Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A View from the Inside

Phyllis Chesler learned the truth about Islam and Islamic culture long before 19 jihadis sent airplanes plowing into the World Trade Center. As a naive college student in America she met and married an Afghani and later moved to Kabul. This was long before the Taleban came to power. Chesler, no doubt taught by her college professors that all cultures are equal and that Third World cultures were morally superior to the West, quickly learned otherwise. Her "Westernized" Muslim husband dropped his mask as soon as he was back home.

When we landed in Kabul, an airport official smoothly confiscated my US passport. “Don’t worry, it’s just a formality,” my husband assured me. I never saw that passport again. I later learnt that this was routinely done to foreign wives — perhaps to make it impossible for them to leave. Overnight, my husband became a stranger. The man with whom I had discussed Camus, Dostoevsky, Tennessee Williams and the Italian cinema became a stranger. He treated me the same way his father and elder brother treated their wives: distantly, with a hint of disdain and embarrassment.

While being held a virtual prisoner in Kabul - where women, even in pre-Taleban days, were not permitted to go outside without a male relative escort - Chesler saw the truth.

Individual Afghans were enchantingly courteous — but the Afghanistan I knew was a bastion of illiteracy, poverty, treachery and preventable diseases. It was also a police state, a feudal monarchy and a theocracy, rank with fear and paranoia. Afghanistan had never been colonised. My relatives said: “Not even the British could occupy us.” Thus I was forced to conclude that Afghan barbarism was of their own making and could not be attributed to Western imperialism.

Long before the rise of the Taleban, I learnt not to romanticise Third World countries or to confuse their hideous tyrants with liberators. I also learnt that sexual and religious apartheid in Muslim countries is indigenous and not the result of Western crimes — and that such “colourful tribal customs” are absolutely, not relatively, evil. Long before al-Qaeda beheaded Daniel Pearl in Pakistan and Nicholas Berg in Iraq, I understood that it was dangerous for a Westerner, especially a woman, to live in a Muslim country. In retrospect, I believe my so-called Western feminism was forged in that most beautiful and treacherous of Eastern countries.

But when she returned to the West, her blunt appraisal of what she had seen endured won her no praise among the intellectual and academic elite. Her taste of reality sounded a discordant and unpleasant note in their ultra-orthodox symphony of multiculturalist delusion. That she had seen this with her own eyes - seen women treated like cattle, deprived of all rights - only infuriated the mandarins of political correctness, who insisted. with a fanaticism of self-loathing capable only among the most devout religious believers, that the West and the West alone was responsible for all the problems of the world. So she received only scorn for her prescient warnings.

Nevertheless, Western intellectual-ideologues, including feminists, have demonised me as a reactionary and racist “Islamophobe” for arguing that Islam, not Israel, is the largest practitioner of both sexual and religious apartheid in the world and that if Westerners do not stand up to this apartheid, morally, economically and militarily, we will not only have the blood of innocents on our hands; we will also be overrun by Sharia in the West. I have been heckled, menaced, never-invited, or disinvited for such heretical ideas — and for denouncing the epidemic of Muslim-on-Muslim violence for which tiny Israel is routinely, unbelievably scapegoated.

Chesler hopes that the last five years will have opened the eyes of the elite.

Now is the time for Western intellectuals who claim to be antiracists and committed to human rights to stand with these dissidents. To do so requires that we adopt a universal standard of human rights and abandon our loyalty to multicultural relativism, which justifies, even romanticises, indigenous Islamist barbarism, totalitarian terrorism and the persecution of women, religious minorities, homosexuals and intellectuals. Our abject refusal to judge between civilisation and barbarism, and between enlightened rationalism and theocratic fundamentalism, endangers and condemns the victims of Islamic tyranny.

But this is fantasy. The"antiracists" and "human rights" activists have never stood for "antiracism" or "human rights." Those were cudgels with which to express their hatred of Western Civilization, its creators and everything it stands for. They do not stand against racism or for human rights, only against the West. This is why, in Britain, a white school girl is taken to the police station after she asks to be assigned to a study group whose members speak English, while imams, caught on tape at "moderate mosques" throughout London slandering Christains and Jews, praising terrorism, and calling for the erradication of England, are not even questioned by the police. That is how "antiracism" laws are applied in Britain, and a stark statement of whom they are only to be applied against. And that is why the Western intellectual elite refuses to acknowledge the truth about Islam. And never will.

Bills Also Come Due

For the last several decades, Europeans have prided themselves on their lavish social welfare states, which allowed them to escape the rough and tumble of "greedy capitalism" for greater income equality, and government paid-for health, retirement and living benefits. Of course, governments do not produce wealth, they skim money from actual wealth producers - businesses and individuals. (The record of state-run business enterprises is, well, extremely dismal ... as Venezuelans, Bolivians and Equadorians are about to learn yet again.) In order to pay for all those wonderful "free" benefits the government hands out, someone has to be taxed. But now the bills are looming large. While the Europeans were enjoying their welfare states, they stopped having enough babies to keep them going. European governments recognized the long term problem decades ago and started importing more fertile foreigners from the Middle East to keep the numbers up. But that didn't work out too well (a minor inconvenience called Islamic terrorism). Now younger Europeans, who are vastly outnumbered by aging baby boomers, see the handwriting of fiscal insolvency and crushing taxes on the wall. Not surprisingly, they don't much like it.

Young adults in France, like their contemporaries across Europe, face a slew of problems never experienced by their middle-aged leaders. Consider: a 30-year-old Frenchman earned 15 percent less than a 50-year-old in 1975; now he earns 40 percent less. Over the same period, the number of graduates unemployed two years after college has risen from 6 percent to 25 percent, even if they typically have better degrees. Thirty-year-olds in 2001 were saving 9 percent of their incomes, down from 18 percent just six years before. Young people who snag stable jobs, gain access to credit and buy homes later in life are particularly angry that the older generations continue to rack up public debts for which they will get the bill. And they are very skeptical of the pledges of boomer-generation politicians. "If all this were financially possible, it would have been done long ago," says Clément Pitton, the 23-year-old leader of Impulsion Concorde, which recently circulated a petition declaring "We will not pay your debt."

Pitton's sentiments are increasingly shared by the children of Europe's baby boomers, a generation sometimes called the baby losers. Not only will they be forced to pick up the tab for a welfare system that offers far more to the elderly than to the young, but they will be forced to do so with less: Europe's economy remains skewed in favor of the old and its politicians have been shy about pushing painful reforms that might correct the balance. No wonder one recent poll in France showed that only 5 percent believed young people had a better chance of succeeding than their parents. Europe, it seems, is increasingly split—not along class or racial lines, but between its young and its old.

Europe's political class can run the numbers as well as anyone. They know the inevitability the financial crisis, but they also know - like their American counterparts - that telling the truth and reducing benefits is political suicide when confronted by an electorate that has grown so use to its welfare benefits that it cannot function without them. Thus, as bankruptcy looms, European pols promise more and more...

It's election time in France, and the promises are flowing fast. If you believe the candidates, young voters are in line for a fat slice of state largesse, no matter who wins the vote. On offer from Nicolas Sarkozy, the right's presidential candidate: interest-free loans for young entrepreneurs and a €300-a-month allowance for training. Not to be outbid, his rival, meanwhile, the Socialists' Ségolène Royal, has pledged more housing, €10,000 loans and guaranteed jobs or training after six months of unemployment. As Royal told a party rally last week: "As a mother, I want for all children born and raised in France what I wanted for my own children."

And despite the obvious evidence of long term economic decline all around them, Europe's youth are as entranced by the promise of a welfare checks as their parents:

Ironically, Europe's young don't seem to favor cutting their parents' benefits; they want the same treatment. Last year French youths mobbed the streets to protest a new bill that aimed to create more employment but offered less security; the proposal was defeated. Says Wanlin: "Their aspiration is to get the same protection for themselves." If the economics don't work out, that's a problem for the politicians—not the young. Indeed, even some boomers recognize the flaws in the status quo. "The worst thing," says French author and former political advisor Bernard Spitz, "would be if we lived contentedly with our debts and our early retirements, telling ourselves the young will pay, just like we told ourselves 'Germany will pay' after the Treaty of Versailles." As Europe has learned before, a bad peace only leads to more war—even between generations.

Like a narcotic, the welfare state entraps entire populations. Once it has been created, it is almost impossible to eliminate. America started down the welfare state path later than Europe, but the effects will be the same.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Sign of Things to Come?

So goes California, so goes the country...

As it grows as a global technology hub, Silicon Valley has become one of the most polyglot places in the United States. Santa Clara County is on the brink of a linguistic milestone: Within the next few years, more people will speak a foreign language at home than the number who speak English, recently released census data shows. Given the statistical uncertainty, that threshold may already have been crossed.

Santa Clara County has the largest population of Hindi speakers among all counties in the United States, the second-largest population of Vietnamese speakers, the third-largest population of Persian/Farsi speakers, and the fifth biggest number of Chinese speakers, a Mercury News analysis of 2005 census data shows. In percentage terms, the county ranks first in Vietnamese speakers, second in Hindi, third in Chinese and fourth in Persian/Farsi.

Since 2000, Santa Clara County has passed Los Angeles and San Francisco to become the California county with the highest percentage of immigrants, with 36 percent of its population born outside of the United States. (Santa Clara and Los Angeles remain in a statistical tie.) Miami is the only metropolitan region in the United States with a higher percentage of immigrants than the San Jose area.

There are about a dozen large counties in the United States -- including Los Angeles, Miami-Dade and the New York City boroughs of Queens and the Bronx -- where English-speakers are in the minority. But perhaps only urban Queens has the global shuffle of suburban Santa Clara County, with its multiple South and East Asian languages, and a sizable Spanish-speaking population.

This is not America, not in any sense that an American would want to recognize it. As Silicon Valley grows more "diverse" it inevitably grows less American. That is the peril of the high legal/illegal immigration policies foisted on the American people by their government (without their consent). Being an American doesn't simply mean residing in the United States, working hard, being an entrepeneur, or believing in one man, one vote - though all of those are part of being an American. American culture is - or, rather, was - something much more complex. Americans had a language, a common set of customs, holidays and traditions, a common set of ideas and ideals. Though America absorbed many peoples, the presence of a dominant majority ethny kept the nation and its culture more or less unified. Everyone knew what it meant to be an American. The much revered - but also much misunderstood - notion of the "Melting Pot" is only possible when there is a dominant majority culture to force new immigrants to assimilate.

What is happening in Silicon Valley, and elsewhere, is what happens when immigration becomes a tidal wave and the dominant culture is overwhelmed. Fragmentation and eventually balkanization occurs. The eclipse of English will divide the new immigrant communities from what remains of the common culture, and from each other. Assimilation will not proceed as it did in previous generations. Ethnic, religious and cultural conflict will rise - the emerging landscape of modern California, and eventually the entire U.S. The only remedy capable of saving the American republic is to end illegal immigration and reduce legal immigration to reasonable numbers. Cultural conservation should guide the minds of the nation's leaders, who need to be reminded that they were elected to tend to America's best interests, not the interests of other peoples in other nations.

Islamic Justice

Saudi Arabia is the epicenter of the Muslim world, home to Islam's holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina. Thus, it is instructive to examine what passes for justice in Saudi Arabia, whose laws are explicitly based on the strictist interpretation of Islam, as a reflection of the Islamic ideal of justice and the mindset of modern Arabs.

A 19-year-old Saudi woman who was kidnapped, beaten and gang raped by seven men who then took photos of their victim and threatened to kill her, was sentenced under the country's Islamic-based law to 90 lashes for the "crime" of being alone with a man not related to her.

The woman is appealing to Saudi King Abdullah to intervene in the controversial case.

"I ask the king to consider me as one of his own daughters and have mercy on me and set me free from the 90 lashes," the woman said in an emotional interview published Monday in the Saudi Gazette.

"I was shocked at the verdict. I couldn't believe my ears. Ninety lashes! Ninety lashes!" the woman, identified only as "G," told the English-language newspaper.

Five months after the harsh judgment, her sentence has yet to be carried out, "G" said she waits in fear every day for the phone call telling her to submit to authorities to carry out her punishment.

Holding the woman in limbo about her punishment is almost as cruel as the sentence itself. But not to worry ... Saudi justice is not entirely without compassion:

Lashes are usually spread over several days. About 50 lashes are given at a time.

The next time you are lectured about the inherent cruelty of Western Civilization, or its treatment of women, remember this. All cultures are not equal.