Tuesday, December 28, 2004

From the Mail: Multiculturalism and Islam

Horace Jeffery Hodges (Korean University) writes:

Dear Bill,

This article by Christopher Caldwell is worth reading. It's about the Dutch people's doubts about multiculturalism in the wake of the Islamist murder of Van Gogh. I used to be a supporter of multiculturalism back whenI thought that it meant accepting the best that other cultures had to offer -- good ethnic food, hardworking immigrants, interesting foreign-born friends, and a quasi-carnival atmosphere in the public square that I found 'entertaining.'

I still appreciate the good things, but I'm not entertained by much of what I see and what the Dutch are now seeing, and I've come to understand that I've never been a multicultualist in the deep sense, forI've never believed that all cultures are equal.

BV: You have too much sense for that.

I've just usually been too polite to make an issue of this point. I no longer see much reason to remain polite if that means maintaining silence. And I think that we shouldn't be overly concerned about being accused of Islamophobia when we criticize Islamism (or even Islam).

BV: Right, except that 'Islamophobia' is a poor word choice, assuming that you are endorsing its use, which you may not be. A phobia is by definition an irrational fear (as in acrophobia, agoraphobia, xenophobia, claustrophobia, etc.); but our concern with militant Islam (Islamism) is neither irrational, nor a fear, strictly speaking. 'Islamophobia' is as misbegotten as 'homophobia.'

We have more important concerns than that. But we'd better know what we're talking about when we begin a critique and make an effort to keep our criticisms honest. We also have an obligation to know our own culture and carry it forward.

Since 9/11, I've been trying to think carefully not just about Islam and Islamic values but also about the West and Western values. Much of my own research is now guided by these interests. From our discussions of the past few years,I know that yours are, too, Bill.

Hmmm ... I see that in that previous paragraph, I began subtly addressing your audience. Now that you have a blog, many of my emails to you are shaped by the realization that you might publish them. Anyway, read the linked article, and be relieved that we Americans don't have the Dutch problem.

BV: We don't have it yet. What I don't understand is why European countries like the Netherlands allow Muslims to flood in. Are they as decadent as I think they are, with a grip on life so weak that they are unwilling to defend themselves and their culture? But then why do we refuse to control our borders? For short term economic gain? Because the Dems need warm and needy bodies? Some years back, Pat Buchanan called for a moratorium on legal immigration so that the people who have entered can be assimilated. A reasonable suggestion -- but how did our liberal knuckleheads respond? They pelted him with such epithets as 'racist,' 'xenophobe,' etc.

Although... (speaking as a frustrated Europhile) ... I think that we have much to lose if we lose Europe ...

BV: I am getting close to the point of saying, to hell with Europe. They can't distinguish their friends from their enemies. We are the new Europe. We will carry on as they collapse into decadence. As Hegel says, "The owl of Minerva spreads its wings at dusk." Well, the sun is setting on old Europe, and the owl is preparing for a transatlantic flight. Perhaps only we can prevent a total Untergang des Abendlandes. On this Spenglerian note, I end.