Wente Watch

Thursday, December 14, 2006

And then, they shall know that a prophet has been among them

This is starting to get repetitive. It's hardly worth bothering to refute Wente when she essentially writes the same column over and over again. Islamists are taking over Europe, doom and gloom, head for the hills, zzzzzzzz.....

The column says 3-5 percent of German Muslims are radicals. That works out to 0.09-0.15 percent of the total German population. Wente is all antsy about that, but apparently the 7 percent of the vote obtained by neo-Nazis in a recent state election is nothing to worry about.

The problem is that European countries are not immigrant-based societies like North America, and they will always view nonwhites as outsiders. In other words, they think the way Margaret Wente does. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, as staunch a critic of radical Islam as one can find, was threatened with expulsion from the Netherlands for lying on a refugee application years earlier. Bassam Tibi is leaving Germany, stultified not by political correctness, but by the absence of it; he can never be accepted as a German, no matter how he tries.

And, paradoxically, a prime reason for this is conservative ideologues constantly haranguing, as Wente does, that Islam is a sinister, dangerous force worthly only of distrust and suspicion.


  • Tyrone, I'm very glad you started this blog, skewing one of the worst practicioners of the neo-liberal, US-centred worldview. But sometimes I fear you've fallen into it just a bit yourself. Have you ever been to Europe - for more than a brief holiday?

    I've only briefly been to Germany (studying the language now) but I've lived in France and in Italy, and stayed for months on end in the Netherlands. I know many, many people in those countries who wouldn't think of viewing "nonwhites" as outsiders.

    (I know you are anything but a bigot, but people of colour, including a South African trade union militant over 20 years ago, have told me not to use the term "nonwhite", as it is white-centred.)

    I do fear you share Wente's overly sanguine view of North American societies. I've been trying to find the survey on income differentials between workers and senior management in several industrialised countries. Not only the Scandinavian countries, but also Germany, have earnings gaps many times smaller than is the case in the United States, and even in Canada.

    I know several people who are not "white" or "Aryan" (in the case of Germany and Austria) who most certainly feel themselves full members of their societies - they would never deny discrimination or the need to wage a continued struggle against it, but their lives are not predicated by any perceived difference.

    Indeed, the Neo-Nazis are a far greater threat to German society and democracy than radical Islam is. They are also largely based on an "out" group (the losers in German re-unification) but also have wealthy, influential backers who are simply fascists from grandparent to grandchild.

    But you have far too monolithic a view of "European society", and this view is an insult to many people I know across the pond who are dedicated anti-racists, who feel their societies are enriched by a population of many origins and horizons.

    By Anonymous lagatta à Montréal, at December 15, 2006 8:27 a.m.  

  • Thank you for your comments. The UK is the only European country I have spent a lot of time in, but I do have relatives living, or who have lived, in France, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy.

    I don't really object to the term 'nonwhite', being nonwhite myself.

    I know several refugees who tried to settle in Germany - they were not permitted to leave their assigned town, were not permitted to work, and felt very excluded. Children born in Germany were denied German citizenship. I knew one German-born child who was stateless till the age of five, when Canada granted her family citizenship.

    Among members of my ethnic group (Sri Lankan Tamils) Canada is renowned for its welcoming, tolerance, and generosity compared to European countries.

    This is not to say that every European, or even a majority of them, are racist, or even ethnocentric like Wente. Nor are European countries uniform - Germany and Switzerland have the worst reputation among my family, the UK and Norway have the best. But it is to say that more Europeans are unwelcoming of immigrants than Canadians or Americans. To be fair, this also applies to white Eastern European immigrants as well as nonwhites, but Wente seldom touches on those topics.

    By Blogger Tyrone, at December 15, 2006 11:26 a.m.  

  • Yes, I guess attacking the Roma, (who are still a target of violent racists over 60 years after the Nazis attempted to eliminate them in the Holocaust) would be a bit too uncomfortable even for Wente.

    I'm glad you've qualified what you said about Europe - indeed even the legislation in Germany - and in Switzerland - was incredibly ethnocentric until very recently. The Schröder government did make changes in the old jus sanguinis legislation, but it is still more restrictive than here - or France, etc.

    Funny about "nonwhite" - I didn't think it was offensive either; it is simply because others have told me it was.

    Thanks again for a most interesting blog!

    By Anonymous lagatta à Montréal, at December 15, 2006 12:57 p.m.  

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