Islam, immigration & positive thinking
- Published: 06 December 2009
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Let us leave the worn old paths we have trod these last years, culminating in the latest session of Islamaphobia to sweep Europe, and look at the future, writes John Duckham.
Let us find something upon which we all agree, and we surely agree there is presently a problem, and there is a future to plan for and act our way into.
Those who dislike Islam with a bitterness I find hard to understand blame the religion but I blame immigration. Let us just call the problem, 'Oh Bugger'. I choose this because it is what I usually say when I strike something difficult and apparently intractable that has a number of elements (my stepdaughter comes to mind at this point).
Here we are then with an 'Oh Bugger' to deal with. The options surely are two. We can talk endlessly and moan and say how terrible the 'Oh Bugger' is; or we can do something about it. I am on the let us do something about it wing here and am regularly accused of being Leftie.
Most Righties seem by nature to be negative about the 'Oh Bugger' and would rather say how terrible the situation is and how it will never be made better because everybody except them is a complete waste of space. I have a lot of sympathy for that approach as I have always thought everybody except me was a twerp; barring those who agree with me and do as I say (not many and all employees). Let us then do away with the usual categorising and call people Negative and Positive.
I cannot understand the Negs. Most see European governments as so weak they are useless and then, in the case of Britain, see the next as likely to be as bad. Oh woe, and let’s get back to the usual business of illustrating the perceived horrors of Islam to make us feel better.
I can understand the Positives but in their way they are as bad. They are bound by ideological imperatives and what we have come to call PC. They are wedded to an approach to the integration of immigrants that has failed and is making things worse; multi-culturalism.
At this point it is important to stress one or two home truths. The first is that immigrants are in Europe to stay. Most are legally in place and many are citizens of the countries in which they live. A large proportion are second and third generation members of their societies.
The legal immigrants are going to have to be accommodated. Negs are dismayed at this but it is the truth. Europe has changed for a huge number of reasons; Industry gone to the Eastern producers; Empires broken-up; agriculture, education, skills, these have all changed as Europe's place in the world has altered. Nothing can be done about any of that.
The other change is the influx of immigrants. This can be stopped but it cannot in all seriousness be reversed short of a kind of Balkan ethnic cleansing. Hence Europe can either muddle on with the Negs screaming woe and isn't it terrible and the Pos saying it isn't that bad we just need to understand and be accommodating; and everyone will be heading for a collapse of civil order and a titanic mess that will take years to clear up.
I did not like what little I saw of Enoch Powell in his public appearances, nor did I like his views; and I found his way of expressing them repugnant but, even if his timing was out, the ‘Oh Bugger’ he defined is in danger of becoming a reality.
Or: both sides can be positive and put their minds to finding an answer. I am in favour of the latter course. I see no alternative. And I see nothing against so called right wing prescriptions either as long as they are realistic and not of the kind that appeal to the BNP and the EDL, which are not right wing but are Fascist and their ideas cannot be clearly stipulated because they include stuff that would be illegal under international law and most of the laws of European states.
I would not entertain them any more than I would entertain a Communist solution, which would almost certainly be similar. But taking the two main political ethoses available there is nothing sacred about a purely Socialist solution that makes it the most compassionate, or the purely Conservative that makes it the most practical. The likelihood is that whatever is devised will be a combination and operated by successive governments of different political persuasions. The solution to the ‘Oh Bugger’ should be apolitical.
Here is where I put my money where my mouth is (no one has that much money). I suggest the following as a minimum to start a process of rebalancing immigration in Britain:
1. Stop all immigration from outside Europe on the basis of a moratorium (I can’t see how you could stop immigrants from EU countries without leaving the EU).
2. Insist on the use of English as the common language and the language of all schooling.
3. Stop all courts, quasi courts and arbitration services from operating except those working under British Law.
4. Deport all those in the country illegally.
5. Reform and use properly the work permit system.
6. Provide and make a part of the citizenship attainment, courses in British Law and entitlements and responsibilities.
These rulings should be clear and rigidly enforced.
This would be the minimum to get the country stabilised and then other programmes to integrate fully immigrant communities would have to be started; including especially the rights of women and the means whereby they can obtain help to have these rights enforced.
It is not only the Muslim community that has a misogyny problem. Asian women generally and some African too are used to living under patriarchies and for that situation to pertain in Britain is wrong. Hence there must be protection given to vulnerable sectors of all immigrant communities.
It is no good being a putty coloured Muslim enthusiast and starry eyed about Islam either. There are elements which I know are not necessary, and do not work in many Muslim majority nations or in countries with large Muslim communities. They are in a lot of cases not even Islamic but that hardly matters as they operate in the Islamic community where they are used by the unscrupulous and accepted as fact by the gullible both in and outside the community.
The arguments about these are now facile but they should be clearly stated for all to see and understand. I am thinking of child brides, female circumcision, full clothes covering for women, polygamy (accepted widely in Islam and provided for in the Koran, but against European Law and therefore should be banned), forced marriages, and the murder of adulterers and children seeking to escape the strictures of their traditional family life.
Except for the polygamy I know that the rest are not Islamic and are crimes in almost all countries where they occur except those still living with primitive traditional practices. They have no place in Britain and that should be publicly explained.
British social services are prepared to intervene in British domestic disputes to protect children and young adults; they must do the same in the families of all immigrant groups too; they are all British and entitled to the same protections.
Specifically for Islam in view of the terrorist threat; preachers from abroad must be monitored closely. This is done in Indonesia with more determination than anywhere I have heard about in Europe. If they can do it here why should it not be done everywhere?
This approach, very briefly described above, is what works in Indonesia where I live. It is called Pluralism and is explained in detail in a report by Harvard University: The Pluralism Project. There are links at the end of this article to the project, which has been running for about ten years and is a large body of work.
The second of the two links is to the country portrait for Indonesia and I include it because of my own interest, but also because I believe that this society has a lot to teach us. It has a lot to learn from us too but it has been showing more and more in recent years that is has taken the lessons of Europe, both good and bad, on board.
I believe Britain and countries all around the world can learn a lot from new democracies and countries like China, teetering on the edge of starting democratic reform and representative government. Hubris could be our undoing.
The first and most obvious lesson I believe is that all I have described above that seems somehow revolutionary for Britain, a Christian majority country with a small Muslim community, is done here in the biggest Muslim nation in the world.
What will seem to some a right wing assault on freedoms for ethnic minorities, and by others as a refreshing blast of anti-Islam activism is in fact normal life here; normal life within the bounds of the, secular, laws of the country. Britain pioneered these kinds of freedoms and they are used and respected worldwide; but in their home they are not being applied. The result of this negligent and destructive behaviour may be an ‘Oh Bugger’ of serious proportions.
John Duckham is a retired construction superintendent who is now a writer and researcher into Islam and Javanese Mysticism. He blogs at Democratic Duckham.