Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Obama Administration's War Against Self Governance and Freedom of Assocation

To protect the fundamental right of families and individuals to live in any home and community that they desire and can afford is an affirmation of the American Way. One of the few instances in which federal authority should trump the rights of local self governance, is when communities actively bar individuals from exercising their constitutionally guaranteed liberties. But, when the federal government mandates that local communities take actions to ensure equal demographic outcomes, rather than equal housing opportunities, it violates the rights of self government to pursue self government and individuals to exercise their freedom of association.

More than any other American government, the Obama Administration has demonstrated a troubling penchant for disregarding the letter and spirit of carefully conceived limits on federal power, regarding the aforementioned rights. This was seen was the Administration demanded that Westchester County, under threat of a long and costly lawsuit to "spend more than $50 million of its own money, in addition to other funds, to build or acquire 750 homes or apartments, 630 of which must be provided in towns and villages where black residents constitute 3 percent or less of the population and Hispanic residents make up less than 7 percent. The 120 other spaces must meet different criteria for cost and ethnic concentration." To achieve this, the county will have to force local towns to rewrite their zoning laws, none of which have been deemed illegal. According to Ron Sims, the Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, “This is consistent with the president’s desire to see a fully integrated society." 

While I share the president's belief that integration is a social good and I would not want to live in a homogeneous community, I respect the rights of others to do so, as long as they are not depriving others of the opportunity to move to their community. There is no evidence that neither county, nor city governments, not any individuals have taken discriminatory measures. The only real barrier is the high cost of housing in the more homogeneous towns of Westchester and for the time being there does not exist a constitutional right to rent or purchase a home that exceeds your means. So, in effect, the federal government is pursuing social engineering to ensure equal outcomes, against the will of the local communities. And in effect this also intrudes on the freedom of individuals to enjoy the fruits of their labor, for most individuals have worked hard to be able to afford to live in desirable communities. Interestingly, upwardly mobile African-Americans are often the most critical of forced economic integration, because they worked the hardest to move into or build communities not beset by the problems that public housing often brings. 

An important aspect of this story is the flawed, underlying beliefs that drives the Obama Administration's efforts at social engineering, the first being that most African-Americans and Latinos want to live in majority white communities. Even in liberal, integrated high schools and universities, with no history of racial animosity, the majority of students self self segregate at lunch time and in their social activities. And when friendships form across racial lines, the individuals are almost always of a similar class and cultural background, so the chance of real social integration occurring through the government's efforts to import low income residents, is slim to none. 

More troubling, the actions of the Obama Administration implies that in order to thrive, African-Americans, unlike any other group, need to reside among other groups. A reader posted a response to this article that addresses this very point: "As a black American, I find this sends a message that African-Americans need to be surrounded by rich white families to be happy and successful. Young black student's don't need to sit next to a white student to do good in school - we can do it on our own." You are correct; neither through "osmosis," nor through the mandates of the state can we as individuals and communities achieve happiness and good fortune. And real, enduring integration will never emerge through coercive social engineering, but through an affirmation of the principles of individual liberty (not group rights) and freedom of association.

On a side note, this affair begs the questions: Why should we view homogeneous white communities as being any more offensive than (let's say) equally exclusive Jewish, Chinese or Mexican-American neighborhoods? Why doesn't the federal government seek to diversify the said communities? Is there any real moral or legal difference between Americans of European descent seeking to congregate with their cultural compatriots, than (let's say) Arab Americans doing the same? Perhaps when European-Americans constituted the overwhelming majority of the nation, such behaviors could have been viewed as objectionable, but given that they now constitute a minority in a growing number of cities and states, there is no rational reason to single out their expressions of communal self interest. We cannot simultaneously encourage every group to promote their narrow ethno-political interests, while reprimanding the few European-Americans who do the same. Personally, I would like to see us travel in exactly the opposite direction and have all Americans promote the broad interests of their country and communities, rather than continue down the tried and failed path of balkanization.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

On The Clash of Cultures (Part II)

As discussed in our previous post, when culturally distinct groups reach sufficient demographic density they
seek to recreate the social life of their nations of origin. In this case a Dutch Muslim Party includes the
"criminalization of blasphemy" in its platform, which contradicts the well established Dutch tradition of freedom of expression. It is quite ironic that some people seek to undermine the very culture and policies that made the Netherlands such an attractive place to live and work.

New Muslim Political Party Formed in the Netherlands

Recently the Partij voor Moslim Nederland
(Party for Muslim Netherlands),  which already
enjoys a significant presence in various
municipal governments in that country,
announced that it intended to run candidates
for the Dutch Parliament. An article in Forbes
listed the party's major principles,  which included
limits on "offensive" speech about religion;
the criminalization of blasphemy and of the
destruction of religious texts; immediate admission
of Turkey to the EU; an end to support for Israel;
and the free and unimpeded importation of Muslim
brides from abroad.

Whether to work within existing parties, or to
concentrate onforming and building up separate
Muslim parties, has always been a key strategic
question for the soft jihadists of Europe.
Though there are Muslimsin Norway who are
prominent members of several large traditional
parties, the country now has a Muslim party too.
 Founded in 2009  as the Independent Labour Party,
it was obliged later that year to  change its name
to the Samtidspartiet (Contemporary Party)
because of official concerns that it might be
confused with the Norwegian Labor Party.
When outlining the party's goals, its founder,
Norwegian-Pakistani Ghuffor Butt, focused on a
desire for lower taxes, gas prices, and the like
-- making it sound like rather a libertarian party
for Muslims.Formerly a cinema director, producer,
and political journalist in Pakistan, as well as an
actor in some twenty Pakistani movies,  Butt ran
-- and, as far as I know, still runs -- a successful
store in Grønland, a largely Muslim district in Oslo, 
that sells Bollywood films.

Yet lest these credentials suggest he was a
"liberal" and "modern" Muslim, Butt made it
clear, in answer to a Dagbladet journalist's
questions, that his party's other objectives
included lifting the ban on hijab in the police
force, establishing exclusively Muslim
schools and hospitals, instructing
immigrant-group children in
their parents' native tongue rather
than in Norwegian, easing residence-visa
rules using taxpayer money to fund the
building of mosques and pay the salaries
of imams, punishing those who had
reprinted the Danish Muhammed cartoons,
withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, 
and prohibiting homosexuality.
(Later, presumably loath to offend some
of his allies on the left, Butt made
phone call to Dagblade to  walk
back the bit about gays: while homosexual 
conduct is forbidden by Islam, he said, the
party did not intend to change Norwegian law
on the subject. (Yeah, right.)

"If Norwegians didn't drink alcohol, have
premarital sex, and eat pork,"  Butt told
Dagbladet,"they'd be the world's best Muslims."
He also suggested that Mossad was responsible
for 9/11 and echoed the popular myth that Jews
hadn't shown up for work at the World Trade Center
that day.

It is interesting to note that the official launch
of this putatively Norwegian political party took
place in Pakistan -- yet another apparent indication
of the way in which many Norwegian-Pakistanis
view their  relationships to their old and new
homelands.As Butt explained, it  was easier to
reach Norwegian Pakistani voters in Norway this
way because they didn't watch Norwegian TV: 
thanks to satellite dishes,  theisets are tuned
to the Pkistani channels on which he was planning
to do interviews. "In three years, Oslo's mayor will be
Norwegian-Pakistani," he predicted (wrong so far),
and expressed the hope that within fifteen years a
"second-generation immigrant" would be Norway's
prime minister.

Then there's the U.K., where Muslims established
the Islamic Party of Britain in 1989 only to dissolve
it in 2006 after limited success in local elections.
The party received widespread attention when
one of its functionaries,  in answer to a reader's
question on its website,  said that gays should
be put to death for "public…lewdness." 

The party is no more, but it lingers on, after a
fashion,in the form of the socialist Respect Party,
to which it had intimate ties.  Based in the
immigrant-heavy city of Manchester,
run by two peoplenamed Salma Yaqoob and
Abjol Miah, and founded in 2004 in opposition
to the war in Iraq, the partyn-- which has what
one might call a"special relationship"
with the Muslim Association of Britain,
the Muslim Council of Britain, and the
Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain
(Marxist-Leninist)-- calls for a higher
minimum wage, higher taxes on the
rich to fund welfare programs, 
stauncher  support for Pakistani,
and a tough stance toward Israel;
though it presents itself as a part of the
left,it has soft-pedaled women's rights and
gay rights to garner Muslim votesIts most
famous member us the Hamas-loving
international gadfly George Galloway,
who represented the party in
Parliament after his expulsion
from Labour.

And let's not forget Spain, where in
2009 Muslims formed the Partido Renacimiento
y Unión de España (PRUNE),  which -- though
it calls explicitly for a "moral and ethical regeneration"
of Spanish society,with Islam as the
motive force-- denies that it's a Muslim party. 
A similar situation obtains in Germany, 
where a party called the Alliance
for Innovation and Justice, founded 
in 2010, also claims  It's not a Muslim
institution,  despite its overwhelmingly
Muslim membership, its clearly Islamic
ideological orientation, and its intimate ties
with the ruling party in Turkey.

So it goes. In those places in Europe where
Muslims, have reached a certain percentage
of the population, it's not surprising to see 
Muslim parties cropping up, fielding candidates, 
and, eventually, winning elections -- first for local
offices, then for seats in Parliament.

One challenge facing all such parties,
however, is that of convincing Muslims that
separate party is the best way for them to
gain power. Indeed, while it's important to
keep an eye on these still relatively small 
parties, at present the far more significant
problem is the readiness of the large,
established parties that,  in order to win
Muslim votes, are quick to betray
their founding principles -- and to sell out the
interests, rights, and security of members of
constituencies (such as gays and Jews)
that are increasingly being dwarfed by
ever-ballooning Muslim populations
The possibility of those Muslim votes 
being siphoned off by newer, smaller
parties with aggressively Islamic platforms
can only encourage the major parties 
to shift their own agendas in even more
Muslim-friendly directions.

It's all part, needless to say, of the complex,
subtle -- and ominous -- workings of soft jihad. 
Which is why he decision of the Party for
Muslim Netherlands to dive into the 
parliamentary fray is a development
worth taking note of. For it's no isolated
but part of a much larger 
and constantly shifting picture
-- that of the steady, and seemingly
inexorable, political Islamization of Europe.

By Bruce Bawer

On the Clash of Cultures (Part I)

Far too often debates on immigration and cultural diversity are framed in terms of the relative worth of different cultures and different groups. Are the values and norms of group A better than group B? Should group A assimilate or should group B accommodate? Rather than get distracted on contentious and largely subjective debates, we should focus on the indisputable fact of cultural clash. More specifically, wise policy must take into account the reality that when a sufficient number of sufficiently distinct cultural groups reside in the same space, tension arises. Imagine if 10,000 deeply traditional and conservative baptists from rural Mississippi and Alabama moved to the culturally and politically liberal San Francisco Bay area each year. We can be certain that in a short time tension between the native San Franciscans and southern migrants would emerge as the latter failed to assimilate to the norms of the former. As their presence grew, so would their political assertiveness and they would work to shape the laws (on gay marriage, abortion, religious expression, business regulation, taxation, etc.) of their new city to resemble those of the south. At that point even the most tolerant San Franciscan would grow resentful of the growing number of "red neck interlopers."

Why should it be any different with the millions of deeply conservative Muslim migrants in France? Rather than debate if the North Africans migrants should adopt the values and norms of their new homes or if Western Europeans should be more tolerant of burqas, polygamy and other alien practices, we should view this as an example of mutually alienation. We should question the wisdom of the politicians and bureaucrats who promoted the immigration and cultural policies that planted the seeds for this clash of cultures. A more sound policy would have been to welcome in the more educated, secular, western segments of Muslim societies, those who held the greatest potential to quickly assimilate to social and economic life in France. For this very reason, the assimilation of Muslims into American Society has by and large been successful. But, in the parlance of multiculturalism, assimilation is a dirty word. A growing number of critical thinkers are placing unconditional multiculturalism in the same category as communism, a belief system that's good in theory but disastrous in practice.

Occupy Wall Street: Half Right

It would be unfair the speak of an Occupy Wall Street platform, because it is a diverse, decentralized movement, with more opinions than members. But, there are some commonly held beliefs of the protesters, which can roughly be divided into two categories: freedom from undue corporate influence in political life and an expansion of entitlements. I share the former set of grievances; tax payer funded government bailouts of politically connected corporations forced us to reckon with the extent to which powerful financial interests and their lobbyists control national policy. But, the protesters who believe that this an example of a "free market gone amok" are painfully mistaken, the socialization of private, corporate loss is a toxic examples of excessive government intervention in the economy. But, rather than simply protest the bailout of reckless Wall Street firms, a notable segment of protesters declare that bailouts and entitlements should be vastly expanded. They call for "free" education, including the forgiveness of all billions in student debt, "free" health care, "free" transportation and the creation of 25 million jobs via a New Deal Style program. They fail to see the inherent moral and economic hazards in a system that usurps wealth from one sector to subsidize another. And the more obvious question that eludes them is: "What part of broke don't you understand?" A nation already buried in debt cannot expand the largess of the state, it must embark on the path of austerity.