On Friday, I watched this 25-minute video, among other things:
On Russia Today's flagship program, the CrossTalk, there were three men (which includes the host, American journalist Peter Lavelle, and Oxford's political scientist Roger Griffin, besides Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation, a British Muslim youth organization) and one woman, right-wing columnist and ex-FoxNews personality (and ex-GF of Wikipedia's Jimbo Wales) Rachel Marsden. They used the unusual trial with Anders Breivik to discuss multiculturalism.
Women sometimes (if not often) play the role of decorations substituted to achieve some sort of gender parity but I think that this case was extremely different because she just dominated them – and not only by the striking visual advantage. ;-)
Anders Breivik told us quite some scary details about his wild murderous action in the Norwegian Labor Party camp. By his natural background, he seems to be a sensitive and even friendly guy. But he has trained himself to become an insensitive godless killing machine and he succeeded.
As I said many times, right now, in 2012, I don't see a conceivable justification for 1% of his acts – which may partly be due to Czechia's being pretty much shielded from multiculturalism, especially the Islamic one. On the other hand, I can imagine that the demographics will keep on shifting in a dramatic way and Europe may be on the verge of becoming a part of the Islamic civilization. Some countries may converge to this point earlier than others.
Considering Islam to be analogous to German Nazism and other ideologies that have declared jihad against the individual human rights, I would find such a development unacceptable and I would think that a war against this potentially different future of Europe would be totally necessary. Of course, in such a context, people like Breivik could play a totally different role. Instead of being lonely insanely looking killers, they could become natural authorities in a resistance movement. My ancestors have fought against the excursions of Turks into our relatively enlightened empire, Austria-Hungary, for centuries, and it seems obvious to me that we can't allow something similar or worse in a peaceful way.
At any rate, those are speculations about the future. Before he converted himself to a machine, Breivik himself had to rationally reach a different conclusion than I did. He thinks that the war for the civilized character of Europe has already begun. He believes many other things that I find either repulsive or bizarre – that includes his respect for Al Qaeda whom I consider a gang of wild animals with some semi-sophisticated, now largely defunct, leadership. Fights are often tough and symmetric but in a hypothetical defense of the Western civilization, I don't want my side to resemble Al Qaeda.
There are obviously statements that Breivik made and I agree with them, too.
But as Marsden explained on the show, it is inadequate to "ban" an open debate about important political topics such as multiculturalism by suggestions that such a debate was the cause of Breivik's shooting exercise. In fact, I think that just the opposite claim is closer to the truth: Breivik felt frustrated by the absence of such an open debate in Norway and it was this absence of a debate (among other things) that drove him to his radical behavior.
Moreover, people with many other opinions – and especially opinions that are "almost opposite" to Breivik's opinions – have committed hyenous acts as well.
The discussion whether multiculturalism has been a good idea is needed and the conclusion could easily be No. I liked Marsden's facial expressions when her fellow debater Mohammed Shafiq argued that multiculturalism has been an amazing success. LOL. There were also discussions on whether or not the Islamic women freely want to wear the traditional Muslim costumes. I have mixed feelings about this question – I think that the answer is "mostly Yes but it's because most of them have been brainwashed so they don't really know what they want as individuals". For some of them, however, the answer may be No. I think it's important for the Western societies to protect the individual rights of these people whether or not some local communities or ghettos or churches believe that they have the right to control these individuals. To give up these duties of the enforcement forces at selected places really means to jump on the journey towards an ever shrinking influence of the Western rule of law as we have known it for a few centuries.
To the horror of Mohammed Shafiq, Rachel Marsden also mentioned that we will have to think on whether there may exist cultures that are incompatible with our democratic practices. Such proclamations are politically incorrect but the logic behind this political correctness is faulty if not non-existent. When we call something a "culture", we indicate that there are "normal people" or "ethnic groups" that live within these cultures and they need to have room for life and expansion just like all other cultures.
But this approach overlooks the fact that some rules and traditions simply are incompatible with each other. Nazism was incompatible with the democratic procedures and values. But whether you like it or not, it was the hugely dominant culture of Germany in the 1930s and the first half of the 1940s. Nazism with everything that it taught kids – which contained lots of horrible things but it also included things that were normal or good – was as much a "culture of an ethnic group" as Islam is a "culture of the Muslim world" today. By declaring something "culture" or "non-culture", you can't make it consistent or inconsistent with something else if it is inconsistent or consistent to start with, respectively. ;-)
Of course, this wasn't discussed explicitly on the program but I do think that Islam is just incompatible with the modern Western values of democracy, freedom, and individual human rights. In fact, even the question whether Christianity was compatible with the enlightenment values could have been somewhat uncertain. But the answer turned out to be Yes. There was enough flexibility concerning the ways how one may interpret the Bible and some Christian traditions, what may be emphasized and what may be suppressed. When some perturbative corrections to the understanding of Christianity were applied, Christianity just turned out to be compatible with the enlightenment values that were born in the same "Christian" countries but whose motivations were mostly independent of Christianity. By the independence, I don't want to say those philosophies evolved separately: I want to say that the topics in which they agreed and disagreed were comparably large, as expected from uncorrelated quantities.
However, the case of Islam seems much tougher. Islam probably can't be reinterpreted in this way. It's an ideology that demands a complete submission of the individuals. After all, the word "Islam" means nothing else than the voluntary submission to God (which is not always so voluntary). And it's a political system that intends to control all dimensions of the human life. The reform needed to make it consistent with the values and attitudes to the human life that help to drive the most prosperous and productive countries in the world would be such a radical reform that everyone would probably have to agree that such a reform is equivalent to the liquidation of Islam, something that would require one to defeat pretty much all of the exponents of the religion who are alive.
I know that Gene and others will tell me how moderate and compatible with the U.S. life their Islamic relatives are and so on. But I am not talking about the compatibility of the Western social infrastructure with individuals who had to decide what they can afford and to what extent they may replace some "gears and wheels" in their approach to life by others. I am talking about Islam as a comprehensive system that wants to prescribe how people should live and what they should think. It wants to do so and it actually does so in almost every country of the Muslim world; and it seems to do the same thing in almost every homogeneous and large enough community of Muslims in other countries as well. This is simply how Islam works.
Whether there are people who still remember their Muslim roots and who live in the U.S. happily is an entirely different question. If those things work, these people are largely assimilated individuals. They've been absorbed by the American melting pot as individuals. All the problematic pieces of the Islamic skeleton that could have made them incompatible with America as we know it have been melted. The real problem are the skeletons that are so large that they don't melt at any reasonable timescale.
These skeletons may grow in Western Europe and perhaps in America, too. They may gradually transform Europe into a part of Eurabia. That's especially unfortunate because the Europeans aren't allowed to introduce their culture, lifestyle, and their ethnic groups to the Muslim world. One thing about this asymmetry is particularly worrisome: the sign. I am convinced that according to any sensible criterion, the Western organization of the society turned out to be a success so it should be allowed to spread. Instead, what we're discussing are details of the exactly opposite trend – the territorial gains of the Islamic culture which has been, relatively speaking, a failure when it comes to the ability to improve human lives. It's a bummer.
The Western environment allows us not to believe in any life after death. So when we offer the other face to be slapped, it may be just slapped and this event may be the end of the story – if you allow me to consider a few more copies of the 8th century that was so full of bigots to be a non-story. I think it is irrational and wrong to surrender the values that have helped to improve our lives.
Rachel Marsden has also opened another question: are the generous welfare systems in the West compatible with the tolerant immigration policies? Whenever I see the amounts of money that are being paid in the traditional capitalist countries to various types of people, I am shocked because they're often higher than the average salaries (income of people who actually work) in some pretty decent countries located just a little bit to the East. Much of the impressive progress in the West in recent decades was paid out of the ballooning debt. The capitalist countries became wealthy enough but they're not infinitely wealthy. Certain social commitments may simply decompose their economies.
One could list specific numbers but the main point I want to make is obvious. For the sake of their own economic survival, the Western countries simply shouldn't encourage demographic shifts and immigration policies that lead to increasing social expenses whose further exponential expansion has become unaffordable. Such a combination may be lethal. When Germans were invited to the Czech Kingdom (the Sudetenland, using the 20th century jargon) 800 years ago or so, the king knew what he was doing. He knew that many of them were skillful craftsmen who would bring some extra prosperity to Bohemia. If that hadn't been the case, he would have decided differently. Countries and states are very large and inclusive (representing whole nations) but at the end, they are just like large corporations that should still try to achieve some "profit", much like smaller corporations. It's just bad that not only such a reasoning isn't taking place these days; it has become politically incorrect to think in this rational way. Such an indifference to one's country's own fate is what accompanied the decline of the Roman Empire – and many others.
These days, when I listen to sensible people like Marsden, I feel kind of relaxed, I smile much more than a minute earlier and think that the world is probably doing fine. At Harvard, the likes of Marsden were (and still are) probably considered politically incorrect and one can't even praise them in the public. The same holds for Fox News. Now, any American who fails to see that Fox News is the most reasonable major TV station in America when it comes to political analyses is probably missing some wheels in his or her head. I don't really wish you to spend years in an environment which would like to spank you or dissolve you or excommunicate you or arrest you whenever you just show that you are convinced about these basic things. I've tried it for 16 years during communism and for several more years at Harvard and it wasn't pretty.
And that's the memo.
On Friday, I watched this 25-minute video, among other things: