There’s a lot of raspberrying and dismissiveness in the debate over whether to let the wave of “Syrian” “refugees” wash up on U.S. shores. In the partisan sandbox-fights to which we tend to reduce even the most serious questions, it’s easy to forget that in a case like this, there is probably a strong moral argument to be made on either side.
And while I ultimately come down on the side of “Get these nutjobs far, far away from me!”—I continue to subscribe to the Daffy Duck school of pain—each argument in a case like this suffers greatly when it dismisses the opposition out of hand.
By now we’ve all heard the loudest argument for opening the gates: Barack Obama’s snide little speech in which he informed the GOP that they’re crybullies to sound the tocsin over a pack of harmless widows and orphans. (They may well be crybullies, but not for that.) Never mind that many of the terrorists who have been rocking European civilization are second- or third-generation immigrants.
This isn’t the first time Obama has ridden his love-unicorn roughshod over the realities of what Muslims themselves actually think and believe. In his 2009 must-read summary, The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran, Robert Spencer describes how in a 2009 speech Obama “proved” the peacefulness of Islam by cherry-picking a few peaceful-sounding phrases from a Koran passage that’s mostly about violence:
Obama cited verse 5:32: “The Holy Koran,” said the President, “teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.” This sounds peaceful enough, but Obama studiously ignored the next verse (5:33), which mandates punishment for those whom Muslims do not regard as “innocent”—punishments including crucifixion or amputation of a hand and a foot for those who fight against Allah and Muhammad.
The “peace” that Islam promises is less like unicorn turds and more like a Muslim Pax Romana: we’ll have peace when everyone else is subjugated.
To be fair to this side of the question as a whole, however, one must remark that the welcome-wagon-in-chief has hamstrung himself in his ability to present the case. He’s stuck repeating the weakest arguments—twisting scripture and screeching “Let’s be nice!”—because, if he were to present the best argument for his side, he would have to draw attention to his own foreign policy.
To wit: while American taxpayers do not owe every foreign human being on Earth an apartment and a welfare check, it could certainly be argued that we have some moral responsibility to open our doors to people whose countries we’ve bombed the shit out of, particularly in proxy wars. (I still hold that it’s valid to bomb ISIS wherever they are on Earth, since we’re for all intents and purposes at war with that entity; but playing chicken with the Russians over Syria’s civil war? Not so much.)
However, though this argument is perfectly valid, it is trumped by two equally moral counterarguments.
First, fewer and fewer Americans want anything to do with being the world’s damn policeman anymore. But who listens to the serfs who foot the bill? I’m not willing to be dismembered in my hometown because my government keeps pretending to the rest of the world that we’re a democracy.
Second, however many stupid things our government might have done in the past, that doesn’t override our imperative to steer it to the right course whenever we see a possibility for doing so.
And d’ya know what is always the right thing for a government to do? Protecting its own citizens.
I said it about Gee-dub when he sent young men to die to avenge his father, and I’m saying it about Obama as he prepares to sacrifice his civilians so he can look charitable on the world stage: Could you at least pretend to give a shit about your subjects?
A government that doesn’t care about the lives of foreign citizens is bad, but considering the overall history of the world, it’s not particularly bad; you could even say it represents a normative dose of human evil.
But a government that’s just as glib about its own citizens’ lives is completely psychotic.
Clearly, we need to quit killing Muslims abroad, even if we think we’re doing them some sort of twisted favor; if they want to pretend it’s 700 A.D., that’s their problem. (I’ve argued elsewhere that Islamists would want to kill us even if we weren’t bombing them; as Spencer says, “[Obama] doesn’t seem to have considered that if the Koran mandates jihad against non-Muslims, displays of U.S. goodwill are unlikely to have much effect.” But even if you threw out the ethical question, this is clearly a case of “better safe than sorry” . . . and in case you hadn’t noticed, these wars have nuked the federal budget.)
But if we can’t do that, at least we need to quit importing people who hate us.
Because if you actually listen to the true believers instead of sticking your fingers in your ears and humming platitudes, they do hate us. And it’s almost a statistical guarantee that some of us—more of us, to be more accurate—will be murdered by some of these “widows and orphans.” Not all Muslims are autistic enough to follow the Koran word for word, thank Jeebus, and I’ve known some great people who were secularized children of the devout. But as many of us are beginning to despair of getting through people’s thick, PC skulls: the Koran really, genuinely, no-kidding, repeatedly tells the faithful to kill us, and a lot of them take it seriously.
Dead seriously. In fact, some of them may be afraid not to kill us. Allah will be angry if they shirk their duty—even madder than Catholic God gets when you jerk off. And nobody likes Allah when he’s angry.
But don’t take it from me, or even the Koran; take it from Muslims themselves. In a Pew poll, only 86 percent of American Muslims said it is never or rarely justified to kill in the name of their stupid horseshit—and this is better than the world average for Muslims, by the way.
If only half of the remaining 14 percent of Muslims are brave enough to be sincere, and we take in ten thousand Muslim refugees, then we are welcoming 700 eager enemy warriors within our borders in one fell swoop. (That’s not even counting the ambiguity among the six percent of Muslims who say violence is “rarely” justified in defense of the unpleasant prophet; this means that nearly one-fifth of Muslims think there are at some circumstances that justify killing you over a fucking book, for the love of Zeus.)
“But they’re just widders and orfinks”? Well, those words had barely finished dribbling out of Obama’s mouth before the wife in the San Bernardino shooting proved that women can be mass murderers, too. If he had been paying more than the most condescendingly superficial attention to the situation in France (or even Kenya, where his own father was from, for Christ’s sake), he would have already known that female terrorists aren’t half bad at killing good-hearted mammals.
As for toddlers, unless something goes terribly wrong, they generally reach combat age in surprisingly short order. How time flies, as your aunt used to say every time you got taller. One week they’re reading the children’s illustrated Koran; the next they’ve got a big-boy suicide vest.
I’m not saying that Muslim immigration is necessarily doomed to result in importing extremism; however, the way we treat immigration these days does nothing to defuse it. If cultures like the U.S. and France actually demanded that new immigrants assimilated into, respected, and learned to live within our larger societies in exchange for the opportunity to start a new life, a lot of crazy-making insularity and friction would be eliminated. I wouldn’t move to Japan and run around whooping in a cowboy hat; it’s incredibly rude to move to the United States, take social services, drive real estate prices up and wages down, and then proceed to snub your nose at the language and culture.
But while an aversion to rudeness can be dismissed as merely my own Caucasoid aesthetic twatliness, this refusal to assimilate also leads directly to ideological extremity in second- and third-generation adolescents. The parents might very well be grateful enough to live in peace and be productive. But if they continue to keep acting, thinking, worshiping, and studying like they’re back in the bled, their kids are going to grow up culturally disjointed and dangerously dissatisfied, as the French example has long illustrated.
First-generation immigrants have the advantage of possessing treasured memories of the homeland. They feel displaced, perhaps, yet reasonably complete. But if they don’t assimilate, and go on feeling their culture is superior to that of the locals, then they fill their children with nostalgia for a place where those kids have never lived, perhaps never even seen—while robbing them of a sense of belonging in the country where they were born. Kids of all cultures are mean, and if you send your little ones to school wearing foreign clothing and babbling about the Koran, of course they’re going to be picked on and alienated.
So these kids grow up feeling like they belong to neither culture. If there are enough Muslim kids in an area, they band together. And do you remember what you were like when you were an adolescent? Whether it’s punk rock, lip gloss, drinking games, NASCAR racing, or Islamic fundamentalism, kids will compete to see who can be the most extreme version of what their friends are into. When they’re into jihad, well . . .
Sure, we feel bad for the widows and orphans who aren’t going to suicide-bomb anybody. But a majority of them are still carriers of a sixth-century nut-job battle ideology that a land pirate cooked up to justify his rapey feelings. And I feel worse for the victims of those who take the unpleasant prophet at his word than I do for any innocent widow who passes such a blatantly retarded and fear-based creed on to her kids. As Michel Houellebecq got dragged to court for saying, Islam is the stupidest religion. Charity ends when people start blowing us up because they’re too brainless to think of a better way to get to heaven.
When people are afraid of Islamophobia, I suspect they haven’t actually talked to any Muslims. Islamic god-nuts are as frustrating to talk to as Christian fundamentalists—only way more xenophobic, and ten times as violent. I was lonely in a hostel in Rome once and my Italian was rusty, so I started talking to two North African Muslims (men, obviously) who spoke French, just to have someone to talk to. The conversation almost immediately turned to their insular preoccupations; they became snidely insistent that I capitulate to their irrefutable arguments that Arabic was the first language on Earth. (Their arguments being that they kept repeating their assertions, louder and louder. They didn’t even bother to cite the Koran.)
I was studying Classics at the time, and happened to be carrying an (unholy) text containing examples of cuneiform printed in black-and-white plates; this shut them up for about ten seconds. Then one of them looked at the other with a glint in his eye and said triumphantly: “That’s just an older way of spelling Arabic!”
Like all ideologies, this one is a virus, socially and stupidly spread; but this particular disease has the advantage of being peppered with threats against apostates from an all-powerful deity who makes the Old-Testament God sound like Winnie-the-Pooh. I can understand how people fall for it, but I can’t endorse being killed for not falling for it myself. We Islamophobes have repeated till we’re blue in the face that there are plenty of resources and space for the refugees available in Saudi Arabia, where they have as much blood on their hands as we do; the Saudis are more culturally compatible with the widows and orphans than we are, as well; but who wants to do jihad in a territory that’s already Muslim?
Unfortunately, it seems like caution will not prevail; instead caution will be shouted down as extremism, and, as though it made sense, our government will continue dumping in thousands of people who have various reasons to hate us. And large swathes of the public will still not realize what this means: that most of the people who govern us also hate us—or at the very least, they’re indifferent.