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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Islamophobic? Moi?

posted by on January 24 at 13:37 PM

So the Brits sentenced Samina Malik, a 23 year-old Muslim woman, to nine months of probation for the crime of… writing a poem. But what a poem!

How to Behead

It’s not as messy or hard as some may think.

It’s all about the flow of the wrist.

Sharpen the knife to its maximum.

And before you begin to cut the flesh.

Tilt the fool’s head to its left.

Saw the knife back and forth.

No doubt the punk will twitch and scream.

But ignore the donkey’s ass.

And continue to slice back and forth.

La la la. Islam means peace. Now to be fair the Brits, they didn’t exactly arrest this lovely young woman for writing a poem. They came down on her for “possessing records likely to be used in an act of terrorism,” which included “an al-Qaida manual, a booklet on mujahedeen poisons and bomb-making instructions.” And guess what? This poetess of peace worked at London’s Heathrow Airport as a shop assistant, and was familiar with security procedures designed to protect heathen donkeys from, oh, murderous Muslim radicals and other terrorists.

The poem was read on NPR this morning in a piece about the emergence in Britain of “militant Islamist feminism”—which makes about as much sense as “radical gay heterosexuality.” When the poem was read I about choked on my toast. I fly into Heathrow now and then and there are always lots of women working in headscarves and I suppress my… well, I suppress my worst impulses. They’re in the West, I tell myself, they’ve immigrated for a reason, they’ve embraced Western values, and the nice woman in the headscarf selling me my International Herald Tribune at Heathrow isn’t thinking about sawing off my pole-smoking, beer-swilling, apostate head.* (The charming and talented Ms. Malik, however, “spent much of her time at work writing about her desire for martyrdom,” according to NPR.) They’re here, they’ve immigrated, they’re used to us!

But when I heard this next bit on the radio, well, I made up my mind to fly into Shannon next time I go to Europe:

Recent polls have shown that as many as four in 10 British Muslims want Sharia, the Islamic law, applied in Muslim-populated areas of Britain.

Sharia, which is practiced in many parts of the Islamic world, is a religious code of living. But it also specifies stoning and amputation as normal punishment for some crimes.

Sharia also specifies the beheading as “normal punishment” for homosexual acts.**

La la la. Islam means peace.

As much as I hate to sound like a member of the National Front… gee… I just gotta say this: There’s no shortage of backwards, fucked up, unpleasant shitholes where Sharia is practiced. If someone longs to live under Sharia, why the fuck would that someone emigrate to Europe or remain in Europe? Why not emigrate to, say, Pakistan or Iran or Saudi Arabia or Sudan or Nigeria or a whole host of islands in Indonesia? If you long to attend public amputations and beheadings, if you think the victims of rape should be imprisoned and whipped, what the fuck are you doing in Britain? Or the Netherlands? Or Belgium? Or France? Or Germany? Wanna live under Sharia? Well, get thee to a Sharia-enforcing shithole already.

I’ll be accused of being xenophobic, of course, for typing what any sensible person thought to him or herself listening to NPR this morning. I am not xenophobic. Or Islamophobic—unless being afraid of particular Muslims, like Ms. Malik, makes one Islamophobic.***

One of the things I love most about the good, ol’ US of A and thoroughly modern Europe—and miss most living here in Seattle—is the ethnic, racial, and religious diversity. But the price of admission to a pluralistic, multi-ethnic society has to be… a desire to live in that place. And a desire to live and let live, and a certain base-level tolerance for people that look, pray, and fuck differently than you do. You should, of course, be free to impose Sharia on yourself and yourself alone (not your daughters, for instance), just as Christians and Jews should be free to impose the most conservative interpretations of their faiths on themselves alone. But that’s it— you’re not free to impose it on others, even your co-religionists. Period.

And if you can’t hack that…. if you can’t handle pluralism… if you hate us punks and donkeys and fools much… and if you long for Sharia so terribly… then get the fuck out.

* I don’t have this reaction when I see women in headscarves in American airports—all of that here-in-the-West-for-a-reason actually applies to American Muslims, it seems. (Someone please inform the Department of Homeland Security.)

** Yes, there’s some “kill the homos” crap in the Bible, but no predominantly Christian states are executing homosexuals.

*** I’m afraid of some Muslims. But I’m afraid of some Christians, some Jews, some men, some women, some of my relatives, and many, many homosexuals too. Does this make me Christophobic, Jewophobic, guyophobic, girlophobic, uncleophobic, and homophobic as well?

RSS icon Comments


Poets are dangerous.

Women poets doubly so.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 24, 2008 1:44 PM

I thought Empire Glass would give you ten free Sharia dinners if they fixed you cracked windshield???

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | January 24, 2008 1:49 PM

We've created this fiction that Religion is a unique, immutable trait in people that we can't criticize.

Bullshit. Religion is political philosophy with a sprinking of art. Just as we can criticize Republican ideals, we can criticize Islamic ideals.

Posted by Timothy | January 24, 2008 1:57 PM

This kind of extremism is Western, not Eastern. The impulse to saw the head off is a Western response to Westernism. It's got nothing to do with the Middle East, which is why they're not hankering to "go back".

Very few predominantly Muslim states practice anything that can accurately be called "Sharia", anyways.

Posted by Fnarf | January 24, 2008 1:58 PM

@3, I totally agree. I am critical of all religons and frankly anyone who publicly expresses their religious ideology (no matter how harmless it may seem) I am frankly scared of. That includes Christians and Jews.

Anti-theist is what I am !!!!

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | January 24, 2008 2:01 PM

All religions are stupid and dangerous.

Posted by monkey | January 24, 2008 2:01 PM

The answer to all this, as I see it, is a worldwide ban on all religions.

Posted by pablocjr | January 24, 2008 2:02 PM

I love how there's this expectation and willingness to be tolerant of intolerance when it comes to religion.

Your government says that people with dark skin are subhuman and must be closeted away? You intolerant bastards! Change your ways!

Your religious leader says that women are subhuman and must be closeted away? Oh, goodness, that's not right, exactly, but we must cherish the cultural diversity!

I call shenanigans. Where's my broom?

Posted by Chris B | January 24, 2008 2:04 PM

That tool Sullivan put these silly ideas in your head, didn't he?

Ever think that maybe the reasons they haven't emigrated to a country under Sharia law are comparable to your own reasons for not emigrating to a country that has legal pot, gay marriage and universal health care?

Bellowing "love it or leave it!" whenever you see people you disagree with makes you a blowhard.

Posted by elenchos | January 24, 2008 2:05 PM

I thought Empire Glass would give you ten free Sharia dinners if they fixed you cracked windshield???

Oh no, if Shari's goes Halal they'll have to dump the Cuban Sandwich off the menu.

Posted by JMR | January 24, 2008 2:06 PM

Lady Dan, methinks thou dost protest a teensy bit too much. Nothing in your post, saturated with disclaimers as it is, is Islamophobic.

Wherefore all the defensiveness?

Posted by TCBATL | January 24, 2008 2:07 PM

Awesome post. It's always good to remember that freedom of religion in the US is not absolute, but is -- except for a few cases where the Supreme Court dropped the ball --secondary to the law (which is why we need the law to be equal and fair, but that's another story).

Posted by thegayrecluse | January 24, 2008 2:07 PM

#4 Fnarf (did you live over there too?)I would tend to agree with your assesment that few Muslim nations practise Sharia. However you did leave room for those Nations that do. Iran being one, Saudi Arabia being another. They might not be Strict in the law, but they sure as hell don't have laws based on secular thought. Having lived in the Arab world studing at an Arab University I must say on the citizen level Arabs that are Muslim tend to practise Sharia law at home, at work, on the street, and in the Mosque.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | January 24, 2008 2:12 PM

to enter a mosque you hafta take off your shoes as a sign of respect - don't fancy padding about in your socks? don't enter a mosque.

to live in the west you gotta handle secularism as a matter-of-fact - can't stomach apostates? don't live in the west.

Posted by misrule | January 24, 2008 2:13 PM

Yeah, it was a pretty disturbing story. And I agree, how the term "feminism", at least as I (thought I) understood it, gets applied here doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

But, as for WHY fundamentalists of any religious belief system would go to a secular state and then attempt to turn it into a religious one, well, that's pretty much the standard game plan isn't it? I mean, you gots to CONVERT all those sinners/apostates/infidels/non-believers, it's one of your primary functions as a believer, isn't it?

So, it wouldn't make sense to go somewhere Sharia is already in practice, because there's nobody to convert; everyone is ALREADY converted. No, you have to go where there's a ready source of potential converts.

So, they're just doing what any typical missionary does - but instead of trying to convert people in the Third World, which has been the traditional route for Judeo-Christians (and not surprisingly, where a significantly large portion of the population is already Muslim), the Muslems are coming to the First World instead to try to convert us.

Posted by COMTE | January 24, 2008 2:13 PM

don't forget bearophobic...and fatophobic...vaginophobic...judging by how skinny you're getting, maybe even foodophobic.

Posted by michael strangeways | January 24, 2008 2:14 PM

Fucking A DAN!!!!!!

Right on!!! Even if you are a degenerate cock slobbering scab, you are 100% right on this one! Kudos to you when it's due!


I ain't afraid of NO woman. I could and would totally kick the shit out of one if I had to.

Posted by ecce homo | January 24, 2008 2:16 PM

For a more nuanced take on this issue take a look at ian buruma's Murder in Amsterdam - in short he argues that as a practical matter you need to think hard about why these folks are so alienated. Which is why while I may agree with Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the whackatudeness of these folks - I don't want her setting policy.

We've been a lot more successful in integrating islamic immigrants than the Western Europeans have been. This is one case where they could learn from our example...

Posted by bakfiets | January 24, 2008 2:16 PM

@17, Ecce homo, that is a little over the edge on what you called Dan.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | January 24, 2008 2:18 PM

...but no predominantly Christian states are executing homosexuals.

Quite so. And hopefully Ahmanson and the Christian Reconstructionists won't ever get what they want here either. Then again...if Huckabee wins...

The problem is you can't tell whether or not someone is a dangerous blood-thirsty hater by their looks or the name of their religion, any more then you can tell if someone is a dangerous criminal by the color of their skin, and thinking you can doesn't make you safer, it makes you weak. The best way of preventing anything like Sharia Law from being enacted here in the United States or anywhere else is to defend secular democracy and a secular rule of law vigorously...radically even. And at the moment the biggest threat to that here in the U.S. is...well...not the radical Islamists.

Posted by Bruce Garrett | January 24, 2008 2:22 PM

@18, maybe they are so isolated becasue their religion tells them all their neighbors are evil sinners worthy of condemnation. The west should not have to change its ways to accommodate 13th century attitudes about anything.

Dressing up stupidity as religious belief doesn't make it any less stupid. Whether its gibberish about how prayer works, or stoning women for adultery.

Posted by Giffy | January 24, 2008 2:25 PM

Isn't religion a choice? Is isn't like you are born that way. So why should they get special rights...

Hee Hee.

Posted by maxine | January 24, 2008 2:26 PM


How so?

Love Ecce

Posted by ecce homo | January 24, 2008 2:30 PM

Thank god there's finally some freedom to say what you're saying, Dan. For too long, we western liberals have been cowed into closing our eyes to the medievalist tendencies of Islam. But facts are facts. I like modern Europe, too, but they made a huge mistake when they imported whole populations wholesale from Turkey (in the case of Germany) or Pakistan (U.K.) just to fulfill the expediency of cheap labor.

We can tsk-tsk from afar, but we're making the same mistake with Mexicans and Central Americans. There's nothing wrong with any immigrant group -- AS LONG AS they come in moderate enough numbers to be absorbed and assimilated into the host society. But when you throw open the doors, you're just asking for a resentful, separatist sub-population. If we refuse to accept that the parallel Univision society in America is heading toward conflict with the rest of us, because this idea offends our liberal pieties, then we deserve the Mexican Intifadah of 2020.

Posted by Olaf | January 24, 2008 2:33 PM

It's absolutely absurd label cricism "xenophobic" of someone who takes such obvious pleasure at literally cutting off the heads of people who don't subscribe to whatever primitive religion they happen to believe.

And why is America so much better at assimilating immigrants that Europe? Perhaps it's because the immigrants who come to our country attend secular schools, are able to find jobs, and oftentimes attend universities. This just doesn't happen in Europe, where in most cases they set up special schools and/or "community centers" for their immigrants, and any attempt to criticize immigrants unwillingness to assimilate--or even their violent hatred of democracy and secular values--is met with condescention from the most anyone but who's not far right.

@18: Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a basically women's rights advocate. If you took her political positions on immigrants and applied them to America she would be considered left of center.

Posted by PJ | January 24, 2008 2:34 PM

Bloodlust is bloodlust.

Whether you're chopping off somebody's head or filling them full of bullets, it boils down to a basic human impulse and desire.

You can dress it up in religion, but it's just a part of being human animals (biologically-speaking). We kill. It's just something that we do.

Posted by BallardDan | January 24, 2008 2:34 PM

Ever think that maybe the reasons they haven't emigrated to a country under Sharia law are comparable to your own reasons for not emigrating to a country that has legal pot, gay marriage and universal health care?

Probably not, since Dan would still be leaving a country that is at least more of a secular democracy and less of a totalitarian shit hole then...oh...Saudi Arabia. But...yes...they're coming to places like the U.S. and Europe for the opportunities there, most likely the economic opportunities, and/or opportunities for higher education, then they could possibly have or even dream of at home. It's not unreasonable to ask people who want to avail themselves of those opportunities, to support the culture that makes those opportunities possible. Or at least to not try to cut its head off.

Bellowing "love it or leave it!" whenever you see people you disagree with makes you a blowhard.

Actually...I think he's saying stay out if you don't buy into that liberty and justice for all thing. I pretty much agree with him there. I don't think you need to speak the language or buy into the local fashion sense, but there are some basic political ideas you really should have to buy into when you immigrate into a secular democracy and...well...secular democracy would be one of those.

Posted by Bruce Garrett | January 24, 2008 2:38 PM

If that poem was, I don't know ... say, Pantera lyrics, nobody would bat an eye.

The Anarchist Cookbook (basically instructions for poisons and bomb-making) is available on-line, and it is an interesting read. Does that mean everyone who reads it is going to make a bomb or poison somebody? No, it does not.

So, I've got a problem with 9 months probation for this woman. What the hell is going on in Europe? You can get thrown in jail for saying the holocaust didn't happen.

Posted by Mahtli69 | January 24, 2008 2:38 PM

it freaks me out when someone seems to want to kill me. if they are sincere, and evidence can be found to support that, i'm all for jail time. but, yeah, writing a poem and having some literature doesn't do it for me. it's like a larry craig bust with less actual evidence.

Posted by infrequent | January 24, 2008 2:43 PM

Dan does bring up a good point, though. If someone is a female Muslim immigrant to the UK who wants Sharia, why not just deport her to a Sharia nation?


Posted by Will in Seattle | January 24, 2008 2:48 PM

Weird that this post is on the same day as the one about hateful ol' *Michael* Savage - this could be an excerpt from his radio show...

Posted by Weiner | January 24, 2008 2:48 PM

Cheers, Dan. I feel you.

One of the things I've been curious about is the relative integration of the Muslim population here in the US versus that in European countries.

I lived in France for a few years, and one of the things that stood out the most was how marginalized Muslim immigrants seemed to be professionally and culturally despite a strong presence in the country dating back to the Algerian war.

We are officially less friendly, yet they seem to be happier here, and extremism doesn't seem to be manifest here in the same way as it does in Europe.

Curious if anyone has any thoughts on this aspect.


Posted by OklaHomo | January 24, 2008 2:51 PM

@24, there is a huge difference between Hispanic immigrants to the US and whats going on in Europe. Most Hispanic immigrants agree almost entirely with the foundations of our society. They might be more anti-choice and anti-gay then those of us on the left, but their views are not to far out of whack with the Country as a whole. In fact they are pretty in line with the 50% or so who are anti-choice and anti-gay.

But beyond that Hispanic immigrants seems to be going out of there way to become part of this society. They send their kids to the same schools, move into various neighborhoods, seek jobs, etc. There is not movement for imposing a different law in Hispanic communities, nor no incidents of extreme brutality.

Posted by Giffy | January 24, 2008 2:52 PM

The reason we're so good at integrating Muslims into our society is (or at least was) because we left them the fuck alone. They went through the same economic meat grinder as every other immigrant group, and thanks to our nifty Establishment Clause we gave no additional support to any religious group, so there was no pot of money to be allocated to Christian groups. We wrote no strange laws to prevent the construction of mosques, and didn't raid hallal butchers on trumped up health code violations. In other words, by treating Muslims in America as individuals, they integrated into our individualistic society.

Britain has an established church that receives taxpayer support, a blasphemy law that was last enforced in 1978 (the law does not apply to Islam), collectivist attitudes toward housing, immigration, and assimilation, which have led to ghettoization of British and French Muslims. Additionally, the attitude that they're not really British or French only leaves them with their Muslim identity to fall back on.

Here, a generation or two and no one caring means Muslims who don't eat pork, but are much more concerned with getting a Blu-Ray player and that new promotion than global jihad.

Too bad we abandoned those policies.

Posted by Gitai | January 24, 2008 2:53 PM

I don't see what's xenophobic about being creeped out by someone who advocates murder in the name of religious beliefs. That shit is scary and wrong.

Posted by Greg | January 24, 2008 2:54 PM

What's wrong with me today? I've agreed with Fnarf TWICE.

Did I miss the part of Dan's post where he said this gal was immigrated from someplace else? She wrote the poem in English. Is it possible she's a second or third generation Englishwoman?

Her poem reminds me of the poems I wrote in high-school. They remind me of the poems the kids in trench coats write between drawings of guns and Slayer lyrics.

The kid picking up your garbage in the food court wants to kill you just as much as this gal.

Posted by six shooter | January 24, 2008 2:59 PM

"militant Islamist feminism"--which makes about as much sense as "radical gay heterosexuality."

Huh? Gay heterosexuality, yes, makes no sense. But how are 'militant', 'Islamist' and 'feminist' mutually exclusive?

Are you saying that Islam is inherently anti-feminist? Or that militantism is? Not sure about that.

Posted by w7ngman | January 24, 2008 3:00 PM

In this case W7ngman, the "feminism" part of "radical Islamic feminism" doesn't seem to mean what we think of traditionally as feminism in this country.

Yes, it includes elements of female empowerment, but the way it was described in the story, it was more along the lines of "empowering Muslim women to act MORE in line with Sharia teaching", in other words, to SUBMIT to the patriarchical tenets of Islam, as opposed to Western "feminism" which generally rejects such paternalistic social constructs.

At least that's how I understood it.

Posted by COMTE | January 24, 2008 3:13 PM

#34 - I totally agree, hopefully we can return to some level of sanity in this regard after the next election. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Posted by OklaHomo | January 24, 2008 3:17 PM

Please indulge me: what is the difference between Northern "freedom riders" and "carpetbaggers" moving to the South to enforce their views of justice and Middle Eastern "Islamists" and "terrorists" moving to the West to enforce their views of justice?

Posted by A. | January 24, 2008 3:37 PM

Dear Six Shooter: I don't know if she is an immigrant or was born in the UK. Which is why I wrote this:

If someone longs to live under Sharia, why the fuck would that someone emigrate to Europe or remain in Europe?

Emphasis added.

Posted by Dan Savage | January 24, 2008 3:38 PM

Giffy@33 - Thank you. I wanted to say that myself, but you beat me to it. I've yet to meet a Mexican-American that wants to impose violent religious law on all of us.

Olaf@24 - Do you have any idea how pervasive American culture is in Mexico? They're hardly "in conflict" with it - in fact, most I've met (including family) tacitly embrace it.

Posted by Hernandez | January 24, 2008 3:38 PM
Posted by scary tyler moore | January 24, 2008 3:46 PM

Woohoo! I finally got Dan to respond to one of my comments!

Posted by six shooter | January 24, 2008 3:47 PM

There is truth and logic and there is moral relativism. Dan has an eye for self evident logic.

Posted by jeff | January 24, 2008 3:52 PM

Yay thinly veiled racism!

Can we get Charles on to say how Muslims are basically just monkeys who don't deserve buildings again?

Posted by The Baron | January 24, 2008 3:55 PM

Please indulge me: what is the difference between Northern "freedom riders" and "carpetbaggers"...

Uh...the South lost that war and so those "outside agitators" weren't really outsiders at all, or commie pinko faggots even, but fellow Americans, fighting for the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity thing the constitution at least theoretically guarantees to all Americans...including the coloreds?

Last I heard, you don't need a visa to move to another state.

Posted by Bruce Garrett | January 24, 2008 4:06 PM

@33 and @42 --

I'm not saying Hispanics are the equivalent of sharia-minded Muslims. My only point is that whenever a wave of immigrants is big enough, you run the risk of that group becoming isolated and alienated. Luckily, in the case of Hispanics, they DO share most of the values that we think of as western or secular. But that's not my point. If a wave of immigrants is big and chaotic, it makes it harder to become part of the bigger culture. You get ghettos (in the original meaning of that word). You get whole sections of the SW where Spanish is replacing English, where people don't feel like part of society, etc. And that inevitably leads to tensions, to racism, to violence. Obviously, in the case of Mexicans, it won't lead to sharia law, but it could lead to the same kind of angry identity-politics that have made the Balkans such a lovely place to live for the past 800 years.
Look, my mom is Hispanic. I love the culture. But I love the U.S. more. And many established Hispanics -- second and third generation Hispanics -- are troubled by the new wave of lawless immigration, especially now that new arrivals' first lesson in life in the U.S. is "you don't have to obey laws that you don't like." It's a lousy way to start out the immigrant experience.

Posted by Olaf | January 24, 2008 4:08 PM

Additionally, the attitude that they're not really British or French only leaves them with their Muslim identity to fall back on.

That's one thing I've always thought was the saving grace of this country. I could move to Britain or Germany or Japan and even if I got citizenship I'd never be regarded as an Englishman or a German or a Japanese. But anyone can come here and become an American.

The distinction is, or should be, that becoming an American is more an act of political assent. You're buying into a system of governance...a theory of the relationship between government and the governed. That makes it universal...takes it out of the realm of race or class or nation of birth.

Posted by Bruce Garrett | January 24, 2008 4:21 PM

@1: "I've got another good one for you / We are turning cursive letters into knives."
-Bikini Kill, Bloody Ice Cream

Posted by Reed | January 24, 2008 4:39 PM

At least we're not putting up signs for our towns in every language - including Klingon - except English ...

(Little Mosque on the Prairie, last night, ECB should watch it)

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 24, 2008 4:57 PM


The original meaning of the ghetto? Where people of a certain persuasion were required by law to live? Where they often had curfews and were locked in for the night?

Posted by keshmeshi | January 24, 2008 5:22 PM

You know why so many Muslims move to the Western countries that they love to hate?

Healthcare and money.

You can't beat sickness to death with rocks. One night in a miserable hut with a kidney stone and no pain medication other than a stick to bite on can be quite a motivation to leave.

Unfortunately, that motivation is not strong enough to actually change your beliefs. So while the simple drives of pain and poverty force people to emigrate to the West, don't expect much else in terms of personal transformation.

And so they mumble about Sharia and beheading us, because there's really no reason not to.

Posted by Yeek | January 24, 2008 5:59 PM

"why the fuck would that someone emigrate to Europe or remain in Europe"

Cause they don't want to live in a shithole. They want all the amenities of modern, clean, western living. They just also want everyone to conform to their ideas of what's right and wrong, and to be able to kill people who violate their delicate sensibilities.

Posted by Ferin | January 24, 2008 6:18 PM

You know what breeds extremism? Poverty and desperation.
You know why industrialized nations in the west have such a high standard of living with things like health care and free education? In part because we monopolize the limited global resources at the expense of "shithole" countries that are full of poverty and desperation. And because when the people living in those countries are lucky enough to immigrate to our countries they are generally relegated to the shittiest jobs, like airport shop attendant.
In my experience, Muslim immigrants to Europe experience a larger degree of marginalization because unlike the "melting pot" of the United States, those countries are much more monocultural.
I also listened to the NPR story and it seemed to me to be pretty sensationalist and fear mongering. The story made little attempt to examine the real experiences of Muslim immigrants to Britain and Europe.

Posted by Karen | January 24, 2008 6:18 PM

By the way, the word "Islam" does not mean "peace". It means "submission".

Posted by Fnarf | January 24, 2008 6:47 PM

I suspect they're there for the economic opportunitites. Which kinda makes it hard for me to swallow the religious moralizing. If you're so devout, why couldn't you stay in (insert shithole here)? Oh, you wanted to live the good life even more than you wanted to nag everybody about your particular sky god? Phlbbt. Real fanatics make sacrifices.

Dan, I've had a similar reaction to these stories in recent years. "Socially conservative" Turks in Germany upset about a nudist park. Psst... you're in Germany. If you want to live in a place where that doesn't happen... you know...

This whole unpleasant subject reminds me of an old Onion classic:

ACLU defend's Nazis' Right to Burn Down ACLU HQ:

Posted by CP | January 24, 2008 8:09 PM

While there is undeniably a lot of problems in Islam right now (inherently?), and I think one has a right to point them out, I think the point you made about not fearing headscarfed women in America is also interesting to consider. Why has America succeeded (for the most part) in incorporating Muslims into society, whereas Europe has failed to do so? I think it's something America can actually be proud of when comparing itself to Europe (for a change), with the added benefit that we're unlikely to face a homegrown Islamic terrorist threat.

Posted by Mr Me | January 24, 2008 8:31 PM

As usual, Dan, you're impolitic but your point hits home.

"The price of admission to a pluralistic, multi-ethnic society has to be a desire to live in that place. And a desire to live and let live, and a certain base-level tolerance for people that look, pray, and fuck differently than you do."

This kind of insight and writing is why I read Slog.

Posted by Kiru Banzai | January 24, 2008 8:52 PM

@ 58 - Thanks, that actually made me feel better about being American. Anyone know of any studies on the comparative integration of the muslim population in Europe, the US and Canada?

Posted by wench | January 24, 2008 9:28 PM

@10: Let's open a halal restaurant called Sharia and Lambchop.

I think it could work...

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | January 24, 2008 9:28 PM

This may be why some (4 out of 10?) Western Muslims have such disregard for Western laws, rights, and culture:

I remember a documentary a couple of years ago wherein a group of young Muslims born and raised in the US were interviewed. One of the 18-year-old students spoke for the rest when he said, "I'm a Muslim first. America is just my address."

Posted by Bauhaus | January 25, 2008 12:06 AM

I'm with you, Dan. Bravo.

Posted by Miles | January 25, 2008 8:07 AM

It really makes sense that you move to America and become an American because we are a land built almost entirely on immigrants. Most of us are mutts of dozens of nationalities and, yes, even religion and culture. My dad's side was Catholic, my mom Lutheran. "Oh well" here, "CIVIL WAR!" in Northern Ireland.

I am a Christian, but yeah, uber-Christians scary the crap out of me. With any luck, us moderatists will find our voice and tell them to settle the fuck down. Likewise, I think moderate Muslims speaking up would really, really help their cause. I don't think getting rid of religion is the answer, but questioning and setting religious beliefs within the boundaries of society is, me thinks, perfectly acceptable.

Posted by Marty | January 25, 2008 8:55 AM

Bauhaus, you can easily find any number of similar sentiments among white native-born 18-year-olds on the political fringe. Remember the WTO riots? Anarchists? Destroying capitalism has always been a popular AMERICAN pastime. You'll find it here on Slog every day.

Posted by Fnarf | January 25, 2008 9:57 AM

Karen (comment 55):

Muslim shitholes aren't poor because we steal all of their wealth, but because their wealth is held by propped-up dictatorships (or monarchies) that keep their people poor while embracing a religion that tells them that investment is evil. There is hardly any industry because, aside from oil, they haven't made any. Colonialism and post-colonialism haven't been kind to them, but at some point the blame has to go to their own leaders.

Posted by jon | January 25, 2008 12:23 PM

It isn't fair to hate or be afraid of people who are religious. That is completely paranoid and unfair. People who are religious or spiritual, I have found, tend to be good people in general. We all have weaknesses, religious or not but most religious people do not go around trying to kill others who do not believe what they believe. I think some of you are over reacting. GET A GRIP.

Posted by Diane | January 25, 2008 12:44 PM

Keshmeshi (@52) --

Yeah, basically. By "original meaning of ghetto," I mean a neighborhood where a minority ethnicity is confined. As opposed to "slum," which is what a lot of Americans mean by the word ghetto.

I guess the ORIGINAL meaning of ghetto is Italian for "foundry," -- because metal foundries dominated the island on which Venetian Jews were once forced to live.

Anyway, the point is, Hispanics are being ghettoized in America just as the South Asians have been in the UK, and that's unsettling.

Posted by O | January 25, 2008 1:13 PM

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