The European dilemma

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The European dilemma

Post by lmpower » Fri Jun 16, 2006 9:32 am

I have always liked Georgie Anne Geyer, and this article sums up the dilemma of most western european countries today.

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands -- One recent sunny afternoon, as the city's venerable buildings cast ever-changing reflections in the famous canals, a prominent Dutch editor was ruminating with me on the reasons behind the immigration upheavals here.

"For too long, we were too much afraid to speak out on religious -- or any -- differences," Hubert Smeets was saying, a touch of sadness in his voice. "It was taboo to speak of religious, or even ethical, differences.

"Remember, before World War II, 12 percent to 14 percent of Amsterdam was Jewish -- only 10 percent survived. So how can you say that, in the land of Anne Frank, you should not allow others to come?" He paused. "And then came 9/11, and all the taboos were taboo."

Suddenly the 16 million Dutch of this small, proper, prosperous country woke up to a nightmare long stirring in its unconscious. They had, without really thinking, let in 1.6 million foreigners, mostly Muslims, since the '60s; they had asked nothing of them -- no loyalty, no commitment, no cultural understanding. Many were from the most different cultures possible and had no intention whatsoever of becoming "Dutch."

Unsurprisingly, to anyone not taken in by the sloppy multicultural dreams of the era, it has all taken a terrible turn -- with the vicious stabbing murder of writer Theo Van Gogh by a Moroccan immigrant, with Rotterdam and Amsterdam soon destined to be half Muslim, and with the third generation of Muslims actively alienated from the state.

Smeets, one of the major commentators on immigration and editor-in-chief of the magazine De Groene Amsterdammer, then considered the results of all the good intentions. "Do the Muslims want to be Dutch?" he asked. "No -- and we don't like that. There was a poll recently on racism in The Netherlands and people were asked, Do you consider yourself a racist? And even a large number of the young said they considered themselves 'racists.'

"In the 1980s," he summed up, "everybody focused on social and economic solutions. Now everybody is focused on cultural problems."

How did this supremely moral and magnanimous country come to such a point? Ironically, the answers are not what you might think. Holland's quandary today, which stands in many ways as a paradigm for Europe, is the direct result of a misplaced and misdirected guilt. They have tried to atone for the era of Anne Frank, and of Dutch colonialism from Indonesia to Surinam, by allowing thousands of Muslims and other not easily assimilated immigrants to come in with no conditions. In the end, it has only increased intolerance.

The mood of the new Netherlands can be read in the words of its most celebrated immigrant, citizen and parliamentarian, the Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She has taken consistently daring stands on women's and human rights, and at the moment, through a another mishmash of contending factors, is losing her citizenship.

To The New York Times recently, she spoke the formerly unspeakable: "I am going to say something very controversial now," she said. "I think that immigrants from rural areas, most of them, are at a phase of civilization that is far behind that of the host countries, like The Netherlands, and because of that, these terrible events (like the murder of her friend Van Gogh) can occur.

"Here come people from another world who are living in the period when people are lynched publicly, immigrants who have not thought about individual freedom, and it's clear to me that the Dutch and the Germans and the French all made this huge mistake, saying, 'OK, their kids will go to school and take on more liberal or secular views,' and instead you get (this murderer)."

Words like these could never have been said in the old days of multicultural delusion. But such thinking is simply common sense analysis of the different stages of development that all peoples go through across history. After all, in the north of Europe, Germanic tribesmen were dancing naked around the fires when the Egyptians, the Moors and the Moguls, ancestors of many of today's immigrants, were ruling the world. Were they racist?

Since thinking is beginning to open up, let me make several "outrageous" suggestions for the future:

Bring in only immigrants from generally compatible cultures. In Europe, this could mean middle classes from Arab lands, but not poor and uneducated villagers from the subcontinent. Distance is a great mitigator of the hatred of the other; and familiarity, without agreement on principle, does indeed breed only contempt.

Don't feel guilty about it. Guilt is one of the most useless of emotions in foreign affairs, because the truly guilty never feel they are, and the professionally guilty liberals wind up doing foolish things. There's something dangerous about people so smug about themselves that they have lost their fear of the unknown. Beware, above all, of misplaced guilt.

Begin a serious conversation about your own cultures. In Europe, I hear over and over from my European friends how their own identities have become so weakened, they find it hard to demand that outsiders even respect them.

Finally, don't try to make up for your falling birthrates by bringing in people you don't even know. That is a Faustian bargain, and Holland came close to losing its soul in it. Why not try actually working longer hours, taking fewer social benefits and using more advanced technologies?

Holland IS waking up. It is now demanding much more of immigrants, cutting back immigration sharply, even showing racy films to would-be immigrants to see how they like Dutch women in bikinis and Dutch men kissing men -- "take it or stay home" is the unequivocal message. And they don't seem to feel guilty about it at all.

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Post by Lilith » Fri Jun 16, 2006 9:53 am

If the Dutch are really turning things around I say 'hooray'. Its about time folks started to realize that society is fragile and cannot be undermined by massive doses of immigrants with medievil concepts of justice and culture.

In way of comparison, the USA is lucky that the Mexican and Latin American immigrants are more amenable to blending in ....

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Post by lmpower » Fri Jun 16, 2006 11:30 am

Lilith has made a good point. Mexican immigrants are far more assimilable than Muslims. My friend Roque Sanchez is mostly passionate about the Dallas Cowboys. I told him I had received an Armando Manzanero tape, but Roque wasn't familiar with that artist. The Anglo was culturally more Mexican while the Chicano was more Americanized.


Post by Cosima__J » Fri Jun 16, 2006 3:19 pm

I've read about that video prospective immigrants to the Netherlands are supposed to watch to see if they can accept the cultural norms of that country. I guess there'd be a lot of immigrants from American who'd decide to return home if they had to say they like looking at men kissing men.

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Post by mourningstar » Fri Jun 16, 2006 5:03 pm

bull crap. I live in holland. 90% of the muslims i know. are pretty assimilited. this article isn't clear and objective. what kind of people does he mean by muslim? the indonesians(who are 99% intergrated) the Turks? the marrocans? who?

well, i have one thing to say: they need to do nothing. its a matter of generations. the old one die, and the new generation are dutch to the core. it's a simple process. and putting muslims in bad daylight isn't gonna do anyone good? for instance Ayaan hirsi ali, i loathe her. she knows the art of controversial. but not wit. she just says what those white christian people (in the goverment, yes its politics) are afraid to ask (and yes its still taboo)

So what do they do: they let a muslim turned atheist with alot of hate speak. they put her life in jeopardy while they can sleep a goodnight away

"Desertion for the artist means abandoning the concrete."


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