On Who is American

There’s quite a lot that Colin Powell said today during his endorsement of Barack Obama that spoke to me, but in particular his mention of the current attempt on the Republican side of things to equate being Muslim with not being American got my attention. On the attempt to suggest Obama is a Muslim — or the tacit acceptance on the GOP side when such a suggestion occurs — Powell said that the right answer was that the suggestion is wrong, and that Obama is a Christian.

But then he said: “The really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being Muslim in America? No, that’s not America.” And then he talked about Specialist Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, Muslim, born in New Jersey, who was killed serving in Iraq, and how he saw a photo of Khan’s mother at her son’s grave, feeling the grief mothers feel when their children are lost at war, and how the grave of Spec. Khan showed not a cross or a star of David but the crescent and star of Islam. Spec. Khan, who had received a bronze star, is buried with full honors at Arlington. “He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he could go serve his country, and he gave his life,” Powell said. “Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourselves in this way.”

Yes.

I had more to say on the matter, and maybe I will say more, later. But for now, a simple “yes” is sufficient.

387 thoughts on “On Who is American

  1. In addition, why are we so infatuated with being American, to the exclusion of other people in other nations? We are hardly the nadir of existence. We should be proud of being American, and of our freedoms, and of the people who are sacrificing to defend these freedoms. At the same time, I wish this pride was tempered by more humility, especially by our leaders.

  2. Yes.

    Looking forward to the rest of what you have to say about what Secretary Powell said, but even if he had said nothing else but that, I would love him for it.

  3. Todd Stull:

    “We are hardly the nadir of existence.”

    I expect you meant to say “zenith of existence.” But independent of that, your actual statement is also true.

  4. I don’t see any problem with being proud of this country. As a matter of fact I hate the whole hyphenated American thing. For that matter how can one be an “African-American”? That makes no more sense that saying one is a “European-American”. How about we give up the hyphenated American thing and go with simply saying “I am an American”?

    As for being the nadir of existence, well why not? Sure we do some things wrong but we are open about our issues for the most part. We try soldiers for committing war crimes that other countries ignore, we have a press that goes after the government, we have high ranking politicians that go on trial for corruption, we don’t need internal passports to go from one state to another, we don’t execute people for how they dress, who they have sex with or what they say about the government.

    We are the only country on the planet that can land an army anywhere in the world and overthrow it’s leadership in less time than it takes a pregnancy to be completed. The poorest person in the US is considered wealthy in over half the world. We give away billions of dollars to people every day who are less well off than we are. I am glad that we are the sole superpower in the world. I would fear for the rest of us if Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran or China ever take that title.

    I also agree that being an American isn’t about race, religion, who you have sex with, the color of your skin but about believing in this country.

  5. Yes!

    America needs truth, not fables.

    As to the latter, as mentioned in wikipedia:
    “The 31st Sura of the Qu’ran refers to a man named Lokman..[2] Often confused with Aesop, and having lived several centuries earlier, Aesop’s fables may be derived from the works of Lokman.[2]”

    2. “There is also a link between Aesop and Islam. The prophet Mohamed mentioned ‘Lokman,’ said to be the wisest man in the east, in the 31st sura of the Koran. In Arab folklore, Lokman supposedly lived around 1100 B.C.E. and was an Ethiopian. His father, it was said, was descended from the biblical figure Job. Some of his tales may have been adapted by Aesop some five centuries after his death.” Aesop: Biography from Answers.com, [1], accessed September 22, 2008. Quoted beneath the headings, “Biography: Aesop” and “Thrown from Cliff.”

    As Saint John Lennon sayeth:

    Give Me Some Truth

    I’m sick and tired of hearing things
    from uptight-short sighted-
    narrow minded hypocritics
    all i want is the truth
    just give me some truth

    I’ve had enough of reading things
    by neurotic-psychotic-
    pig headed politicians
    all i want is the truth
    just give me some truth

    no short haired-yellow bellied
    son of tricky dicky
    is gonna mother hubbard
    soft soap me
    with just a pocketful of hope
    money for dope
    money for rope

    I’m sick to death of seeing things
    from tight lipped-
    condescending -mommies little
    chauvinists
    all i want is the truth
    just give me some truth

    I’ve had enough of watching scenes
    of schizophrenic – egocentric
    – paranoic – prima donnas
    all i want is the truth
    just give me some truth.

    Yes!

  6. How about we give up the hyphenated American thing and go with simply saying “I am an American”?

    You’re paying more attention to the adjective than you are to the noun.

    Saying you’re African American or Irish American is no more divisive than saying you’re a Yankees fan or a Red Sox fans. (Well, actually, maybe less….)

  7. I’m sure most of you are familiar with this:

    At a McCain Rally in Minnesota, an woman said “Obama is an Arab.” McCain took away the microphone away, and responded with: “No ma’am,” he says. “[Obama's] a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.”

    Thought I applaud his answer – part of it bothers me. By omission he’s saying that an Arab cannot be a decent family man, citizen, etc. I would have preferred a better answer.

    Am I being too nit-picky? Anyone else agree/disagree?

  8. Yes!

    I remember — I think it was during that telethon shortly after 9/11 — that Will Smith got on television, and stood next to Muhammad Ali, and said many great things about Ali, and added “This man is a Muslim.” Because there had been outbreaks of hate crimes directed at Muslims in America. And Smith (and the folks behind the telecast) realized that it was necessary to get hold of most recognizable, best loved Muslim in this country, and demonstrate that there’s nothing to be afraid of here.

    And I was simultaneously pleased that they did that, and disappointed that they had to — because hating people for their faith is not a characteristic of the America I think I live in.

  9. I’ve been waiting years for someone to say this about Muslim Americans. Thank you Secretary Powell. It will still take decades to reduce the amount of prejudice towards Americans who are either Muslim or or Arab descent, but this is a start.

  10. No. America’s concept of democratic inclusiveness is not compatible with various ideologies, and Islam in its dominant forms is one such incompatible ideology. Non-Christians tend to think that there’s no relation between a politically tolerant society and the dominant form of religion in them; by the time they are capable of recognizing their error it will be too late.

    Minorities (in the actual numerical sense) don’t tend to behave the same way once they become statistically significant minorities, let alone majorities.

  11. Re: Mike O’Brien @#17 I was going to answer but this post doesn’t seem to me a good place for discussion.

    On topic, that was the part of Powell’s endorsement who touched me more. Most of all because the press report I had read before I could watch the video had happily ignored it.

  12. I’m a Muslim American who has written to all of my representatives — and just last night to the Obama campaign — asking what he is going to do to reduce the culture of fear the current administration has sustained since 9/11. (I won’t say ‘created’, because the terrorists did that — but the current administration has definitely helped it along.) I’ve had “terrorist” shouted at me at a campus in Portland, OR. I was born less than 60 miles away.

    I’ll admit that the tenor of the Republican rallies has made me afraid again — not of terrorists, but for my family and my young daughter. If Muslim = terrorists, and we’re told that terrorists need to be destroyed … obviously, I don’t need to say what that will add up to in some minds. Add in fear because of the economy, fear of socialism (add whatever you like here) and you’ve got a woman who wonders if it’s dangerous to go outside wearing her hijab.

    And I support Obama on so many issues — but when I see he has to apologize or explain away his middle name, I’ll admit that my heart aches. I’m active in my local community, participate in interfaith programs that help educate others on the difference between a Muslim and a crazy fundamentalist … but it only goes so far.

    So I’ll admit, I burst into tears when I read Colin Powell’s statement. Finally, someone with a louder voice than mine is saying what needs to be said.

    Like everyone here, I’ll add my “Yes.”

  13. Well, Melissa, I’m sorry but apparently “you’re not compatible with America’s inclusiveness.” Which doesn’t strike me as particularly “inclusive”, if this is the case.

  14. Yes, and prominent conservative commenters bring it up to knock it down.

    Personally I think he is an atheist who joined Wright’s church for political posturing.

    Oh, and before anyone asks me “what is wrong with being an atheist?” you should know that I think whatever someone believes is their own business and I am an atheist myself.

  15. re: Vox @ 29

    I would argue that Christian Fundamentalism is similarly “incompatible” with a politically tolerant society. Because I sure as hell see Christian Fundementalists as the ones trying to impose their religiously-based views on abortion and homosexuality on the rest of us BY LAW.

    But the issue here isn’t one of religious fundamentalism on any side — it’s the issue of respect for people of all faiths who choose to sign on to the ideals of this country — including freedom of religion, and a protection of minorities from tyranny of the majority.

  16. Yes. Not terribly interested in contrarians who run hard to the “no” to show us all how immensely free-thinking they are.

    christian@23, no applauding here. McCain did not shut that woman down. I don’t think McCain, personally, is a hateful racist (Palin, now…), and I do believe that he has been shocked at some of the rhetoric heating up at those rallies. But he effectively told that woman “You would be right, if Obama really were an Arab. But he’s not an Arab, so he can indeed be a good guy.” That’s nothing to applaud.

  17. @ thepi,

    That is one of the most asinine theories about the Senator’s religious (or lack thereof) affiliation yet. Longtime membership in a church you don’t believe in is just ridiculous to conceive of.

    As someone who is not christian I can say that if you don’t believe you won’t be able to fake it that long for political gain.

    @John Scalzi…

    Yes, yes a million times yes.

  18. Damn straight. Yes.

    And while respecting your First Amendment right to free speech, Vox, I’m going to exercise mine and express my opinion that you are terrified, small-minded and prejudiced.

  19. Jeff Zuglae:

    Let’s not get into personal attacks, Jeff. Also, of course, per this entry, let’s recall that neither Vox nor anyone else has first amendment rights here; what they have is my tolerance. Vox’s point of view on the matter is certainly not my own, but he’s not being rude to other people here; i.e., he’s playing by my rules. Please do likewise. Point out the flaws in his argument, as other are doing; that’s the better course.

  20. Ben @28

    I’ve been waiting years for someone to say this about Muslim Americans. Thank you Secretary Powell.

    Huh. How many years?

    Statement from President Bush (September 13th, 2001)

    I urge – I know I don’t need to tell you all this -but our nation must be mindful
    that there are thousands of Arab-Americans who live in New York City
    who love their flag just as much as the three of us do.

    And we must be mindful that as we seek to win the war
    that we treat Arab-Americans and Muslims with the respect they deserve.
    I know that is your attitudes as well. Certainly the attitude of this government, that we should not hold one who is a Muslim responsible for an act of terror.

    We will hold those who are responsible for the terrorist acts accountable and those who harbor them.”

    And Washington, DC (9/17/01)

    America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. The Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads, and they need to be treated with respect.

    In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect. Women who cover their heads in this country must feel comfortable going outside their homes. Moms who wear covering must not be intimidated in America. That’s not the America I know; that’s not the America I value.

    Do I have to say “Yes?”

    Or can I say, “Of course.”

  21. Watched Colin Powell on Youtube this morning, and when he got to this point I jumped out of my chair and said “YES! THANK YOU!”

    So, YES.

    Oh, and this made my jaw drop:

    Non-Christians tend to think that there’s no relation between a politically tolerant society and the dominant form of religion in them; by the time they are capable of recognizing their error it will be too late.

    Wow. So much wrong packed into so few words. Let me count the ways.

    Things right-wing Christians believe: 1) Women should stay home, 2) Women should have no choice in bearing children, 3) Lesbian and gay people are evil, 4) Jews are evil. And reaching back in history, 5) slavery is a-okay. If the Christian right gained absolute power, Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale would not be an allegory.

    Read your history. Back in the Middle Ages, when Europe was dying of the plague, burning secular books, and torturing Jews, said Jews lived in the Muslim world. Which welcomed them as “people of the book”, and while they paid higher taxes and suffered discrimination, they were not, you know, killed. The Islamic world at the time was the center of learning, mathematics and writing.

    The reason our society is tolerant is it is secular, NOT Christian.

    If you don’t believe me, go visit Turkey, a secular Muslim nation. They have their own set of stupid people and historical problems, of course, but I never saw any of that. I did talk to many people fiercely defending secularism. And yet people without scarves stood next to people without and it was fine. As it should be.

  22. I would argue that Christian Fundamentalism is similarly “incompatible” with a politically tolerant society.

    Feel free to argue it if you like. Anyone can make a stupid and easily refuted argument, the problem is making a convincing one. There are no shortage of historical examples demonstrating that your argument is factually incorrect. Christianity has at its core a concept of individual responsibility that does not exist in other religions, which is why the Enlightenment took place in Christendom and not China, India or Turkey.

    I was always under the impression that educated lefties adored European idelogical sophistication. But they’re decades ahead of you all on this ecumenical inclusiveness, in fact, they’ve seen so much of it that they’re beginning to turn against it from the UK to Russia. And most are not even Christians….

  23. Sigh. Can we please leave Vox to do his poor man’s Christopher Hitchens routine elsewhere?

    Frank, I thought of that too. I remember being shocked, and giving President Bush credit for actually coming out and saying “Islam is peace”, decrying the anti-Arab, anti-Muslim sentiment that some people decided to wallow in after 9/11. Perhaps that’s another way McCain is attempting to distance himself from the President?

  24. If the Christian right gained absolute power, Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale would not be an allegory.

    Drama queen much? If Christians were interested in political power in the USA, they’d have it. They’re not. So, look at the demographics and then think about why.

    Read your history. Back in the Middle Ages, when Europe was dying of the plague, burning secular books, and torturing Jews, said Jews lived in the Muslim world. Which welcomed them as “people of the book”, and while they paid higher taxes and suffered discrimination, they were not, you know, killed. The Islamic world at the time was the center of learning, mathematics and writing.

    Are you even aware that most of the present-day Ummah was Christian before it was militarily conquered by three waves of expansionist Islam? As for the Jews, please notice that they repeatedly chose to return to the European kingdoms where you claim they were so terribly mistreated even after being expelled by the king multiple times. What does the state of learning have to do with anything? The Greeks were advanced for their time too, that doesn’t say anything about the compatibility of Zeus-worship with a tolerant society like Corcyra.

    The reason our society is tolerant is it is secular, NOT Christian.

    You’re wrong. Go live in any secular country in Europe for a while. It’s invariably less tolerant than the religious USA.

    If you don’t believe me, go visit Turkey, a secular Muslim nation. They have their own set of stupid people and historical problems, of course, but I never saw any of that. I did talk to many people fiercely defending secularism.

    That’s hilarious. You mean, go visit the country where the military has overthrown the democratically elected government in order to maintain secularism by anti-democratic force four times since 1960? Where it was on the verge of doing so a fifth time just last summer? Now, that is certainly “fiercely defending secularism” but it’s not what you’d call tolerance or democracy.

    Great stuff, Rachel. You should go on tour.

  25. Re: Adara @ 38 and Vox @ 48

    I would respectfully suggest that you are both oversimplifying the religions that you are discussing. Both Islam and Christianity have a wide variety of sects and sub-sects that have varying tolerance for other viewpoints and compatibility with democracy.

    Not all Christian fundamentalists are Dominionists.

    I would also point out that while the enlightenment took place in Western Europe, during the middle ages the Muslim world was considerably more scientifically advanced than Europe during the middle ages.

  26. @VOX #48
    “the Enlightenment took place in Christendom and not China, India or Turkey.”
    Because China and the Middle East didn’t have the fall into the Dark Ages that Europe did necessitating an “Enlightenment”. Why do you think we use Arabic numerals in math? Where do you think the concept of zero came from? Did you know that most of the names we used for the stars were from the Middle East?

  27. mythago @51

    Perhaps that’s another way McCain is attempting to distance himself from the President?

    Perhaps that’s something someone desperately wants you to believe

    The agent in charge of the Secret Service field office in Scranton said allegations that someone yelled “kill him” when presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s name was mentioned during Tuesday’s Sarah Palin rally are unfounded….

    Agent Bill Slavoski said he was in the audience, along with an undisclosed number of additional secret service agents and other law enforcement officers and not one heard the comment.

    “I was baffled,” he said after reading the report in Wednesday’s Times-Tribune.

    He said the agency conducted an investigation Wednesday, after seeing the story, and could not find one person to corroborate the allegation other than Singleton.

    Strange, huh?

  28. I’m going to exercise mine and express my opinion that you are terrified, small-minded and prejudiced.

    As you like. John doesn’t expect everyone to agree with him all the time – certainly not me – but I tend to doubt that either you or he would extend this inclusiveness to those religions that practice the blood eagle or offer beating hearts to Huitzilopochtli.

    So, here’s a question for you. Do you think a belief that the Norse or Aztec religions are not compatible with societal tolerance make one similarly “terrified, small-minded and prejudiced”?

    I’m open to being corrected, but I simply have not seen any indication that any major variant of Islam has divorced God from Caesar. If it has not, then how can it be compatible with a society that has a core principle of separating Church from State?

  29. Re: Wick @ 55

    You are correct. I was unfamiliar with the term “Dominionist” and appreciate the distinction. I have no dispute with “fundamentalists” of any faith who simply want to practice their own faith in peace without imposing it on the rest of us.

  30. Because China and the Middle East didn’t have the fall into the Dark Ages that Europe did necessitating an “Enlightenment”.

    For crying out loud, there was never any such thing as the “Dark Ages”. It’s a silly bit of Enlightenment propaganda that was abandoned by historians more than 70 years ago, as noted by the 1929 Encyclopedia Britannica and nearly every encyclopedia since. The original concept referred to the era preceding the coming of “the Light of the World”, in other words, the pre-Christian pagan era.

    If you talk seriously about a medieval “Dark Ages”, you do nothing more than demonstrate a near-complete historical ignorance. You apparently don’t know that the Middle East was predominantly Christian prior to the first great wave of Islamic expansion. As for China, the Five Dynasties was only one of their “dark ages”.

  31. I live in a city in which Muslims are a statistically significant minority. Most, though not all, are immigrants from Somalia.

    While every community contains a mix of individuals (and some are assholes), most of the Somalis I’ve met are good, hard-working people who value education and democratic participation. My daughter’s K-8 school is about 15% Muslim: Somali families diligently attend school events, are adamant about their kids respecting teachers, and on the day of the 8th grade graduation, I see entire extended Somali families arriving in their best clothes to honor their graduates. Many are not yet citizens and thus can’t vote, but will volunteer to drop literature for local political campaigns because they are so excited to be able to participate in democracy that they can’t wait to get involved. In 2001, at the victory party for our newly elected mayor, I saw an older Somali woman wearing a hijab and a t-shirt with an American flag and the words WE STAND TOGETHER.

    The Somalis in my community that I have met are exactly the sort of people I WANT immigrating to this country.

  32. The Enlightenment took place in Christendom

    Bullshits. The Enlightenment took place in some European states (not all of Europe) thanks to a small class of intellectuals who for the most part refused the Christian religion, and for this were at times censored, persecuted, exiled and denounced as heretics, atheist, freethinkers. The Enlightenment brought secularism in Europe, AGAINST the Christian churches, both the Roman Catholic Church and the Reformed churches, and had to fight for decades before its ideas were adopted by the general population.
    The Christians actively fought against these same ideas until the beginning of the XX century, tacitly accepting some of them only when refusing them would’ve meant to become completely divorced from the civil society.

  33. (To clarify — sorry, my five-year-old is trying to braid my hair as I type, which is distracting — I was trying to acknowledge that every community includes some assholes and Somali immigrants are not immune to this. Not to call Somalis assholes. That sentence reads a little funny.)

    (Now my five-year-old is trying to drop pennies down my back. Maybe I should get off the computer….)

  34. Yes, of course. But a couple of other things, too.

    First, Powell’s endorsement was incredibly moving. In seven minutes he laid out the reasoning behind his choice with eloquence and clarity. We used to elect people this smart. We could again.

    Second, thanks to Tom Brokaw for letting Powell talk. Most Sunday-morning talk show rants get pretty deadly around the two-minute mark, but Brokaw had the sense to realize that he was hearing something different, and got out of the way. I can understand how a McCain supporter could see this as a partisan move, but Brokaw has taken too much flak from lefties to be easily labeled liberal. Which isn’t to say it won’t happen.

  35. The Enlightenment took place in some European states (not all of Europe) thanks to a small class of intellectuals who for the most part refused the Christian religion, and for this were at times censored, persecuted, exiled and denounced as heretics, atheist, freethinkers.

    You have literally no idea what you’re talking about, you’re simply spouting the usual atheist dogma of the secular uneducated. Go review the list of the 40 or so most important Enlightenment figures and you’ll see that few fit your description. You appear to be confusing the Enlightenment with the Encyclopedia; it wasn’t all Voltaire, Diderot, de Jaucourt, and Rousseau

    Wikipedia actually has it right for once. The Enlightenment was mostly the logical result of the attempt to apply systematic reasoning to society. Which goes back to Newton and Descartes….

  36. @45, in re: Jeff Zuglae

    John,
    I have to disagree, and post to say so. I think the better course is to ignore Vox, and to council others to do so. I have seen many good discussions on your site. I’ve yet to see a good one that involves Vox. His arguments are both weak and vicious. They are also unending. Worse, they seem to engender really, really, lame responses. While my sentiments are with the responders, they sometimes make my eyes bleed. I really respect your decision to allow him to participate in the community, but I agree with mythago. Please let’s not engage with Vox.

  37. @ 64 Naomi,

    We have had several exchange students over the years. One was from Senegal and is Muslim.

    After 9/11, when many people thought Muslim=terrorist, my kids thought Muslim=nice person who lived with us. There is a lot to be said for putting a face with a label.

    People fear the unknown.

    @ 29, VOX,
    BTW, Minnesota has a Congressperson, Keith Ellison, who is Muslim, and took his oath on Thomas Jefferson’s Koran.

  38. I profess no great knowledge in these matters, but I think Vox has a point when SHe says “I simply have not seen any indication that any major variant of Islam has divorced God from Caesar.” Every time I’ve discussed the matter with Muslims they’ve been completely opposed to the idea that religion and politics should be kept separate.

    I completely disagree with “Go live in any secular country in Europe for a while. It’s invariably less tolerant than the religious USA,” though. I have to wonder what that statement is based on.

  39. Yes.

    Regarding some of the other comments – all religions have intolerant groups / sects. At the moment, Islam’s intolerant sect is causing the most problems. This does not mean Islam is bad – it means that we need to help Muslims understand that they can be good Muslims and not at the same time attempt to impose their will on others.

    Regarding the Enlightenment – the Catholic Church hindered at least as much as they helped. Remember, Galileo was imprisoned as a heretic.

  40. Hope:

    Not engaging with Vox is perfectly fine. If one believes that arguing with Vox (or anyone else) on a particular subject is like wrestling with a pig (i.e., nothing good comes of it and the pig kind of likes it) then one should not argue with him. And you’ll note I didn’t bother to respond to the substance of Vox’s comment in this case. If one is to engage him on my site, however, I personally prefer intelligent argument to name calling.

  41. You have literally no idea what you’re talking about, you’re simply spouting the usual atheist dogma of the secular uneducated.

    I’ve studied them at the high school and the university, reading the original French and English texts and translations of the German ones. And what you’re spouting is the lame revisionism of the modern Christians, trying, after they were defeated, to appropriate the ideas of those who they had considered their most dangerous enemies and hoping to convince the uneducated that they were ALWAYS right and that even the non-Christian, after all, were Christian, because only Christian is good.

  42. This is exactly what annoyed me the most about that ignorant woman at the McCain rally who said “Obama is an Arab.” He’s not, of course. Nor is he Muslim, if that’s what she really was trying to say, and confused the matter.

    But so what if he was? Arabs can’t be Americans? You can’t be president if you’re Muslim?

    This kid was apparently both, and he died for our country. That rally woman ought to be ashamed of herself.

  43. John: my sincere apologies. Shan’t happen again.

    Vox@59: “So, here’s a question for you. Do you think a belief that the Norse or Aztec religions are not compatible with societal tolerance make one similarly “terrified, small-minded and prejudiced”?”

    Yes, I do.

    Let’s first look at the practices like the blood eagle and the live human sacrifice with still-beating heart offered. These are what today we would call barbaric, horrific methods of torture and murder, that in the past were performed (ostensibly) mostly within the rituals of particular religions.

    Our society may be tolerant in many ways, but we have chosen not to tolerate murder, torture and other atrocities under any circumstances (the death penalty is a very special case that we still wrangle over). Anyone who set up such practices under the guise of a religion today would be immediately arrested, prosecuted and hopefully imprisoned. So in that respect I feel your mention of these practices is disingenuous. Any of us would condemn anyone who did these things on simply human grounds, without needing to condemn a connected religion. Any of us would be similarly terrified by any persons who engaged in such practices regardless of their religion.

    I believe that many practices that are not only approved of but demanded by strict Shari-a law, such as cutting off the hands of a thief, are quite illegal here in the US and would be dealt with as I describe above. However, clearly there are many Muslims who do not engage in strict application of such penalties under Shari-a, both here in the US and abroad. Application of violent practices under Islam (or any religion), then, is (to my eyes) not an inherent property of the religious scripture and belief, but a property of the humans who find justification for their own bloody-mindedness in their religion.

    As I recall, the Bible (and I think the Torah or Talmud, not sure which) says quite unambiguously that people who engage in adultery should be stoned to death, and lists similarly deadly punishments for a number of other sins and crimes. I think we’d all find such a practice barbaric and terrifying. It’s also quite illegal here in the US. Should I be terrified of Christians, or the Christian religion, because the Bible prescribes such murderous violence? Of course not.

    Secondly, let’s look at time frame. These practices you mention have not been practiced in religion for at least 500 years, perhaps more. Shall we go back and examine the practices Christians 500 years and more ago, and judge today’s Christian churches on them? Should I be terrified of the Jesuits and Catholicism because of the history of the inquisition? Should I be terrified of Protestants because of the atrocities of the various wars in Germany, or because they burned people accused of witchcraft? Of course not.

    Being terrified of bloody barbarism, ok, that I can understand. But being terrified and hateful of an entire religion or culture because some members of it have practiced bloody barbarism? That I find to be inappropriate.

    So in conclusion, I think that believing some horrible practices of various religions to be incompatible with our social tolerance is quite appropriate, but that believing that the religions themselves are incompatible with our social tolerance is a kind of bigotry.

    Religions are a living thing, they change over time. And thank God for that. People, on the other hand, do all sorts of horrible things. Religion is only one of many ways they justify them.

    Also Vox@59: “If it has not, then how can it be compatible with a society that has a core principle of separating Church from State?”

    Why don’t you ask Cpl. Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan’s family? They’re American Muslims. Given their loss and sacrifice, clearly there is an Islam that is capable of separating church and state, and acting with free will under our Constitution.

    Do you see how you may be engaging in prejudice by assuming Islam is a monolithic faith?

  44. Yes.

    I have met the “no’s”. I tend to ignore them, though that might be a dangerous thing to do should the “no’s” get into power, because I’m not white and my parents weren’t Americans.

    They fled Vietnam and became refugees in America. As you can imagine, a lot of Americans hated them (and also despised the vets, which is another sadness altogether). We were the “Arabs” of those years after the Vietnam war.

    But as always, it’s not the whole story.

    My father fought with the Americans, not against them. He was wounded three times, and almost died once during that war. He never tortured anybody, in other words, much less McCain. He should have been welcomed in America with open arms—not condemned.

    But when he came here and tried to get a job, people… assumed otherwise. This made my childhood very difficult, although there were other factors involved.

    Among my unfortunate memories, I remember my father, who I had never seen cry and never saw cry since, breaking down and sobbing, my father who never cried but that once, because he could not make ends meet, because he couldn’t get hired anywhere.

    And after all he had done with the American army. He was not a perfect man, and really he was NOT a good family man, but he was in his heart—for whatever reason, despite everything this country did to him—American.

    Eventually, opinions changed. But I know a lot about being poor.

    I am American legally but, despite all that and more, I am also in my heart an American. I was born on this soil, raised here, grew up here. This is my home. I’m no less American than anybody else who’s European-American.

    There are people who believe otherwise. I have little respect for them; they of course have little or none for me.

    What the hell can you do but live and prove everyday that you’re not some scary Other?

    Some day those conflicting opinions—my belief that I’m American; some others’ belief that I am not—may get me killed. I try not to think about that, but there are times I do think about it. And I know it’s a real possibility. I’d like to say to the people who don’t want “us” here: try living with that every day.

    There are many reasons to not vote for the McCain-Palin ticket. Those hate rallies are just one of them, but it’s a very big one.

  45. Leaving the side issues where they belong.

    YES

    I’ve always respected Colin Powell. It doesn’t surprise me that he could sum it all up in a short period of time.

  46. So every republican and every conservative is a racist and an idiot, just because the trailer house crowd in Tennessee thinks that Obama is an arab name?

    I am afraid I find that quite offensive.

  47. It’s not a question of whether the name is Arab, JJS. The question is whether people who believe Obama is an Arab name believe it means therefore he is less of an American than, say, someone named “John McCain.”

  48. First, Powell’s words are wonderful hear at this particular point in current events.

    Second, Vox is using other commentators’ historical simplicfications and errors to validate a point of view that is also kind of wrong, and certainly is kind of distasteful in the context of Scalzi’s original post.

    I could write up a bunch of generic statements on medieval history, but why feed the troll. However, I can’t resist pointing out that (nitpicking) “Arabic” numerals were transmitted to Europe via the Islamic kingdoms, but were invented by Hindu scholars.

  49. Yes.

    And I’ll take a deep breath and respond to Vox @59:
    Any belief system practiced as an official ideology by a regime bent on empire is near-certain to be incompatible with a free society. That was true of the Vikings, the Aztecs, the Crusaders, the Romans, and the Soviets. And it’s unfortunately true of many current factions in the Middle East. That doesn’t justify a belief that Islam as practiced in the U.S. by people that believe in the ideals of this country strongly enough to die for them is incompatible with democratic inclusiveness, any more than the beliefs of Dominionists make Evangelical Christianity incompatible with the same ideals.
    If you haven’t seen a form of Islam that separates God from Caesar you’re not interacting with American Muslims. And you apparently didn’t bother to read Naomi’s comment.

  50. Yes.

    And everyone: Vox is enjoying this, and nothing you can say will get into his brain, no matter how well you say it or how thoroughly you support it. He’s decided the Earth is flat,* and he wouldn’t believe it was round if you showed it to him from space. Like other people who are convinced that rightness is a property intrinsic to them (rather than something that has to be maintained by scrupulous attention to facts, and continual modification of opinions incompatible with those facts), he is the possessor of a mind so closed that even nuclear weapons would be hard pressed to open it.

    You are thoroughly, utterly, absolutely wasting your time. He’ll keep poking at you as long as you respond.

    *This is a metaphor. As far as I know, Vox doesn’t actually believe this specific bit of nonsense.

  51. I have to wonder what that statement is based on.

    Living in secular European countries for most of my adult life, as I do now. On average, Americans are rather more tolerant than Europeans towards blacks, Jews, and Muslims, although Europeans are more tolerant towards gays.

    Given their loss and sacrifice, clearly there is an Islam that is capable of separating church and state, and acting with free will under our Constitution.

    Really? What major branch of Islam does the unfortunate young man and his family represent? I’ve certainly never heard of it. What’s it called? I don’t deny that there are Muslim individuals who are capable of peacefully abiding in a manner compatible with tolerant American society.

    Should I be terrified of Christians, or the Christian religion, because the Bible prescribes such murderous violence? Of course not.

    You’re confusing the Christian religion with the Jewish one. So, no. You’re also evading the point about all the major strains of Islam; of course the tiny minority aren’t capable of imposing their perspective in the USA, although they are already doing so in the UK, for example, with its sharia courts.

    I’ve studied them at the high school and the university, reading the original French and English texts and translations of the German ones.

    Them? You’ve STUDIED them? Specifically which “them” do you mean? Are you seriously attempting an appeal to a very unimpressive authority? Very well, as you an authority on the subject, let us know how many of the 40 leading figures of the Enlightenment fit your description provided? And what were their names?

    His arguments are both weak and vicious.

    It was extraordinarily vicious of me to point out that people are using terms discredited for nearly eighty years, wasn’t it! Mea culpa. And to use an outdated source like the EB, well, I should have turned to an expert like old Giacomo there.

    You don’t have to like me or agree with me. But for your own sake, I encourage you to learn to think instead of simply reacting. Either John is correct or I am, and time will eventually tell. There’s simply no need to get emotional about it.

  52. That doesn’t justify a belief that Islam as practiced in the U.S. by people that believe in the ideals of this country strongly enough to die for them is incompatible with democratic inclusiveness, any more than the beliefs of Dominionists make Evangelical Christianity incompatible with the same ideals.

    That’s true, but the salient difference is that Dominionists are a tiny fraction of the Evangelicals – let alone broad spectrum of Christianity – whereas the secular-democratically compatible form of Islam is so small a fraction of Islam that it can’t even be identified by name yet, at least not as far as I’m aware.

  53. Yes.

    There is nothing wrong with being Muslim and American. There is also nothing wrong with being Christian and American. There may be a time to polarize and divide. Not now. Not over this.

    How fitting that this was the Gospel at Mass while I was away at retreat this weekend:

    Gospel
    Matthew 22:15-21 (NAB)

    The Pharisees went off
    and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.
    They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying,
    “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
    and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
    And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion,
    for you do not regard a person’s status.
    Tell us, then, what is your opinion:
    Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”
    Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
    “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?
    Show me the coin that pays the census tax.”
    Then they handed him the Roman coin.
    He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?”
    They replied, “Caesar’s.”
    At that he said to them,
    “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
    and to God what belongs to God.”

  54. Vox:

    “whereas the secular-democratically compatible form of Islam is so small a fraction of Islam that it can’t even be identified by name yet, at least not as far as I’m aware.”

    “Progressive Islam” is what it’s usually called, or sometimes “Liberal Islam.” Here are a whole bunch of links for you to pursue on the matter.

    It’s also worth noting that by and large the Muslims in the United States, whose numbers are estimated at anywhere from one and a half to five million, seem to be practicing a secular/democratic-compatible form of Islam perfectly well. Not to mention Turkey, with a population of 70 million.

  55. Actually, wrestling with a pig sounds like kind of fun, sort of like rolling around on the ground with the dog. Arguing with Vox, not so much.

  56. Corrections on the last two corrections #85 beat me to that point. I’m all screwed up from last weeks Giants loss to the Browns.

  57. Reading the link to the anthology, it looks like you’re conflating the secularization of intellectuals raised in a religion with an actual strain of the religion itself. And few minorities are inclined to flex their muscles at only 1.5 percent of the population.

    Not to mention Turkey, with a population of 70 million.

    John, with all due respect, this supports my point, not yours. If one has to repeatedly launch military coups to overturn the democratically elected government and restore secularism, it’s really not a viable model.

  58. Them? You’ve STUDIED them? Specifically which “them” do you mean? Are you seriously attempting an appeal to a very unimpressive authority? Very well, as you an authority on the subject, let us know how many of the 40 leading figures of the Enlightenment fit your description provided? And what were their names?

    I was writing a long response, citing names and titles, I also thought of going to take the few books I brought to my new house when I moved, then I realized: “Why the hell am I trying to justify myself with this guy, who apparently lives to pick up fights on the Internet, who’s proud of his website full of racist and bigots and who’s just going to continue with personal attacks and stupid sarcasm? That would be just stupid, I don’t need to waste my time with that *******.”
    And so I checked a few other websites, went to the bathroom, pissed, brushed my teeth, closed the windows and the doors, turned on the antitheft device and now I’m going to bed. Goodnight!

  59. Yes. Finally. Indeed.

    This politically motivated and cynical demagogary that has been a mainstay of republican rhetoric since at least Reagan is long beyond any expiration date. While I can’t prove it, I see a connection between ‘realpolitic’, the latest mass infusion of Dominionist efforts into the political arena and the major influence of the Lee Atwater/Rove style of slash ‘n burn political methodology driving today’s political Inquisition. Unfortunately, like with the republican economic ideologies, I don’t see the majority of the country seeing beyond the BS and distractions until a major and undeniable event happens. When it does (sadly I do not say if), the part played by today’s political Inquisition and the relentless shouting of hate by the republican noise machine will be all too clear.

  60. Vox:

    “few minorities are inclined to flex their muscles at only 1.5 percent of the population.”

    Really?

    The military opposing the democratic will of the Turkish electorate doesn’t prove that the brand of Islam practiced there is not compatible with democracy, merely that the military doesn’t want particular parties in power. It’s not quite the same thing. It’s also worth noting that the most recent fellow to cause this sort of consternation, Abdullah Gül, is currently the country’s president.

  61. My respect for Colin Powell rose immeasurably upon hearing that. I have not heard one single politician say that up until now–Democrat or Republican.

  62. Re: # Mankelon 19 Oct 2008 at 3:11 pm

    @ cypheroftyr

    Yes, you can fake it.

    I respectfully disagree… or perhaps YOU can fake it. I personally cannot, and could not do so which is why I am no longer a member of the Christian faith.

    I (my opinion here) find it hard to believe anyone could fake such belief for so long for mere political gain. But unlike others here, I’m fine with agreeing to disagree.

  63. One wonders if there’s so much evil in the world today because whenever anyone stands against it, the fringe discussion ends up being noisier than the people tryin’ to say “Hey, he’s got a point!”

  64. Yes.

    I wonder if this is the first step of Powell’s political rehabilitation, removing the taint of the first Bush Administration and his “vial of anthrax” speech in front of the UN. Maybe he could serve in a second Obama administration?

    I wouldn’t mind seeing the Powell Doctrine enforced again.

  65. MarkHB:

    “One wonders if there’s so much evil in the world today because whenever anyone stands against it, the fringe discussion ends up being noisier than the people tryin’ to say ‘Hey, he’s got a point!'”

    Well, that’s what fringes do. On the other hand, when several dozen people comment on something, and only one of them suggests that Muslims aren’t fit to be part of a democratic society, that’s not a bad thing in terms of percentages.

  66. I concur with Powell’s assessment and I’ll give some thought to where my vote will go this fall as a result.

    That said, I seem to recall the American Left said some pretty nasty things about our First African American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State.

    Uncle Tom being one of them, among others.

    So one will forgive me if I find all of this orgasmic excitement on the part of the American Left to be just a notch hypocritical when contrasted with things they have said about Powell, Rice, Palin, and soldiers in general.

    “We’ll Support our Troops when they Shoot their Officers.”

    Perhaps what would seal the deal for me is if Obama came out and very clearly said that the quote above does not represent his party. As it stands, I think the anti-militarist Left do run the DNC.

    And lets not forget what was said elsewhere on this blog by David M about “real Americans.”

    Lot of hypocrisy in the air and it isn’t just the Right that is guilty of it.

    S. F. Murphy

  67. I wonder what today’s Republican party would make of General Omar Bradley.

    An Arabic name (more accurately transliterated `Umar). It means “flourishing” and was the name of one of Muhammad’s closest companions and a controversial figure in Islamic history, future Caliph Omar ibn al-Khattāb.

  68. Zugale wrote: “Vox, are you even an American citizen?”

    If the citizenship test involves having ridiculous portraits of yourself made swinging a homoerotically significant flaming sword around, yes, Vox is a citizen.

  69. John @116: Sorry.

    Vox wrote: “Are you even aware that most of the present-day Ummah was Christian before it was militarily conquered by three waves of expansionist Islam?”

    Who cares? Why is that so much worse than the waves of conquest that the West engaged in against each other for centuries?

    The West even sacked Christian Constantinople.

    I don’t see why you consider Muslim conquests to be worse than the Norman (and other) ones.

    The world was a constant flux of military conquest. I don’t see any reason to consider the Muslim conquests to be particularly worse than those of the Danes or anyone else.

  70. Why even engage Vox? Once again, he’s wrong from the beginning:

    “Islam in its dominant forms is one such incompatible ideology.”

    1) Calling other people’s religion an “ideology” is both wrong (’cause, y’know, it’s a different thing, just look it up in the dictionary) and bigoted.

    2) Internal incoherence is detrimental to the health of your talking points! First, Vox posits several forms of Islam, then he jumps to the conclusion that it’s just “one” ideology. Way to go, man. Too bad you had to put your foot in your mouth again.

    Oh, and bringing up such close-minded politickery in a thread about a young guy who died for his country and his ideas… Very, very wrong. Not to mention despicable.

    (Ha. Maybe that was the point, of course. If Vox had any credibility left, here it goes down the drain.)

  71. That said, I seem to recall the American Left

    You know, you just lose credibility right away when you conflate everyone left of center into a singular unit. As anyone who knows anything about the American left, we’re often better at disagreeing with each other than we are at disagreeing with our opponents.

    As for Vox, he’d need a large amount of correction to even get close to being wrong. It’s not the facts, it that Vox has already decided what they mean before he learns them.

  72. Sam @ 106: You have not been listening to the politicians, it seems; such statements are frequently omitted in the translation to soundbites. (For example, the statements of President Bush referenced at #46.) I am inclined to think that they are more likely to be omitted from statements by Republicans, but that’s only a hunch.

    There is a huge amount of putting words — and the lack of words — into people’s mouths going on, and there is very little attempt to meaningfully correct the record when such errors occur. So little it leads to my hunch above. There’s a term, “psychological projection”, where a person believes that other’s motives are his own; there seems to be a corresponding “psychological acceptance”, where reports of other’s words — or lack of words — that match the hearer’s beliefs results in unquestioned acceptance.

    McCain not shouting down a little old lady? Give him a break. YOU think of a better way to respond, to defuse the allegation, on your feet with the cameras looking at you. It does not matter what you say, someone will find a way to twist it into something bad.

    There are times when I think that people, once they’re gathered together in groups, are just incapable of being admirable.

    Gen. Powell, on the other hand, seems to almost always have it together. I wish he would have run, it would be hard to vote for someone else.

    As far as can there can be an Arab-American, or a Muslim-American, of course, or YES, HELL YES, if you prefer it that way.

    (ot ps — I miss preview; any chance it’s coming back soon?)

  73. In the interests of clarity, I’m not defending Islam. I’m defending my American status as a rational agnostic.

    You can have whichever invisible friend you like as long as you don’t tread on my toes over it.

  74. # cypheroftyr

    Fortunately, I don’t have to fake it. If you read the story of how Obama became involved in religion it is possible that you can give a hint of probability to the fact that he could be “faking” it.

    And about the impossibility of doing so, ¿How do you think it works for nonbelievers surrounded by fundamentalists? I’m not suggesting that Obama is/was surrended by fundamentalists, but he already had in mind a career in the political sphere when he joined the church and that is a powerful incentive.

    This said, I prefer Obama over McCain…

  75. Interesting – and nice to see someome as woken up this.

    On my side of the pond (the UK) there’s been quite a push to get the broadest possible social/ethnic mix in the military, with, it must be said, only limited success.

    Composite ration packs now come in Halal, Kosher, Seikh and Hindu varieties in addition to the traditional “lard” (I can’t help wondering if they are any more edible – the things we used to do with “cheese processed”…………). The UK has a VERY diverse ethic mix – as has the military to a variable extent (e.g. Ghurkas).

    Personally I find the gravestone of a young person upsetting regardless of race/religion.

    (As for VOX – sorry, I’m calling “Troll” there. For obvious reasons I was interested in what (s)he had to say about Europe and how it compared to what I know as a native. All the statements in that regard are either vague, subjective, unsubstantiated, distorted or outright wrong and utterly alien to my own experience of living here. Clever granted – but a troll and not worthy of oxygen.)

  76. Vox is male. If you’d seen the sort of things he says about women, there would be no doubt in your mind.

  77. Emphaticaly yes. (So emphaticaly that I just fumbled through about twenty typos.) If people are looking to restart the Committee on UnAmerican Activities, I’d say it’s the neo-conservatives they should keep their eyes on… after all, they’ve stated in public that their goal is to turn America into a one-party state (perpetual Republican majority, anyone?) and have resorted to dirty tricks campaigns and to undermining articles of the US Constitution in order to do so.

    Who’s the greater threat; someone of any faith undermining the foundation of American law and government, or a tax-paying and law-abiding American who happens to say “Allah” when praying?

    (Full disclosure: I myself am not an American. I’m Canadian, which means that if you guys sink yourselves we’ll probably go under too from the suction. I like my country too much to be happy at that prospect, so please stop drilling holes in your ship of state.)

    — Steve

  78. Irene 119: Ha. Maybe that was the point, of course. If Vox had any credibility left, here it goes down the drain.

    Vox is only the first name of his online persona. It’s Vox Day (for Vox Dei, which is Latin for “the Voice of God”). Someone sufficiently full of himself to claim to be the Voice of God…well, he doesn’t do credibility. Severe delusions of adequacy.

  79. In an utterly unconnected and not-pointing-at-anyone way, I’ve often referred to Democracy as “Vox Populii, Vox Duhhhhhh”.

    But that’s really and honestly just a thing about democracy, not anything pointed at the user going by Vox, no matter how little I agree with him. Just trying to get a cheap laugh, move on.

  80. John, I agree with all the points you made in your post. And I am not sure that Vox chose the best place to remind us about the dangers of political Islam.

    Nevertheless, Irene Delse #119 is incorrect when she states that Islam is not an ideology. Even the most basic reading of the Quran or the Sahih Bukhari reveals otherwise. Islam provides a “complete system” for society. (In fact, one point that Muslims often use to criticize Christianity is the fact that Christianity is purely spiritual.) Remember Jesus’s line about his kingdom being “not of this world.”

    Mohammed’s kingdom *was* of this world. He was also a military leader. The Medina surahs contain numerous injunctions to subjugate non-Muslims and brutalize those who oppose Islam. (These surahs were received after the Hejira, when Mohammed became a military leader and was therefore in a position to impose Islamic rule on others.)

    There is also a peaceful, politically correct side of the Quran that contains lines like “there is no compulsion in religion.” These are the Meccan surahs, mostly received when the Muslims were a small, politically weak religious minority in Mecca. But the militaristic surahs come later, and there is a general trend in Quranic interpretation to give precedence to later verses.

    American Muslims are overwhelmingly law-abiding and patriotic. Nevertheless, in Europe (where Muslims comprise a much larger percentage of the population) there has been a real conflict between Western democratic values and “Islamic values.” You have of course heard about the violence that followed the publication of the Mohammed cartoons, and the firebombing of the UK publisher of “Jewel of Medina.” A UK government agency also recently suppressed a chidren’s CD that contained a reference to The Three Little Pigs because the story “might offend Muslims.”

    The UK has also allowed sharia into its legal system.

    No, I do not want Islam or any other religion to become a litmus test for “Americanness.” But when I read stories like the one hyperlinked below, I am concerned, as should be all liberal-minded Americans (“liberal” with a small “l”)

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,334390,00.html

    I absolutely do not want sharia law or “Islamic values” to find their way into the American legal system as they have in the UK, even if it does ruin someone’s multicultural moment.

    Nor do I want this to become a forbidden topic as cases like the Harvard situation become more common.

  81. Edward, nothing that begins with Faux News is credible. They are the propaganda organ of the Republican Party, nothing more—and the right wing of the party at that.

  82. Frank – you miss the point about Powell – he’s a Republican insider who’s specifically denouncing his own party’s naked racism and anti-Muslim bigotry. What Bush said was noble, but I don’t think he’s taken on anti-Muslim bigotry in the Republican party. Powell did that. And it was incredibly important for him to do so.

    Someone needed to tell people that enough is enough, and that the US, as a nation, can’t tolerate anti-religious bigotry as part of a political party’s election tactics. Perhaps you’re not seeing it, but Powell was, and he talks to the leaders of the Republican party on a regular basis, so unless he’s lying, he really heard it.

    Americans need to stop conflating the actions of terrorists with Islam. We’ve had Christian terrorists before. We’ve had secular ones. We had Christianity supporting slavery, and opposing it. We’ve had Israeli spies. That doesn’t mean that all Jews are suddenly suspect.

    Unlike most people here, I’ve lived in a predominantly Muslim region -Southeast Asia. You’d have to be a moron to think that Jemaah Islamiyah is in any way representative of Islam as it’s practiced in Indonesia or Malaysia. I’ve got problems with “democracy” as it’s practiced in those nations, but it’s not a function of religion at all. Singapore, where I lived, has it’s own issues with democracy, ad they’re not all that different than Malaysia’s. Singapore is not a Muslim state. It’s secular.

    There’s a lot to criticize about Islam’s role in politics in nations where it’s prevalent too. But there’s a lot I criticize about Christianity too. America is not going to become an Islamic state any more than any European nation is. The idea that it might happen is pure fearmongering.

    Islamic Americans are not a “fifth column” any more than the Jews or Irish were when they came here. And the strikingly similar rhetoric was use against them.

    It’s not enough to just say “don’t do it”. You need to stop bigoted speak by telling people what it is, and telling them why it’s wrong wherever we can.

    What Bush did was relatively safe. What Powell did took courage.

  83. Slightly off topic here, but if anyone is interested, there is a good article in the October ’08 Smithsonian regarding the roots of our problems with Iran.
    It seems our situation in the Middle East may have more to do with secular actions than any religious differences.
    Gee! Who would have thunk it? I nearly got killed for voicing such an opinion back during thr Iran Hostage Crisis.

    Anton P. Nym@133
    Agreed. Sadly, most of the young “conservatives” I have had to deal with lately are not even aware of any philosophical underpinnings for their self-proclaimed political affiliations.

    They are products of Ann Coulter, Glen Beck, Michael “Savage,” Rush Limbaugh, and the recent wave of NeoCon bomb throwers. It is funny in a kind of sad way when mention of conservatives such as George Will, William F Buckley, and even Pat Buchanan draw blank stares.

  84. Edward – .American Muslims are overwhelmingly law-abiding and patriotic. Nevertheless, in Europe (where Muslims comprise a much larger percentage of the population) there has been a real conflict between Western democratic values and “Islamic values.”

    And yet in America, we’ve seen nothing like the riots in France. I maintain this is because we encourage Muslims in the US to be a functioning part of our culture, whereas the French treat Muslims living in France like merde.

    The LA riots didn’t happen because Rodney King was a folk hero, they happened because of massive resentment. Here in the USA, most Muslims don’t actually resent America because we’re not giving them much of a reason to. We’re actually a better place to live for Muslims from the Middle East if they’re not rich.

    We get this way by being welcoming, tolerant, and free. There’s a reason that America gets called the leader of the free world – because we’re the leader in freedom. Our constitution and its values, are the core of that freedom. I think one of those values is our tolerance of people who’re different from the “average” American.

    But when I read stories like the one hyperlinked below, I am concerned, as should be all liberal-minded Americans (”liberal” with a small “l”)

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,334390,00.html

    I think the “separate gym” issue at Harvard is nonsense, but the appropriate response is not to say that Islam is trying to take over, or that it’s incompatible with America. I’d suggest they go talk to Brandeis University, where issues like that are dealt with by Orthodox Jews. What, you think Jewish students with cultural modesty issues never brought this up before?

  85. Owww! You are doing it again! (General “you” rather than anyone specific)

    Mind you, things get distorted over here too:

    “A UK government agency also recently suppressed a chidren’s CD that contained a reference to The Three Little Pigs because the story “might offend Muslims.””

    These stories are constantly being circulated by neo-nazi groups and are entirely untrue – it’s sad that they are obviously being propagated in the US and elsewhere.

    “The UK has also allowed sharia into its legal system.”

    Sort of true – but we’ve had Jewish courts for years as well as Ecclesiastical. Basically if both parties agree to arbitration in a civil dispute (e.g. divorce) by a 3rd party then that party’s decision is binding so long as the litigants agree. Theoretically there’s no reason why you couldn’t set up a court presided over by the Pirate King of the Flying Spaghetti Monster provided all litigants agreed.

    TBH the prevailing view is that we shouldn’t be pandering to any religious courts at all, but the Church is so entrenched in the legal system it’s really difficult to remove it (until recently Bishops sat in the House of Lords, the highest court in the land) and as a stopgap these courts are allowed to operate. The bigger fight is actually in the schools, but again Churches set up the majority of the country’s schools.

    I’d characterise the main religious debate in the UK to be between humanism/secularism and all religions rather than strictly between Christianity and Islam. In that I’d guess this is similar in character to various faiths attempts to get creationism and prayers into US schools.

  86. John,

    The photo at the end of your entry is eloquent beyond belief. Perhaps some day real Americans will start standing up a say enough of this bigotry we are seeing now. If we are lucky it will start happening on this coming November 4th.

    George

  87. The problem with rushing to protect Islam as a “minority” religion in the U.S., is that we too easily blind ourselves to some of the real ugliness practiced by Muslim men who come to the U.S. or Europe and remain unreformed Jew-haters, woman-haters, or fundamentalists who see themselves as the vanguard of a “Muslim takeover” of dar el-harb; those parts of the world still remaining outside direct Muslim control.

    If Islam is to be truly integrated into modern American reality, it must be kept open to the same level of criticism and scrutiny that is applied to Christians faiths, Judaism, Mormonism, Scientology, etc.

    Alas, many of the “progressive” persuasion have donned blinders, where Islam is concerned; I find these blinders every bit as alarming as the “racism” often laid at the feet of Republicans or conservatives.

    Are some Republicans and conservatives racist? A minority, yes. But most people I know — left and right alike — who wonder and worry about Islam, do so precisely because Islam in its most naked, unrefined, un-muted form, is a violent belief system that promulgates subjugation of other peoples and a kind of strict theology white people haven’t seen since the Middle Ages.

    Again, many Western progressives think being afraid of Islam is silly, racist, what have you.

    I think being afraid of unreformed Islam, and the Muslims who practice it, just makes sense. It is a dangerous belief system, and we ignore it at our peril.

  88. Josh@143:

    I think you are being a bit dismissive of the Europeans. The French and the British aren’t fascists, after all. Most are far more liberally minded than the average American. And the UK government has in fact bent over backwards to accomodate Muslim sensibilities—even to the extent of curtailing the rights of the non-Muslim majority.

    Many Chinese and Vietnamese live in France and have no trouble assimilating. Likewise, non-white, non-Christian Hindu Indians have been living successfully in the UK for years, as have many Hong Kong Chinese. Why are the Hong Kong Chinese, the Hindu Indians, and the Vietnamese not trying to impose their religious beliefs on their host countries? Why are *they* not rioting and creating bedlam, if France and the UK are so racist and exclusionary?

    The Harvard gym issue is trivial by itself. But the conflicts surrounding the Mohammed cartoons and the Jewel of Medina are not. As a liberal (again, with a small “l”) individual who values tolerance, why are you not more outraged at the blatant lack of tolerance displayed by so many European Muslims? Forgive me, but you seem to be going out of your way to make excuses for them.

    Do you acknowledge that there is a strong undercurrent of intolerance in Islamic culture? Do you agree with a religion that includes, as part of its sacred doctrine, the stoning of adulterers and the execution of apostates? Are these ideas compatible with Western, democratic values?

    No, America will not become an Islamic republic. There are too few Muslims and too much attachment to civil liberties for that to ever happen. Nor is the UK likely to become an Islamic republic anytime soon.

    However, Muslim pressure (often in the form of violence and the threat of violence) *is* already restricting civil liberties in the UK. I find that distressing. Perhaps you disagree.

  89. I will mirror post #113

    Certain loudmouths on the Left were despicable in their treatment of Powell, and continue to be despicable in their treatment of Condi Rice.

    By any measure, Rice and Powell are some of the most important, most brilliant, most accomplished African Americans in U.S. history. How do we know this? Take away their ethnic connection, and they’re still every bit as impressive as they would otherwise be.

    (Can’t say the same for Mr. Obama — sorry, it’s just the plain, damn truth!)

    Yet both Rice and Powell have been villified beyond reason for daring to work for the wrong “team” these past 8 years.

    In essence, they have been excommunicated from Blackness because they don’t work for the Democrats?

    Absurd. But true.

    And now, at the end, Powell is praised? Does “coming back to the faith” re-earn Powell his Black Card?

    IMHO he never lost it. But try telling that to people who hated him from 2000 to 2004.

  90. Sub-Odeon, we were angry at Powell because he sold his honor to the Bushistas…though it may be they were lying to him, too. Some of us only hated him (too strong a term, in my case) after the lies he told to justify the war in Iraq.

    Condi Rice is a certifiable lunatic. Black crazy or white crazy is still crazy.

    And if you don’t think Obama wouldn’t be impressive even if he were white…I don’t know who you’ve been listening to for the past two years.

  91. Methinks Giacomo @ #65 is having too much fun giving all credit for the Enlightenment to secularism.

    I think it’s important (VERY important) to note that most “heretics” of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, were not thorough-going secularists or atheists of the sort we know in the 21st century.

    Consider Keppler, the originator of modern astronomy and perhaps the first Enlightenment astrophysicist. His entire life, he sought an ordered explanation of planetary movement, not out of some abstract secular quest for raw knowledge, but because he believed in God as the Great Designer of all things, and wished to understand God’s mechanisms for the universe.

    Now, whether you believe in God or not, the motive behind Keppler’s life-long struggle to mesh his “nested solids” concept with actual observations, is one familiar to any honest person who has striven to mesh faith with fact. Sadly, Keppler was excommunicated from the Lutheran church by the end of his life, but there is no record that he ever stopped believing in God. He simply fell out of favor with the other major Christian system in Europe at that time.

    Many of the heroes of the Enlightenment were rebels. Not against faith or God per se, but simply against Catholicism, Lutheranism, or the C of E.

    One can rebel against the major churches, and still be a theist, deist, or other believing -ist, without automatically becoming a secularist and/or atheist.

    Though I understand why strong-headed secularists and atheists are in a huge hurry to claim the Enlightenment as being entirely their own.

  92. I’m sorry, I used one too many p’s in Kepler. My fault for not spellchecking sooner.

    Scalzi, where is the damn PREVIEW button?

  93. But the militaristic surahs come later, and there is a general trend in Quranic interpretation to give precedence to later verses.
    American Muslims are overwhelmingly law-abiding and patriotic.

    You’re skipping over a thousand years of history, here, and ignoring things like the Ottoman Empire which, while conquering large chunks of land, also managed to allow large Christian and Jewish communities to leave peacefully within its borders. (This contrasts badly with almost *every* Christian community of the middle ages and renaissance with regards to its Jews).

    Shockingly, Islam–like Christianity, Judaism, etc, etc.–may be a complicated religion with multiple strands depending on who is following it, where, and when. I realize that this doesn’t work well with a “Islam is Teh Evul!” approach, but it has the virtue of, well, being _accurate_.

  94. Andy W#144:

    I read about the “Three Little Pigs” issue on a number of websites, including the BBC’s site. I will defer to your “on-the-ground” perspective, but I haven’t seen anything in the press about this being fabricated.

    Your understanding of the sharia implementation matches mine. Sharia will be used for financial matters and marriage–which is troubling given the horrendous treatment of women in the Muslim world.

    I don’t think you can define the conflict in Europe as a battle between secularism and “Christianity and Islam.” Christian Europe is far more secular than the U.S.

    Moreover, I can’t remember the last time I read about an Anglican fundamentalist beheading a filmmaker. (I am referring the Mohammed Boyeri’s brutal murder of Theo Van Gogh a few years ago.) And once again, the violence after the Mohammed cartoons. Radical Muslims also forced Orianna Fallacci into hiding in Italy a few years back, after she published a book that Muslims found offensive.

    In Europe, you are at least free to criticize Christianity. But if you publicly criticize Islam—you’d better run for your life.

    Technically speaking, what goes on in Europe is none of my business. But as an American who admires Europe, I have to admit that I find this state of affairs rather depressing.

  95. Oh, John, there you go bringing the Jews into it! Don’t make me call the Zionist banker-Mossad-Hollywood cabal agents on you. Again.

    Perhaps that’s something someone desperately wants you to believe

    Frank, if the Secret Service could not substantiate a death threat against Obama, I’m relieved. That’s one less death threat. If what you’re saying is that the Obama campaign is simply making shit up, there are plenty of well-documented instances of hateful, bigoted comments at these rallies – one of which McCain tried to deflect, and some of which have earned him boos when he disagreed with them.

  96. Xopher,

    If Obama were white, Hillary Clinton would have mopped the floor with him in the primaries. That’s how much Obama owes everything to being African American. This nation is in such a huge flipping hurry to install a black man as President, as if this somehow will asuage the White Guilt of every voting progressive, that Obama could be even less experienced than he is now, and people would still be eating out of his hand. Like the song says, Obama is the man who helps guilty whites feel good.

    I only wish Powell and Obama could switch places. Or Rice for that matter. If we must have a Black President, I’d rather it was someone like Powell or Rice; two people with more top-level experience than twenty Barack Obamas stacked on top of each other. I would also trust Powell to not make a clown of himself when dealing with America’s enemies abroad. With Obama, it’ll be JFK all over again, and America’s enemies will laugh their butts off while Obama smiles and thinks he’s winning hearts and minds with his soaring rhetorical abilities.

    And if Rice is a lunatic, she’s my kind of lunatic. An enormously-smart, multilingual concert-level pianist, she is a mean machine on the foreign scene. I love that all the male chauvanist pigs of the Muslim political world have to lick Condi’s boots every time she gets off a plane in the Middle East. How it must enrage the enslavers of women to have to dignify Rice; indeed, treat her with respect and deference, because she comes bearing the scepter of U.S. foreign power. Priceless.

    Back to Powell, so one becomes an Untouchable simply for having [i]worked[/i] for Bush, or pushed forward any of his policies? How come we can’t just say Powell did his job, sometimes under protest? And he did it well? Damn, don’t we all have to do that sometimes? Perform above standard while doing something we’d rather not do? Powell was hired to do a job. He did it. If you want to fry someone for Iraq, fry Cheney or Bush or Rumsfeld, and leave Powell out of it. They were the architects. He was the messenger.

  97. Edward #137: Oh, please. Before trying to correct me, read again what I wrote. There isn’t “one” Islam anymore than there is “one” Christian religion. I’ll refer you to Sunni vs Shia, plus the Sufis, the Ibadis and the Liberal Islam John was referring to.

    I see you wrote a book about “understanding Middle-East” and the so-called “clash of cultures”. I don’t know what’s your expertise, but just to read what you write here, I doubt it would be any help at all…

    From what I see, you put a lot of stock in the story of the origins of Islam (the obligatory reference to Muhammad as a military leader), but we don’t live in the 7th Century, and neither do the Muslims, in America or elsewhere. (In fact, Al Qaeda itself began as a movement against the governments of Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries.)

    Just one example of the confusion in your comment: you say “Muhammad’s kingdom” was “of this world”. Here, the implicit reference is the Gospel, where Jesus is portrayed as saying his kingdom is “not of this world”. The early Christians clerics who compiled and recorded those texts had very strong reasons to make the point clearly and without doubt, because even the more tolerant Roman emperors would have seen them as dangerous rebels in the alternative. However, in later centuries, it didn’t stop the Church to become a very important temporal power. It certainly didn’t stop pope Jules II, in the early 16th Century, from personally leading an army against other European monarchs. So, you see, it’s not all about the beginnings… What happens later is important too.

    Another problem: you bring up a lot of “technical” words, sure, but you botch the effect when you speak of parts of the Quran being written to be “politically correct”, a concept so young in terms of the history of ideas that it still has milk snorting from the nose!

    So, you may entertain views about the danger of Islam as a whole, but with all the confusion and vagueness in what you write, I don’t think much of it.

    One last thing. Trying to bring up vague but scary mentions about Muslims in Europe won’t work. Because, you know, I am European and live there. I’m really, really tired about know-nothings from across the pond trying to lecture me about what happens in my backyard.

    My brother-in-law is a Muslim, and so are a few of my colleagues at work. But I fail to feel threatened in my “values”, somehow. Maybe it’s because, no matter the “much higher percentage” (care to give us the numbers, please, instead of making unsubstantiated claims?) of Muslims you think there are in Europe, we don’t have a good-vs-evil situation here, anymore than you have in the USA. Or anywhere in the world, for that matter.

    The real violence in the cartoons affair didn’t happen in Europe but in Syria and similar countries, and political tensions played at least as much a part as religious ones. (In fact, it took time to get violent. An Egyptian newspaper had published the cartoons a few months before and there was barely a shrug.) You may not remember, but I do. In France, where I live, we had a few very decorous and pacific demonstrations over that issue, and a Muslim group went to the courts claiming the cartoons were akin to hate speech, but they lost, and that was that.

    I don’t know about the story of the Three Little Piggies in the UK. But I do know the furor over the Jewel of Medina arose when an American historian claimed it was a “pornographic” book (it is not) and put pressure to the publisher. The original American publisher then got cold feet and dropped the book. Other publishers, in Britain and the USA, got it, but by then, there was a lot of craziness flying around.

    But it may interest you to know that last year, a French writer, Genevieve Chauvel, wrote a novel about the life of Aisha, child-bride of Muhammad, without so much as a blink on the part of “radical Islamics”. In fact, the author was invited to debate in a few Muslim countries. And this year, Salim Bachi, an Algerian writer who lives in Paris an writes in French, did a novel about the life of Muhammad himself, mixing real history and a personal point of view. It’s been published both in France and in Algeria and is shortlisted for several literary prizes. There’s been debates, but till now, no violence, thankfully.

    So, not all is black and white, is Europe and in the Muslim world too…

  98. Edward – I think you are being a bit dismissive of the Europeans. The French and the British aren’t fascists, after all.

    The Brits, no, but they’re a lot less free than we are. But there have been no riots in the UK. The French, however are pretty bigoted against Muslims. They passed a law requiring Muslims to remove their children to headscarves in public schools. Perhaps you’re not aware enough of the way Muslims look at the world to understand what an incredible insult that is. And there’s constant police harassment. Job discrimination. General public discrimination. France is closer to the original meaning of the word “conservative” than most American conservatives are. When French talk about “purity of culture” they actually enact laws to enforce it.

    The Harvard gym issue is trivial by itself. But the conflicts surrounding the Mohammed cartoons and the Jewel of Medina are not. As a liberal (again, with a small “l”) individual who values tolerance, why are you not more outraged at the blatant lack of tolerance displayed by so many European Muslims?

    See, right there, you missed something. You don’t know me at ll. In fact, I was incredibly outraged over the Danish cartoon issue. I’ve got blog posts arched about the topic. I spoke out about it where I could.

    And there, you’re right that’s the ugly side of many sects of Islam. But the way to engage that is not to treat Muslims the way they get treated in France, where there’s a lack of tolerance. Here in the US, Muslims are learning how to talk in a free culture with people who disagree with them. There were protests, but no riots. And even in Islamic nations, there were Imams who spoke out against violence. For some reason, they don’t get much air time here.

    Do you acknowledge that there is a strong undercurrent of intolerance in Islamic culture? Do you agree with a religion that includes, as part of its sacred doctrine, the stoning of adulterers and the execution of apostates? Are these ideas compatible with Western, democratic values?

    No more so than in many other cultures. Edward, I actually lived, surrounded by Islamic nations, for about half my life. I know far better than anyone who hasn’t what actual Muslims are like. Some of them are intolerant. Some of them aren’t. But there’s nothing intrinsically intolerant in Islam. It’s just in how people interpret it. Just like Christianity. I can point to horrific things done by “Christians” in third world nations too.

    However, Muslim pressure (often in the form of violence and the threat of violence) *is* already restricting civil liberties in the UK.

    Cory Doctorow, who blogs at Boing Boing, has been documenting UK assaults on civil liberties. Vast CC surveillance networks, temporary suspension of Habeas Corpus without oversight, a requirement that all foreign residents carry biometric ID cards at all times (Papers, please. Ring any bells?) and so on. Now *that* is dangerous to civil liberties.

    What elements of Sharia law were incorporated into the UK code. How do they restrict anyone’s freedom? Don’t just tell us it’s Shariah law and expect us to assign it to the category of harmful to civil liberties because it has a foreign name. Are Muslims going to compel non-Muslims to go to Sharia courts? If a Muslim decides not to use a Shariah court, can they use a regular British court?

    Here in America, we’ve got a thing called arbitration. It’s an alternative to courts. If an Imam was licensed to mediate disputes, he could actually set up a Shariah court as an option for Muslims to use if they preferred it to the legal system. That’s what they were talking about in the UK.

    There are already Jewish organizations doing exactly that in the USA. There are Christin arbitration groups too. For all know, there are Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist and Scientologist groups doing it. I’m guessing these groups are not all that offensive to you. I’m also guessing that you had some vague thought of Imams sitting in judgment of people who didn’t want to be judged that way. It’s not going to happen.

    I hope you’re able to get past your general fears, and actually talk about substantive issues. And on those, I agree with Colin Powell – fomenting hatred and suspicion against Muslims in general is not good for anyone.

    That isn’t to say we can’t criticize when criticism is due, but it needs to be done with civility and understanding. You’re at least civil, but your understanding of the reality of Islam is lacking.

  99. Project? Hah! Nice one.

    If you knew anything about me or my life, you’d realize how funny that was.

    Now, seriously, it’s kinda sad how much White Guilt is influencing this election. Unspoken, of course, because Guilty Whites aren’t aware of their motives half the time.

    But it’s there, and it works enormously to Barack’s advantage in this election. Again, he’s the guy who helps guilty whites feel GOOD about themselves. Like they’re doing something Hugely Positive by voting for this well-spoken, polished, educated Light Negro with the progressively-minded professional pedigree.

    Take away his skin color, and Obama becomes just another white progressive with political ambition; and those are a dime a dozen.

    Barack popped up on the national radar in 2006 and captured the imaginations of millions. He’d have not even BEEN on the radar, unless he was black. He’d not be so attractive for progressives WITHOUT his ethnicity.

    Deny it all you want, Obamaphiles, but Obama’s ethnicity has everything to do with his success as a candidate. Especially in an electorial cycle where progressives are working extra hard to portray all conservatives and Republicans as hopelessly racist.

    It’s the old us/them trick, really.

    Either you’re an Obama voter, or you’re over there with the backward, racist trash.

    Nice.

  100. Sub-Odeon 158: And if Rice is a lunatic, she’s my kind of lunatic.

    I think this sentence has an additional meaning you did not intend.

    How it must enrage the enslavers of women to have to dignify Rice; indeed, treat her with respect and deference, because she comes bearing the scepter of U.S. foreign power. Priceless.

    Yeah, I must admit that I find that mildly amusing as well. But you and I are not diplomats, and that is not diplomacy. And if anyone thinks they have to lick anyone’s boots, no diplomacy is possible. Strange as it may seem to you, diplomacy doesn’t necessarily mean imposing your will on others and making them eat dirt. I’m not surprised that you think that’s the pinnacle of diplomatic achievement, but I am saddened.

  101. Sub-Odeon wrote: “If Obama were white, Hillary Clinton would have mopped the floor with him in the primaries.”

    If Hillary had voted against the war or repudiated her vote, Obama wouldn’t have had an opening to run.

  102. If you knew anything about me or my life, you’d realize how funny that was.

    You don’t know anything about most people who intend to vote for Obama or their lives, yet you take umbrage when you are subject to the same thing you gleefully dish out – careless stereotyping and the assumption that ‘white guilt’ motivates you. How’s that mote in your eye doing?

    On the actual subject of John’s post, which is not “let’s all talk about how we’re mad at Obama supporters,” there in fact are racist, bigoted idiots whose opposition to Obama lies not in their disagreement with his policies, but with their view that he might be an Ay-rab and therefore Not American. Do you believe that is an appropriate view? Do you think there is a fundamental conflict between American civic values and belonging to the Muslim faith?

    And if you don’t want to talk about that, why the fuck are you clogging up a thread about this issue with a generic spray about how much you hate Obamaphiles?

  103. Regarding the Harvard gym thing, that really doesn’t seem to be a big deal. It’s only *one* gym. There are others. And it’s only during certain time periods. The gym at the Harvard Medical School dorm is not under this system.

    The existence of women-only gyms like Curves seems to be evidence that there is secular market demand for sex-segregated gyms.

  104. Sub-Odeon wrote: “Deny it all you want, Obamaphiles, but Obama’s ethnicity has everything to do with his success as a candidate. ”

    Ah. So it had nothing to do with his youth? Nothing to do with his being untainted by the big issue of 2007 (the war)? Nothing to do with being a credible NEW candidate on the scene, as opposed to the other candidates who were either new but non-credible, or had been in the political headlines for years and years.

    Your single-minded focus on his race says more about you than it does about anyone else.

  105. Sub-Odeon 163: progressives are working extra hard to portray all conservatives and Republicans as hopelessly racist.

    Sorry, pal, but while you weren’t looking your party became the respectable face of racism in America. You hadn’t noticed? The trouble now is the “respectable” part. I think there’s a place for legitimately conservative people in American politics, or will be, but right now the GOP a) occupies that slot and b) is “a stinking midden where true conservatives suffocate in the effluvia of right-wing ideologues.”

    At this point the GOP must be utterly driven out of American politics if anything resembling democracy (or a republic) is to survive; and you should be on that side too, if you don’t want to be tagged with the labels that the GOP has earned with decades of divisive racial politics, beginning with the racist “southern strategy” and continuing to today, when it’s manifest in the person of Sarah Palin, the closest thing to an openly racist candidate at the national level in decades.

  106. Xopher,

    There is Soft Diplomacy, and Hard Diplomacy.

    Sometimes, diplomacy is very much a Make Them Eat Asphalt kind of affair. Ergo, Hard.

    Sometimes, it’s not.

    A valuable international politician knows when to apply which, and how much.

    In this regard, I think Rice, left to her own devices, could run circles around Bush and Obama both.

    I think Rice has done very well walking in the Men-Only world of Islamic politics. Again, she is an affront simply by her existence. These are men who literally believe that women are second-class human beings, and are not worthy of the same station as the stupidest, lowliest male.

    They have to grit their teeth every time Condi comes calling, and this gives me the grins. I imagine it was true also with Albright, though Condi might make it worse because Condi even looks just like all the women these men have raped, savaged, enslaved, or otherwise abused and held power over, going all the way back to Mohammed.

  107. I know John dislikes concurrent posts, so I’m sorry, but I felt an urge to correct this –

    Edward – In Europe, you are at least free to criticize Christianity.

    Where did you get that idea? Many European nations have blasphemy laws. The UK did until 2008. Germany and Poland all have active ones. Heck, if the UK law wasn’t specifically designed to only address blasphemy against the church of England, The Satanic Verses might have been challenged in court there. Monty Python’s Life Of Brain certainly was challenged in Europe – banned in Ireland and Norway.

  108. It’s not that Powell is the only one bringing it up, but that it came at a particularly needed time and from a voice that many were paying close attention to at the moment. Which led to the photo, which seems on its way to being one of the indelible images of the presidential campaign and globally as well. It was photographed by photographer Platon for a photo essay in The New Yorker. Platon has made a speciality out of photographing military people and their families.

    The guy was twenty and he died. They all die — the Muslim, the Christian, the Jewish, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Wiccan and the atheists. The women and the men. They die, get injured, have their minds shattered. Voluntarily, for ideals, careers or both. And I’m sure they have prejudices and mistakes of their own, but they’re out there, together, and they’re ours. They’re all ours. That’s what that gravestone means, in that cemetery with all the others. They’re our kids. Not curse words.

  109. “My” party? Since when did I register with the R’s?

    Like our esteemed writer/host, I am a life-long independent.

    If I berate the D and “progressive” side of the house too much, it’s because I used to vote D and “progressive” a lot, then experienced a falling out with all things D and “progressive” in the earlier part of this decade.

    I like to think of myself as an Issuecrat, now. Since I tend to go one way or another, based on issues, and find personality-based politics to be vexing because no one elected official can satisfy me on all points. Sometimes, not even on half the points. R’s and D’s both.

    Anyway, making the Republicans into the sole repository of racism, is a neat political trick. I think “racism” is far more subtle, and lives far more in the echelons of “progressivism” than anyone dares admit, or suspects. No doubt one finds Hard Racists in Idaho or Alabama. Right here in Utah, I’ve nearly punched out certain members of my own religion, because of bigotry openly directed against my spouse.

    But then, when living in Washington State, I have also seen and heard open bigotry by minorities, expressed against whites, and the so-called “progressive” side of the house made excuses for it.

    What gives?

    Either it’s wrong for all of us to be mean to each other, based on the color of our skin, or it’s no-holds-barred.

    Right now, “progressivism” too often protects racism directed at whites from minorities, while overly prosecuting racism (or the perception of racism) from whites to minorities.

    I think real PROGRESS will have been made when the level of racial discussion in America rises to the place where ALL racist attitudes, prejudices, slander, and bigotry, is reviled by ALL compassionate people. No excuses. No apologia. No special passes given just because somebody is from the ghetto, the ‘hood, the projects, or is of a determined “safe” minority group that escapes criticism, because criticism of that group’s rampant racism is deemed, de facto, racist.

  110. David @ 154

    You’re skipping over a thousand years of history, here, and ignoring things like the Ottoman Empire which, while conquering large chunks of land, also managed to allow large Christian and Jewish communities to leave peacefully within its borders.

    It might be prudent to talk to some of those people before making this statement. Orthodox Christians living in the Ottoman Empire were routinely martyred. Even today, in Turkey’s secular government, the suppression of the Orthodox leadership continues by the government’s refusal to reopen the seminaries where the next leaders of the Ecumenical Patriarchate are required to study – thus ending some 2000 years of Christianity in Asia Minor.

  111. KatG 174: They all die — the Muslim, the Christian, the Jewish, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Wiccan and the atheists. The women and the men. They die, get injured, have their minds shattered. Voluntarily, for ideals, careers or both. And I’m sure they have prejudices and mistakes of their own, but they’re out there, together, and they’re ours. They’re all ours. That’s what that gravestone means, in that cemetery with all the others. They’re our kids. Not curse words.

    Thank you for this. I agree, needless to say.

  112. Josh Jasper:

    “And yet in America, we’ve seen nothing like the riots in France. I maintain this is because we encourage Muslims in the US to be a functioning part of our culture, whereas the French treat Muslims living in France like merde.”

    Oh, joy, another one who oversimplify – and think they know anything about Europe…

    I don’t know about the US “encouraging” Muslims to be “a functioning part” of American culture. (And it might come as surprising to some Americans, I guess.)

    But I do know about France. I live there. And there was no such thing as religious riots. Or ethnic riots, for that matter! There were riots – about, you may say, disenfranchisement. It’s about the sons and grand-sons of immigrants, who were born here and are French but have difficulty to be recognized as a “normal” part of society. It’s a shame for us, and it’s not helped when our politicians pander to the bigoted part of the opinion. The part which don’t want to believe that you can be French and Arab, or Black, or Asian… The part who, if they were American, would probably have a hard time to believe Obama is not Muslim!

    Part of the problem is that European countries didn’t get created by immigrants, like the USA, Canada or Australia, so we don’t have in our culture the tradition of valuing the people who have recently become citizens. And part of the problem is a lot of bad attitudes who are, I regret to say it, inherited from the time of colonization. This may be something we’ll have to wait for a generation or two to disappear.

    But I know one thing: it’s not limited to Muslims. A lot of black people in France, either from the West Indies or from Africa, are Christians, and they have the same problems.

    That said, Josh, if you really want to gloat about who’s better at living in a multicultural society, if it’s what you need to feel adequate, hey, nobody’s going to stop you! It’s a free Internet. And it wouldn’t be the first time political correctness is used to reinforce national prejudice, anyway. That beast has impressive capacities of adaptation.

  113. Administrative note for Mr. Scalzi,

    Perhaps we need three seperate blog threads:

    1) For racism, and the discussion thereof.

    2) For Rice/Powell/Obama, and the discussion thereof.

    3) For the discussion of Islam/religion.

    Of course, we could all just take it over to Whateveresq, but then, that would make sense.

    =^)

  114. Sub-Odeonon @163
    “Project? Hah! Nice one. If you knew anything about me or my life, you’d realize how funny that was.”

    So, let us in on the joke.

    “And if Rice is a lunatic, she’s my kind of lunatic.”

    Before going to work for Bush in 1991, she headed Chevron’s committee on public policy. Chevron honored her by naming an oil tanker after her.
    She also served on the board of directors for the Carnegie Corporation, the Charles Schwab Corporation, the Chevron Corporation, Hewlett Packard, the Rand Corporation, and the Transamerica Corporation. Sounds like she is part of the current administration’s problems.

    As for General Powell; It was something that had to be said sooner or later. The Neocon yabbos need to be told to STFU. Their all-out war on everybody not marching lockstep towards a permanent Neocon takeover is getting a little tiring.

    But it is an old story: Roger Williams driven out for disagreeing with the god-ordained puritan leaders; Alien and Sedition Acts aimed at rousting all Americans not toeing the Federalist line; The various alien exclusion acts throughout the 19th and 20th centuries (Remember “No Irish Need Apply?”); The Christianizing and civilizing of the Philippines following the Splendid Little War of 1898; Executive Order 9066 and the 140,000 Japanese-Americans sent to concentration camps; The blessedly short-lived plan to re-open some of those same camps to intern protesters in 1968.

    Throughout all these little slips in civility, the United States has managed to remain.

  115. One final comment, on divisiveness.

    I used to live and work in Seattle. From 1998 to 2007 to be precise.

    Now, for those who don’t know, Seattle is a city with a certain political zeitgeist.

    As much as the “red” parts of the country might be great at making “progressive” and liberal folk feel uncomfortable, divided, alienated, put out, etc.

    Something needs to be said about the “blue” parts doing the same gottdamned fucking thing.

    It wasn’t downtown Salt Lake City where military recruiters got chased off a city college campus, via thrown waterbottles, torn literature, verbal and physical abuse, etc.

    It wasn’t in a Utah classroom where a student called me a killer to my face, when she found out I am Army Reserve.

    It wasn’t near my job in Salt Lake City where a “progressive” plastered all the light poles, traffic poles, and power poles in sight with inflammatory, anti-military posters comparing patriotism to Nazism and painting soldiers as mindless morons or bloodthirsty savages.

    There are people working very, very, very hard on BOTH SIDES to carve this country up into an Us versus Them gangland, where neighbor is pitted against neighbor in ideological, sociological, and spiritual warfare.

    So before we lay all strife in the universe at the feet of whatever pet political enemy we happen to hate, let’s take a look at our own side of the “battle” and consider the activities and actions of some of our fellow travelers? Hmmm? Maybe people we’ve been quick to excuse in the past, because we happen to agree with their anger, even if we disagree with how they vent it?

    Just an idea. One I think Powell would approve.

  116. Irene- Hey, if you want to defend the headscarf rule, go ahead. Here in America, we don’t do that.

    I’m willing to talk day and night about what’s awful about America, or what’s great about America. There are plenty of great things about France too, but you treat immigrants poorly. Especially Muslim ones. There’s parallel to how the US treats our Hispanic immigrants in that. Only we don’t attack the religion they have. If we did, we’d have riots too.

    Also, I don’t know “everything” about Europe. But I do know enough to watch anti-Muslim sentiments in the laws. Don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m anti-France because I criticize them on Islamophobia in laws.

  117. So before we lay all strife in the universe at the feet of whatever pet political enemy we happen to hate

    Maybe John needs to start a “strawman” thread on this as well. Who has said here that all strife in the universe ought to be laid at the feet of John McCain, or the Republican party?

  118. OK, my final FINAL thought, RE: divisiveness….

    Too often when someone says, “We need to stop being so divisive in this country!” what they’re really meaning to say is, “Everyone needs to agree with ME and when everyone agrees with ME about most stuff, then everything can be OK and we can go back to being a Great Country!”

    I’m not even sure most people who decry devisiveness realize how DIVISIVE they often are, in their language and their actions.

    Perhaps this illuminates part of the human condition, in that we all need a Them against which to struggle, and upon which to hang our fears and our loathings?

    That’s just a guess.

    But so often whenever I see or read or hear about someone making loud noises to the effect of, “We need to stop being a divided country!” you can almost always count on there being further revelations that cessation of the divide means wholesale migration to whichever political and philosophical real estate the complainer in question happens to occupy.

    Goodnight.

  119. Sub-Odeon:

    I was raised in Salt Lake City and I remember the Pep Rallies for the ROTC and the military during the Vietnam War. I also remember being assaulted for voicing my opinion that the Hostage Crisis in Iran was the result of anger at American intervention, not evil Shiite hatred of our freedoms.

    You are right: Both sides share the blame for our current state of incivility. But who has been in power these last few years, as world opinion has shifted from post-9/11 support to anger and resentment?

    For anyone interested in how we arrived at this sorry state, I recommend the following book:

    The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America
    by Ronald Brownstein

  120. Sub-Odeon@158: “I only wish Powell and Obama could switch places…If we must have a Black President, I’d rather it was someone like Powell…”

    Colin Powell, Oct. 19, 2008: “He (Obama) display(s) a steadiness, an intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge and an approach to looking at problems. Not jumping in and changing every day, but showing intellectual vigor. I think that he has a definitive way of doing business that would serve us well.”

    Sub-Odeon@163: “Take away his skin color, and Obama becomes just another white progressive with political ambition… He’d have not even BEEN on the radar, unless he was black. …Obama’s ethnicity has everything to do with his success as a candidate.”

    S-O, you keep professing your deep admiration for Gen. Powell. I take it that’s for everything but his judgement in endorsing a candidate? You did watch this morning, yes?

    Sub-Odeon@184: “So before we lay all strife in the universe at the feet of whatever pet political enemy we happen to hate, let’s take a look at our own side of the ‘battle’ and consider the activities and actions of some of our fellow travelers?… Just an idea. One I think Powell would approve.”

    Indeed. This is what he told reporters outside the MTP studio: “And we have got to say to the world, it doesn’t make any difference who you are or what you are, if you’re an American you’re an American. And this business of, for example a congresswoman from Minnesota going around saying let’s examine all congressmen to see who is pro America or not pro America, we have got to stop this kind of nonsense and pull ourselves together and remember that our great strength is in our unity and diversity. That really was driving me.”

    To the point of the thread: Yes.

  121. Yes.

    On the ongoing discussion:
    I think this comment by John H is pretty close to spot on:

    “If Hillary had voted against the war or repudiated her vote, Obama wouldn’t have had an opening to run.”

    I became aware of Obama because of his negativity towards the Iraq war before it began. If Hillary had also been anti-war before the war, Obama would have been shooting for a VP seat at best.

    He has many of the things that were attractive about Howard Dean: but where Dean is a blustering and non-presidential figure Obama is poised, eloquent, and composed.

    I think race certainly has an effect, but it is a relatively small one compared to the facts the Obama is a reassuring figure who has a record of being right, at least from a liberal point of view, and that the political currency of conservatism is at the lowest it has been since before Reagan: which means that there are more people with a liberal point of view than there have been in decades.

    To the many comments of Vox:
    The idea that a post-enlightenment culture might have a basic conflict with a culture that has not embraced the ideas of the enlightenment is not one I would agree with, but it is an argument that can be made rationally.

    The problem, if I am reading your arguments correctly, is that you seem to be ascribing the virtues of the Enlightenment to being a fundamentally Christian product.

    This is problematic as the Enlightenment was in many ways a reaction against Christianity as it existed in the 16th century, as opposed to a part of the religion. If there is any primary inspiration for the Enlightenment ideology, it would be Greco-Roman thought rather than Christian thought.

    This makes it hard to suggest that the fundamental values of this country require Christianity. That they require the ideals of the enlightenment is a rational argument, (though, again, I think you can come to a modern ideology without bothering with some of the more annoying parts of enlightenment thought) but that the enlightenment thought can only exist when placed on top of Christianity is not an argument that works. It is perfectly possible for followers of Islam to eschew fundamentalism in favour of an overlay of more modern thought on top of Islam. This is, after all, certainly what the Enlightenment era Christians did to their brand of Christianity.

  122. Adam Rakunas @ 123

    Why do you hate peanut butter? :)

    Back to the OP: I have issues with Powell going back to his Viet Nam record and including several (allright, many) things he has done/said since. That said, I give him much credit for this one. While a lot of my earlier distaste stems from him making choices that seemed to favor political expediency over honor, in this case he has taken what he values (standing and political credit) and wagered them (or at least used them as collatteral) to make the honorable and principled stand that he just has.

  123. Sub-Odeon:”Now, seriously, it’s kinda sad how much White Guilt is influencing this election. Unspoken, of course, because Guilty Whites aren’t aware of their motives half the time.”

    So, either I’m voting for Obama because I have White Guilt ™ or I’m voting for Obama because I don’t know I have White Guilt™ ?

    Well, thanks. That clears it right up. All this time I thought I was voting for him because I prefer his views on the Economy, Trade, Taxes, Iraq, Abortion, and a bunch of other issues. Good thing you are here to tell me I’m only doing it because I feel bad.

  124. Just to make it clear, the ‘stand’ I referred to was not so much the endorsement but the public calling out of his own party for it’s inappropriate policies, practices and long time dog whistle politics.

  125. “Powell said that the right answer was that the suggestion is wrong, and that Obama is a Christian.

    But then he said: “The really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being Muslim in America? No, that’s not America.”

    Maybe…maybe not. In England, Muslims are pushing very hard for Sharia Law, and have all ready made some headway. That is, a second set of laws for Muslims within the basic secular law long established in England. The first tremors of the same kind of push are now being felt in America. Muslim cab drivers demand the right to refuse to transport anyone in possession of alcohol. They demand the right to refuse to transport dogs ( service dogs ) as dogs are considered “unclean” by Muslim law. Muslims demand footbaths in public places such as airports and universities. Muslims are demanding lunch and break periods at work that coincide with their prayer times, regardless of how it effects their non-Muslim co-workers. This is right? This is “American”? One set of laws for “Americans” and another set of laws for Muslims in America?
    Anyone on this thread read the U.S. Constitution lately?That whole part about “…no law establishing religion” come to mind? Oh, I know it hasn’t happened yet. But just wait. As the number of Muslims in America grows, their demands that traditional American culture bow to their religious beliefs will become more strident.
    Ask yourself this. How can a religion that contains it’s own law, laws that are totally alien to American tradition, be successfully integrated into American society? The answer is, it can’t. That is, not until the number of Muslims becomes politically powerful enough to effect change in American law.
    Muslims give their allegiance to Islam, not to the nation they happen to be living in. For Muslims in America the Constitution means next to nothing when compared to the dictates of Islam.
    Corporal Khan died wearing the uniform of the United States, and for that I salute him and honor his sacrifice. But it should be noted that in relation to their numbers in America, the number of Muslims serving in the U.S. armed forces are grossly under represented. Why is that do you suppose?
    Having a growing number of our population who’s allegiance is to a religion and not to our secular constitution is dangerous. That, is what is wrong with being Muslim in America.

  126. Thanks for posting this. I’d heard about the Powell endorsement but hadn’t seen the statement; I’m frankly shocked to see the man show some backbone and brain after all this time. It’s not enough to make me forgive him for being spineless and brainless at other times, but I suppose I can respect him again. A little.

    Okay, maybe more than a little. I know our country was built on vilification of the Other, and I know it’s not going to go away anytime soon, but it should not be front and center in the mainstream, and Powell is dead right to call the whole damn country on this. This kind of bigotry should be relegated to the belligerent kooks in Backwaterville USA who we make fun of and are embarassed by when they flash their ignorance and claim that it somehow makes them better Americans than the rest of us. THEY should be embarassed by such behavior. And McCain should be embarassed for pandering to them.

    My only quibble is this: why the %$^ didn’t Powell say this sooner?

  127. Yes, I’m an American.
    I’m proud to be a citizen of the United States of America and I’m proud of what my country once stood for, but I’m ashamed that we’ve let our President and his gang of thugs perpetrate so many crimes.

  128. Oh yes.

    Last night for the first time I watched The House I Live In, a short anti-prejudice film from 1945. Most of it is Frank Sinatra, of all people, lecturing on tolerance to a group of boys who’d been about to beat up another boy because he was Jewish. Among other things, Sinatra notes that the American soldiers that had just beaten the Axis came from many different religious backgrounds, and specifically that the flight crew that made the first successful bombing run against a Japanese battleship had a Presbyterian pilot and a Jewish bombardier. “You think maybe they shoulda called the bombing off because they had different religions?”

    Under other circumstances I might have thought of The House I Live In as well-intentioned sentimental hokum, but I have a hard time dismissing it that way in the current political and social climate–harder still after seeing the picture of Specialist Khan’s grave and reading the story behind it. In its naive, simplistic, idealistic way, The House I Live In contains lessons that apparently have to be relearned by every generation, probably more than once. Toward this end, I do hope Colin Powell’s anti-polarization comments make a positive difference.

  129. Sorry, I meant to post a youtube link to The House I Live In but munged the html syntax. It’s easy enough to find there, though.

  130. Alien:

    How is that any different from when various Christian groups try to change the law to reflect more closely their religious values?

    It seems to me that by that logic, the entire religious right would be considered incompatible with America for doing exactly the same thing.

    Now, I am all for arguments aimed at keeping religion in all its forms out of the laws, but let us keep things in perspective.

    Islam is hardly the largest offender when it comes to bringing religion into the governance of the state.

  131. Yes, I agree.
    however, why, if so many people agree, has no-one spoken before?
    Just a question by the way, just interested.

  132. ‘Hey, if you want to defend the headscarf rule, go ahead. Here in America, we don’t do that.’

    Really? I guess we do the commercial banning better – no Pepsi shirt on Coke days, or was that the other way round?

    You know, your fascination about France’s dedication to enforcing the state’s view of what is appropriate for students in public schools in terms of dress may reflect something deep in the psyche of someone like Osama bin Laden.

    Since you seem well informed, you may recall his attempt to inflame French Muslim opinion against the head scarf rules – and French Muslims then protested. Good overview here – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3620782.stm I especially like the French flag being used as a headscarf as a reminder that the French don’t like anyone telling them what to do, along with the article’s conclusion – ‘The BBC’s Caroline Wyatt in Paris says the hostage crisis has had one unexpected consequence – to rally the French behind their government, making it much harder for radical Muslims to protest against the ban.’ Strange – Muslims demonstrating against barbarity. I remember quotes from female Muslim students at that time basically saying that because of such terrorist acts, not wearing a headscarf was something to be proud of, as a French citizen.

    I live in Germany, and the state government where I live has been desperate to ban headscarfs for years. Not too surprisingly, it is in southern Germany, where the Christian Democrats (you know, part of the secular Europe so many Americans are convinced exists on a map which seems unavailable in Europe) were finally able to pass a law which met with court approval in terms of not being clearly discriminatory on the basis of religion. And when the CDU discovered that the law they had finally hammered into shape also forbid nuns from teaching in their head covering (what, do you think headscarves based on religious duty are a Muslim only thing?), they had a fit. Banning on the basis of Muslim bad, Christian good was fine (except for that pesky reminder that such laws were against the German Grundgesetz). Banning on the basis of the French model? Horrible, just horrible, since the only rights the CDU were interested in restricting were those of the Muslims.

  133. Josh Jasper: “There’s a reason that America gets called the leader of the free world – because we’re the leader in freedom.”

    I am British. I will let you in on something. Outside America, no one calls it that at all.

    Even if that phrase had any non-ironic currency in the rest of the world, it does at least suppose the existence of a free world there to be led, which apparently you do not believe, if the British are “a lot less free” than you, and the French trembling on the brink of Fascism.

    The French law on headscarves in school applies equally to all religious clothing or accessories equally (skull-caps, crucifixes, rings etc), and is aimed at encouraging students to see each other as human beings first and foremost. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but it is a law enacted by a democratically elected government that the people are free to remove when they wish. Freedom includes the freedom to do things that are not done in America.

    I detest my government. But I am not less free than an American.

  134. Yes. Heck yes!

    Unfortunately, Fox News started trying to tear Powell himself down in anticipation of this endorsement, and right wing pundits are playing the “It’s because they’re both black” game, even though Powell himself pointed out that were that the case he would have made his decision long ago. It seems some people will find any excuse to avoid listening to a well-reasoned argument, much less give its merits serious consideration. I doubt that the “low information voter” will even hear Powell’s call for tolerance. But maybe, just maybe, other public figures and voters with less calcified attitudes will reconsider their words and actions.

  135. @Alien Probe (And someone else too, I forgot who else said it)
    “In England, Muslims are pushing very hard for Sharia Law, and have all ready made some headway.”

    And Christians never push for Christian laws? *cough* *Gay Marriage Ban* *cough*

  136. Of course the elephant in the room is that it would only take a single egregious terror attack in the US before Americans demanded the internment of Muslims in America.

    An attack like this

    Over the past couple of years, National Terror Alert has featured several seemingly unrelated news events and stories, all with a common thread… A potential terrorist threat to our nations children and schools.

    With each news story it appears that the planning of a new attack, one with potentially horrific consequences, could be in the works. We’ll let you decide for yourself.

    All of the nice words and intellectual rationalizations will not prevent the outcry from a frighten public.

    The only way to prevent this result is to prevent the attack.

  137. Of course the elephant in the room is that it would only take a single egregious terror attack in the US before Americans demanded the internment of Muslims in America.

    The day they go door-to-door to round up the American Muslims for the cattle cars is the day I convert to Islam and load up my rifle.

    I grew up in a country where most people stood by when they came for the members of the Evil Religion of the day. I’ll be damned if I stand by and do nothing when the day comes that sees this country turn into Nazi Germany with Starbucks and McDonald’s.

    Any government that locks up its citizens on the basis of their religion rather than individual action or responsibility is a government that loses its legitimacy forever.

    (It’s more than a little ironic that there’s such an overlap between the people who claim that the Enlightenment was possible because of Christianity’s emphasis on personal accountability…and the people who would not only applaud the internment of all U.S. Muslims, but assist in kicking down their doors.)

  138. Marko @ 210

    The day they go door-to-door to round up the American Muslims for the cattle cars is the day I convert to Islam and load up my rifle.

    Precisely my point.

    It will destroy America.

  139. @210+ 211

    Ummm – you know this did happen to Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbour?

    And the scenario is very real – happened at Beslan.

  140. Of course the elephant in the room is that it would only take a single egregious terror attack in the US before Americans demanded the internment of Muslims in America.

    Er. We *did* have a single egregious terror attack. We didn’t intern Muslims.

    Ask yourself this. How can a religion that contains it’s own law, laws that are totally alien to American tradition, be successfully integrated into American society? The answer is, it can’t. That is, not until the number of Jews becomes politically powerful enough to effect change in American law.
    Jews give their allegiance to Israel, not to the nation they happen to be living in. For Jews in America the Constitution means next to nothing when compared to the dictates of Judaism.

    There’s nothing about Alien Probe’s little rant that couldn’t be simply lifted and applied to any other ‘furrin’ faith….and has been, actually. It was said of my grandparents and their weird Christ-rejecting ways, it was said of Catholics, now the beady-eyed contingent is saying it about Muslims. In another generation we’ll feel as repelled and pitiying of them as we did about the people who used to eagerly tune into Father Coughlin’s radio show.

  141. mythago@213:

    Your analogy to anti-Semitism does not hold up. Jews living in Western countries have never asked to change secular laws to conform to their religious dogmas. And when was the last time a group of Orthodox Jews bombed a bus in London? When was the last time Jews beheaded a filmmaker in downtown Amsterdam because they didn’t like his movies?

    Pleeeese….By invoking the anti-Semitism of the 1930s, you are suggesting that anyone who raises concerns about the Islamicization of European civil laws is a racist. This is a red herring intended to stifle discourse that doesn’t match the PC orthodoxy.

    Alien Probe’s “little rant,” as you call it, is an accurate depiction of the demands that Muslim radicals are making in Europe today–not 70 years ago. They are succeeding there because of individuals like yourself—who are more concerned with not offending Muslims than they are with protecting civil liberties.

    What amazes is me is that you and your cohorts here have have loads of righteous indignation for anyone who questions Islamic principles. But where is your righteous indignation for the thugs who stifled free speech in Denmark after the publication of the Mohammed cartoons? Why have you not even addressed any of the concrete examples Alien Probe raised about what is going on *today* in England? Do you care about freedom of speech? Or do you care only about political correctness?

  142. Pleeeese….By invoking the anti-Semitism of the 1930s, you are suggesting that anyone who raises concerns about the Islamicization of European civil laws is a racist. This is a red herring intended to stifle discourse that doesn’t match the PC orthodoxy.

    Pleeeeeeese. We HAVE interned people solely on their ethnicity. And that WAS racist.

    Ain’t no PC orthodoxy. We simply ain’t gonna do it again.

  143. not_scottbot @ 200 – Actually, in liberal Islamic states, headscarves are not compulsory for women, but an effort to prohibit women from wearing them is still insulting, Osama Bin Ladin or not.

    Sophia I am British. I will let you in on something. Outside America, no one calls it that at all.

    And I’ve lived in Singapore and Japan – those words actually do get used, non-ironically and all.

    which apparently you do not believe, if the British are “a lot less free” than you, and the French trembling on the brink of Fascism.

    After the passing of the Patriot Act, America was certainly less free, but yes, I think that overall, the UK has certainly restricted the freedoms of it’s citizens and guests a lot more than the US has in recent years. You seem to think it’s somehow freedom to be told that you’re not allowed to wear items of religious significance.

    The French law on headscarves in school applies equally to all religious clothing or accessories equally (skull-caps, crucifixes, rings etc), and is aimed at encouraging students to see each other as human beings first and foremost. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but it is a law enacted by a democratically elected government that the people are free to remove when they wish. Freedom includes the freedom to do things that are not done in America.

    That’s because they actually can’t be done in America without overturning a constitutional amendment. It’s not an impossibility, America too could overturn freedom of religion, but what the law in France would do if passed in America would come up against that constitutional amendment.

    And I maintain that it’s not differently free to tell religious people not to send their kids to school wearing religious clothes, it’s actually restricting them. It makes them less free.

    In the UK, they just proposed a law allowing the government to detain pretty much anyone for 42 days, with no trial, no right to outside communication, and no appeal. Also, less free.

    The abuses of Habeas Corpus in Guantanamo Bay make America a less free place than *it* was before we had Bush.

    We’re all collectively less free because of the world’s over reaction terrorism, but France and England simply don’t have the protections on fundamental freedoms that the US has. There’s a lot of things France and the UK do better than America – funding for education, health care, support of the arts, and so on. But in terms of personal freedoms, America is still the place where you get the most protection.

  144. gwanggung@215:

    I don’t want to intern anyone. When did I say that? No one anywhere close to the mainsteam is arguing for that. That is a straw man.

    All I am saying is that people who come to the U.S., UK, etc., don’t have the right to abridge our civil liberties to conform to their own religion. This is especially true when their religious principles involve the subjugation of women, the murdering of apostates, and the suppression of books and movies that challenge their beliefs. (See the above threads for plenty of concrete examples from Europe.)

    You, like Mythago, don’t seem at all concerned about the infringement on civil liberites that has already occurred in Europe—all for the sake of appeasing Muslim radicals. Why do you refuse to *even acknowledge* this situation?

  145. For those of you who have doubts about there being secular Islamic societoes, I would suggest you head on over to Michael Totten’s site and check out the entries about his journeys in Albania, Kosovo, and Azerbaijan. (But do note that in some of those places there are those who would try to radicalize the population, although they are still a small minority).

  146. Edward Trimmel@214

    Your analogy to anti-Semitism does not hold up. Jews living in Western countries have never asked to change secular laws to conform to their religious dogmas.

    This is false. In Ontario, Muslims pushed for exactly what they’re pushing for in England: voluntary alternate Sharia civil courts. Unfortunately, there was a backlash in Ontario, so the effort was defeated, and the already existing alternate Jewish and Catholic civil courts were disallowed.

    For some reason, no one had a problem with a voluntary alternate court on religious lines when it wasn’t Muslim, and both Jews and Catholics made good use of having changed secular law to conform to their religious dogmas.

  147. Justin Johnson@222:

    Muslims in Europe want more than ecclesiatical courts. They want to restrict the freedom of speech of everyone to avoid any challenge to their religious beliefs. In a number of European countries (UK, Norway, Denmark) Muslim pressure groups have pushed for “anti-blasphemy” laws. Are Jews pushing for anti-blasphemy laws in Ontario? Probably not.

    You also declined to give examples of Catholics and Jews in Canada–or elsewhere–beheading filmmakers, bombing the transit system, or justifying the beating of their wives on religious grounds. (The Quran declares that a man may beat his wife.)

  148. I don’t want to intern anyone. When did I say that? No one anywhere close to the mainsteam is arguing for that. That is a straw man.

    All I am saying is that people who come to the U.S., UK, etc., don’t have the right to abridge our civil liberties to conform to their own religion. This is especially true when their religious principles involve the subjugation of women, the murdering of apostates, and the suppression of books and movies that challenge their beliefs. (See the above threads for plenty of concrete examples from Europe.)

    Try not to raise straw men of your own. Good God, you’re trying to conflate the behavior of extremists with the entire Islamic religion–totally ignoring the differences in sects within the religion.

    And THAT’S bigotry.

  149. Alien @195: The “Muslim cab drivers banning alcohol and dogs” issue and the foot-baths-in-university issue both happened in my town, and I’d like to clarify a couple of issues.

    1. The current federal law is that employers need to offer “reasonable accommodation” to the religious beliefs of their employees. So for instance, a Jewish employee who wants to take his vacation days on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur gets to do so, even if this inconveniences everyone else, unless the employee is a police officer and Rosh Hashanah falls during a major international meeting in his city that’s an all-hands-on-deck sort of situation, in which case it quits being a reasonable accommodation and starts being an undue burden.

    It’s not just Muslims that request reasonable accommodations: in fact, most of the cases that have gone to court in recent years have involved Christians whose employers refused to give them Sundays off. (I think it’s also benefited Or Orthodox Christians whose employers refused to believe that Christmas could fall in January.) The vast majority of the time, what Muslim employees want is not any more problematic than what a devout Jew or Christian would want.

    2. The taxi controversy involved taxis picking up passengers at the airport. At some airports, as I understand it, you have to wait at the taxi stand for a taxi to turn up, so if a taxi refuses to transport you, that would be seriously inconvenient. At the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport we have the opposite situation; there are always taxis waiting for passengers. A taxi driver can refuse a passenger, but he then goes to the back of the queue and may have to wait another 20 minutes before he’s given the chance to accept a passenger again.

    There was a brief discussion of marking taxis as alcohol-friendly or no-alcohol, because there was some sympathy for the drivers who were losing fares. I think this was actually suggested by the airport managers of the taxi stand. This got shot down. That was pretty much the end of the issue. I think some taxi drivers still refuse passengers carrying visible alcohol, and they continue to go to the back of the line.

    I do believe the service dog issue was addressed by the local Muslim religious authorities telling the drivers to suck it up, that graciously giving a ride to a service dog should be considered a religious obligation. Though I could be mis-remembering.

    3. A local university decided to put in foot-baths because Muslim students were trying to wash their feet in bathroom sinks and this was creating a hazard (both to the students and to the sinks). I don’t think anyone demanded anything, this was simply the university’s attempt to provide something that a lot of students seemed to need. The foot-bath is simply a low sink with a faucet, and IIRC the janitors also use it to fill buckets, and the other students use it to fill water bottles.

    This is right? This is “American”? One set of laws for “Americans” and another set of laws for Muslims in America?

    What is American is the desire to work things out. To say, “Hey, a quarter of the students at this college are Muslim now. Are we meeting the needs of our student population?” Or, “There is no reason we can’t adapt the employee dress code. Can you wear your hijab in Target Red?” Or, “Sure, you can have Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur off. Do you mind working both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day?” What is American is that the laws we put into place to protect Christians and Jews in the workplace also protect Muslims (as well as Buddhists, Wiccans, Zoroastrians, etc.)

  150. You also declined to give examples of Catholics and Jews in Canada–or elsewhere–beheading filmmakers, bombing the transit system, or justifying the beating of their wives on religious grounds. (The Quran declares that a man may beat his wife.)

    Wait, are you saying that there aren’t any Christian wife-beaters out there using scripture to justify their actions? ::laughs hysterically::

    Also, there were Catholic terrorists bombing the London underground as recently as the 1990s.

  151. Edward @ #218: well said.

    Marko @ 210: Any government that locks up its citizens on the basis of their religion rather than individual action or responsibility is a government that loses its legitimacy forever.

    Mormons were routinely locked up, burned out, and even murdered, with government approval, during the 1800’s. Just wanted to point that out.

  152. Naomi,

    The Irish bombings against the UK are political, not religious. The Pope is not encouraging Irish Catholics to vent their righteous anger on English Protestants.

    There are countless Muslim religious officials across the world who routinely encourage their men to kill, abuse, enslave, or otherwise persecute non-Muslims, Muslims who are “modernized”, women who are “unclean” or bring “dishonor” on their men, etc.

    Ignoring the rot within Islam, as if it’s a small thing or does not exist at all, or drawing stretched moral comparisons between 21st century Christianity or Judiasm and Islam, doesn’t solve the problem.

  153. Oh and if you’d like an example of Christian terrorists who committed beheadings, read up on the Shankill Butchers. Technically they were cutting people’s throats with too much enthusiasm, but the net result was pretty much the same.

    This was all the way back in the 1970s, though. Practically the middle ages. And it happened in Northern Ireland, not England, and also their victims were randomly chosen Catholics rather than filmmakers, so it’s totally different.

  154. Sub @ 227
    If they weren’t so damn insistant on coming by those militiamen’s houses every week, I’m sure no one would have troubled the Mormons at all.

    Also, the Mormons were viewed as something of a dangerous cult at the time. Much like the government would go after dangerous cults now.

  155. Look, everyone, Islam has P-R-O-B-L-E-M-S.

    This is a global religion with roughly 1 billion members.

    It is growing.

    Even if we assume that radical (ergo, “fundamentalist” or “Islamist”) Islam only grips the hearts and minds of 10% of all Muslims, that’s 100 million Muslims who believe that God wants them to kill or enslave all non-Muslims, restrict Muslim women to near-prisoner status, enforce hard-line moral and ethical codes at gun or knifepoint, burn or destroy all literature, science, and “modern thinking” that contradicts absolutist Muslim law, as dictated by the Q’ran, etc, etc.

    100 million hate-filled, righteous jihadists.

    That’s 1/3 the population of the United States.

    You think the American Bible Belt is full of crazy whack-o-doodle fundie nutjobs? Take a trip to the Middle East and meet people who make the Bible-thumpers from Texas or Alabama look like Richard Dawkins.

    The point is, if Islam is ever going to co-exist with the secularized West, then MUSLIMS MUST ADAPT. Not the other way around. It’s not the job of the secular West to censor itself, adopt “special rules”, or otherwise coddle Islam, just because Muslims find the coarseness of Western secular culture to be “offensive” to their religious propriety.

    Frankly, I think Islam’s biggest problem is lack of a centralized authority. When you’ve got a cleric at the Seattle Northgate mosque preaching moderation and tolerance, and a cleric of equal authority in Egypt or Pakistan teaching, “Death to the infidels!” you’ve got some issues that aren’t easily resolved.

    Again, breezing over Islam’s rot is not going to help Islam or Muslims come to grips with the rest of the world. Islam must be exposed to the same forces and criticism that have (largely) de-toothed Christendom since the 15th century. Yet in our rush to disavow the debris of Colonialism, we too often turn a blind eye to Muslim matters, especially in Europe, where Muslims are demanding a separate estate that cannot be touched by the civilizing influence of secular Western beliefs.

    Hence shar’ia courts and Muslim husbands who prevent their (sometimes multiple) wives from driving, learning to speak Western languages, voting etc. All with tacit Western intellectual approval, because to criticize such things is “racist”.

  156. Edward@223

    Muslims in Europe want more than ecclesiatical courts. They want to restrict the freedom of speech of everyone to avoid any challenge to their religious beliefs.

    Wanting and having are two different things. On freerepublic.com you’ll find widespread agreement on the need for laws to intern Muslims. Homosexuals wants gay marriage. Groups want laws that they think will protect them or are in their interest. That doesn’t make the desire a threat in itself, but it seems only when Muslim communities want such laws that it gets people up in arms.

    Have any of those countries you mentioned actually passed blasphemy laws?

  157. That said, I seem to recall the American Left said some pretty nasty things about our First African American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State.

    Uncle Tom being one of them, among others.

    So one will forgive me if I find all of this orgasmic excitement on the part of the American Left to be just a notch hypocritical when contrasted with things they have said about Powell, Rice, Palin, and soldiers in general.

    While I am pleased with his weekend actions, I was never able to give him a pass on things like lying to the UN about WMD and the Iran Contra affair simply because he shared my ethnicity. Wouldn’t that be racist at worst, tribal at best? Or, you know, “hypocritical”?

    By any measure, Rice and Powell are some of the most important, most brilliant, most accomplished African Americans in U.S. history. How do we know this? Take away their ethnic connection, and they’re still every bit as impressive as they would otherwise be.

    (Can’t say the same for Mr. Obama — sorry, it’s just the plain, damn truth!)

    It’s an opinion. Everyone has a right to theirs, and not all will or must be shared. All brilliance is not by-definition focused in service of the common good. Some very detrimental people have been “brilliant.”

    In essence, they have been excommunicated from Blackness because they don’t work for the Democrats?

    No, but because they actively and knowingly worked to grease the path for the more odious Republican (and in my opinion, anti-conservative) actions.

    And now, at the end, Powell is praised? Does “coming back to the faith” re-earn Powell his Black Card?

    No, his decency card. (Which, for me, was never AS tarnished as some other politicians’ — probably because I was MORE forgiving of him for sharing my ethnicity, hell, I’m not perfect — but let’s not get total amnesia here.) Is it better for me to overlook his faults because he looks vaguely similar to me and his parents maybe hailed from a similar island?

    It may have been “his job” to do so and “his side”to defend — but I am not obligated to support the one or be on the other.

    The French, however are pretty bigoted against Muslims. They passed a law requiring Muslims to remove their children to headscarves in public schools.
    The French forbid EVERYONE to have public religious displays in the public arena. You’re trying to make it sound like a special anti-Muslim action — it isn’t. (However, because it’s very difficult to fire an employee in France, many French corporations won’t hire minorities in the first place on the idea that doing so constitutes a “greater risk” — which IS a major problem for the Muslim population, particularly those born there who consider themselves French.

    But, you know, everyone has problems.)

  158. Edward #@ 218: “…people who come to the U.S., UK, etc., don’t have the right to abridge our civil liberties to conform to their own religion.”

    No, that’s reserved to people who are already in the U.S.

  159. The Pope is not encouraging Irish Catholics to vent their righteous anger on English Protestants.

    There are countless Muslim religious officials across the world who routinely encourage their men to kill, abuse, enslave, or otherwise persecute non-Muslims, Muslims who are “modernized”, women who are “unclean” or bring “dishonor” on their men, etc.

    Why are you using the Pope as a counter-example to “countless Muslim religious officials”? A legitimate comparison would be to compare these countless Muslim religious officials to Christian religious officials as a group (the Pope, but also bishops and archbishops, influential evangelists, heads of religious synods, patriarchs, directors of Christian schools and colleges, etc.) worldwide.

    Would you like me to find you some examples of Christian religious officials across the world who routinely encourage their men to kill, abuse, enslave or otherwise persecute non-Christians, bad Christians, immodest women, etc.?

    Because I don’t think it would take me very long to find you some examples.

    I think it’s clear that countries like Saudi Arabia — where girls were forced back into a burning building — are fucked up. But that doesn’t mean that Islam is rotten to the core. It means that Islam is practiced in a really fucked-up way in some parts of the world. I think it’s awesome that in the U.S. the liberal Muslim element finally has the freedom and breathing space it needs to flourish, and I hope it uses that opportunity to spread and establish itself. I don’t expect that it will be the ONLY Muslim element that will flourish here — I mean, if you look at Judaism in the U.S., you’ll find thriving Reform and Conservative movements, not to mention modern Orthodox and Reconstructionist, but you’ll also find some pretty freaky ultra-conservative groups. oh, and the Jewish Defense League. They’re not at all mainstream, though, and by and large have had a lot less influence worldwide than the more liberal groups.

  160. John Jasper – the law has been proposed, and, thankfully, been squashed. There have been several attempts in the US to overturn or greatly restrict a woman’s freedom to have an abortion, and nothing similar in Britain. There are plenty of things that the state can or might one day be able to interfere with in America that would not be possible in Europe, as well as vice versa. That these laws do not match up precisely does not equate to a deficit of freedom on either side. Europe is diverse and not remotely perfect, I have many serious quarrels with my country’s erosion of our civil liberties but still the suggestion rankles that Europeans – or, I don’t know ALL puny non-Americans – spend our time languishing in durance vile wistfully clinking our shackles to the tune of the Star-Spangled Banner.

    As for your colleagues in Singapore well, perhaps. Not to question their respect for you or your country, but I wonder, if many of them would have expressed themselves in quite that way in their own language, without an American present. It’s certainly a name that America came up with for itself.

    People in India came up to me and told me how much they admired and even missed the British Empire. I’ve no reason to think they were actually lying, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the whole story.

  161. Sub-Odeon @ 152: did you read what I wrote or you just decided that of course not being Christian I had to be an atheist and I was trying to claim that all the philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment were atheist?

    Because it seems to me that all my comments are very clear: “refused the Christian religion”, “fought the Christian churches”…

    I don’t know if there is a god out there (even though I think that it is very unlikely), but I’m pretty much sure that if there is a god, it is not the Jewish-then-Christian-then-Muslim god, nor any god worshiped by any other religion, past or present.

  162. I think “Leader of the Free World” was a phrase coined during the Cold War. Back then, it was more or less accurate. Western Europe would have become a chain of Soviet satellites without the U.S. keeping troops along the iron curtain, keeping intercontinental bombers and, later, ICBM’s, on 24 hour alert, staying ready to combat the Communists if ever the Communists decided it was time to welcome Germany, France, Spain, the UK, or Scandinavia to the Workers’ Paradise, etc, etc.

    Alas, no good deed goes unpunished, and many Europeans seem eager and willing to dump the U.S.

    Can’t say I blame Euros much. Nobody likes feeling beholden to anyone; especially a coarse, unrefined, often confusing country like the United States.

    Most Euros who felt any direct gratitude to the U.S. for ending the Nazi threat and protecting Europe through the 50’s and 60’s, are either dead, or have slowly forgotten.

    And of course, it must be said that many Euros hated the U.S. for preventing the spread of Communism, and still resent the U.S. for being so damned capitalist.

  163. Having a growing number of our population who’s allegiance is to a religion and not to our secular constitution is dangerous.

    Thank you for finally coming around the position that people on the left have held about the Religious Right for over two decades now! As long as you are evenhanded in the application of your position to Christians as well as Muslims, I have no problem with it. I look forward to your speech to the anti-abortion movement telling them to give it a rest, already.

  164. Sorry, should I have used the HTML sarcasm tags?

    No one really deserves to have a campaign of murder launched against them. Not the Mormons, not the Jews, not the Tutsis or the Hutus, not even Bob Sagat.

    But since you read that into my comment regardless of what I actually said, yes, I think those Mormons got what they deserved! Grr! How dare they have weird beliefs! They’re like chiropractors! In fact, we should orchestrate a genocide against chiropractic, too! Mormons, chiropractors, Jehova’s Witnesses, emo kids, all those undesirable parts of society must go! It’s like a fire sale at the discount warehouse, but with gays and Gypsies instead of futons and chaisse-lounges.

    Honestly, though. I never said they deserved to be harassed. Thanks for assuming I’m a tremendously bigotted asshole, though. I’ll return the favor.

  165. Giacomo,

    Your text seemed pretty clear to me. You claimed the Enlightenment entirely for secularism. I thought this was inaccurate and cited Kepler as an example.

    Perhaps there is no Christian God, but to say that the heroes of the enlightenment were anti-Christian… I dunno, a big stretch, that. More accurate to say they were anti-Authoritarian, in that they were small-c christians who hated the powerful abuses taking place, at the time, in the name of Roman Catholicism or Lutheran Protestantism.

    Again, many men, such as Kepler, were quite devout, and this devoutness greatly informed their scientific (and “heretical”) inquiry into the nature of the universe.

    I have no doubt that many Enlightenment scholars and pioneers, would find today’s materialist, semi-nihilist, wholly secular culture to be rather alien. They might have hated the Pope, but they still believed in a Divinity, and that this Divinity laid down laws for the universe, if not humanity itself.

  166. Sub-Odeon@232
    “Just to be clear, are you saying Mormons deserved what happened to them in the 1800’s?”

    Lets just say they were not innocent bystanders whan it came to murder and mayhem.
    The Nauvoo Legion was one of the biggest militias in the country–well equipped and armed with Joseph Smith as its commanding general. Joseph Smith was running for President of the US as a third party candidate. The church leadership was involved in financial fraud (Kirtland Safety Society). Joseph Smith supervised the literal destruction of an opposition newspaper. And when they moved to Utah, they quite literally and deliberately left the United States.
    Your’e in Salt Lake–drop by Zion’s Bookstore and pick up some books on Mormon History–and not just the ones Published by Deseret Press.

    Most roads are two way streets.

  167. Fighter,

    I asked the question because I couldn’t tell if you were being sarcastic or not. That’s why I stated my question, and waited for a response, instead of repudiating a statement that I suspected might be tongue-in-cheek.

    And to be clear on my end, there are people who think government persecution of religious cults is totally justified. Hence many who still defend the Branch Dividian massacre. Or the running-off of Mormons from the U.S. in the 1800’s. Some Americans, secular and religious both, think one or both of these events were A-OK.

    I don’t know you so I didn’t assume anything. I thought you might be serious, I thought you might not be. I asked a question in the hope that you could clarify, so that I didn’t get you wrong.

    Don’t shove a stick in my eye for asking a question.

  168. Thanks Dave, I’ll be sure to go pick up some Lighthouse Ministry literature while I am at it.

    Fucking Mormons. It’s all a big lie!

    [/sarcasm]

  169. SNARL BLAUGH… LOL!

    I’ll have to remember that.

    Really, I try not to be a dick if I can help it.

    Sometimes I sound like a dick anyway. Which doesn’t bother me too much, unless it’s obvious that myself and another person are experience a total misunderstanding, in which case I will actively work to cut the “snarl blaugh” and correct the error.

  170. Hmm, I thought I’d searched to the end, but now I see I have more to say about some older posts. Heck with it. Here they are:

    Edward 139, John 140: I can well believe it. But if you want me to even click a link, it needs to start with something other than http://www.foxnews.com. I mean, really. Give me a halfway credible source at the very beginning. That said, that’s an interesting story. Need to think about how I feel about that. But as I said, I didn’t even look at what the story was when it was nothing but a Faux News link. I wouldn’t believe Faux News if they told me the sky was blue (I’d check other sources, like my own experience).

    Josh 141: Americans need to stop conflating the actions of terrorists with Islam. We’ve had Christian terrorists before.

    I like to point out that people didn’t start suspecting all blond guys from Michigan after the Oklahoma City bombing. I know, because I was a blond (at the time) guy from Michigan, and no one treated me differently after that than they had before. When people’s race or religion are relatively unfamiliar, weak-minded people treat them as representative of their race or religion. This is itself a form of racism/religious prejudice.

    I keep trying to get my young friend Arben to start a blog, and call it PBJ Iftar. See, he’s a Moslem American, and this past Ramedan he broke his fast each evening by eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread. He’s also as white as I am, and probably whiter than most of you (we’re vampire-pale, me and Arben). See, his parents came here from Albania. He’s VERY American, and devoutly Moslem. Until people realize that that isn’t a contradiction in any way, America will always be less than it could be.

    Ibid. 143: And yet in America, we’ve seen nothing like the riots in France. I maintain this is because we encourage Muslims in the US to be a functioning part of our culture, whereas the French treat Muslims living in France like merde.

    In my opininon birthright citizenship is the strongest force for social cohesion we have. Moslems born here have rights, whereas in France you can be third generation and yet not a citizen.

    As for the rest of this post, RAEBNC. Thank you for it, and hear, hear.

    Sub-Odeon 148: If Islam is to be truly integrated into modern American reality, it must be kept open to the same level of criticism and scrutiny that is applied to Christians faiths, Judaism, Mormonism, Scientology, etc.

    I think that Islam in America is far more civilized than Scientology! And do you know what happens to atheist “missionaries” who go to Mormon neighborhoods looking and acting just exactly like Mormon missionaries everywhere else? They get assaulted and driven out. (I can’t link to the video of this from work, because it’s on YouTube.) I think we should treat the FLDS as representative of Mormons generally, don’t you? After all, they’re the CORE of their faith. So Mormons force underage girls into multiple marriages and expel excess teenage boys to live or die on their own.

    Of course that’s not true, and they’re not representative. But there’s “real ugliness” practiced by Mormon men too. And any other religion you can think of has its wackos (I haven’t heard of any Quaker or Wiccan wackos, come to think of it, but I have no doubt that there are some). You can say the men who behave this way aren’t “really” Mormons, and the Moslems I know say that Al Qaeda and their ilk aren’t really following Islam. You’re both right. The difference is, you’re allowing your prejudice to cloud your judgement of how the majority of Moslems behave.

    Sub-Odeon 175: “My” party? Since when did I register with the R’s? Like our esteemed writer/host, I am a life-long independent.

    Oops, sorry. Didn’t mean to unfairly malign you. You’ve already done, then, what I was calling on you to do, which is to abandon the GOP (or never needed to because you never joined it). Better than I thought; glad to hear it. And again, my apologies.

    Justin 222: This is false. In Ontario, Muslims pushed for exactly what they’re pushing for in England: voluntary alternate Sharia civil courts. Unfortunately, there was a backlash in Ontario, so the effort was defeated, and the already existing alternate Jewish and Catholic civil courts were disallowed.

    Unfortunately? For them, perhaps. Fortunately for Canada and freedom.

    Sub-Odeon 246: Fucking Mormons. It’s all a big lie!

    I have gay friends who swear by it. :-)

  171. George E Martin @ 145: Perhaps some day real Americans will start standing up a say enough of this bigotry we are seeing now.

    I wonder if you include statements such as this in your hopes.

    Rachel @ 47:Things right-wing Christians believe: 1) Women should stay home, 2) Women should have no choice in bearing children, 3) Lesbian and gay people are evil, 4) Jews are evil. And reaching back in history, 5) slavery is a-okay. If the Christian right gained absolute power, Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale would not be an allegory.

    I personally don’t care what religion (or lack there of) someone is, it’s their behavior and what they want government to do that is of importance. So, I guess my answer is “of course.” We should be measuring each other by our actions, not any skin color, creed, or other characteristic (including sexual orientation.) That is why this country was founded on egalitarian principles, and not on religious principles.

    Using the power of government to force behavior is no more or less odious coming from the right, or left. I say “LEAVE ME THE F’ ALONE.”

    And as far as people who claim McCain didn’t shut that woman down. You’re lying to yourself. He shut that woman down, he took the microphone away from her, corrected her mis-perception, and went on with his event. And he went on at other rallies to correct other nonfactual statements from others. That some don’t feel he did enough, well, that says more about them and their skewed expectations then anything else.

    I certainly haven’t heard Obama or Biden trying to correct any of the 91 and counting smears against Palin. In fact, they’ve kept some of the smears going.

    I will also note that plenty of the right wing bloggers I read have gone out of their way to correct others of the obviously incorrect rumors about Obama, for instance, he’s Muslim, and he’s not a US citizen.

    Certainly, there are people spreading rumors about, on both sides, but anyone who believes everything the read on the internet, probably also believe everything politicians (at least the ones they favor) tell them to. And there’s probably little hope for them.

  172. Hmm, I thought I’d searched to the end, but now I see I have more to say about some older posts. Heck with it. Here they are:

    Edward 139, John 140: I can well believe it. But if you want me to even click a link, it needs to start with something other than http://www.foxnews.com. I mean, really. Give me a halfway credible source at the very beginning. That said, that’s an interesting story. Need to think about how I feel about that. But as I said, I didn’t even look at what the story was when it was nothing but a Faux News link. I wouldn’t believe Faux News if they told me the sky was blue (I’d check other sources, like my own experience).

    Josh 141: Americans need to stop conflating the actions of terrorists with Islam. We’ve had Christian terrorists before.

    I like to point out that people didn’t start suspecting all blond guys from Michigan after the Oklahoma City bombing. I know, because I was a blond (at the time) guy from Michigan, and no one treated me differently after that than they had before. When people’s race or religion are relatively unfamiliar, weak-minded people treat them as representative of their race or religion. This is itself a form of racism/religious prejudice.

    I keep trying to get my young friend Arben to start a blog, and call it PBJ Iftar. See, he’s a Moslem American, and this past Ramedan he broke his fast each evening by eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread. He’s also as white as I am, and probably whiter than most of you (we’re vampire-pale, me and Arben). See, his parents came here from Albania. He’s VERY American, and devoutly Moslem. Until people realize that that isn’t a contradiction in any way, America will always be less than it could be.

    Ibid. 143: And yet in America, we’ve seen nothing like the riots in France. I maintain this is because we encourage Muslims in the US to be a functioning part of our culture, whereas the French treat Muslims living in France like merde.

    In my opininon birthright citizenship is the strongest force for social cohesion we have. Moslems born here have rights, whereas in France you can be third generation and yet not a citizen.

    As for the rest of this post, RAEBNC. Thank you for it, and hear, hear.

    Sub-Odeon 148: If Islam is to be truly integrated into modern American reality, it must be kept open to the same level of criticism and scrutiny that is applied to Christians faiths, Judaism, Mormonism, Scientology, etc.

    I think that Islam in America is far more civilized than Scientology! And do you know what happens to atheist “missionaries” who go to Mormon neighborhoods looking and acting just exactly like Mormon missionaries everywhere else? They get assaulted and driven out. (I can’t link to the video of this from work, because it’s on YouTube.) I think we should treat the FLDS as representative of Mormons generally, don’t you? After all, they’re the CORE of their faith. So Mormons force underage girls into multiple marriages and expel excess teenage boys to live or die on their own.

    Of course that’s not true, and they’re not representative. But there’s “real ugliness” practiced by Mormon men too. And any other religion you can think of has its wackos (I haven’t heard of any Quaker or Wiccan wackos, come to think of it, but I have no doubt that there are some). You can say the men who behave this way aren’t “really” Mormons, and the Moslems I know say that Al Qaeda and their ilk aren’t really following Islam. You’re both right. The difference is, you’re allowing your prejudice to cloud your judgement of how the majority of Moslems behave.

  173. Sub-Odeon 175: “My” party? Since when did I register with the R’s? Like our esteemed writer/host, I am a life-long independent.

    Oops, sorry. Didn’t mean to unfairly malign you. You’ve already done, then, what I was calling on you to do, which is to abandon the GOP (or never needed to because you never joined it). Better than I thought; glad to hear it. And again, my apologies.

    Justin 222: This is false. In Ontario, Muslims pushed for exactly what they’re pushing for in England: voluntary alternate Sharia civil courts. Unfortunately, there was a backlash in Ontario, so the effort was defeated, and the already existing alternate Jewish and Catholic civil courts were disallowed.

    Unfortunately? For them, perhaps. Fortunately for Canada and freedom.

    Sub-Odeon 246: Fucking Mormons. It’s all a big lie!

    I have gay friends who swear by it. :-)

  174. Xopher,

    I think a key difference between Islam and the LDS church is that Islam has no centralized authority. There is no ruling structure within Islam that can excommunicate or “cast out” men like Osama bin Laden, or the many Islamist fundamentalists who perpetrate murder and mayhem in the name of Allah.

    Perhaps if Islam had such a centralized authority, and the ability to disavow radicals and throw them out, such that the vast majority of Muslims followed their authority, and not the rantings of the radicals, then maybe it would be easier for many non-Muslim Americans such as myself to dismiss the radical Muslims as a mere side-show.

    Alas, the moderate Muslims and the radical Muslims exist on a more or less level playing field. If a cleric in Pakistan tells his flock that it’s God’s will that they hate and kill Americans, then that cleric’s directives carry the same weight as the cleric at the Northgate Mosque, preaching tolerance and moderation. There is no single authority which can herd the Muslim “church” away from the radicals, and towards a more productive and less confrontational practicing of their faith.

    Regarding the GOP, there is much about “pure” conservatism with which I agree:

    1) Small, less intrusive government.
    2) Limited taxation, limited expenditure.
    3) Individualism, as a virtue.

    Alas, the GOP as it exists now seems to have totally forgotten about item 1, the second part of item 2, and is fuzzy on item 3.

    Regarding the Democatic Party, there is much about “pure” liberalism with which I agree:

    1) Compassion, as an informer of society.
    2) Racial and sexual equality.
    3) Respect for science and intellect, as opposed to theological dictates.

    Alas, I think the Democrats get a “fail” on these items, too, so I am back to where I started: not really buying into either of the Big Two parties, and wishing that the Two Party system could somehow magically collapse, such that individuals would move forward to represent us, and not try to force us all into the us/them “team” model that exists now.

    I think lots of Republicans and Democrats would be shocked to find how much they have in common, and how much they agree on, if they could get over their disagreements and get over their, “I hate everyone who is a member of the (place party affiliation here!!!!” mentality.

  175. Hmm, Sub-Odeon, I agree with most of the last part of your post (255). I’d quibble about the Dems taking an outright fail on racial and sexual equality, though they’re certainly not perfect on those items. But it sure would be nice to get rid of the two-party system without opening the can of worms that would be opened by actually trying to dismantle it.

    When I agree with you, it makes me nervous. But I suppose it’s good for me. You DO make conservatives hard to demonize, drat you! :-)

  176. Pleeeese….By invoking the anti-Semitism of the 1930s, you are suggesting that anyone who raises concerns about the Islamicization of European civil laws is a racist

    Actually, Edward, I am pointing out that the specific arguments Alien Probe raised are bigoted. Do you disagree?

    I’m sure you’re well aware that many anti-Semites of the time grounded their hatred in the argument that Jewish anarchists or Jewish communists were a threat to America; no doubt you’ve also heard the complaints of modern anti-Semites about laws in Europe prohibiting free speech – for example, making it illegal to spout anti-Semitic views, or to claim that the Holocaust never happened.

    So, again, you’re badly missing the point of John’s post. There are people who would like to insist it is impossible to be a Muslim – ANY kind of Muslim – and to be a good person and a good citizen. Saying that John is wrong because radical Islamists exist is more than a bit like saying that since radical Jewish settlers terrorize Palestinians, that we can be sure Jews put loyalty to Israel over America.

  177. Alas, the moderate Muslims and the radical Muslims exist on a more or less level playing field. If a cleric in Pakistan tells his flock that it’s God’s will that they hate and kill Americans, then that cleric’s directives carry the same weight as the cleric at the Northgate Mosque, preaching tolerance and moderation. There is no single authority which can herd the Muslim “church” away from the radicals, and towards a more productive and less confrontational practicing of their faith.

    The same is true of Protestants. And yet intelligent people reject out of hand anyone who would insist that Fred Phelps’ directives should be viewed as representative of Baptists (let alone Protestant Christians) in any way. To pick a less extreme example, Pat Robertson, Gary Bauer, and James Dobson are understood not to represent American Protestants as a whole, even though they “exist on a level playing field” with more moderate Christian theologians, pastors, and evangelists.

  178. Josh Jasper

    While I won’t claim they’re identical, this whole ‘head scarf’ issue sounds a lot like the ‘no gang colors’ rules that have shown up in a lot of schools in the last few years.

  179. There is no single authority which can herd the Muslim “church” away from the radicals

    There is also no single authority who can excommunicate liberal or moderate Muslims from the faith, or order all Muslims to engage in violence.

  180. Sub-Odeon @ 255: I don’t know if this is really correct or not, because my area of expertise is not Islam, but a central theme in a class I’m taking that deals very heavily with the Reconquista in Spain is that it’s better to view Islam as a legal tradition than a religion, thus the lack of central authority. Imams are as much lawyers as they are analogues to priests, and their focus is on the interpretation of the law more than it is the spiritual guidance of their flock.

    This focus on the law as opposed to other, more spiritual aspects of the religion is what leads to the development of Sufism among the Sunni populace (as far as I understand, Sufism popped up much more among Sunnis than Shiites because Sunni Islam lacks a strong emotional component when compared to Shi’a, which has its own emotional bits built right in).

  181. Re: 199

    Beyond Frank Sinatra, let’s give some credit to the writer…

    The House I Live In (1945)
    ten-minute short film
    written by Albert Maltz (28 October 1908 – 26 April 1985, who was one of the blacklisted Hollywood Ten; He won the 1938 O. Henry Award for “The Happiest Man on Earth,” a short story published in Harper’s Magazine. In 1944 he published the novel The Cross and the Arrow)
    producers Frank Ross and Mervyn LeRoy

    Honorary Academy Award
    Special Golden Globe award (1946)

    This film was selected in 2007 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

    Wikipedia adds:

    “In the film, Sinatra sings the title song, and his recording became a national hit. The lyrics were written in 1943 by Abel Meeropol under the pen name Lewis Allen. Meeropol later adopted Michael and Robert, the two orphaned sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg after the 1953 execution of the couple.”

    I can’t make up a story about fighting intolerance as good as that!

  182. S Belisle @262

    it’s better to view Islam as a legal tradition than a religion, thus the lack of central authority.

    These two things do not really follow.

    While it may be true that Islam can be viewed as a legal tradition (based on revelation) there is no tradition of jurisprudence. Each Mullah is free to interpret the Quran and the Suras as he sees fit. There is not even a generally recognized compendium of valid Suras so some Mullah will use some but not others and the ones the individuals use may be different from Mullah to Mullah.

    As a result, there is no concept of stare decisis which makes for system inherent with “legal” confusion.

    Sufism popped up much more among Sunnis than Shiites because Sunni Islam lacks a strong emotional component when compared to Shi’a, which has its own emotional bits built right in).

    Actually, Sufism originated among Shia. Sufism is much more accepted among Shia than it is among Sunni for the simple reason that Sunni reject the idea of a personal experience with God. Sunnis reject the idea that some people can be venerated on a par with The Prophet as Sufi’s (and Shi’a) venerate their teachers. Sunnis reject the idea that there are Holy Places imbued with baraka but both Sufi’s and Shi’a regularly venerate the tombs and graves of “saints”. Sunnis reject the idea of saints.

    This is not to say that a great number of Sunni’s are Sufi. There Sunni Sufis. A great many of them. But Sufism is without a doubt more theologically acceptable to Shi’a than it is to Sunnis.

    It is also true that orthodox Sunni and Shi’a alike reject Sufism and Sufis have been persecuted by both.

    And since you brought up both Spain and Sufism, it is good to recall the words of the Spanish Sufi Ibn ‘Arabi

    “Beware of confining yourself to a particular belief and denying all else, for much good would elude you – indeed, the knowledge of reality would elude you. Be in yourself for all forms of belief, for God is too vast and tremendous to be restricted to one belief rather than another.

  183. Nargel @ 259 – While I won’t claim they’re identical, this whole ‘head scarf’ issue sounds a lot like the ‘no gang colors’ rules that have shown up in a lot of schools in the last few years.

    No, it doesn’t. Unless you’re implying that women wearing the wrong type of headscarf could get attacked by rival gangs, or that they somehow show affiliation with a criminal organization.

    Mythgo – Saying that John is wrong because radical Islamists exist is more than a bit like saying that since radical Jewish settlers terrorize Palestinians, that we can be sure Jews put loyalty to Israel over America

    That’s exactly what groups like Stormfront and VDare say.

  184. Nadir. Zenith. Apparently I was prescient, since the meaning of words in some of these posts is, well, meaningless.

    Sub-Odeon at 231 – Dude. Where did you come up with those numbers. Because it looks like you just made them up. Why not assume that .00001% of Muslims are extremists that will do violence in the manner of Al-Qaeda? That only leaves 10,000 people. That’s more manageable. All we have to do is build a big arena, tell them they won the lottery, at the same time invite over the 10,000 Christian extremists that would do violence living in the US, and let them duke it out.

    I don’t know man, I don’t think are people are saying that the world of Islam should be free from criticism. Rather, they are saying that your view of Islam is bigoted. There’s a rather substantial difference in meaning there.

  185. So Powell IS still considered an Uncle Tom among the American Left, among other things.

    Nice to see we are internally consistent about something.

    If that is the case (not that the opinion of the American Left as HQd in NYC will affect my opinion) why should anyone pay any attention at all to what Powell said?

  186. I read a lot of the discussion but didn’t get as far as I’d have liked (it’s 1am here, I need to sleep), but nowhere did I see any response to Mike O’Brien @ 17, which surprised me.

    “We try soldiers for committing war crimes that other countries ignore, we have a press that goes after the government, we have high ranking politicians that go on trial for corruption, we don’t need internal passports to go from one state to another, we don’t execute people for how they dress, who they have sex with or what they say about the government.”

    Hello. I’m a European. Do you remember our existence? I have no knowledge of the war crimes issue, but many Americans who have visited Europe have been amazed at our media and the way it covers both our government and *yours* – there were issues about America on the news here they would never have seen in America. High ranking politicians going on trial? Sure. Not needing passports to travel from state to state – try not needing passports to travel from country to country. Everything else should, I hope, speak for itself (though I feel obligated to add that while you might not execute people for who they have sex with, don’t even *try* to pretend that America is more open about that than Westen Europe).

    “We are the only country on the planet that can land an army anywhere in the world and overthrow it’s leadership in less time than it takes a pregnancy to be completed.”
    I really don’t think that’s a healthy way to be measuring something like this.

    “The poorest person in the US is considered wealthy in over half the world.”
    … except that the poorest person in the US probably would never have become that poor in many European countries because we have social safety nets in place to keep people from, say, losing all their savings because they needed a major surgery, or being kicked from their homes with nowhere to go because the economy is in the crapper.

    “We give away billions of dollars to people every day who are less well off than we are.”
    Great! I sincerely mean this, but – newsflash – you’re not the only one.

    “I also agree that being an American isn’t about race, religion, who you have sex with, the color of your skin but about believing in this country.”
    I know a lot of Americans who don’t believe in their country because it’s been a messed up place for a long time now, especially for the last eight years. That doesn’t make them un-American. It makes them critical of their country, and the only way a country can improve is by people being critical of it and pushing for more. For *better*. I’m in no way criticising people for believing in their country. I think it’s great. I believe in mine, despite its issues, but I’m not going to dispute anyone else’s “Dutchness” by how much they believe in this country.

    Stop measuring a citizen by their patriotism, because frankly, patriotism is scary as hell. All too often, it leads to this kind of superiority. I, for one, am sick of hearing about how faaaabulous America is. It’s “the land of the free”. It’s “the greatest nation in the world”. Because, yeah, you guys have a good country going there. You do a lot of good things. That doesn’t excuse these attitudes. They don’t really help your stance in the world, and there *is* more of a world out there than America, and it doesn’t like being told how inferior it is 24/7.

  187. Frank @ 266 thanks for the clarification there. I think my confusion with Sufism was that because Sunni Islam does deny that possibility of individual connection with god, Sufis provided a spiritual component that the Sunnis do not otherwise have access to within the boundaries of their religion.

    My argument re: legal tradition &c was not well thought out, and your response makes a lot of sense. I guess what I was thinking is that many major abrahamic religions have as a central tenet of their religion the idea of a central religious authority that provides the connection with god for you, as an intermediary; however, in a tradition where each imam is an ‘expert’ on the Qur’an, and has the religious authority to make his own interpretations and provide them to the faithful he is meant to service, there is not as much need for a central authority to provide a “party line,” so to speak. Perhaps this interpretation does make sense more in the context of Shi’a than of Sunni Islam, since there is a personal component that Sunnis lack.

    Like I said, I’m not even particularly familiar with Islam except as it relates to other things I’ve studied, so thanks for the clarifications! Hopefully I’ll get into the intro to Islam course our religion department offers, and that’ll help me understand the religion more properly.

  188. I’m sorry, but this is a straw man on stilts. There are about as many people on the GOP side talking about Obama being a Muslim as there are on the Left talking about Bristol Palin as Trig Palin’s birth mom. I’d say both are fringe elements, but at least one “Trig Truther” has a prominent blog for The Atlantic (yer Andrew Sullivan, I’m looking at you). The most prominent quote I can remember from the 2008 Presidential Campaign was “He’s not a Muslim, as far as I know.” Which GOP operative said that? Oh yeah, that was Hillary Clinton.

    And now, for this essentially non-existent rumor, which I defy you to point to a person of prominence in the GOP who has said anything like Hillary’s comment, we have the added indignity of “So what if he were a Muslim!” Sorry, how can you have righteous indignation over a non-existant smear? Case in point, McCain staffers run off some kook selling bumper stickers linking Obama to Islam. So yeah, there is a nutty fringe on BOTH sides. This is like Joe Lieberman defecting to the GOP because “the Democratic Party is supporting vicious rumors regarding the mother of Trig Palin, and by the way, what have you got against adoption, anyway!”

    Look, as far as I’m concerned, I’ve got quite enough to disagree with Obama over taxes, spending, basic honesty, first amendment suppression, campaign finance violations, vote fraud, foreign policy naïveté, etc, that his religion is the least of my concerns. Frankly, there are many mosques in the US that I would find much more wholesome than the black liberation theology church Obama attended until it became politically inconvenient for him to do so.

    So General Powell can endorse whomever he chooses, but I wish he could avoid the sanctimony, the false accusations, and self-congratulations. He’s going to need that hand he’s using to pat his back to carry the water for Obama.

  189. A few comments, about Europe’s uneasy relationship with “superior” America, and vice versa.

    I’m only 34 years old, but for most of my adult life it’s been Europe that is touted as being the “better” of the two; usually by other Americans who act like they have to hold their noses every time they come back from an extended trip abroad. Apparently, Europe is waaaaaaaaay cooler than the U.S…..

    Because Europe is socialist.

    Because Europe is more cultured.

    Because Europe is open, sexually.

    Because Europe is ‘diplomatic’ with the rest of the world.

    Because European kids get better test scores.

    Because you can freely smoke pot in Amsterdam.

    Because yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    I’m due to spend three weeks in Italy next year, with the U.S. Army. It’ll be my first trip to Europe, ever. That I’m doing it with the U.S. military is a reminder to me that Europe, not the United States, needed massive augmentation by a foreign military in order to protect it from Communism for the bulk of the last 70 years.

    Likewise, I am reminded that Western Europe needed gargantuan outlays of cash during the reconstruction after World War II.

    I wonder, would Europe’s socialism have been so easy to construct or maintain without a) the U.S. soaking off a tremendous amount of the defense problem, and b) dumping shiploads of dollars into the wrecked European economy, not once, but several times following the surrender of the Reich?

    It’s easy to mock America’s lack of social safety nets, when America has provided Europe with a military safety net for decades.

    Just sayin’…..

  190. Xopher@252

    As a lifelong member of the Religious Society of Friends, let me assure you that there are Quaker nutcases out there, though they tend to be on the more whimsical end of things. We used to have a Friend in New York Yearly Meeting who would run for President every four years on the platform that all the nation’s problems were caused by having left the Biblical calendar of twelve 30-day months, and that a return to Biblical time-keeping would solve everything. He would dress in Biblical robes and travel the country by Greyhound carrying a shepherd’s staff and campaigning wherever the bus stopped.

  191. There are about as many people on the GOP side talking about Obama being a Muslim as there are on the Left talking about Bristol Palin as Trig Palin’s birth mom.

    David, I realize there is a natural tendency by everyone to say “Oh, yeah? But what about when YOU….” but you know this one just ain’t so. The silly Trig Palin rumor was quickly debunked. No Obama supporter came up to him at a meeting or rally and said “I can’t support Palin because her daughter is really Trig’s mother.” Obama isn’t getting booed for saying “No, Palin isn’t Trig’s grandmother, she’s a decent and honorable woman.”

    The issue isn’t whether a GOP blog is pushing the rumor; the issue is that the voting public has caught the dumb and McCain’s campaign is doing nothing to challenge it. Of course there’s nothing wrong with being Muslim; but if your voters think there is, then it’s a useful smear. Just like there’s nothing wrong with being a white father of a black baby, but certain segments of the electorate will find that compelling.

  192. Sub-Odeon,

    In the long run, I fear we have done Europe no favors by sheltering it with our military. Like most free riders, they have become both resentful of and dependent on the aid we have provided. Any fair accounting of “U.S. foreign aid” would include some percentage of the U.S. military budget.

    It is not possible to tease out whether it is Europe’s rejection of Christianity, the loss of generations of her best to war and emigration, her too-generous social welfare programs, or her abandonment of the warrior ethos, but some combination of these has cause severe, possibly fatal harm to her psyche. Mark Steyn’s America Alone is an entertaining way to get the demographics, but the facts themselves are grim. I’d be interested to hear what a thoughtful European readers (like Cory) have to say about the demographic slide (birth rates, aging population, unsustainable welfare policies, unassimilated minorities), its causes, and its outcome.

    Enjoy you TDY to Italy.

    David

  193. mythago,

    Is there an exact numerical equivalence between the Trig Palin rumors and the Obama Muslim rumors? Probably not, that was just the most convenient one off the top of my head. Before you get too cocky, remember that those rumors were hot-n-heavy on dKos until they were diverted by the fact that Bristol was pregnant. My point is that it is not the GOP pushing the Muslim rumor, and they are in fact wasting valuable resources keeping these kooks at arm’s length. Powell speech gives the opposite impression.

    I could have picked other rumors, like the Palin in the AIP, the McCain non-affair the NYT ran on page 1, rampant rumors about McCain’s melanoma history, talk that he’s a Manchurian Candidate. Perhaps these aren’t shouted out at Obama rallies (I don’t know, I have not been to one), but consider a few points before you conclude that Democrats are just smarter, more tolerant, and better looking and smelling while we’re at it:

    1) Would an in-the-tank media report such events if they happened with the same vigor they reported on McCain events?

    2) Given David Axelrod’s use of “astroturfing”, are you sure some of these are not plants?

    3) Given the press bias, might there be different dynamics in how negative rumors on the two candidates reach the public awareness (top-down v. bottom-up)?

    Again, my point was that the Obama-Muslim idea is a fringe element of the campaign. Powell not only used it as an excuse to endorse Obama and trash the GOP, but he then tried to make his self-serving political rehabilitation look like a noble thing.

    Regards,

    David

  194. before you conclude that Democrats are just smarter, more tolerant, and better looking and smelling while we’re at it

    I’m a Republican, actually, but I’m amused that you assumed anyone who seriously calls out the anti-Muslim prejudice the current Republican candidates are using must be a Democrat. I suppose you think William Milliken is a plant, too.

    If you have something credible to show that the people booing McCain’s kind remarks about Obama are plants, or that the woman saying “he’s an Arab” was a plant, kindly share it. I feel very confident that conservative bloggers and Fox and Murdoch media outlets are just as capable of running a background check on suspected plants as Daily Kos is.

    When McCain responds to an anti-Muslim comment, not by saying nice things about Muslims but by saying “no he’s not, he’s a good guy,” when Palin talks about Obama palling around with terrorists – plural, and I don’t think Ayres cloned himself – and when speakers at McCain/Palin rallies repeatedly talk about “Barack Hussein Obama”, then no, it’s not a fringe element and it’s not something the campaign is trying to stamp out.

    If you’d bothered to read Powell’s statement, by the way, he also referred strongly to Bachmann’s poor Joe McCarthy imitation. And to the demonization of Muslims, which is what John’s post was about. (McCain, by the way, issued a very gracious and dignified response to Powell’s endorsement, although I had to smack my head at the notion that endorsements from Kissinger and Haig are a good thing.)

  195. Like most free riders, they have become both resentful of and dependent on the aid we have provided. Any fair accounting of “U.S. foreign aid” would include some percentage of the U.S. military budget.

    Any reckoning of that should include the 3/4 century that the British Navy enforced the Monroe Doctrine for us. With interest, I suspect the bill is quite high.

  196. Sub-Odeon – actually, think you’ve been hearing about Berkeley, CA, not Europe.

    David – Andrew Sullivan is a conservative, not a liberal. He’s just a pro-Obama conservative.

  197. Fuck, yeah. And let me add that it’ll be nice to see the day when atheists/agnostics aren’t tagged with the “Are they really out to destroy us?” bullshit, too.

    @245 And to be clear on my end, there are people who think government persecution of religious cults is totally justified. Hence many who still defend the Branch Dividian massacre.

    Please tell me you understand that the “persecution” of the Branch Davidians took place because they shot and killed four ATF agents and wounded 17 others. Firing automatic weapons at law enforcement is not a very productive way of keeping the government out of your religion.

    @281 Mark Steyn’s America Alone is an entertaining way to get the demographics

    Mark Steyn’s writing loses something when translated from the original German, I think.

  198. David @ 282:

    Yeah, the GOP is putting a whole lot of work into denying that Barack HUSSEIN Obama is a Muslim.

    Apart from the Trig Palin nonsense that Obama clearly declared off-limits, let’s look at your other rumors.

    Palin in the AIP: Good thing you used “in” instead of “and”. Palin’s good buddies at AIP started the “Palin in the AIP” rumor, not some lovely-smelling Democrats. It’s pretty understandable that they got confused, since her husband was “in” the AIP, and she showed up at a couple of their conventions, and generally has treated them as friends and allies.

    Rumors of McCain’s melanoma history: Those aren’t rumors, that’s plain fact. He’s had skin cancer. Since he’s been adamant about refusing the release his medical records (no, giving three reporters a quick glimpse at the 1200 pages of records doesn’t count!), it’s understandable that people wonder what a 72-year-old might be hiding about his health history.

    Manchurian candidate: Sorry, that’s a vintage Rove rumor. Don’t go pinning that on Dems.

  199. Jon,

    Near as I can tell, a couple of speakers at rallies have used Obama’s middle name. In February McCain publicly rebuked a speaker who used BHO’s middle name. If you think a couple of speakers at rallies using it in October counts as some sort of October Surprise, then you think McCain’s campaing is even more inept than I do (and I’m not too keen on it). For all of the 10k or so people who same the rally, the campaign has had to weather a crapstorm of people saying “Now we see the mask slip!”

    Regarding the Palin rumors:
    1) Obama has done a fantastic job of keeping his hands clean, but surrogates like Sullivan have kept up the Trig drumbeat. Sure, it hasn’t had the traction of the Obama/Muslim rumor, but, then again, it’s an order of magnitude more ridiculous.

    2) Re: AIP – It sure would be nice to see as much suriosity devoted to the Obama/New Party connection, seeing as he was claimed by them in some documents. Also, Palin with GOP enemies in AK. Who sould have seen that coming?

    3) Well, the minutes with McCain’s medical record stack up pretty well against the letter from the doctor from Obama. And the rumors are that the melanoma (surgically removed, on no current therapy) will have an impact on McCain in the here and now.

    Cartoon – Boy, did that line bring back memories. Sadly, while witty in 1992, it’s a tad dated. As you seem to have not read the actual book, I’ll not get into an arguement over its contents with you.

    Josh – Other than claiming to be so for marketing purposes, in what meaningful way is Sullivan conservative?

  200. 286 Cartoon Coyote–

    Please tell me you understand that the “persecution” of the Branch Davidians took place because they shot and killed four ATF agents and wounded 17 others. Firing automatic weapons at law enforcement is not a very productive way of keeping the government out of your religion.

    The usual supposition is that the persecution began before the raid and was the cause of the raid. You can’t seriously be claiming that the killings preceded the raid? Strangely, the prosecution produced no automatic weapons in the trial, and there was no guilty verdict by the jury involving them, leading lots of folk to conclude that the only automatic weapons fire was from agents. Some of those agents, btw, may have been killed or wounded by other agents.

  201. quote tags —

    lessthan blockquote greaterthan (no blanks)
    quote
    lessthan slash blockquote greaterthan (no blanks)

  202. mythago,

    Actually, I didn’t call you a Republican. I’ll take your word that you consider yourself one.

    I’m making a distinction with a difference regarding what I see as bigotry on both sides. I don’t dispute that some Republicans hold a prejudiced view of Muslims, I do dispute that any candidate is activey stoking anti-Muslim bigotry. McCain is spending time defending Obama, and you criticize him for not giving chapter and verse Obama talking points. Must he go through “Obama is not a Muslim, not-that-there-is-anything-wrong-with-that” every time someone in the crowd shouts something idiotic?

    I doubt either of us can be entirely sure of the motives of the folks shouting a McCain/Palin rallies. As a McCain partisan, I wish they would shut up, because every little thing gets blared in the evening news. I am only pointing out that Obama’s chief advisor, David Axelrod, has a history of having followers pose as opponents to create strawman arguements. I wish I could share your confidence in FOX (and other Murdoch outlets? What, Sky and the NY Post?) getting to the bottom of this, but I think you need a full MSM to turn a casual citizen’s life inside out, a la Joe the Plumber.

    As for “palling around” with terrorists (plural), well there is Ayers wife, Bernadine Dohrn. If that’s not enough, then longtime friend Rashid Khalidi is just one degree of seperation with his ties to the PLO. If that’s not palling around in your book, I’m still willing to bet it’s 2 more terrorists than anyone on this thread has had coffee with.

  203. At several of the commenters above: you all make good points, but they’re not what I was talking about. I wasn’t trying to turn it into a let’s-compare-awesomeness contest.

    It’s just that lately I’ve been taking an increasing interest in the American election and their politics in general, and one recurring annoyance is that your politicians *have* to pander to American patriotism. It grates when a politician/person I otherwise admire and support goes on about how America is the greatest country on earth – and not just because it might or might not be their personal opinion, but because that doesn’t matter, because if you say anything *but* that, they’d be summarily rejected by the majority of the country. Absolutely, many individuals criticise America and are open to the idea that there are other countries out there, that there might be something to learn from them (the same way we learn a lot from America) and help to be gained from them, like right after Katrina, when the Dutch offered their help and expertise – though that was rejected at first and only accepted when more levees broke. (And in other ways, you’ve helped us.) But that doesn’t seem to be the leading attitude.

    I’m not saying Europe is better. We absolutely have our problems, many of them stated above. As someone who lives in Amsterdam, I’m increasingly worried about the continuing problems here with Muslim youth. Young girls are disappearing from schools because they’re wedded out in their home countries. Youth are radicalising – an eight year old on the street was interviewed as saying it’s perfectly OK to murder your sister if she’s seen walking hand-in-hand with a boy. Our ambulance personnel is receiving death threats on a constant basis, 95% of which is by Muslim youths. In one city, busses temporarily had to take detours around a certain neighbourhood because they kept being threatened and assaulted – by Muslim youths. On prominent Moroccan forums, criticism of the Dutch is abundant. All Dutch women are sluts, all Dutch men are wimps. Our well-known tolerance and gay culture? Forget it, because men walking hand-in-hand are being assaulted on the streets by Muslims. Worse, these might be isolated incidents (opinions vary) but the rest of the “sane” Muslim population doesn’t speak out against these things, and many others who would never participate in such things themselves stick by their “Muslim brothers” regardless. Last year, a mentally ill Muslim man walked into a police station and stabbed two police officers severely. One of them, despite being gravely injured, managed to shoot him as he was hacking in on her colleague and he died. They called this a racist event. A memorial was held for the man in the mosque a few feet away from the police station. There were some riots and cars were set on fire in the neighbourhood. (I work there – parking was a breeze for the next few weeks.) It’s an increasing problem and it’s cementing the native population’s opinions of Muslims, creating a deeper rift between the two groups and further continuing the problem. Many of our politicians are too far left to dare speak up against it, because it’s “racist” and “unfair”, seemingly failing to understand that it’s not the Muslim faith that’s the problem, but integration of their culture with ours, our failures in helping them integrate when we first brought them here, our persistent tolerance of intolerance, the grouping together of Muslims in shoddy neighbourhoods and our current weak-minded attitudes. That they’re Muslim is not the cause – but that doesn’t mean that when going after the problem with these youths, you can completely negate it as a factor.

    That turned out a bit long! But it’s an example of a long-standing problem in our country (and to varying degrees in other European countries as well) that’s getting worse and worse. So there’s my opinion on that. So believe me, in no way do I think that Europe is superior to the US. I’m quite heavily ingrained in American culture – most of my friends are American, I write books set there, I almost exclusively read American books and watch American tv and I follow your news. I like a lot about your country. But it’s kneejerk reactions like the above that bother me – I criticise the country’s superior attitudes and the immediate retaliation is “yeah, but we’re helping you with our military so we’re still awesome! We helped you in the past! And besides, this and this and this totally sucks about Europe!” and you continue to bask in your awesomeness. All I was doing was counter specific examples of someone citing why America is better than other countries. In a similar way, people often give examples of people coming to America and rising to fame as a politician or actor and saying, “Only in America could you have a story like this!” when that’s just not true. It’s a trend I’ve noticed: every positive thing about your country is immediately turned into something that could only happen in America and only America could do. America may have its flaws and people may point them out, but most prominent figures still seem contractually obligated to add that it’s still the greatest country out there because they’ll persevere! And if they don’t add that disclaimer, they’re roundly criticised for it.

    While there are certainly individual aspects of your country that could be worked on – the same way every country has its problems – I wasn’t arguing those. Especially with the current election, a lot of your problems are being looked at in various ways (and I’d really like the occasional shake-up here where we take a step back, analyse our problems and go in to fix them), and I wish you the best of luck with all of that. I was arguing the attitude that seems so inherent and even normal over there. I hear stories from my American friends who had to cite the pledge of allegiance every day at school with their hand over their hearts and that kind of spoon-fed patriotism is mind-boggling to me – as well as the confusion and anger from their peers and families when they didn’t want to participate. I see interviews with “regular Americans” on the street going on about how amazing America is. If something like that were to happen here, they’d be laughed at in their face. The prominence of the American flag. Are those problems in and of themselves? I suppose not. But the attitude that seems to be responsible for it – yeah, I think that could be worked on. Can’t you guys do your good things without immediately making it all about America as a country? Then others might stop making the bad things all about America as a country, too.

    Yes, you’ve helped us with your military. You’ve helped us with your money. We’re grateful for it, the same way we’re grateful to other countries who did the same thing. Not to mention that we’ve helped you with a lot of things too. Try to look at it as a mutually beneficial relationship instead of as charity, and when other countries criticise the US when their failings take our economy in a deserted alleyway and beat it up, and when your wars kill our soldiers, and when your aspiring presidents continually spout off how much more fabulous you are than us — don’t be so *offended* when people might not see the US as the pinnacle of all that is good in the world.

  204. I was going to write something – but Cory’s major post blew it away!

    The only thing I can add is this:

    “My country is the best in the world” (or it will be, or my new country will be)

    Most people believe this, whether they are from Russia, France, China or Ethiopia. If they didn’t then ultimately they’ll either try and change things or leave (there are plenty of people doing that mind).

    I think it’s safe to assume that if people willingly stay in a country they are unlikely to believe that it is an irredeemable shithole.

    It is therefore inevitable that loudly shouting country XYZ sucks will not win you any friends.

    And it is best to leave preconceptions at the door – there is some truely heinous propaganda about, even (and in some ways especially) in a land with a free press!

    People and cultures are shaped by THEIR history and geography, not YOUR history and geography – solutions that work for you may be disasterous for them

    Take people as you find them, don’t just read the label.

  205. Re: 125 #Mankel

    Mankel,

    I was not debating whether you were faking it, my point was I CANNOT, and because I CAN’T I have a hard time believing that anyone can fake it for that long for gain.

    That’s my opinion, but I respectfully disagree with yours that the Senator could be an Atheist.

  206. Cory – Many of our politicians are too far left to dare speak up against it, because it’s “racist” and “unfair”, seemingly failing to understand that it’s not the Muslim faith that’s the problem, but integration of their culture with ours, our failures in helping them integrate when we first brought them here, our persistent tolerance of intolerance, the grouping together of Muslims in shoddy neighbourhoods and our current weak-minded attitudes.

    I don’t think we have any concerted program of integration in the US, and we have a fairly large Muslim population in places like New York or Minnesota.

  207. I’ll admit to being completely oblivious as to the current situation with Muslims in the US. Any idea what the percentage is? Do you have similar problems to us?

    Random facts for comparison: I know here in Amsterdam the most common boy’s name is Mohammed (and variations thereof), 55% of our teenagers are Muslim, and they’re likely to be a majority soon – immigration aside, they have a much higher birth rate than the native Dutch. I’m pretty sure that we have a higher percentage of them in the problem areas here (mainly the big cities) than in the US. Generally speaking, it’s easier to integrate people in a society when they’re not all tossed onto a single pile, which is what’s happening here in many neighbourhoods.

  208. Cory,

    It sounds like you are living through the problem most famously summarized by James Bennett in 2005:

    “Democracy, Immigration, Multiculturalism — Pick Any Two”

    This is a cousin to my own defense of American Exceptionalism (which too often devolves into unthinking patriotism). American is exceptionally because she is exceptionally free. Generally, that exceptionalism is good (economic growth, innovations, entertainment), and at times less so. As a general rule, countries which allow greater freedom thrive, and I support policies which I believe will enhance or preserve freedom in the U.S. and the world generally. I consider the American experiment with a Republic to be just that. At slightly more than 2 centuries, it is far too early to think that this won’t collapse in “bread and circuses” or civil war. If our politicians sometimes pander, I hope it at least convinces our citizens to take care to preserve what we have.

    A lot of casual false equivalences between Christianity and Islam have been tossed around on this thread. In my opinion, the fact that the U.S. is, in broad terms, a practicing Christian nation which is tolerant of other religions, is closely related to these freedoms. Sadly, as the Netherlands generally has moved away from Christianity, we are seeing what happens when a country transitions from secular and tolerant to a majority of a religion that is generally intolerant of other religions. In all seriousness, have you drawn a mental line in the sand? When X happens, it’s time to leave/fight/convert?

  209. “Democracy, Immigration, Multiculturalism — Pick Any Two”

    What are they teaching in schools today? You’re aware that America was _built_ by immigration from a wide range of different cultures, right? And that–despite the melting pot myth–those cultures mixed pretty uneasily a lot of the time?

    I was going to wait til the end of the term to give the final, but I’ll preview some of the questions now:

    1. What does “NINA” mean?
    2. How many Russian language newspapers were there in NYC in 1900?
    3. List any 25 nations who sent substantial immigrants to the United States.
    4. Name a President of the United States who was not born in the USA.

  210. David (there really are a lot of us, aren’t there?),

    Not quite sure about the whole “melting pot myth”. I don’t think it was ever quite as happy as it was depicted in Schoolhouse Rock, but the point is that that WAS one of our defining myths. Now the idea of assimilation is viewed as part of the unending tyranny of the Dead White European Males. Seriously, do you really not see a shift in this, or do you see a shift and think that it is no big deal or a good thing?

    1) Do you mean “Niña” – that would be “little girl” in Spanish
    2) pointless trivia that I HOPE you aren’t making kids memorize for a test.
    3) Wouldn’t it be more interesting to talk about countries who don’t immigrate (former East Germany, USSR, N Korea) and what ties them together.
    4) All before Van Buren plus W. H. Harrison (hope you don’t let the kids use Google)

  211. David 300: I’m astonished that you don’t know what NINA means, that you don’t know its importance, and that you admit to these things. And no, he didn’t mean ‘niña’. It’s an acronym, NINA. And he’s not talking about Hirschfeld drawings, either.

    And btw Germany (before it was divided) sent so many immigrants to the US that German is now the most common ethnicity in this country.

  212. I agree that the “melting pot” was a myth; it was a good and well-intentioned myth, but there never has been something like an American Alloy.

    It was much more of an American Stew, a Stone Soup, with parts and flavors of the different cultures mingling together, but with nuggets of Finland, Germany, Norway, India, Vietnam, Texas, Lebanon, Scotland, …(I forget all of the family ancestories)… and Native American, all contributing to the whole, and being changed by the whole.

    Like the feast table laden at our Cousin’s Picnic every year. Grandpa and Grandma T were Pennsylvania Dutch + Mennonite but their children married into a dozen other cultures, and their grandchildren a hundred more. With superb foods from many (typically twenty or thirty) cultures spread before them, as well as “boring American” (hot dogs, buns, potato salad without garlic or mustard, potato chips, chocolate sheet cake), some still want to go across the street and get Burger King. There’s no accounting for taste.

    Those who want to send it all through a food grinder and make American Amalgam of it have missed the wonder and glory of sharing, and want to compel mush.

  213. Xopher,

    I’ve heard of “No Irish need apply”, but I don’t recall seeing it as an acronym. BTW, the story of the Irish illustrates my point perfectly well. While initially confined to ghettos, they assimilated into the larger US. With any wave of mass immigration, there will be backlash by those already there. In the past, the overall paradigm was that the culture shifted a little, as it took on a bit of the flavor of the incoming group, but the incoming group shifted a great deal. Contrast that to the Netherlands, where the culture is shifting a great deal and the immigrants not so much.

    Again, getting back to my sincere question to David (above), do you really not see a shift, or do you see a shift and think it is no big deal or a good thing?

    BTW re: your btw – umm, that was sort of the point of writing “former East Germany”. With the Stasi in chage, it was pretty hard to leave.

  214. htom,

    I can wholeheartedly endore the merits of having non-English cultures bring their cooking to the table.

    I don’t think anyone is arguing that American culture should be monolithic and unchanging. I don’t wan’t American Mush, and you can take the salsa from my cold, dead hands. Still, there are two special cases that need to be honestly discussed:

    1) Previous “waves” of immigrants have been followed by immigration restriction, as the new group is absorbed into the culture. Is the current Latin American immigration to the U.S. different in scale, because of an open land border, because of changes in attitudes about assimilation, or some combination?

    2) Is the Muslim immigration to Europe particularly prone avoiding assimilation and to forcing the dominant culture to change to suit them?

  215. but the point is that that WAS one of our defining myths.

    It was a myth honored more in breach than observance. The situation in the late 19th century looked almost exactly identical to now. Lots of immigrants (with darker-hued skins and strange religions) coming into the United States and lots of hand wringing about how they kept to themselves and would never assimilate and how their strange religions would undermine the moral fabric of America. Except then, the people were Irish and Italian and Greek, and the religion was Catholicism.

    1) Do you mean “Niña” – that would be “little girl” in Spanish

    xopher’s already pointed out the correct answer: No Irish Need Apply. NINA was run in newspaper ads (jobs wanted) to make sure that Irish emigrants wouldn’t apply. One of the reasons behind the stereotyped image of Irish cops is because that was one job that was open.


    2) pointless trivia that I HOPE you aren’t making kids memorize for a test.

    *Not* pointless trivia, but an example of how immigrants in the 19th century *didn’t* immediately integrate, but kept to their own people and language.

    Immigrant integration has almost always gone the same way in the U.S.: first generation arrives, is badly treated, keeps to itself, doesn’t really learn the language or the customs. Second generation is more integrated, speaks both English and the language of the homeland, tends to be more connected to American customs. Third generation is almost completely integrated, speaks English (and often not the language of the homeland) and buys into American culture completely.

    This happened in the 19th century, it happened in the early 20th (most popular game in the Japanese-American internment camps in WWII? Baseball), and it’s likely to happen with both Hispanics arriving in the U.S. and muslim immigrants. Hell, it’s already happening with both of those groups.

    (the answer, btw, is ‘dozens'; an exact figure is hard to come by because they went in and out of business so quickly).


    3) Wouldn’t it be more interesting to talk about countries who don’t immigrate (former East Germany, USSR, N Korea) and what ties them together.

    Lots of Germans immigrated to the U.S. in the 19th century, as did Russians, Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, and so on.

    The point–which you missed–was that almost no one is native to this land, except, of course, Native Americans. The spectacle of the descendants of earlier immigrants piously mouthing the same canards that were used against their ancestors against a new wave of immigrants is impressive, to say the least.

    4) All before Van Buren plus W. H. Harrison (hope you don’t let the kids use Google)

    That one was too easy.

  216. David – Murdoch also owns a quaint little daily called the Wall Street Journal. Your evidence that the bigots showing up at McCain rallies are “plants” is limited to saying that they COULD be, and no conservative newspaper, blogger or cable empire is capable of ferreting out the truth. This sort of thing is why Democrats make cracks about the “reality-based community.”

    It is very unfortunate that you consider refutation of anti-Muslim prejudice to be an Obama talking point. It is pretty obvious that you are a McCain partisan; what you don’t understand is that blind partisanship does not convince thinking people to come around to your candidate’s point of view. So when (unlike McCain himself) McCain’s supporters shriek that Colin Powell only backed Obama because they’re both black, and ignore or denounce any Republican who fails to pretend the negative, smear-campaign tactics are only done by Democrats, you are going to lose support. And money. And votes.

    By the way, l presenting the correct form of ‘free’ government as one that is Christian but tolerates other faiths: I think that when Islam does it, we criticize that as intolerant, don’t we?

  217. Sadly, there are those who want to freeze it, preferably in a form that I think never existed at all. So far they have not succeeded, but that doesn’t mean they’re not trying. Part of their attitude, I think, is a reaction to the rapid changes coming from some of the immigrant’s attitudes about USAian language and culture.

    I remember as a child in Montana in the early 1950’s seeing signs “No Jews”, “No Catholics”, and “No Germans” (not all in the same store), and being confused in the late 1950’s on a family vacation to Florida about the “White” and “Colored” signs (the culmination of which was pointing out to the elderly black man that the water to the two fountains came from the same pipe, and why should I drink from the one marked “white” rather than “colored”, when both were metal, and neither of them was white, or colored, the sign was just wrong?)

    This is the first I’ve seen “NINA” as an acronym for No Irish Need Apply, and the first I’ve heard of the song, too.

    I think there are a couple of things going on. The “undefended” border is part of it. I was shocked the first time I was stopped in California at what appeared to be an internal border point (but I’d never heard of such a thing in the USA) and had ID demanded of me. (That encounter would have gone much better, if the guard hadn’t opened the conversation with “Papers” and holding out his hand. That I replied “Papieren, Bitte?” didn’t help, of course!)

    The appearance of a refusal to assimilate (and the accompanying signs in Spanish in the major stores — where were the signs in Hmong, Somali, Arabic, …?) It’s very different walking into (say) Target and seeing signs in Spanish than walking into United Noodle and seeing signs in Chinese, Thai, Japanese, … (and mostly neither English nor Spanish!)

    The really screwed up official immigration mess in the USA (I refuse to call it a system) doesn’t help.

    In both the USA and in Europe there seems to be an “in your face” attitude of “my way is better and I’m here so you deal with me on my terms” which is very different than the attitude that previous generations have had. It almost seems designed to provoke confrontations.

  218. The phrase “no Irish need apply” was so common in New York at one time that the abbreviation was universally understood. And btw the assimilation of the Irish did not take place without considerable violence. And they never changed their “funny” religion, even so.

  219. Someone who is a Obama supporter isn’t the same as another Obama supporter and the same for McCain supporters. And not everyone in a Red state is conservative Republican. Not everyone in a Blue state is liberal Democrat. Red and blue folk and the colors in between usually live right next door to each other in small towns and cities. Progressives live in Colorado. Conservatives live in California. They’ve been trying to paint the country in all or nothing colors, but the U.S. just doesn’t break down that way. There are avowed racists who plan to vote for Obama. There are Muslim supporters of McCain.

    When some conservatives who believed viral information that Obama is a socialist with ties to radical Islam tried to give out bumperstickers and pamphlets outside a McCain rally, Muslim and Christian supporters of McCain argued fiercely against them, saying that they weren’t racist, that they didn’t believe it and to stop the Muslim bashing. One of these people was McCain’s Maryland campaign coordinator, who is a Muslim and who said that the people with the bumperstickers didn’t speak for the campaign.

    But the McCain camp won’t for the moment let this staff person be interviewed by the press, even though it would presumably help the McCain campaign’s image quite a bit. And Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager, told a reporter that not only did insinuating Obama lied about his relationship with William Ayres make for good discussion, but that it was fun.

    Which is a reminder that the people running McCain’s campaign at the top aren’t racists and aren’t really neo-conservatives. They’re opportunists, who will use race and other tactics to win the election. But they don’t seem very adaptable or competent or to particularly care about the scandals they are pushing, which often contradict each other. The main body of Americans — the centerist voters McCain needs — are unhappy McCain’s campaign is doing this and more worried about the economy. These tactics are costing McCain endorsements, Republican supporters, and conservatives who aren’t neo-cons. McCain’s supporters are tired of it, as they showed at their own rally. They don’t like Palin doing it either and it’s part of why she is being viewed negatively by many. This approach is not working; it’s losing McCain the election. So why do Davis and his staff keep doing it? Because it’s fun? Because they’ve been secretly hired to destroy the rest of McCain’s career?

    The McCain campaign actually announced that since it couldn’t win on issues, it was going to try to distract people about personality issues. But I think if McCain had stuck to issues, it would have actually been a tighter race all this time. Because the personality they destroyed is his. And the red-blue absolute pictures they drew in the campaign are going to hurt us for a long time, I think.

  220. mythago,

    So now I’m an unthinking partisan? Ooookay. Again, what I objected to was a logic trap Powell created akin to “when did you stop beating your wife?” It’s not McCain’s job to defend Islam. He would very much (I imagine) like to move on to almost ANY topic besides Obama’s non-Muslim faith. Why to you think these stories keep making the news? Because they hurt McCain, not Obama.

    I’ve tried twice to get you to engage in the “astroturf” possibility. Vetting random voices in the crowd seems to be a tall order for Rupert Murdoch and FOX, even if you throw in the WSJ for good measure. If you have any curiosity, google “axelrod astroturf” and take the link to the Mother Jones article (clearly written before Obama had the nomination in hand). Phoney grassroots efforts are this guy’s calling card. At the end of the day, though, with the burden of proof on me, I conceed that a non-trivial minority back McCain partly out of the mistaken belief that Obama is Muslim and that is bad. Equally bad, a non-trivial minority consider Obama’s ethnic background to be a reason to vote for him. It’s not the way I wish our electorate voted, but it is who we are.

    BTW – I don’t think Powell backed Obama because of their shared ethnicity. i think he wants to rehabilitate his image after the Iraq War and preserve his politacal viability; he sees Obama as the best vehicle for this. Still, it is an interesting thought problem to imagine whether or not he would have backed Hillary, had she won the nomination.

  221. The appearance of a refusal to assimilate (and the accompanying signs in Spanish in the major stores — where were the signs in Hmong, Somali, Arabic, …?) It’s very different walking into (say) Target and seeing signs in Spanish than walking into United Noodle and seeing signs in Chinese, Thai, Japanese, … (and mostly neither English nor Spanish!)

    Had you gone to major cities in the 19th century, you would have seen the same sort of bi- (or tri) lingual signage in a lot of areas, except it would have been Italian, Russian, etc.

  222. David,

    You wrote:
    “The situation in the late 19th century looked almost exactly identical to now. “,
    but there are some important differences 9land border, language, labor laws, multiculturalism. We agree that an immigration pause would be typical now. I’m arguing that it is necessary to allow the new immigrants to assimilate. Can we agree that there is a point where immigration actually WILL fundamentally alter the receiving culture, even if we disagree about whether we have reached that point?

    The difference between the Irish and Japanese immigrants versus Latin American immigrants in the U.S. and Muslim immigrants in Europe is that the former’s immigration was by nature a 1-way ticket. A contigous border changes that. You mentioned the typical 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation progression, but you left out the fact that in Europe, some of the most violent Muslims are 2nd generation (like the Tube bombers). Why isn’t your progression being followed? Is there a risk that the current Hispanic immigrants will also not follow the old pattern?

    Regarding the number of Russian papers – no problem if the answer is “dozens”, but a bit of wasted effort if it is “32”, and no partial credit.

    Finally, you wrote:

    “The point–which you missed–was that almost no one is native to this land, except, of course, Native Americans.”

    My point, which you missed, is that this is blindingly obvious. A more sublte examination of this topic might look at issues like immigrant effects of wages and crime, in addition to the poor treatment of immigrants by displaced prior emigrees. I’m not defending what was done, just pointing out that there was more than “fear of the dusky Other” at work.

  223. Cory: It’s a trend I’ve noticed: every positive thing about your country is immediately turned into something that could only happen in America and only America could do.

    This really rang a bell for me. “Only in America!” I hate that phrase. My friend and I nearly started throwing things at the TV (and goodness knows it wasn’t the appliance’s fault) when one of the birght, chipper Olympics announcers said that of a U.S. gymnist’s success. I mean, No, you idiot, not “only in America,” you’ll notice that other countries’ teams win gold medals too from time to time. Tell you the truth, I don’t know what that announcer was even thinking. Maybe someone can enlighten me.

  224. important differences 9land border, language, labor laws, multiculturalism

    There are definitely differences, but I’m not sure how important they are. Nor am I sure that we agree on what their effects are.

    Border? Maybe, in the sense that it brings first point of contact to rural areas rather than urban ones.

    Language? In what sense? They weren’t speaking Spanish?

    Labor Laws? In what sense?

    Multiculturalism? The U.S. was even more multicultural in the 19th century than it is now.

    We agree that an immigration pause would be typical now. I’m arguing that it is necessary to allow the new immigrants to assimilate

    We don’t agree on that, actually, and note that the Irish, Germans, and Italians had all essentially assimilated by the time serious immigration restrictions started in the 1920s.

    American immigrants in the U.S. and Muslim immigrants in Europe is that the former’s immigration was by nature a 1-way ticket

    Not remotely true. Roughly 50% of Italian immigrants, for example, went home to Italy. That’s another part of the melting pot myth, I’m afraid.

    You mentioned the typical 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation progression, but you left out the fact that in Europe, some of the most violent Muslims are 2nd generation

    And? I’m not speaking of Europe, I’m speaking of the United States. European nations have not handled immigration all that well (France in particular) and it’s coming back to bite them. By comparison, the U.S. has done pretty well with new immigrants, for all the obvious problems, and native-born children of immigrants have been remarkably patriotic.

    (Google 442nd Regimental Combat Team for an example)

    My point, which you missed, is that this is blindingly obvious.

    Since you missed the point in the first response, I’m not sure how blindingly obvious it was.

  225. Italian immigrants often go home to Italy even today. Sometimes because they don’t like it here, but sometimes it was their plan all along to come here, make a modest pile of money, then go back to Italy and be rich.

    How the Euro has affected that I’m not sure. But in the days of the Lira it sure worked.

  226. David,

    “Language? In what sense? They weren’t speaking Spanish?” – In a couple of subtle ways that you seem to be missing. Well-intentioned government programs like primary school instruction in Spanish or driver’s license exams in native language in California. I believe these reduce the incentive to learn English, contributing to a parallel, unassimilated culture.

    “Multiculturalism? The U.S. was even more multicultural in the 19th century than it is now.” – Speaking of multiculturalism as a philosophy, not of the multiplicity of cultures.

    Border: is the rural/city divide really the only one you can think of? How about how much time and money it takes? How easy it might be to make the journey while pregnant? Whether it is easy enough to go back that you could leave your family at home a visit frequently? This plays into going back. So 50% of Italian immigrants returned to Italy? How many came back to the US again? Then returned to Italy? Then back to the US a third time? This was very hard for 19th century Italians, not so hard for someone commuting between Tijuana and San Diego.

    Well, the facts of peak/valley cycles of immigration are pretty indisputable. I count 5 of them from 1850 to 1940. there’s no way to prove whether the restrictions after the peaks were necessary or an overcorrection, but it does appear to have worked out in the end. the current 15-year stretch of high immigration does not have a precedent that I can see.

    We agree that Europe has not done as well as the US. My point is that I believe our trend lines in terms of assimilation are in the wrong direction. A researcher at Duke, Dr. Jacob Vigdor (PhD Harvard, Econ.), agrees. He has written that immigrant assimilation (measured by similarity to the culture they left) is at a lower level than at any point during the early 20th century wave of immigration. Crisis? Maybe not yet. Warning sign? I think so.

    David

  227. Kareem…

    Your life was not lost in vain my friend. Of course I don’t expect you to be reading this…but I understand your pain, as well as your mother’s.

    I am vet. I understand why you felt this…calling. I am also a mother. When your child makes a decision to defend the country he belives in…you cannot discount it. You can only let them do as their soul pulls them to do.

    Lord knows, my parents, twice over (my brother and me) received many calls saying “we can’t tell you where we are going, but hopefully we will call you and tell you we are okay.”

    To Kareem’s mother…

    He is not lost in vain. I am so sorry for your loss. Again, as a mother, I can only imagine the pain you feel…Knowing that part of you is gone. But he did what he felt was right…He defended something he felt he needed to do. I respect you for allowing him to do it…and I respect him…for doing it. No matter what we others may feel. There is no pain greater than losing a child…My heart is with you. I am not a religious woman…but I hope, that you find comfort in what he has done. Regardless, of how many of us feel.

    I am so sorry for your loss. I am so sorry, that I feel as though it was unneccessary. But your son…he did it because of what he believed. And I respect him so much for that.

    Thank you to him. And thank you to you for bringing such a good person into this world so that he would give his life for what he believed. It is a testament for the wonderful person that you raised.

    My blessings be to you.

  228. In a couple of subtle ways that you seem to be missing. Well-intentioned government programs like primary school instruction in Spanish or driver’s license exams in native language in California. I believe these reduce the incentive to learn English, contributing to a parallel, unassimilated culture.

    (Bangs head gently on the desk). I can’t be missing the point, if the point isn’t actually _true_.

    Lots of government stuff done in other languages in the 19th century. This includes schooling all the way up to high school and so on. Obviously not driver’s license exams, given the lack of cars, but just about everything else was conducted in languages as varied as Italian, Russian, and so on. What’s going on in California is absolutely not new.

    Speaking of multiculturalism as a philosophy, not of the multiplicity of cultures.

    The kind of multiculturalism that leads an organization to print its basic instructions in a variety of different languages so that all can understand?

    (Of course, in this case, I’m talking about the U.S. Army in the 1870s and 80s).

    This was very hard for 19th century Italians, not so hard for someone commuting between Tijuana and San Diego.

    And? God forbid America build up strong connections with its neighbors. Wouldn’t want there to be cross-cultural ties of friendship or anything.

    but it does appear to have worked out in the end.

    Since one of the reasons why Japanese-American relations soured in the 1920s and 30s was because of increasingly tight restrictions on Japanese immigration, I’m not nearly as sanguine as you.

    but it does appear to have worked out in the end. the current 15-year stretch of high immigration does not have a precedent that I can see.

    In terms of ratio to overall population, the current stretch isn’t even close to the top.

    1901-1910: about 8 million immigrants in a population of 76 million (over 10%)
    1851-1860: about 2.5 million immigrants in a population of 23 million (over 10%)
    1991-2000: about 9 million immigrants in a population of 281 million (about 3%)

    And the top two were just ones I eyeballed; there are _a lot_ of others over 5%.

    Jacob Vigdor

    If http://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/11295.html is what you’re looking at, then note that he starts his analysis in 1910, _after_ the greatest wave of emigration had ended.

  229. David, raising a possibility with no shred of proof is not “engaging”. It’s rumor-mongering. If you have something other than innuendo, like, oh, I dunno…evidence? that any of the bigots at McCain’s rallies, or expressing bigoted views in support of McCain, are plants, I’m all ears.

    McCain is free to take whatever position he pleases. But if the position he takes is a public statement that he sees being Muslim as a bad thing, incompatible with being a good family man, then you need not to whine that your candidate is being taken at his word.

    You, by the way, are the one who referred to yourself as “partisan”. Not as a supporter, or one who merely agrees that McCain is the better choice, but as someone who is strongly biased in favor of a particular candidate.

  230. 297 –

    I’ll admit to being completely oblivious as to the current situation with Muslims in the US. Any idea what the percentage is? Do you have similar problems to us? </i?

    So far as I know, no. If we did, they’d make the news in a big way. I have no exact explanation as to why, but we ust don’t seem to. I could be wrong, but that’s what see on a day to day basis – People of European descent and Muslims interact every day in New York City. We’ve certainly never had riots or murders of film makers that I’ve known of. And we’ve also got a huge Orthodox Jewish population, so you’d expect there to be lots of tensions. But Muslims who come to live in the USA seem to like being Americans. There’s very little sense of separation.

    Random facts for comparison: I know here in Amsterdam the most common boy’s name is Mohammed (and variations thereof), 55% of our teenagers are Muslim, and they’re likely to be a majority soon – immigration aside, they have a much higher birth rate than the native Dutch.

    And in a decade or so, Hispanics will outnumber whites in the US. But “whites” in the US are from a variety of European sources, so we don’t seem to have the singular dominant race/culture that you do. Perhaps that’s part of the difference?

    Mind you, conservatives in the US are getting seriously scared about the coming Hispanic majority. There’s all sorts of nonsese about a “fifth column” and the Aztlan movement. It’s racist scaremongering to be sure, but liberals and moderates don’t really care. People come to America to be Americans. Not just for work, and to have a separate culture. I live in a Dominican neighborhood – the Dominican mini diaspora resulted in a huge Dominican American population. These people integrated well.

    Generally speaking, it’s easier to integrate people in a society when they’re not all tossed onto a single pile, which is what’s happening here in many neighbourhoods.

    Not really. In New York, we’ve got massive amounts of cultural enclaves. Indian, Pakistani, Korean, Japanese, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Jewish, various African nations, Chinese.

    This is much the same in other US cities. We absorb immigrant groups really well here, with much less tension. It wasn’t always this way. We’ve had race riots. We were horribly abusive to immigrants. But now we’re not, and lots of groups are integrating well.

    Don’t listen to “Democracy, Immigration, Multiculturalism — Pick Any Two”. The ‘liberal enclaves of multculturalism’ actually do a fantastic job of integrating new cultures into the US.

    David – “Language? In what sense? They weren’t speaking Spanish?” – In a couple of subtle ways that you seem to be missing. Well-intentioned government programs like primary school instruction in Spanish or driver’s license exams in native language in California. I believe these reduce the incentive to learn English, contributing to a parallel, unassimilated culture.

    In regards to the license issue, not every member of an Immigrant family will speak English, and there are lots of immigrants in CA, including the highly skilled ones on H1-B visas in the software industry. The contribute a lot to the economy. They have family members who might want to drive, but don’t speak English. Separating these people from the world by prohibiting them from driving unless they learn English is just insulting.

  231. First, regarding the numbers. I believe you are using the number for documented immigrants. Undocumented immigrants nearly double that number, are rising rapidly (or were until this year) and are a relatively new phenomenon (on this scale). I’m less confident than you that previous patterns of assimilation can be applied to undocumented immigrants. Other differences include the fact that the current uptick has lasted for 15 years, longer than all previous surges, and has yet to have a clear drop off. Also, population levels cut both ways. Yes, the higher US population reduces the immigration numbers as a percentage, but it also means the population density will increase more rapidly. We still are relatively non-dense compared to Europe, but it is another factor you are ignoring.

    Re: Vigdor:
    No, I’m using this paper published on the Manhattan Institute website, which starts its analysis in 1900.

    http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_53.htm

    Funny, I have always heard that Japanese Imperial aggression in the 1920’s and 30’s had a bit to do with the souring of the relationship with the US.

    Finally, what I think is the most contentious point between us:

    You say, essentially, the melting pot is a myth, and the current wave of immigration is not dramatically different from previous waves.

    I say that, while policies similar to the current policies in California have historical precedents, those precedents did not occur on the current scale, and the goal of assimilation was never under such negative political pressure. Reading through Dr. Vigdor’s work (which I think you might also find interesting) supports this to a degree (Mexican immigrants are particularly low in their assimilation index), but also supports that the country overall still is good at assimilating immigrants.

    In the end, all I am saying is that the US appears to need periods of rest between the boluses of new immigrants. I think a great deal of our national vigor in the 21st century will come from Latin American immigrants. But I also think we are due for a slow down. I don’t believe that is racist, rather, I think it is historically how his country has grown and thriven.

    Regards,

    David

  232. Undocumented immigrants nearly double that number, are rising rapidly (or were until this year) and are a relatively new phenomenon (on this scale)

    Even all of those are true, it would bring immigration into the U.S. up to about 6% of the overall population, still well below the 1851-60 period and 1901-1910 period.

    And you’re assuming that there was no illegal immigration before the present, which is a bad assumption. Lots of Chinese immigrants were smuggled in in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

    No, I’m using this paper published on the Manhattan Institute website, which starts its analysis in 1900.

    Which is hardly better, since it ignores the half-century of massive immigration starting in the 1840s.

    Funny, I have always heard that Japanese Imperial aggression in the 1920’s and 30’s had a bit to do with the souring of the relationship with the US.

    (Bangs head on table again). Yes, that’s why I said that American racial exclusion laws were “one of the reasons.” As in, there was more than one reason.

    Yes, the higher US population reduces the immigration numbers as a percentage, but it also means the population density will increase more rapidly.

    Actually, since illegal immigrants are tending to come across rural borders, they’re _not_ increasing population density as much as they did in the late 19th century. That era was the great wave of urbanization in the U.S., at a rate unequaled since then.

    I say that, while policies similar to the current policies in California have historical precedents, those precedents did not occur on the current scale, and the goal of assimilation was never under such negative political pressure.

    And I’m saying that not only are both of those things not true, they’re almost completely the opposite of the truth. The scale in the 19th was _much_ larger, not smaller and assimilation was viewed in a much worse light.

    Is there a political party these days which was explicitly founded on an anti-immigration platform and nothing else? A political party that took 20% of the vote and 8 electorals votes away from the two main parties in a Presidential election?

    There was in the 1850s. Look up “Know-nothings”

  233. David,

    Regarding Dr. Vigdor’s analysis, the events of the 1850’s while they illustrate my point (which I’ll get back to), do not refute his contention that assimilation is at a 110-year low. If you want to claim a rhetorical point that assimilation was worse in the 1850’s, be my guest.

    However, is that really what you want to hold out as an example? If anything, that era proves my point: that there is a tipping point for unassimilated immigrants beyond which a country’s institutions begin to break down. The Netherlands is at that point now. If, for the sake of argument, we accept that documented plus undocumented immigration into the US was 6% over 10 years, the current era of increased rate has continued for close to _20_ years now. At this point, your “It was worse in 1850 before the Civil War” argument loses its appeal. I guess the question I’d like you to address is whether 1.5M legal immigrants plus perhaps that many again undocumented per year is sustainable in perpetuity, or do you also see a tipping point, just not the same one I see?

    I’m not assuming _no_ prior undocumented immigration, just that the scale of the problem has greatly increased beginning in the 1970’s

    Finally, a bit about population density. US population density as a whole is pop./area, so it is actually rising. Even if the point I think you probably meant were true, that _urban_ density is not being affected, that still doesn’t mean that we can be more confident that past models of assimilation will predict future results. If anything, an immigration wave that is primarily rural should give us pause that we are in uncharted waters.

  234. Regarding Dr. Vigdor’s analysis, the events of the 1850’s while they illustrate my point (which I’ll get back to), do not refute his contention that assimilation is at a 110-year low. If you want to claim a rhetorical point that assimilation was worse in the 1850’s, be my guest.

    What I want to claim is that he’s leaving out the century in which the largest amount of immigration actually took place. If you’re talking about immigrant assimilation, that’s a pretty big absence.

    I’m not assuming _no_ prior undocumented immigration, just that the scale of the problem has greatly increased beginning in the 1970’s

    Neither assumption is necessarily or even particularly true.

    If anything, that era proves my point: that there is a tipping point for unassimilated immigrants beyond which a country’s institutions begin to break down.

    It proves nothing of the sort. The United States had gone through a century of massive immigration, during which it grew to be the world’s largest economy. It then essentially shut down entry to immigrants in the 1910s and 20s and voila! The Great Depression. That’s as reasonable an argument.

    Second, what institutions? American insitutions seemed to work just as well in the heavy immigration period as they did in the light immigration.

    Finally, imagine being an immigrant who somehow made it through, despite the restrictions. Is it really a shock that you might not assimilate as well as previous generations did?

    If, for the sake of argument, we accept that documented plus undocumented immigration into the US was 6% over 10 years, the current era of increased rate has continued for close to _20_ years now

    And the decades I didn’t cite (because they were less than the 10% of the 1850s and 1900s) all had immigration rates of between 4-7%. So what we have is an entire half century and more of heavy immigration at the end of which, did I mention: United States, World’s Largest Economy?

    Even if the point I think you probably meant were true, that _urban_ density is not being affected, that still doesn’t mean that we can be more confident that past models of assimilation will predict future results.

    For population density, you neglect the fact that the United States was much smaller in area in the 1850s. I don’t know that the increase was more rapid than it is now, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

    But in any case, your argument now boils down to, “well, even if there were similar periods in the 19th century, bad stuff might still happen, so there.”

    And you still have no response to the “Know-Nothings.” An entire political party built on nativism to oppose immigration.

    What’s going on now is a remarkable echo of what happened in the 19th century.

  235. But “whites” in the US are from a variety of European sources

    A friend of mine who lived in Chicago for many years tells me that he lost the ability to think of ” whites” as an ethnic group. Certainly, there was racism and bigotry, but it was never “whites” and “blacks”. Blacks were an ethnic group. Just like the Poles, the Jews, the Irish, the Italians…. the notion that those groups were naturally allied or identical because they were “white” was totally baffling.

  236. Last time, cause we’re clearly not making progress. I’m trying to boil down our discussion to where we disagree in good faith.

    1) Re: Vigdor – I don’t know if the primary data he leaves out from 1850 are unavailable, or whether he leaves them out to bolster his point. Either way, it’s either “assimilation at a lower point than at any time since 1900″ or “assimilation at its lowest point since 1850″. If you think there is any value to his assimilation metric, then either conclusion is striking.

    2) Re: population density – my point was that all immigration in the 1970-2008 period increased US population density _by definition_. I’m not talking about rate of pop density change over eras, just net. (the US area was static during this era)

    3) One of the core problems with our discussion is we are attaching much greater weight to the 1850’s period as a predictor of what will happen in the 2010’s. I think the era you cite is interesting, but I think the changes over the past century are more important. By that standard, the current era of mass immigration sustained for 20 years has little precedent. If I am understanding you, you are saying that it has precedents in 19th century periods of immigration and those precedents are predictive. We’ll just have to disagree.

    4) Re: undocumented immigrants – this is from the Urban Institute testimony to Congress:

    http://www.urban.org/url.cfm?ID=900417

    If this is in error, please let me know. It appears to show a dramatic upsurge in undocumented immigration beginning in the 1970s

    5) The Great Depression – well, there is a 10 year gap between the big drop in immigration and the drop in GDP, and immigration actually increased right before the depression, only to fall again. I think other factors were more relevant, but can’t exclude decreased immigration as a contributor

    6) Re: strained institutions – well, in the 1850’s I’d say the institutions were strained a bit by the Civil War. Not to nit pick or anything. As far as the “know nothings”, it sounds like a predictable reaction in the face of massive demographic shifts. At least we can both agree that we don’t want to see anytihing like that return. To avoid this in the future, trying to avoid 20-year periods of high sustained immigration might be prudent.

    final exit question – Do you think that roughly 1% combined immigration (documented+undocumented) per year is sustainable? If not how long? If it is, is there a level of sustained immigration that you would think would strain the ability of the US to accomodate?

    I’ve enjoyed our discussion.

    regards,

    David

  237. John,

    I’m a Democrat like you — I know, I am assuming, but either you’re a Democrat, or you’re one heck of an Obama Republican or Obama independent.

    I agree with General Powell on this one sentiment, that Muslims are as capable of being good and patriotic Americans as anyone else.

    There are a few other things I wish General Powell had spoken up about during his career:

    First, I wish he’d worried more about allowing Saddam’s Republican Guard to escape Kuwait in 1991, instead of expressing such tender concern when those rapists and murderers were leaving Kuwait with everything not nailed down in that nation, leading to the “Highway of Death” that Powell was so concerned made the U.S. look bad.

    Second, after succeeding in advising the first President Bush to stop the 1991 ground war against Saddam’s forces at a nice neat media-friendly 100 hours, I wish General Powell had advised his President to resume blowing up the Iraqi Republican Guard when Saddam used said forces to slaughter the Kurds from northern Iraq and the Shi’ites from southern Iraq who had actually listened to our messages that we would be on their side if they rose up against the dictator Saddam.

    Third, I wish General Powell had spoken up about letting gays serve in the military, something he actively campaigned against when President Clinton tried to introduce it early in his first term in 1993.

    Fourth, I wish General Powell had worked early on to stop the slaughter of Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serbs, instead of effectively standing in President Clinton’s way from 1993 through 1995.

    Fifth, I wish General Powell had spoken in favor of stopping the renewed rule of the Tonton Macoute thugs in Haiti, instead of using all his energy to resist President Clinton’s desire to use the U.S. military to depose them. Powell eventually relented, but not after fighting long and hard against the use of force to solve that humanitarian crisis.

    Sixth, I wish General Powell had recommended to Clinton that we could use our forces to stop the genocide in 1994 by Rwandan Hutus against Rwandan Tutsis, thereby saving at least some of the approximately 1 million African lives lost.

    Seventh, I wish General Powell was not such a good friend to the kleptocratic Saudi royal family that run the only country named after a family, Saudi Arabia. Accepting free Jaguars from his good friend Prince Bandar must surely be fun, but maybe just maybe after 15 of 19 Saudis were the 9/11 hijackers, after Saudi Arabia backed the Taliban diplomatically and Saudi citizens largely funded Al Qaeda, General Powell might want to consider that the Saudis aren’t such good buddies of ours after all. Still, Prince Bandar is an awfully swell fellow, and so generous with the Jaguars — so let’s give General Powell a pass on that.

    So yes, except for his consistent opposition to the use of force to go after vicious dictators and mass-murderers, which continued right through to the (made necessary by his advice, among others) second Iraq War, good General Powell has indeed been a moral exemplar whose wise and sage advice we must heed.

    Thank goodness we’ve had him around to endorse Bob Dole in 1996, George W. Bush in 2000, George W. Bush again in 2004, and now Barack Obama in 2008.

    Lastly, my fellow Democrats would never be guilty of calling Bush “Bush Hitler” or calling Palin a “c*nt” or calling McCain “racist” — all the extreme and hateful rhetoric comes from one side and one side only, that side being Powell’s fellow Republicans.

    Again, thank God Powell took the time out from hanging with Prince Bandar to inform us of the danger to the Republic because, you know, we’d never be able to figure this out on our own without his benevolent guidance.

    Sarcasm off. I admire Powell’s life story as the son of immigrant Jamaican parents who made it far in America and his obvious competence, but his career-long history of offering horrific policy advice while constantly being obsessed with making sure he comes out smelling like a rose via his non-stop leaks to his good friend Bob Woodward turns my stomach.

    I’d love to see General Powell express such concern for the regular diet of hateful rhetoric about Christians, Jews, atheists et al coming out regularly from Saudi Arabia, because this has the actual effect of getting lots of innocent Muslims (more than anyone else), Jews, Christians, Hindus and atheists killed, and to date I don’t recall hearing General Powell saying a harsh public word about the Wahhabi-supporting ways of good ole Prince Bandar’s Saudi kingdom. But what good is opposing the Wahhabi hate ideology when there’s Republican evil afoot!?

    General Powell is the broken clock who finally got one thing right this decade. Hopefully he won’t try to press his luck and dispense more pearls of wisdom to us any time soon.

    Peace out,

    Thunderheart

  238. Cory wrote: Worse, these might be isolated incidents (opinions vary) but the rest of the “sane” Muslim population doesn’t speak out against these things, and many others who would never participate in such things themselves stick by their “Muslim brothers” regardless.

    Not to flog a dead horse, but Cory spelled out the problem beautifully. It’s not enough to brush away Islamic idiocy as “fringe” when the “mainstream” Muslims do little or nothing to combat the crimes perpetrated by their radicalized brethren.

    When the bulk of Islam is actively engaged in putting down the radical fringe, then I think we as non-Muslims can rest assured that Islam really is coming through as a 21st century, integrated religion.

    Currently, the radical fringe walks among the mainstream, recruits from it, hides behind it, exploits its sympathies, and does all it can to drive wedges between it and the wider world.

  239. SO@#329:

    And when the bulk of christianity is actively engaged in telling the likes of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and their small-minded hate-spewing ilk to crawl back into the stained pit that spawned them rather than wring their hands and murmur that of course they’re not representative of Christianity as a whole, and the whole Matthew Shepard incident was disgraceful but still, etc, etc, etc, us secular agnostics can finally stop looking at all “Faith-based Initiatives” with automatic suspicion.

    Until then, though, tough beans.

  240. when the “mainstream” Muslims do little or nothing to combat the crimes perpetrated by their radicalized brethren

    Specialist Khan, a mainstream Muslim, gave his life in service to his country. He fought in a war where his ‘radicalized brethren’ have been killing civilians and perpetrating acts of terror in their own country. He died trying to combat this.

    Did you really, *really* just shoot your mouth off and call his sacrifice “little or nothing”?

    Are you really, *really* saying that in your opinion, the pile of “mainstream Muslim” bodies just isn’t high enough for you to give Those People credit for being civilized folks?

  241. 1) Re: Vigdor – I don’t know if the primary data he leaves out from 1850 are unavailable, or whether he leaves them out to bolster his point. Either way, it’s either “assimilation at a lower point than at any time since 1900″ or “assimilation at its lowest point since 1850″. If you think there is any value to his assimilation metric, then either conclusion is striking.

    Whatever the reason, leaving out the all of the heaviest immigration decades except one undercuts his conclusions. “Casualties in WWII not that heavy (for the years 1945-48)”

    2) Re: population density – my point was that all immigration in the 1970-2008 period increased US population density _by definition_. I’m not talking about rate of pop density change over eras, just net. (the US area was static during this era)

    Your point was that this increase in population density was *different* than previous immigration eras, and we don’t know if that’s true or not.

    3) One of the core problems with our discussion is we are attaching much greater weight to the 1850’s period as a predictor of what will happen in the 2010’s. I think the era you cite is interesting, but I think the changes over the past century are more important. By that standard, the current era of mass immigration sustained for 20 years has little precedent. If I am understanding you, you are saying that it has precedents in 19th century periods of immigration and those precedents are predictive. We’ll just have to disagree.

    My point is a very simple one: the period we are in now resembles very strongly earlier eras of heavy immigration. There are differences, to be sure, but there are even more similarities. Your argument for the unprecedented nature of this era is based on 1) incorrect impressions about the current era 2) a lack of knowledge about previous eras, 3) the unquestioning acceptance of propaganda about immigration, and 4) an unwillingness to accept the evidence I presented in this thread.

    http://www.urban.org/url.cfm?ID=900417

    Actually, I find that one quite compelling, since it backs up most of my arguments. From the article:

    1. “The century ended in the midst of another period of high immigration, greater in numerical terms but smaller in its relative impact than the immigration of 100 years earlier.” Check for me.

    2. “More typical of the U.S. historical experience, however, was the situation at the beginning of the 20th century. At that time, about one-seventh of the U.S. population was foreign-born, as was the case from 1870 to 1930. More recently, since the low of 4.7 percent foreign-born in 1970, the percentage foreign-born has more than doubled to almost 11 percent as the number of immigrants living in the country more than tripled to just over 30 million.2 This very rapid change occurred in the space of one generation as the percentage foreign-born approaches the levels experienced at the height of the 19th century wave of immigration.” Check for me.

    3. “By the 2nd generation, immigrants overall have reached (or exceeded in some instances) the levels attained by 3rd generation non-Hispanic native whites in terms of educational attainment (i.e., percent with high school diploma and percent with bachelor’s degree or more), labor force participation, wages, and household income.” Check for me.

    4. “Moreover, the results presented suggest that the current group of immigrants is integrating, but that there may be some issues that need to be addressed.” Check for me.

    5) The Great Depression – well, there is a 10 year gap between the big drop in immigration and the drop in GDP, and immigration actually increased right before the depression, only to fall again

    Immigration for the 1920s was 500,000 people (as compared to 6 million the previous decade). That’s not an increase.

    As far as the “know nothings”, it sounds like a predictable reaction in the face of massive demographic shifts. At least we can both agree that we don’t want to see anytihing like that return.

    So you’re conceding the point that the political situation in the 1850s around immigration was *much more* chaotic than it is now? Excellent.

    Do you think that roughly 1% combined immigration (documented+undocumented) per year is sustainable?

    I think it was sustainable for the entire 19th century; more than sustainable, it ended with the United States the largest economy in the world.

    On another side, note that the immigration (both legal and illegal) is saving the United States from a demographic death trap. The native population in both the U.S. and Europe are not having enough children to replace those who die. The immigrant population is, and so U.S. population is growing, while Europe’s is shrinking. The median age of the U.S. population is remaining relatively stable, while Europe’s is increasing. This is a good thing for all sorts of reasons.

  242. Executive summary of our disagreement:

    Vigdor:
    1) You – his data support that assimilation continues up to now without major breakdown
    2) Me – his most important finding is that assimilation is at a 110 year low

    Great Depression:
    1) You – The decade of the 1920’s showed low immigration compared to prior decades
    2) Me – You are looking immigration per decade, whereas I am looking at yearly totals. That decline was correlated with WWI, and immigration returned to a fairly high level in the years at the end of that decade.
    See yearly data:
    http://web.mit.edu/cis/fpi_immigration.html

    1850’s as a model:
    1) You – The current period resembles very strongly early periods of high immigration
    2) Me – Those early periods ended either in war, depression, or anti-immigrant backlash. (not to say that was causal, but that is the correlation). Also, the differences in the current era (welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, social security, increased undocumented immigration, and a higher percentage of immigrants from border regions) concern me that the prior periods will not be predictive.

    Sustainable immigration:
    1) You – 1% per year is sustainable for a century, based on the 1800s
    2) Me – an actual review of the US population compared to the yearly immigration totals shows several stretches where immigration dropped below this level. Also, it ain’t the 1800s any more. BTW – The huge expansion of the economy post WWII occurred in a period of low immigration.

    Demographics:
    1) You – immigration is saving the US from a Europe-like demographic death trap.
    2) Me – This is a dangerous path to go down. The population of France (as an example) is still technically growing (albeit slowly). However, the percentage of Muslims making up the population is increasing rapidly. Using immigration to prop up social programs and low fertility eventually will dramatically change a culture. Per the Powell speech that started this thread, we can debate whether that is good, bad, or neutral. In about a decade, we will see who was right.

  243. mythago,

    We’re talking about mainstream Islam, at al.

    The percentage of American Muslims who currently fight in the U.S. armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan do not magically make the other 900,000,000 Muslims around the world exempt from having to take on their radical brethren, at gunpoint if necessary.

    Again, the mainstream too often excuses or ignores the radicals. Until that changes, I think we’re going to keep having a problem differentiating radicalized Islam from the rest of the faith.

  244. I think we’re going to keep having a problem differentiating radicalized Islam from the rest of the faith.

    “We”?

    Specialist Khan was part of that “et al”. In effect, you’ve told his mother and father – who are Muslims – to just throw his body on the pile, and when it’s high enough, you might deign to consider whether there was ever a difference between their son and members of the Taliban.

    I hear this same craptastic logic from anti-Semites who insist that it’s quite reasonable for them to hate Jews because “moderate Jews” need to “do more” to stop the oppression of Palestinians.

    The cute thing about it is that the goalposts are so misty and easily moved. No matter how many Specialist Khans you point to, it’s not “enough”. There need to be “more”. If you point to moderate Muslims being tortured and killed by extremists, or statements issued by American Muslim organizations condemning terrorism, why, that doesn’t count. They’re not loud enough. They don’t say it often enough. And anyway, they don’t really mean it.

    You don’t like Islam and you don’t trust Muslims. We get it. Just knock of the pretense that you would, you really would, if only they didn’t force you to be a jackass.

  245. Mythago,

    I’m not sure I’ve moved any ‘goalposts’.

    And I certainly never compared SPC Khan to the Taliban.

    Where do you get that?

    I’m also not the only Westerner who has ever complained that the moderates in Islam make it too easy for the radicals, thus making it much harder for us on the outside to tell Who is Who.

  246. Yes, I’m well aware that you’re not the only Westerner to insist that some unnamed proportion of a population of millions of people must demonstrate their sincerity to you before you write them all off as evil.

  247. David,

    Executive summary of our disagreement:

    Vigdor:
    1) You – his data support that assimilation continues up to now without major breakdown
    2) Me – his most important finding is that assimilation is at a 110 year low

    Great Depression:
    1) You – The decade of the 1920’s showed low immigration compared to prior decades, possibly contributing to the great depression
    2) Me – You are looking at immigration per decade, whereas I am looking at yearly totals. That decline was correlated with WWI and early 1920’s, and immigration returned to a fairly high level in the years at the end of that decade.
    See yearly data:
    http://web.mit.edu/cis/fpi_immigration.html

    1850’s as a model:
    1) You – The current period resembles very strongly early periods of high immigration
    2) Me – Those early periods ended either in war, depression, or anti-immigrant backlash. (not to say that was causal, but that is the correlation). Also, the differences in the current era (welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, social security, increased undocumented immigration, and a higher percentage of immigrants from border regions) concern me that the prior periods will not be predictive.

    Sustainable immigration:
    1) You – 1% per year is sustainable for a century, based on the 1800s
    2) Me – an actual review of the US population compared to the yearly immigration totals shows several stretches where immigration dropped below this level. Also, it ain’t the 1800s any more. BTW – The huge expansion of the economy post WWII occurred in a period of low immigration.

    Demographics:
    1) You – immigration is saving the US from a Europe-like demographic death trap.
    2) Me – This is a dangerous path to go down. The population of France (as an example) is still technically growing (albeit slowly). However, the percentage of Muslims making up the population is increasing rapidly. Using immigration to prop up social programs and low fertility eventually will dramatically change a culture. Per the Powell speech that started this thread, we can debate whether that is good, bad, or neutral. In about a decade, we will see who was right.

  248. Again, Vox @ 53 “If Christians were interested in political power in the USA, they’d have it. They’re not.”

    http://edkrebs.com/herb/

    “All for Jesus. All for Jesus. All for Jesus. All for Jesus,”
    — Republican Candidate Sam Brownback’s stump speech in Iowa.

    “Between science and God, I’ll stick with God if the two are in conflict.”
    — Republican Candidate Mike Huckabee

    “Freedom requires religion.”
    — Republican Candidate Mitt Romney

    “I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.”
    — John McCain

    “Just before us is a nuclear countdown with Iran, followed by the final battle: the battle of Armageddon . . . . The end of the world as we know it is rapidly approaching. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad. The best is yet to be.”
    — Televangelist and McCain endorser John Hagee

    “Americans must be ‘Christocrats’ — citizens of both their country and the Kingdom of God”; “And that is not a democracy; that is a theocracy”; “That means God is in control, and you are not.”
    — Televangelist and McCain supporter Rod Parsley

    March 13, 2008 – Sam Brownback (R-KS) introduced S. Res. 483, a resolution “recognizing the first weekend of May 2008 as ‘Ten Commandments Weekend,'” which has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The resolution has one co-sponsor — Joe Lieberman. “The Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation”
    — John McCain, September 2007

    “Our national leaders, are sending soldiers out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.”
    –Sarah Palin, on the Iraq war

  249. However, there IS something wrong if you were referred and leveraged into Harvard by Khalid Al-Mansour (a known terrorist and anti-semite who wants to enslave “white” people) as admitted by a black liberation, NAACP attorney (the interview is available on youtube–I can send the link later; the attorney was told to “call his friends to get Obama into Harvard”). There IS something wrong if you congregate with known scumbags like Ayers; it seems people forget what Ayers and his wife did all those years ago (killed people) before getting off on technicalities and before they instituted the New Party (deemed unconstitutional) and indoctrinated children with communist, far left ideology through “community activism”.

    There are plenty of problems here. Sure, insert your head in the sand, but this doesn’t change our inexorable march into Leninism, which defines Obama’s views if you study political theory. By associations, Obama could not even achieve clearance to work as a mall security guard–and he’s going to be President….

    Odd world. By the way, ACORN voter fraud helped him overcome Hillary in New Mexico and Ohio (something not reported by the media). So, cherry-pick all you like, but at least be intellectually honest with yourselves….

    I suggest that both parties have been hijacked and that people should vote independently, and more importantly, they need to understand WHAT they are voting for. We need to break the stranglehold of both parties, I feel. The American taxpayer is dead last on their list of priorities and people ARE being disenfranchised by lobbyists.

    Look, if you agree with Leninism, fine. But understand that you are voting for that idealogy with Obama–just as you are voting for globalist, corporate socialism with McCain.

  250. But they@342 convinced me to be intellectually honest with myself…

    ::Google search for Ohio+New Mexico+2008+primary::

    Hilary won both!? O, Self, is there no end to your conspiracy of mendacity with the Media and Reality?

  251. So, no the last comment, huh?

    Vigdor:
    1) You – his data support that assimilation continues up to now without major breakdown
    2) Me – his most important finding is that assimilation is at a 110 year low

    Uh, please summarize my argument correctly. My point is that Vigdor ignored the heaviest periods of immigration, so his findings (whatever they are) are essentially irrelevant. See my example again: “WWII casualties relatively low (for years 1945-48″ Well, yes, WWII casualties would be low if you leave out all but one year.

    1) You – The current period resembles very strongly early periods of high immigration
    2) Me – Those early periods ended either in war, depression, or anti-immigrant backlash. (not to say that was causal, but that is the correlation). Also, the differences in the current era (welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, social security, increased undocumented immigration, and a higher percentage of immigrants from border regions) concern me that the prior periods will not be predictive.

    And? You’re essentially conceding my argument that those periods were similar to what’s going on now. In addition, your argument is getting dangerously close to circular: we should have an anti-immigrant backlash because that’s what we did before.

    Finally–though this is expanding my argument–your point is not truly accurate: the period at the early part of the 1900s did not end in war, it ended *after* the war was over. The period of the late 19th century did not end in depression (though there were economic slumps along the way), it continued well into a very healthy economic period for the United States.

    You seem to want immigration to be causative of all sorts of bad things, and it’s really not.

    1) You – 1% per year is sustainable for a century, based on the 1800s
    2) Me – an actual review of the US population compared to the yearly immigration totals shows several stretches where immigration dropped below this level. Also, it ain’t the 1800s any more. BTW – The huge expansion of the economy post WWII occurred in a period of low immigration.

    That there were several years in a half-century stretch were immigration dropped below 1% is irrelevant. “It ain’t the 1800s anymore” is not an argument, it’s a tautology. Really? It’s not the 1800s anymore? Tell me another one.

    As to the economic expansion post WWII, it helps if all your major rivals have been bombed, occupied, or slaughtered in a massive total war, while you escape comparatively unscathed.

    In addition, so what? Are you arguing that the American economic expansion of the 1940s and 50s was *because* of low immigration? Shut off that flow of immigration and the economy immediately leapt forward?

    ) You – immigration is saving the US from a Europe-like demographic death trap.
    2) Me – This is a dangerous path to go down. The population of France (as an example) is still technically growing (albeit slowly). However, the percentage of Muslims making up the population is increasing rapidly. Using immigration to prop up social programs and low fertility eventually will dramatically change a culture. Per the Powell speech that started this thread, we can debate whether that is good, bad, or neutral. In about a decade, we will see who was right.

    And now you sound again like the nativists of the 19th century arguing against the Irish and Italians. They will change our culture; we won’t really be America anymore; they are loyal to their strange, alien religion.

    The reality is that immigration has made the United States what it is and if you like what it is now, it’s because of immigration. Somebody was kind enough to let your ancestors in a while back and now you are rewarding their generosity by trying to slam the door in the face of the next generation of immigrants.

    “I’ve got mine, now go away” is an unsavory attitude.

  252. “I’ve got mine, now go away” is an unsavory attitude.

    Stay classy, David.

    Maybe we can get to the crux of our disagreement with your answer to thie question:

    Is there _any_ level of immigration that you believe would change the fundamental character of the United States?

  253. And if the answer is “yes”, then could you clarify what level that would be? A yes answer means that you essentially agree with my arguements. The difference (a big one, granted) is that I think we are approaching that point with our current policy, and you disagree.

    If the answer is “no”, we really could have saved each other a lot of time, because we won’t bridge that divide.

  254. mythago,

    This is the part where I check out. I am sure you’re arguing with Someone, it just doesn’t seem like it’s me anymore.

  255. Sub-O

    With respect to this issue, one of the unheralded aspects of the surge has been that Muslim attitudes toward AQ and AQ tactics have begun to change. Finishing what we started and leaving a stable, secular government will hopefully continue to be a moderating factor within Islam.

    David

  256. I just found out that Sub-Odeon is one of the sockpuppet names of someone who made himself quite unpleasant on Making Light a while ago. Someone who the community was extraordinarily kind to, but who appeared to suffer from a weird form of selective deafness. He admits this right here (the text is disemvowelled because he’s gotten himself banned from there, and therefore is typing on, as one mod there put it to someone else, a 20.5-letter keyboard).

    I’m dismayed that I didn’t recognize him. Or rather did, but thought the familiarity was from here.

    Not exactly relevant to this thread, as such, but if you see me going from civil disagreement to automatically discarding anything he says, that’s why.

  257. Xopher,

    Bummer. But, hey, have been reading the stuff that David guy has been writing? Pretty good, huh?

  258. Xopher,

    I’m still the same old me I’ve always been. It’s not my fault if Making Light has a tendency to censor and/or ban people who defy the zeitgeist. Why do you think I was so hesistant to use my “real” handle over there? Yesterday I finally thought I’d just see what happened if I posted using Sub-Odeon — the handle I have used on BBS and internet alike since 1991 — and the results were disheartening; if only because the results were more or less what I expected from the Making Light crowd. I am sure TNH is a nice person, but the way she and the other Making Light mods run their forum… Yeesh.

    Don’t worry. I don’t see myself going back to Making Light, after today’s latest disemvowelment and banning. TNH has made her opinion on my pressence perfectly clear. And there isn’t much I can say at this point that I haven’t already said to the Making Light crowd, and I don’t think any of the regulars would offer me anything at this point, save for a cold, mostly-drunk cup of coffee with a cigarette butt in it.

  259. David,

    I agree that leaving Iraq in stable condition is a paramount concern at this point. There has been precious little that the West has done in the last 50 years to encourage moderation among the Islamic states. Especially when it comes to confronting Islamic totalitarianism head-on.

    A stable, self-defensible, prosperous Iraq will do much to offset states like Iran or Saudi Arabia, where the theocrats still have full sway. It would also prove that tribalism can be overcome with significant outside intervention.

    I hope very much for all the peoples of Iraq that they can build on the success of the Surge and quicken their pace towards independence.

  260. I am sure that Scalzi would prefer that his comment threads not be hijacked by a dispute brought over from another community.

    As one of the Dreadful Making Light Mods, I’m glad that Sub-Odeon has found a place where he can be himself, without recourse to multiple sock puppets. I’m sure the community here will value him, his views, and his conversation, to the appropriate degree.

  261. I would suggest that if anyone from Making Light or the Whatever blog(s) wants to discuss the Sub-Odeon-The Evil-Sock-Puppet-versus-Making-Lighters-Kerfuffle, it be done on the Whateveresque bulletin board.

    Here, I even ,a href=”http://whateveresque.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=992″>created a thread for it.

  262. abi, you’re right as usual. I was just so appalled that someone I’ve had reasonable disagreements with here was one of the annoying troublemakers on ML, that my sense of…well, not betrayal exactly, not sure what to call it…got the better of my common sense.

  263. Sub-Odeon:
    I am not a Whateveresque member, nor do I have time for, or interest in, correcting your misapprehensions about Making Light there. The matter has been explained sufficiently many times in the context where it is relevant.

    Xopher:
    someone I’ve had reasonable disagreements with here was one of the annoying troublemakers on ML

    A surer sign that he is in a better venue here than on Making Light cannot be found.

    Not everybody works well in every context; some communities and contexts simply bring out people’s worst sides. This isn’t some kind of a moral judgment (I have a problem with how Sub-Odeon dealt with that friction, but that’s another matter and not relevant here.). It’s simply a fact of human dynamics.

    It sounds like everyone has found a context or contexts that works for them. That’s a good thing, in my book.

    </threadjack>

  264. I agree, some people just don’t fit in some places.

    I spent way too much time ramming my head against a brick wall over at Making Light, and obviously broke too many unspoken rules for the tastes of the mods and the regulars.

    As a Scalzi reader/consumer, his blog has proven a far better fit.

    I would suggest, again, that maybe Making Light adopt a “warning sign” at the entrance, so that folk like me don’t waste our time, and folk such as yourselves don’t have your time wasted by folk like me.

    Cheers. And no hard feelings.

  265. #
    # Davidon 21 Oct 2008 at 12:07 am

    Cartoon – Boy, did that line bring back memories. Sadly, while witty in 1992, it’s a tad dated. As you seem to have not read the actual book, I’ll not get into an arguement over its contents with you.

    Oldie and a goody, yes, but is it unfair? Little tidbits like this (a direct quote, page 5):

    The Serbs figured that out–as other Continentals will in the years ahead: If you can’t outbreed the enemy, cull ‘em.

    (Emphasis mine.)

    tend to make me guess he prefers jackboots to pennyloafers. And I’ll cheerfully admit I haven’t read the actual book; unless you’re going to prove to me that Google Book Search just makes shit up, I won’t be revisiting that decision. I’ve read enough of his columns over the years to expect no better.

    I wonder what kind of human being would write a sentence like that, and I also wonder what kind of person wouldn’t run screaming from anything he says.

  266. CC,

    Well, again, it’s hard to argue when I _have_ read the book, you have _not_, and yet you insist on telling me what it says (not to mention going all Goodwin’s Law on me).

    What Steyn has said is that the current demographic trends in Europe are unsustainable. He argues that the choices are:

    a) change immigration policy (politically hard) and social policy (harder)
    b) sit back and see what happens.

    He is not advocating for war, but he is saying that war is the historic outcome (especially in Europe) when two different cultures contest the same piece of land. To me that sounds less like jack-booted thuggery, more like Cassandra.

  267. A note on the Muslim Conquest. Yes Arab armies invaded neighboring lands and overthrew their leaders. However no one forced the people to become Muslim, in fact this is impossible to do. In truth the people were attracted to Islam and of their free will become Muslim. After all it’s been generations since the Arab armies left yet those people remain Muslim till this day.(e.g. the Muslims of the Indian-Subcontinent)

  268. I know this is not exactly on topic but there were some things that have been said that I would like to address.

    The UK is far from perfect, I live in a City with several representatives from a racist party in its council (the British National Party), we have had riots in our immigrant and BME communities (Brixton, Toxteth and Bradford), there are of course the actual and failed bombings in the last few years by dissaffected muslim immigrants.

    But we are not any less free than the United States, we may not have a codified constitution but this is not a bad thing. We have an incredibly important piece of statute called the Human Rights Act [HRA](derived from the European Convention on Human Rights[ECHR]) which although relatively recent has had a major impact on British life since the 2nd of October 2000 when it came into effect.

    The HRA provides protection to people in the jurisdiction of the UK courts which puts the US constitution to shame, Judges can rewrite exisiting statute to make it compatible with the HRA, or send it back for parliament to correct (which so far they have always done).

    The HRA has given our judges the power to reign in what could otherwise have become a power mad government similar to the one that has existed in the USA since 9/11.

    Unlike some have claimed habeus corpus has not been suspended in the UK, no matter how much the politicians may want to do this, our terror suspects have more protections than those held by the US and Guantanamo and could not be run by the British Military outside the control of the UK courts unlike the situation that seems to exist in the USA.

    Sub-Odeon @231 has a very uninformed view of life in the UK and Europe

    1. Sharia Law is not being integrated into British law and will not be in the near future. What has happened is that people are being given the option to enter into arbitration in familial disputes where the arbitrating authority is a Sharia Council and the rules are those of Sharia Law.
    It is simply a form of Alternate Dispute Resolution like many others that exist, and is subject to the civil laws of the United Kingdom the UK civil courts will still be available to any muslims who do not wish to enter into sharia based arbitration and will be able to review any decisions made. Also any decisions will still have to be compatible with…you guessed it….the HRA
    The situation is the same in other European countries that are signatories to the ECHR.

    2. In the UK and most of Europe (I’m not professing to be an expert on every country so can’t speak with absolute certainty) we have laws against Bigamy/polygamy that apply equally to muslims as they do to everyone else. For example in the UK those men who have multiple wives in their home countries are only allowed to bring one of their wives into the UK at any time, and if they violate this will be prosecuted. So I’m not sure where these men preventing their multiple wives from driving are.

    Subodeon @ 278 gives some explanation for these uninformed views in that he still hasn’t been to Europe at the age of 34 but lucky for us will be here with our heroes the US Military.

    Yes we needed US funds to help us rebuild after WWII but then unlike you we had 6 years of land, sea and air war to recover from. Some would argue that the money loaned to Europe was a good investment for you, allowing you to base your troops in Western Europe preventing the Soviets from expanding their influence while allowing you to increase yours.

    Looking at the tolerant US as opposed to intolerant Europe…..just how long is it going to be before last months chemical attack on children in a Mosque in Dayton Ohio is reported outside the local media?
    After all this is arguably a terrorist attack, something that you would expect the presidential candidates to condemn.

    Sorry for the long post a few days out of date but I only just caught up on this thread and it took until now for me to read through all the comments…

    Also I know it is disjointed but thats more to do with me trying to cover 350+ posts in my little one.

  269. Stay classy, David.

    I’m always classy, David. You might contemplate your own attitudes rather than reflexively being defensive, however.

    Is there _any_ level of immigration that you believe would change the fundamental character of the United States?</I.

    Of course there is. It would have to reach unprecedented levels (as opposed to now) and it would have to have actual negative effects (as opposed to imagined right-wing fantasies).

    And if the answer is “yes”, then could you clarify what level that would be? A yes answer means that you essentially agree with my arguements. .

    It would mean nothing of the sort. Your argument is that we are at an unprecedented level of immigration. My argument is that our level of immigration is not only not unprecedented, it’s not even approaching it.

    Saying that there is _some_ level of immigration that might cause problems is not agreeing to your argument, it’s simply recognizing that 1) there is some level of immigration that could cause problems and 2) we are nowhere near that point right now.

    Let me ask a return question: given that you had no understanding of American immigration patterns in the 19th century, why do you continue to argue that things now are unprecedented?

  270. OK,

    I get it. You are not ever going to address the myriad ways the U.S. has changed in the past 160 years. You will not acknowledge that the current 18-year period of combined documented/undocumented immigration _without_ a break of some kind is unprecedented. You will continue to insist that we are “nowhere close” to historical levels. I’m sorry, David, but your responses suggest you are too rigid in your thinking to look around you and realize that the world has changed. “Hey, it was worse in 1850″ has very little relevance to our current situation.

    Good Day

  271. You are not ever going to address the myriad ways the U.S. has changed in the past 160 years.

    That it has changed is not the same thing as the current immigration situation being without precedent. It’s simply not. The U.S. has had periods of sustained immigration *much* larger than the current one.

    You will not acknowledge that the current 18-year period of combined documented/undocumented immigration _without_ a break of some kind is unprecedented.

    Because it’s simply *not* unprecedented: either on an annual basis, a decade basis, or an 18-year basis (where did that come from?), current immigration levels are substantially lower than they were in the 19th century.

    You’re wedded to a fiction.

    ou will continue to insist that we are “nowhere close” to historical levels. I’m sorry, David, but your responses suggest you are too rigid in your thinking to look around you and realize that the world has changed.

    What am I rigid about is accuracy and honesty. You can continue to insist that current immigration in unprecedented. By any reasonable reading of the data, it’s not, and insisting so isn’t going to change that.

    Look, I’m sorry that you’ve swallowed rightwing anti-immigration talking points wholesale, but I can’t help you get off that hook. What I can do is insist that we actually look at reality and what reality tells us.

    You can do that too, or you can continue to be the fish with the barb in its cheek, waiting to be gutted and filleted.

    “Hey, it was worse in 1850″ has very little relevance to our current situation.

    Good golly, David, you don’t suppose that acknowledging that similar things happened in the past might mean that it would be useful to see what *lessons* we might draw from those similar situations? Republicans were nattering on about ‘experience’ during this election (at least, they were until the Palin pick). Well, history is a nation’s experience. Shockingly, it may offer some tips going forward.

  272. I don’t see how “changing the fundamental character of the US” is necessarily bad. I mean, there are bad changes that could occur (like the changes of the last eight years, where people think it’s OK for the government to spy on them, where we let people drown in their hospital beds, and where we have to engage in ridiculous pseudo-security at the airport), but there are also good changes.

    For example, I’d like to live in an America where it’s impossible for a white person (anywhere in America) to go through an entire year without seeing a person of color.

    I’d like to live in an America where it’s impossible for a wealthy person to live a normal life without seeing the effects of poverty on a fairly regular basis.

    I’d like to live in an America where people who actually work for a living are treated as well as people who live off other people’s wealth.

    I’d like to live in an America where educational opportunities are provided equally for all children, and where it’s impossible for a child to be educated through secondary school without having met another child different from them in race, religion, and national origin.

    None of these is remotely true now, and most of them would (at least arguably) require a fundamental change in the character of America—for the better.

  273. Xopher, ‘changing the fundamental character’ is a dogwhistle for ‘we’re letting weird brown people in’. The same arguments about Changing Our Nation Forever were made about letting in Italians, Irish, Jews, Chinese…

    All people like David have to differentiate themselves from the shriekers of yore is to insist, in the fact of all evidence, that this time, things are different.

  274. mythago,

    Y’know, since you know absolutely nothing about my family and its ancestry, I’d think prudence would dictate that you keep your ignorant, racist notions to yourself. Since you do not know the color of the skin of my family, your racist prejudices must have led you to conclude that we are caucasian. I, tolerant classical liberal that I am, could care less about the color of your fingers as they typed your latest slur.

  275. mythago,

    Y’know, since you know absolutely nothing about my family and its ancestry, I’d think prudence would dictate that you keep your ignorant, racist notions to yourself. Since you do not know the color of the skin of my family, your racist prejudices must have led you to conclude that we are caucasian. I, tolerant classical liberal that I am, could care less about the color of your fingers as they typed your latest slur.

  276. David, I have a friend who’s part Native American on his mother’s side, and said mother would occasionally admonish him, saying “You’re talkin’ like a white man.” She meant that while others were talking, he was thinking about what he was going to say next, rather than truly listening, and as evidence of this he would begin talking as soon as the others were through, rather than pausing.

    In a somewhat different sense, you’ve been “writin’ like a white man.” You’ve been expressing sentiments typical of the category of white males who inexplicably believe that the United States somehow belongs to them alone. People of color rarely have that idea. One example: the notion that “fundamentally chang[ing] the character” of the US is intrinsically and automatically bad. I don’t think it will be a bad thing if this country goes from being plurality-white (actually, plurality of German extraction) to being plurality-Hispanic, for example; these men would exclaim in horror if they thought any such thing might happen (in fact, some of them actually worry about it, which is why they’re fanatical about stopping the immigration, legal or il, of Spanish-speaking people into this country).

    You’re not anywhere near as bad as Vox Day (who has actually proposed some very Godwin-invoking solutions to the problem of illegal immigrants), but you come off sounding like a member of the class of white males who think their dominance of American society is by right, rather than by a complex web of social constraints that ought to be utterly destroyed, as all right-thinking (heh) people know it is.

    It is possible that you are actually a person of color, or even the child of immigrants. In that case, I would say that you have a case of the Last House in Staten Island Syndrome. While Staten Island was being developed, there was a common pattern: a new subdivision would be built over the protests of other nearby subdivisions, and people would move in and join the battle to prevent the NEXT subdivision from being built. Everyone wanted Staten Island to remain the Staten Island they moved to, and they didn’t know or care that they were part of the loss of the Staten Island the previous people moved to.

    America changes. That’s the main thing that makes it America. Now, there are some things about it I’d like to keep, but I’m already not getting my way about some of them (the illegality of warrantless wiretapping, for example). You won’t get your way about all of them either. Feel free to protest the changes you don’t like; sometimes you’ll win, sometimes lose, but in neither case will America cease to be America.

    Mythago is definitely right that “changing the fundamental character of the country” is a dogwhistle for people with some pretty nasty prejudices. Your prejudice against Moslems is every bit as nasty as a previous generation’s prejudice against Jews. Once you realize that, perhaps you will work on it. And please note, mythago said “weird brown people” (emphasis added). As opposed to the brown people we’re already used to, who the previous generations tried to keep out (or, in the case of African Americans, tried to keep down). Because, you know, enchiladas are American, but falafel is just odd.

    If you are not one of those people, you may want to avoid sounding like one. Why carry water for people you oppose?

    I don’t know, and make no assumptions about, your skin color or race (two separate things). But you write like a white man, and I can’t blame mythago for thinking you were one.

  277. Xopher,

    Considering an entire category of ideas to be the exclusive province of one ethnicity is a very pernicious form of racism. It’s all too easy for “writing white” on a blog to become “acting white” by studying as an inner city kid. It’s the same kind of thing that get Clarence Thomas branded a “race traitor”. It’s exactly what mythago was doing, and I thing it is despicable.

    Also, you seem to be under the misaprehension that I am talking primarily or at all about race. I am talking first and foremost about the democratic institutions of this country. I do not care what religion someone practices. I do care when they try to carve legal exceptions for themselves based on that religion. I do not care about the color of skin of an immigrant, but I do care about the type of government from which they are emigrating.

    Currently, the state of democracy in, say. India is different from that in Mexico or Chechnya. In my opinion, that matters. I believe that absorbing the lessons of citizenship in a democracy takes time and can become overwhelmed. Per the looooooooong discussion above, others disagree.

  278. Btw,

    No it doesn’t matter (or at least it shouldn’t) if passing tourists in Hawaii need to sheild their eyes from your reflection or which toilet you use. Do you really want to post on a blog where everyone needs a melanin and testosterone icon next to their name?

  279. Just to end on a light note, tourists in Hawai’i will never have to worry about me, because I would never visit a place so horribly sunny. And if I did, I would come out only at night, where they might mistake my face for the full moon (how like it I am in both color and shape!), but no harm would come to them.

  280. Currently, the state of democracy in, say. India is different from that in Mexico or Chechnya. In my opinion, that matters. I believe that absorbing the lessons of citizenship in a democracy takes time and can become overwhelmed. Per the looooooooong discussion above, others disagree.

    Uh, the governments which immigrants came from in the 19th century were largely autocratic and dictatorial. The immigrants nonetheless seemed to manage to handle our democracies effectively today. By contrast, lots of today’s immigrants come from places with working democracies (albeit with their own problems). That kind of suggests that they’ll integrate MORE easily than earlier immigrants did. You might well be arguing–whether you know it or not–for *higher levels* of immigration rather than lower.

  281. Since you do not know the color of the skin of my family, your racist prejudices must have led you to conclude that we are caucasian.

    Huh? People who insist that *their* ancestors’ immigration was OK, unlike all these furriners currently invading the country, come in all colors. One of the leading anti-immigration activist groups in California is headed by a Vietnamese woman, if I’m not mistaken.

    Which is to say, I realize you could barely type straight, hoping for the opportunity to get to play the race card on your own behalf, but….don’t give up your day job to start working as a psychic.

  282. Nice try, mythago, but you let the mask slip with the “brown people” remark in your claiming my ideas are some sort of code for racism. Not my problem if you don’t like seeing the race card come back to you. The appropriate thing to say would have been “I’m sorry”.

    David,

    Dude, enough already. You’ve memorized plenty of facts about the 1850’s, but I disagree with your conclusions. If you really can’t see the difference between today and a time when the country had a vast fronteir, minimal governmental safety net, an ongoing war against an indegenous people, and such enourmous social upheaval that it shortly descended into civil war, then I’m not sure what point there is in continuing our discussion.

  283. You’ve memorized plenty of facts about the 1850’s, but I disagree with your conclusions. If you really can’t see the difference between today and a time when the country had a vast fronteir, minimal governmental safety net, an ongoing war against an indegenous people, and such enourmous social upheaval that it shortly descended into civil war, then I’m not sure what point there is in continuing our discussion.

    You’ve announced an end to this conversation about five times and yet you keep replying.

    You can insist on the differences all you want, and there were surely some. On the issue of immigration however, trying to paint today as ‘unprecedented’ remains as silly now as it was when you first did it.

  284. David, what you haven’t done is establish how the differences you cite are RELEVANT to the discussion on immigration. You could, for example, say that when there’s a minimal governmental safety net, it’s less injurious to the current occupants of the country to have a large wave of immigrants, since it doesn’t particularly affect their taxes.

    Then we could argue that on the contrary, if anything a wave of immigrants coming here and facing hardship makes for an underclass that could quickly become a powderkeg of unrest, and that with a better safety net we can prevent that. Specificity helps everyone have a more productive discussion.

    However, the point above is relevant to the problem of immigration in general, not to the problem of Moslem immigration in particular, which is the subject of this thread. And that brings me to your dismissal of mythago’s point: I haven’t heard ANYONE objecting to immigrants coming in from Albania (specifically, I mean: there are some who think the US should be hermetically sealed with barriers equivalent to the Berlin Wall along every border). Albanians are mostly Moslem. They’re also white. Funny how no one seems to care about them “fundamentally changing the character of the US.”

    And, again, mythago said that that phrase was a dogwhistle (i.e. political code) for “letting weird brown people in.” If you don’t think that phrase has racial overtones, you’re living in a dream world. I think you probably got it from someone else, because it DOES have that dogwhistle meaning to racist whites. If you are a person of color, don’t think they’ll ever let you in the club. They won’t. But if they can convince YOU to parrot their dogwhistles, that lets them point to you and say “see, how can it be racist when that n—um, that fine person of color over there says it?”

    Let me put more bluntly something I said earlier: if you don’t want to be treated like a racist, you can stop using racist code language. If you continue using racist code language, I (and mythago and perhaps others) will come to the conclusion that you are a racist (I for one am withholding judgement up to now because you didn’t seem to be aware that ‘fundamentally changing…’ was racist code language).

    You know, I don’t care if you’re black, white, brown, yellow, red, or blue with orange polka dots: racism infects everyone in this country. The important thing is that some fight it and others embrace it. But you can’t fight it unless you accept correction when you say or do something racist.

    If you’re a person of color, then by arguing about “changing the fundamental character of the US” you’re carrying water for people who would just as soon see you as “strange fruit” dangling from a sycamore tree. If you are a person of no color (like me), then by arguing that point you’re carrying water for people who would just as soon see your neighbors so dangling.

    Shorter: “Immigration from Islamic countries will fundamentally change the character of the United States” is racist code for “don’t let in those weird brown people,” and both ‘weird’ (Moslem) and ‘brown’ (Middle Eastern) are relevant. This is code whether you like it or not, whether you knew it was or not, whether you meant it that way or not. If you don’t want to carry water for racists, you need to stop using it. Claiming that it’s not racist if you didn’t mean it that way is nonsense.

  285. “Any body born in the U.S , is a citizen of the same
    not necessarily American , witch is not a citizenship , it is the name of the natural people of this continent of America “………

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