The Lonely Centrist

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Read This Op-Ed

from Francis Fukuyama, by clicking here. I'm not usually a big Fukuyama fan, but he hits some key points here that we need to think about and understand if we are to get serious in the war on terrorism.

A few excerpts:

... a critical source of contemporary radical Islamism lies not in the Middle East, but in Western Europe. ***

We profoundly misunderstand contemporary Islamist ideology when we see it as an assertion of traditional Muslim values or culture. ***

Contemporary Europeans downplay national identity in favor of an open, tolerant, "post-national" Europeanness. But the Dutch, Germans, French and others all retain a strong sense of their national identity, and, to differing degrees, it is one that is not accessible to people coming from Turkey, Morocco or Pakistan. Integration is further inhibited by the fact that rigid European labor laws have made low-skill jobs hard to find for recent immigrants or their children. A significant proportion of immigrants are on welfare, meaning that they do not have the dignity of contributing through their labor to the surrounding society. ***

The real challenge for democracy lies in Europe, where the problem is an internal one of integrating large numbers of angry young Muslims and doing so in a way that does not provoke an even angrier backlash from right-wing populists. Two things need to happen: First, countries like Holland and Britain need to reverse the counterproductive multiculturalist policies that sheltered radicalism, and crack down on extremists. But second, they also need to reformulate their definitions of national identity to be more accepting of people from non-Western backgrounds. ***

One has to note that not only have Americans been fooling themselves on the roots of Islamic extremism, but also about Europe. As Fukuyama notes, Europe's politics have stifled economic opportunity for those at the bottom, and failed to assimilate immigrants into the country. One of the many results has been turning Europe into a breeding ground for radical Islam. Yet these are the same policies many want the United States to adopt.

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