My associate Omnia21 sent me a transcript from a speech made by Farah Pandith of the U.S. State Department to the Henry Jackson Society at the House of Commons, December 4, 2007. Her speech: 'Muslim Communities in Europe: Winning the Battle Against Radicalisation - A US Perspective'
You can read the entire transcript here. It strikes me as sadly, hopelessly naive and even misleading in many respects. But at least Ms. Pandith admits that we are threatened today "by a violent ideology that is radicalizing Muslims in our societies."
One such misleading statement is:
"Today, violent Islamic extremists target the weak, the alienated and the vulnerable in immigrant communities in Europe. They feast on them."
Well, maybe they do, but the extremists are also mighty successful in radicalizing well-educated and affluent Muslims in Europe, so that statement is off. She has no explanation for doctors and grad school students planning train and subway bombings. Pandith does get some things right:
"It does not help assimilation that immigrants may seldom interact with people from their new country. Mutual ambivalence between the immigrants and members of the host communities sometimes results in the fact that some neighborhoods in modern European cities are Muslim-majority areas. I know that the UK knows this phenomenon. Many Muslim Britons, Germans, and Frenchmen do not just pray only with their coreligionists, but also study, play sports, and socialize only with their coreligionists."
While it's true that, overall, Muslim immigrants in American society are better integrated than in most European countries, there are plenty of Muslim-only enclaves here too. Dearborn? Lodi? Parts of Brooklyn? And many Muslim organizations here are encouraging their members to "study, play sports, and socialize only with their coreligionists." It's not just in Europe. Pandith also admits:
"There is also a need to turn a critical eye to those immigrants who have made little or no effort to contribute to their communities, who for whatever reason have refused to compromise with the host society."
Hmm, I think I know what that reason is. Islamists think that the Western host society is inferior, decadent and full of infidels. Why would they want to "compromise" and integrate into an inferior, non-Muslim society? Western society is there for 1) exploitation and 2) for conversion to Islam, not for assimilation.
Pandith talks about the efforts of the State Department to discuss with Muslims across Europe the experience of Muslims in America:
"So a big part of my job is to travel to Europe to meet with audiences, share our experience, tell the story of how American Muslims who number in the millions and come from more than 80 different ethnic back grounds – have navigated through these identity questions. The questions that I hear in Europe from Muslim Europeans are often the questions I experienced and heard in America among Muslims in the 1970s. How are we going to make a life here as a minority population? How will our kids get educated in both Islam, our traditional cultural history, and also be a vibrant part of our new communities in America. "
We're not in the 70's anymore. What's at stake now is the future of the world, preventing another Dark Ages, not just dealing with "cultural identity questions."
"We are also trying to reach out to Muslims all over Europe to tell it as it is – that is – to push back against the perception that Muslims in America are second class citizens, or that we don’t honor Islam, that America is not a place where any person of faith can practice their religion freely."
"We also introduce American Muslims to Muslim communities in Europe through various programs – every day Americans who don’t work for the government and may not even like aspects of our domestic or foreign policy. One such program is called the Citizen Dialogue program and it has provided a vehicle for American Muslims to reach out and share experiences and talk about Islam in America. The Citizen Dialogue program will hit 14 countries in Europe by the end of 2008."
Pandith notes the extremist literature that's widely available in England:
"We should give help to publishers in e-form and in traditional print that can help kids to expand their minds, rather than the insanity available in pamphlet form in corner book shops that tell Muslims the best way to beat their wives, or that all Jews are pigs, or how to isolate themselves from the rest of the world. I was in
a few weeks back and bought several texts that took my breath away. In English….printed in cities not very far from here."
Uhmmm, you can find the same pamphlets here in the U.S. The most recent trustee appointed to the Islamic Society of Boston, Dr. Jamal Badawi, has written about wife beating. Supposedly, his argument is meant to discourage wife-beating, but there it is: "a gentle tap on the body, but never on the face." It could save the marriage! Now there's a slippery slope if I ever saw one.
I don't enjoy being negative here, and Farah surely means well and she wants to help change the world. But this seems dangerously naive. The soft sell might lead Muslims who are not radicals to view the US more favorably, but I can't see it making a lick of difference to the extremists. Pandith - and the entire State Department - seem to be engaged in wishful thinking. They're not really acknowledging the power of religious extremists to use the very writings of the Koran to sway people to join up with the Islamists' violent, nihilistic, death-craving side.