December 22, 2015

"THE MELTING POT MUST NOT MELT":

THE YEAR THE WEST TERRORISED ITSELF : The West needs to beat Islamism on the battlefield of ideas. (FRANK FUREDI, 22 DECEMBER 2015, spiked)

The reaction of many young Muslim schoolchildren to the Charlie Hebdo incident is quite consistent with the research into public attitudes towards ISIS. A poll of over 2,000 British adults, conducted by ICM in July, showed that nine per cent of respondents viewed ISIS in a positive light; three per cent held a 'very favourable view' of ISIS; and six per cent held a 'somewhat positive view'. Despite the numerous atrocities reported in the media, the proportion of those with a positive view of ISIS has increased by two percentage points since last year.

Public-opinion polls are always difficult to interpret. But what the ICM poll suggests is that a significant minority of British Muslims may be sympathetic to some of ISIS's ideals. The majority of those are likely to be passive sympathisers with no desire to journey to Syria. However, what their sympathies signify is that radical jihadist ideas have gained a foothold in British society. At the very least, the poll suggests a sizeable group of British Muslims expresses its everyday frustrations with the world, and particularly the West, through a favourable attitude towards ISIS.

Elsewhere, researchers investigating support in France and Spain for ISIS reported:

'Among young people in the hovels and grim housing projects of the Paris banlieues, we found fairly wide tolerance or support for ISIS's values, and even for the brutal actions carried out in their name. In Spain, among a large population sample, we found little willingness to fight in order to defend democratic values against onslaught.'

At present, the willingness actively to fight for ISIS is confined to a tiny minority. But the fact that there is a significant body of passive support is ominous.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the way 9/11 is now perceived and understood by many sections of European society. Many members of Muslim communities readily believe 9/11 conspiracy theories, especially the idea that it was all a Jewish plot. Claims about the world made by the Islamic State and other similar groups exercise a far greater influence today than they did three or four years ago. There are now far more people living in Europe who silently applaud or approve of an event like the Paris attacks.

The growing influence of radical Islamic sentiments is paralleled by a growing moral and political disorientation within European public life. European society is finding it very difficult to respond to what has now become a war against its way of life. This is especially clear in education, where numerous teachers have said how tough it is to discuss such 'controversial' subjects as 9/11 or the Holocaust in the classroom. Some teachers avoid these topics altogether.

Both France and Britain are failing to socialise a significant section of young people. Many of these youngsters embrace an Islamist counter-narrative that calls into question Western Enlightenment values and celebrates jihadist identity politics. One of the aims of the Paris attacks is to turn these anti-Western sentiments into a more active force in European society.

For a minority of young people, radical jihadism provides an outlet for their idealism. It also offers a coherent and edgy identity, a variant of the 'cool' narrative used by other online subcultures. The behaviour of young people who are attracted to jihadist websites is not all that different to the numerous non-Muslim Westerners who visit nihilistic websites and become fascinated by destructive themes and images. It just so happens that the destructive images and themes on jihadist websites are also linked to a destructive political cause.

Why are so many young Muslims hostile to the society into which they were born? Many blame anti-Muslim prejudice, economic deprivation or the conflict in the Middle East. It may well be the case that such issues have caused bitterness in Muslim communities. But Muslims are not the only group to have experienced prejudice or economic deprivation. One distinctive feature of European Muslim subcultures is that they are relatively self-sufficient and have a strong impulse to maintain a clear boundary between themselves and others.

Sociological research shows that the way that members of a subculture talk to one another and the views they hold are often different to the outlook of the rest of society. That is true for radical Muslims, as it is for other groups. Muslim subcultures possess their own pool of knowledge - that is, ideas and sentiments that are distinct to such cultures. Unfortunately, distinctive, culturally defined pools of knowledge create a fertile terrain for the construction and circulation of disturbing views and rumours. In such circumstances, rumours about a Jewish or American conspiracy can swiftly mutate into a taken-for-granted fact. Worse still, such 'facts' and beliefs are rarely tested in the wider public sphere and can therefore turn into deeply ingrained prejudices.

The absence of debate about the sensitive issues that divide Muslim subcultures from other sections of society is, in part, an inadvertent consequence of the policies of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism has failed to develop a moral and cultural outlook to which all sections of society can sign up. Instead it has encouraged cultural segmentation where, in effect, we now have a system of multi-values: numerous values existing side by side, none of them being properly discussed or challenged. That is why the image of a beheading can appear to some as an inspiration and to others as unspeakably horrendous. Such morally polarised reactions to the same event are the outcome of a society in which cultural segmentation prevails.

What Is America? (GK Chesterton) 

It may have seemed something less than a compliment to compare the American Constitution to the Spanish Inquisition. But oddly enough, it does involve a truth, and still more oddly perhaps, it does involve a compliment. The American Constitution does resemble the Spanish Inquisition in this: that it is founded on a creed. America is the only nation in the world that is founded on creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature. It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice, and that their authority is for that reason just. It certainly does condemn anarchism. and it does also by inference condemn atheism, since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom these equal rights are derived. Nobody expects a modern political system to proceed logically in the application of such dogmas, and in the matter of God and Government it is naturally God whose claim is taken more lightly. The point is that there is a creed, if not about divine, at least about human things. 

Now a creed is at once the broadest and the narrowest thing in the world. In its nature it is as broad as its scheme for a brotherhood of all men. In its nature it is limited by its definition of the nature of all men. This was true of the Christian Church, which was truly said to exclude neither Jew nor Greek, but which did definitely substitute something else for Jewish religion or Greek philosophy. It was truly said to be a net drawing in of all kinds; but a net of a certain pattern, the pattern of Peter the Fisherman. And this is true even of the most disastrous distortions or degradations of that creed; and true among others of the Spanish Inquisition. It may have been narrow about theology, it could not confess to being narrow about nationality or ethnology. The Spanish Inquisition might be admittedly Inquisitorial; but the Spanish Inquisition could not be merely Spanish. Such a Spaniard, even when he was narrower than his own creed, had to be broader than his own empire. He might burn a philosopher because he was heterodox; but he must accept a barbarian because he was orthodox. And we see, even in modern times, that the same Church which is blamed for making sages heretics is also blamed for making savages priests. Now in a much vaguer and more evolutionary fashion, there is something of the same idea at the back of the great American experiment; the experiment of a democracy of diverse races which has been compared to a melting-pot. But even that metaphor implies that the pot itself is of a certain shape and a certain substance; a pretty solid substance. The melting-pot must not melt. The original shape was traced on the lines of Jeffersonian democracy; and it will remain in that shape until it becomes shapeless. America invites all men to become citizens; but it implies the dogma that there is such a thing as citizenship. Only, so far as its primary ideal is concerned, its exclusiveness is religious because it is not racial. The missionary can condemn a cannibal, precisely because he cannot condemn a Sandwich Islander. And in something of the same spirit the American may exclude a polygamist, precisely because he cannot exclude a Turk. 





Posted by at December 22, 2015 5:35 PM

  

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