Sunday, 29 July 2018

Mesut Ozil’s resignation airs a German political dilemma | SCMP

From today's South China Morning Post. The author, Hans-Georg Moeller, is professor of philosophy and religion at the University of Macau. 
While most ethnic Germans emphatically embrace a set of liberal Western values – partly to distance themselves from their nation's fascist past – a significant part of the immigrant population holds on to values attached to a commitment to specific ethnic, national, religious, or family affiliations.
The ensuing irony is that the liberal Germans (similar to other liberals in the "West") find themselves in the uneasy situation that their non-racist, anti-nationalist principles oblige them to unconditionally welcome all "foreigners", but the same principles also oblige them to condemn, or at least disregard, core values that many of these "foreigners" identify with.
I wonder why "foreigners" is in the scare (or doubt?) quotes. Are they not foreigners?  Well maybe not. Some may have been born and raised in Germany. But as we know from many studies(1) the later generations of immigrants and refugees to Europe can often become more religious, more pious, more extremist (take your pick) than their parents.
Professor Moeller resorts to weasel words in the first para-snip above. ".... values attached to a specific ethnic, national, religious, or family affiliations"
We're not talking about different cuisines here, or different sartorial choices or different ways to worship. We're talking about Islam. Not Buddhism, Hinduism or atheism. We're talking about a very robust, very tough very self-confident, not to say righteously-arrogant ideology(2). An ideology that is, at core, misogynistic, homophobic, sectarian, supremacist and anti-freedom of thought. 
That many Muslims are fine and peaceable people is not at issue or in dispute here. What is at issue is Islamic ideology and not in dispute is that large fractions of its many votaries hew to its abhorrent values. A very much larger fraction — likely the large majority, according to many polls — are comfortable and supportive of its tenets. 
A thought experiment. Imagine it had been a different set of migrants to Europe. Imagine they'd been from East Asia — Korea, China or Vietnam, for example. These immigrants would have settled down, set up their Chinatowns, their Koreatowns, their Mini Saigons. Worked hard to send their children to college, to become second-generation professionals (and not religiously-obsessed, disaffected malcontents). How do we know this? Because that's what immigrants from those countries have done elsewhere, in the United States, in Australia. It's a cultural thing. It's not a racial thing. Some cultures are more attuned to success in this world than "martyrs" in the next one. Is it any wonder we prefer — and rightly so, or at least understandably so — one of those cultures over the other? To repeat: it isn't in the least racist to note these cultural differences. Nigerian Christians, Lebanese Christians, atheists form anywhere, fit in and are more successful in their adopted countries than are their Muslim compatriots. 
(An Australian government study in the mid nineties compared the success of Lebanese Muslims and Lebanese non-Muslims immigrants to Australia. The Lebanese Muslims had four times higher unemployment rates (20% vs 5%) and has created just one-third the family wealth of their non-Muslim counterparts. (Iirc). That's pretty much a perfect experiment. They were Lebanese, all ethnically the same, all given equal opportunities. The only difference was their belief systems. Ideas and beliefs have consequence,
as Sam Harris is fond of saying).
Professor Moeller is right to identify this as a German political dilemma. That is: Liberal western values versus the values of Muslim immigrants. (Moeller doesn't say "Muslim", but my point is that that's what it is, that's the problem, not the non-Muslim immigrants). 
How does Germany get over the dilemma? Moeller doesn't say. 
What I say is: Not by surrendering to cultural equivalence (all cultures are equal and must be equally respected) or being concerned at Mesut Ozil or his ilk's abandonment of their adoptive country. You should condemn, not just "disregard". You should condemn values inimical to those that the west fought centuries to secure. And phooey to those who bleat that to do so is "racist", "islamophobic", "xenophobic" (take your pick). These are just words intended to shut up defenders of decent, fair and liberal western values. 
Stay close to western values, oh Deutsche Folk! Stay firm! 

(1) Reflections on the Revolution in Europe. Christopher Caldwell. 

(2) Islamic ideology: I use the term "ideology", because that's how Islam is described by its senior representatives, imams, mullahs, ayatollahs and the like. They stress that Islam, unlike other religions (all of which are viewed as lesser), is a religion for the totality of life. Everything is set out for the believer, everything personal, family, cultural, political, legal, as well as the religious duties. It is a total system for life. In short: an ideology
LATER: I just noticed that Moeller has put the "West" in scare (or doubt?) quotes., as well. Why?  Does he doubt that there's such a thing as the "west"?  That to have a concept of something called the "west"Is somehow risible?  A nasty concept of the Alt-right? 
His slip is showing.