Liesl Prokop: Intellectually Dishonest

No doubt the usual suspects will be hugely enjoying the claim by Austria’s hard-right interior minister Elisabeth (Liesl) Prokop that 45 per cent of Muslims are “unwilling to integrate”. In fact, it’s more than a claim – as well as rhetoric, she’s got a “study” to support her election positioning. Unfortunately, the study still isn’t complete – its leader, one Prof. Matthias Rohe, has yet to draw conclusions from the data. Not only that, there are some serious concerns regarding the methodology – at the link, it turns out that the study included, as well as a mixture of questionnaires and focus groups, a “consideration of media reports”.

Ah. I think I get it. Someone like the emetic FPÖ goon Andreas Mölzer has his pet newspaper (Zur Zeit) rant about TEH TERRORISTS, and this is duly marked off by the responsible minister’s pet academics as evidence for Mölzer’s policy. But there is much, much worse.

According to her spokesman, “20 per cent of Muslims had difficulties with integration for religious reasons and 25 per cent with the cultural background”. So, obviously 45 per cent of them REFUSE TO INTEGRATE AND MUST BE ELIMINATED! Errr..well. Perhaps if religious and cultural differences were mutually exclusive, that might approach the truth or something akin to it.

But of course they are not. In fact, I’d argue that in this case they are barely distinguishable, which implies epic double counting and a truly mendacious misuse of statistics. After all, I suspect that not far off 100 per cent of them agree with me that the current Austrian government is a bunch of racists and cheap-arsed hacks with their fingers in the till, and using the same class of mathematics, we can therefore conclude that 145 per cent of Muslims in Austria are dangerous non-integrators.

Updated: Well, the study was eventually presented, and it doesn’t contain either the phrase “unwilling to integrate” or the figure of 45 per cent. How strange. It’s almost as if someone was lying.

The liberalism of fools?

I cannot recommend highly enough Ken Macleod’s post (found via Crooked Timber) on how the “socialism of fools” – Engels’ description of anti-semitism – was accompanied by a sort of “liberalism of fools”, to wit, the anti-Catholicism of the pre-WWII era. Macleod, acknowledging that anti-Catholicism is rather passé these days, wonders if hatred of something else, perhaps another sect, might fill the roll as a modern liberalism of fools.

And, on a not entirely separate topic, French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo (no website, not that kind of paper) is republishing the images, along with one on its cover of Mohammed crying “It’s hard to be loved by fools”. An effort by the Conseil français du culte musulman to stop publication through the French courts was rejected on a technicality.

Chirac, however, has demonstrated that he is not, contrary to widespread belief, the biggest fool in Europe. Unlike the Danish Prime Minister, he has “condemned all manifest provocations that are liable to dangerously arouse passions.” Alas, he has only retreated to the number two slot in European political idiocy. He also said, “Anything susceptible to harm the convictions of others, particularly religious convictions, should be avoided. Freedom of expression should be exercised with a sense of responsibility.” Right on count two, wrong on count one. Responsible freedom of expression means that when you go out to offend people, you can’t claim to be surprised when they are offended. But there is little point in free speech if it is forbidden from trying to change convictions.

And round and round this totally avoidable fiasco goes.
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The cartoon row: aiming for maximum shock value

Iran newspaper Hamshahri came up with an original plan to counter the release of Danish cartoons making fun of the prophet Muhammad and decided to hold a little cartoon contest to test the limits of free speech:

The daily paper Hamshahri said the contest was designed to test the boundaries of free speech — the reason given by many European newspapers for publishing the Prophet Mohammad cartoons.

Fair enough, you’d say? Well, not quite. The theme of the contest is the Holocaust, incidentally called an “incident”:

A serious question for Muslims … is this: “Does Western free speech allow working on issues like America and Israel’s crimes or an incident like the Holocaust or is this freedom of speech only good for insulting the holy values of divine religions?”‘ the paper said on Tuesday.

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Iraq, or Kashmir?

I have already indicated that I consider attemps to deny all Iraq war connection to recent events in London pretty much stupid. I wonder how many people in the UK beyond Tony Blair and Jack Straw actually believe the contrary to be the case (assuming for the moment that even they themselves believe it, rather than believing it to be a political necessity to say it). (See this post, and this one). I’m happy to accept the Joint Terrorist Analysis Center June document view that:

?Events in Iraq are continuing to act as motivation and a focus of a range of terrorist related activity in the U.K.?

But clearly the main issue is that there is no ‘one cause’ to be found here. If we want to get to grips with this, we need an explanatory model that has a number of levels, and which bases itself on multiple causality. Within that model, the situation in Kashmir would undoubtedly figure.
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A quote from a Johann Hari post, via Digby:

But another fight began yesterday: to defend our civil liberties ? and especially those of the decent, democratic Muslim majority ? in an age of terror. I headed for the East London Mosque ? a few minutes? walk away from the bomb in Aldgate ? to watch afternoon prayers. Chairman Mohammed Bari said, ?Only yesterday, we celebrated getting the Olympics for our city and our country. But a terrible thing happened in our country this morning? Whoever has done this is a friend of no-one and certainly not a friend of Muslims. The whole world will be watching us now. We must give a message of peace.? Everybody in attendance agreed; many headed off to the Royal London Hospital to give blood. But they were afraid the message would not get out: several people were expecting attacks on the mosque tonight.

From the media, it seems to representative of British muslim reactions in general. And quite understandably so.

There ar really several questions here: a) will there be harassment and violence now, in the wake of the attack, b) the long term negative impact n inter-ethic relations, b) will civil liberties be (further) curtailed.

As for b and c, based on the admirably non-hysterical response by the public so far, I’m cautiously optimistic. Cautiously. As for a, it only takes a few racist scumbags, doesn’t it? Regardless of how decent the general population may hypothetically be. But maybe it won’t get really horrifically bad, seeing as I haven’t seen any really serious incidents serious happened in the first night. Or did I miss them.

Guardian reports on the backlash:

At the Finsbury Park mosque in north London, worshippers said passersby had shouted abuse and rattled the entrance gates in the hours after yesterday’s bombings.

Within hours of the attacks police forces across the country were sent advice from the Association of Chief Police Officers on how to counter any backlash.

Forces are supposed to make contact with “vulnerable communities”, in this case Muslims, and react quickly and robustly to incidents of hate crime.

There are two fundamental aims, to keep Muslims safe, then to ensure there is the maximum chance that those with information about the planning of the attacks have the confidence and trust in the police to come forward.

Input from people who know what they’re talking about would be good.

(I’d also like to hear what the long term and short term reaction was after 3/11. It’s not necessarily hugely relevant, but interesting in itself.)

It’s perhaps a phrase that’s lost all meaning, or never had one, but I’d say if bigotry prevails, the terrorism will in some real sense have won.

Turkey and the EU: Poles apart?

Like most numbers of the Spectator, the festive, XL-sized holiday edition is marred by the presence of Mark Steyn. But don’t let that put you off, there’s some good stuff there as well. And one of the better bits is an essay by Prof. Norman Stone on Turkey (Potential EU Accession of) (reg. req.).

For the most part Stone paints a picture of the old Ottoman Empire as something much less uniformly Islamic than some think. You should already be aware, of course, that what would later (in truncated form) become Turkey was a multicultural, multiethnic, multireligious state, but if you weren’t, Stone gives you a quick background. (By the time it fell apart, the Ottoman Empire had become the ‘Sick Man of Europe’; but for centuries it was a success.) What you might not have known, though, was that the orthodox Christians of the Ottoman realms were only too happy to be part of a nominally Islamic polity. The orthodox patriarchs and the Muslim sultans saw in the latinate West a common foe. Indeed my own suspicion is that the Greeks felt a keener enmity than the Turks. The sultan, understandably, might well have seen the theological differences between orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism as obscure and uninteresting (how many of us in the post-Christian lands of the west are aware of, let alone take much interest in, the distinctions between the theravada and mahayana strains of Buddhism?) To the bishops of the orthodox world, though, the sultan served (whether he cared about this or not) as a bulwark against the centralising domination of their brother-bishop at Rome.

But what set Stone off was a recent article in Die Zeit by Prof. Hans-Ulrich Wehler. The title of Wehler’s article, which formed part of the contra side in a Zeit-sponsored debate on Turkish accession to the EU, has some unfortunate historical echoes: “Das T?rkenproblem“.
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Suspicion and divided loyalties

Perhaps the most damaging effect of 9/11 and all that has followed will be its role in making divided loyalties one of the most dangerous things a person can have. From the beginning, while the ruins of the World Trade Center were still burning, any effort to hold non-trivial positions about terrorism and Islam were attacked. People opposed to the war in Iraq were branded as terrorist supporters, people unimpressed by a programme of reform in the Middle East imposed at the end of a gun were castigated, people who asked questions about whether there was more to things than “they hate us for our freedom” were branded as traitors.

Tariq Ramadan wrote a piece in Wednesday’s New York Times which must be read in this light. The key paragraph – the statement of where he stands – appears at the end:

I believe Western Muslims can make a critical difference in the Muslim majority world. To do this, we must become full, independent Western citizens, working with others to address social, economic and political problems. However, we can succeed only if Westerners do not cast doubt on our loyalty every time we criticize Western governments. Not only do our independent voices enrich Western societies, they are the only way for Western Muslims to be credible in Arab and Islamic countries so that we can help bring about freedom and democracy. That is the message I advocate. I do not understand how it can be judged as a threat to America.

But it is not that hard to see the threat in it. To encourage western Muslims to at once see themselves as having a place in the West and a role in the Islamic world is tantamount to asking them to divide their loyalties. To all too many people right now, divided loyalties are a synonym for treason. The charge of divided loyalties is an old one, and a very damaging one. It was once the most mainstream charge that people made against Jews. To see it revived today – against Muslims in Europe, against Mexicans in the US by the likes of Samuel Huntington, and yes, against Jews in many countries – is very, very troubling.
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Daniel Pipes on Tariq Ramadan: Why French literacy still matters

Readers of my previous comment on Tariq Ramadan will no doubt have come away with the impression that I don’t much like Daniel Pipes. This is not an entirely accurate assessment of my opinon of him. I think Pipes is an unreconstructed bigot and xenophobic fanatic whose academic work fails to meet even the lowest standards of scholarship, whose career has been built on politically driven attacks, and who has set up with his “Campus Watch” as a terrorist front designed to intimidate academics and ensure that there is as little debate, discussion or rational thought on Israel, US foreign policy or Islam as possible. His reseach and scholarship are not intended to better inform action but to support specific agendas, usually revolving around hating some foreign force or people. Instead of fostering debate, his work is intended to intimidate. Pipes advocates religiously targetted surveillance, he supports making federal university funding conditional on ideology, and he has helped to terrorise professors who are named on his website. In short, I think Pipes is swine.

He is a second generation right-wing tool, the son of one of the men most responsible for America’s “Team B”, which grossly overblew the Soviet menace in the 70s and 80s – causing massive US defense spending and resulting deficits – and complained that anyone with a better sense of reality was soft on communism. Normally, Pipes’ parentage would constitute poor grounds for condeming him as having a pathological relationship to facts. But keep this in mind, since it constitutes one of his arguments against Ramadan.

All you need is Google to find out why I think these things about Daniel Pipes. It’s not a lot of work. His own website provides ample examples.

But, today, I will be targeting something a little more specific. Pipes has put up on his website his comment on Tariq Ramadan’s visa denial, originally published in the New York Post on Friday. In it, he makes specific points against Tariq Ramadan, linking, in some cases, to articles on the web in support. These articles are primarily in French. As a service to our non-francophone readers, we will be translating the relevant sections, since they lead one to the conclusion that Pipes assumes his readers will just take his word on their contents.

We report, you decide.
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Flirting on the west-?stlichen Divan

Joschka Fischer, visiting Ankara, comes out strongly for (eventual) Turkish accession to the EU, reports the S?ddeutsche:

Europa werde ?einen hohen Preis? daf?r zahlen, wenn es die T?rkei aus der Europ?ischen Union heraushalten wolle. F?r Europas Sicherheit sei die T?rkei wichtiger als ein ?Raketenabwehrsystem?…

[Europe will pay a high price if it wants to keep Turkey out of the European Union. For European security, Turkey is more important than a missile defence system]

But there are not a few hurdles in the way. In an interview with H?rriyet, the German foreign minister noted that, in Germany as well as other EU lands, there are ‘rational as well as emotional objections’ to a Turkish accession, and that these will need some serious wrestling.
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