the world's cultures is also a bad idea.

But it is Moslem immigration by which the jihad will be won in the long run. I'm not saying we should close off trade with the Moslem world, but I see no reason why we should admit anyone, from any country or religion, who thinks cartoons mocking Mohammed should be banned.

There is no easy answer when it comes to immigration. Half of Mexico and probably hundreds of millions of Indians and Chinese want to live here. We have a welcome mat, but that doesn't mean the door can be open to everyone all the time. Excessive immigration increases rents and depresses wages for everyone. Given that, I don't know why we should allow in members of a religion openly hostile to our laws and culture. Despite what this Administration and multiculturalist professors say, I am not convinced that one can be a pious Moslem and a loyal American at the same time. See Srdja Trifkovic's article at http://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/cgi-bin/newsviews.cgi/Islam/2006/01/20/Can_a_Pious_Muslim_



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