As an American living in the United Kingdom, I can't help but be fascinated by this country's relationship with Islam. While we have a fairly large Islamic population in the United States, our nation is so vast that most of us do not often encounter our Islamic fellow citizens unless we live in certain cultural enclaves.
In Britain, however, the situation is much different. Here in these Islands, people live cheek by jowl, and contact is constant. There is another difference, as well. While the United States was attacked on September 11th by outsiders, the United Kingdom has suffered from attacks by Muslims who were born here, who were raised here and who chose to kill here.
Therefore, in the United States, we are still somewhat free to view Islamic Terror is an external threat. While here in the United Kingdom, this is a threat that came from within.
I've been thinking about these matters lately because the head of MI5 recently warned of the dangers posed by a growing number of radicalized youth, and a study reveled that Jihadist literature was being sold in some of the nation's leading Mosques.
Today, the story again intruded on my thoughts. This time because I received an email from a right-wing correspondent back home in the States.
The email piece was entitled: "Salute the Danish Flag - it's a Symbol of Western Freedom." Originally run on a website called, Family Security Matters, purports to tell the story of how liberal Denmark fell from grace by allowing Muslims to enter their country, and then hold it hostage.
Here is the opening:
[I]n 1978 ...[t]he Danish population embraced visitors, celebrated the exotic, went out of its way to protect each of its citizens. It was proud of its new brand of socialist liberalism - one in development since the conservatives had lost power in 1929 - a system where no worker had to struggle to survive, where one ultimately could count upon the state as in, perhaps, no other western nation at the time.
The rest of Europe saw the Scandinavians as free-thinking, progressive and infinitely generous in their welfare policies. Denmark boasted low crime rates, devotion to the environment, a superior educational system and a history of humanitarianism.
However, because this brave and advanced little nation allowed radical Muslims into the fold, all of this began to change. (By the way, did you notice that paean to the welfare state? How often do you hear that in the Right Wing Cannon!? "a system where no worker had to struggle to survive, where one ultimately could count upon the state as in, perhaps, no other western nation at the time"-- bet the ditoheads didn't read that very carefully the first time!)
In fact, according to the article, Danish "commitment to multiculturalism would come back to bite".
By the 1990's the growing urban Muslim population was obvious - and its unwillingness to integrate into Danish society was obvious. Years of immigrants had settled into Muslim-exclusive enclaves. As the Muslim leadership became more vocal about what they considered the decadence of Denmark’s liberal way of life, the Danes - once so welcoming - began to feel slighted. Many Danes had begun to see Islam as incompatible with their long-standing values: belief in personal liberty and free speech, in equality for women, in tolerance for other ethnic groups, and a deep pride in Danish heritage and history.
The New York Post in 2002 ran an article by Daniel Pipes and Lars Hedegaard, in which they forecasted accurately that the growing immigrant problem in Denmark would explode. In the article they reported:
· "Muslim immigrants…constitute 5 percent of the population but consume upwards of 40 percent of the welfare spending."
· "Muslims are only 4 percent of Denmark's 5.4 million people but make up a majority of the country's convicted rapists, an especially combustible issue given that practically all the female victims are non-Muslim. Similar, if lesser, disproportions are found in other crimes."
· "Over time, as Muslim immigrants increase in numbers, they wish less to mix with the indigenous population. A recent survey finds that only 5 percent of young Muslim immigrants would readily marry a Dane."
· "Forced marriages - promising a newborn daughter in Denmark to a male cousin in the home country, then compelling her to marry him, sometimes on pain of death - are one problem..."
· "Muslim leaders openly declare their goal of introducing Islamic law once Denmark's Muslim population grows large enough - a not-that-remote prospect. If present trends persist, one sociologist estimates, every third inhabitant of Denmark in 40 years will be Muslim."
Leaving aside the veracity of the Post as a news source for a moment, this article unintentionally exposes the paradox of our Western Delema. On the one hand, the author praises the multiculturalism of the Danes, noting their national heroism as they smuggled most of their Jewish population to safety in the face of Nazi aggression. On the other hand, she all but blames that same openness on the part of the Danes for allowing the Muslim stranger to enter into this citadel.
And she offers the whole thing up as a cautionary tale for us at home:
meanwhile, Americans clamor for stricter immigration policies, and demand an end to state welfare programs that allow many immigrants to live on the public dole. As we in America look at the enclaves of Muslims amongst us, and see those who enter our shores too easily, dare live on our taxes, yet refuse to embrace our culture, respect our traditions, participate in our legal system, obey our laws, speak our language, appreciate our history . . . we would do well to look to Denmark, and say a prayer for her future and for our own.
There IS a thorny problem for us here, because the danger is real, and we in the west, as evidenced by the threat, and the fact, of home grown terrorism MUST deal with the balance between acceptance and assimilation.
This site, however, does the discussion no good service. Instead of seeing this as a n intense problem of justice, this site suggests that we view the problem in simple racial terms. (If you don't understand why I might say this, look again at the picture on the site's banner- a fashion-model mother, white, holds a fair-haired Aryan boy up against the American Flag. If this is NOT a subliminal appeal to racism that, in it's pandering to the subconscious, would make Freud blush, I don't know what is.)
I must admit, however, that I am so baffled by this problem that I couldn't finish this blog entry when I originally wrote it. I fear for us if we can't find that balance- and yet I distrust both a right-wing too prone to fascist tactics (see Newt Gingrich's calls for the restriction of Free Speach) and a left wing too devoted to a fantastical view of a human nature unsoiled by anything other than Americanism.