Special Report

Geneva Revisited

If Islam were truly a religion of peace we wouldn't be having this discussion.

By 5.3.07

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Sooner or later multiculturalism -- like all utopian ideas--was bound to get tossed into Trotsky's dustbin of history. Now, 36 years after the commonwealth of Canada became the first nation to adopt the policy as a way to appease French Quebec separatists, we have arrived full circle with more and more Western countries favoring monoculturalism and limited immigration as a way to protect their culture, heritage, language and majority status.

Behind multiculturalism was the conceit that various tribes, races, and sects embracing radically different or opposing values -- indeed encouraged to embrace different values -- might live together in peace and harmony. What's more, one and all would be richer for the association. And since we are all reasonable modern people ancient grudges and historical injustices would be as forgotten as, say, Walter Mondale's running mate.* Under multiculturalism the Earth would be a peaceable kingdom once more, an Eden before the fall.

Only it didn't quite work out that way. It seems tribes, races, and sects do hold grudges. Sometimes for a thousand years. And as for sharing different values, many Muslim immigrants and their Saudi and Egyptian spiritual advisors were not as big on multiculturalism as were the West's intellectuals and politicos. The former's secular European neighbors were not regarded as distinct cultural groups with equal cultural and political status, but godless infidels and Zionist apes and swine.

When the geniuses behind multiculturalism finally bothered to venture into Europe's Islamic ghettos they were aghast at the intolerance, misogyny, honor killings, fatwas, female circumcision, forced marriages, allegiance to pan-Islam, and the constant calls for curbs on speech under the guise of banning defamation of religious sentiments.

So if multiculturalism is passe and monoculturalism is ethnocentric, what then is to be done?

The Anglo-Dutch writer Ian Buruma suggests it is pointless to try to assimilate Muslims. Most are simply not interested. Nor are they likely to trade their religion and customs for what they have been told are immoral Western values. Therefore the West must reconcile itself and embrace a group whose leaders would like to do away with modern liberal democracy. It is the West that must adapt to Islam, not the other way round. Not by converting, but in a hundred small ways: curbs on free speech, the press and granting Muslims their own religious-based laws and justice system where the Koran and not the rule of law is the final arbiter. And anyone who resists, anyone who fights to protect Enlightenment values versus fundamentalist Islam will be put down as a "nationalist" and an Islamophobe. Just as in the Cold War anyone who resisted the lure of Communism was a John Bircher and a McCarthyite.

Read Buruma and you will find a first-rate example of one of Europe's prominent intellectual's twisted reasoning in all its perplexity: "Many [Muslims] will not abandon their religion, so Europeans must learn to live with them and with Islam," writes Buruma, then, a few paragraphs later contradicts himself in his conclusion: "We must do everything to encourage Europe's Muslim to become assimilated in European societies. It is our only hope." In other words, our only hope is hopeless.

Not to worry, though, because "Liberal democracy and Islam are reconcilable," Buruma assures us. "Indonesia's current political transition from dictatorship to democracy, although no unqualified success, shows that this is achievable."

One small problem. It is not Indonesians that are immigrating to the West. Rather it is the extraordinarily fecund Arab, Pakistani, North African and Turkish Muslims that have converted England's capital into Londinstan and will soon compose the majority population of Amsterdam. As for Indonesia, I count no fewer than four al Qaeda-affiliated terror groups (Jemaah Islamiah, Islamic Defenders' Front, Darul Islam and Laskar Jihad) dying to establish an Islamic state throughout Southeast Asia, mostly by blowing up and beheading Western tourists and missionaries. Mr. Buruma would do well to skim a 2005 report from the BBC's Indonesian correspondent that contains this account:

Central Sulawesi and Poso in particular was the scene of bitter fighting between Muslims and Christians in 2001 and 2002. More than 1,000 people were killed before a government-brokered truce. Although the violence has been subdued, it has never gone away completely.

As in Turkey -- another so-called Democratic Muslim success story -- Indonesia's government keeps the lid on its jihadists only by waging constant battle against them and forgoing little things like human rights.

IN HIS BOOK The West's Last Chance Tony Blankley paints a bleak picture of a future "Eurabia" where fundamental Islam has achieved considerable political influence. Classical statues and paintings are covered or destroyed. Islamic codes of conduct are strictly enforced. We see Europe returning to Calvin's Geneva of a half millennium ago, only orthodox Muslims, not Protestants, are in charge.

Blankley has earned the title of doomsayer and a scaremonger, but today Islamic countries are working through international organizations to place curbs on free speech, a liberty considered heretical in many Islamic nations. And they have many supporters in the West -- and not just from Europe's Muslims. Recently, the Organization of the Islamic Conference pushed through a resolution condemning "defamation of religion" at the UN Human Rights Commission in -- where else -- Geneva.

Europe spent the last century battling nations and groups that wanted to do away with liberal democratic values. But in the end -- with no little help from the U.S. -- Fascism and Communism were defeated. Political Islam is but another totalitarian ideology that would stamp out liberal democracy, and yet because it is disguised as a religion of peace it has more Western defenders than Stalin, Lenin, and Mao combined. If Islam truly were a religion of peace, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

* Geraldine Ferraro

Christopher Orlet is a frequent contributor and runs the Existential Journalist.

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About the Author
Christopher Orlet writes from St. Louis.