Monday, August 28, 2006

Trust in Muslims Waning in Britain

There's much of interest in this report in the British Daily Mail on a recent poll taken in that country. Here are some of the findings:

Most Britons now believe the Muslim faith is a threat to Western democracy, a new survey has revealed. A YouGov poll shows that increasing numbers think "a large proportion" of British Muslims feel no loyalty to the UK and are ready to condone or even carry out terrorist atrocities, while far more people feel threatened by Islam itself than was the case five years ago.

The starkest finding was that 53 per cent of people now agreed that Islam itself - not just fundamentalist groups - posed a threat to Western liberal democracy, while only 34 per cent disagreed. A year ago the proportions were evenly balanced, and in 2001 only 32 per cent of people felt threatened by the Muslim faith while 63 per cent believed there was no threat.

The proportion of respondents who agreed that "a large proportion of British Muslims feel no sense of loyalty to this country and are prepared to condone or even carry out acts of terrorism" has almost doubled since last year from 10 to 18 per cent. At the same time the proportion stating that "practically all British Muslims" are law-abiding and deplore terrorism has dropped from 23 to 16 per cent.

More people now want MI5 and the Police to focus their counter-terrorist efforts on Muslims - up from 60 to 65 per cent in a year - while fewer are concerned about the impact on race relations -down from 30 to 23 per cent.

My first reaction to this story is surprise that the percentages were as modest as they are. I wonder how many respondents would have answered otherwise but didn't wish to seem to the pollster as being "illiberal".

The poll results came as Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly admitted that the doctrine of multi-culturalism - the cornerstone of left wing immigration and race policies for the past 20 years - may have been wrong, and contributed to isolation and alienation between communities.

Launching the Government's new Commission on Integration and Cohesion - first promised by ministers last year following the July 7 bombings - she admitted that encouraging immigrants to retain their own culture rather than to integrate with wider society may have "encouraged separateness."

This just goes to show that even a government bureaucrat can have the scales fall from her eyes if the evidence smacking her in the head hits her hard enough. It has long been an argument in this country that multiculturalism is counter-productively divisive. When we emphasize the things that make us different rather than those things that make us alike we should not be surprised that our communities remain balkanized and suspicious of one another. We should not be surprised, when we tell immigrants that they need not worry about assimilating into the larger culture and adopting the political values of the larger society, that they don't.

Immigration would be a good thing for both the immigrant and his new nation if the immigrant wished to become a full citizen in his new country, but Muslim immigrants too often don't. Their dream - I had an imam tell me this once in so many words - is to replace the constitutions of the countries in which they live with Islamic law. They'll use democratic processes to do this, but once they are successful in achieving political dominance the principles of democracy will be discarded and all law will be based on the Quran. Now there's an unsettling thought.

Shallow Fascination

Gary Varvel captures pretty well the media's fascination with the "confessed" murderer of JonBenet Ramsey:

Iran is intent on becoming a nuclear power willing to use nuclear weapons against Israel. Tens of thousands of illegal aliens, many of them felons, some of them potential terrorists, are streaming across our southern border. The war in Iraq continues to shape the Middle East in ways that cry out for analysis. And all some of our television stations can talk about, for most of the twenty four hours of their broadcast day, is a ten year old murder case and every detail of the daily existence of a non-entity named John Mark Karr.

Either these cable news channels are staffed by some of the most incredibly shallow people in the country or else they have rightly divined that the country is populated by incredibly shallow television viewers, or both.

Is Bush Losing His Will?

Has George Bush lost his will to fight the war on terrorism? After 9/11 the world shook in Afghanistan and Iraq as the United States rose up to smite its enemies, but a lot has happened in the last three years, and much of it is not good. We are threatened in Iraq by Iranian and Syrian machinations which are carried out with impunity. Moqtada al-Sadr leads Iraq closer to civil war, and we hestitate to neutralize him. Israel has Hezbollah, a terrorist organization which has killed hundreds of Americans, on the ropes, and we vote in the U.N. for an otherwise meaningless resolution that allows them to survive. It has become clear that the administration's war against Islamic terrorism has taken a turn away from an aggressively offensive strategy and seems to have morphed into a strategy of merely keeping the Islamo-fascists at arm's length.

The Iraq experience has certainly sapped the will of many Americans. It is not just the drain on our resources and soldiers' lives and well-being that have taken a toll on our resolve, but also the relentless negativism of the media which has refused to acknowledge that anything worthwhile was being accomplished there.

Now, increasingly, we're hearing military voices which were once optimistic, expressing implied skepticism. We're seeing former supporters of the president's policies start to edge closer to the side of the ship. We're seeing Republican politicians up for re-election who lack the fortitude to campaign as supporters of the president and who instead pusillanimously scurry away from him.

Part of the blame for this must lie with the White House which has been notably incapable of articulating its vision and strategy to the general public in a very convincing way. President Bush is probably the least articulate man to occupy the White House in my lifetime, and he apparently thinks that he does himself little good by trying to take his case to the public on a regular basis. I think this is a mistake. People need to be continually reminded of what the nature of the struggle is, what our goals are, what our strategy and tactics are, and how we are doing in the contest. Instead the president, to his detriment, lets a hostile media frame the debate and pretty much have the floor.

Part of the blame must also lie also with a Department of Defense which has never made a compelling counter-case to those who claimed that we needed more troops from the beginning of the post-invasion period. They seem to think that the criticisms are too uninformed to be worth their notice, but they're not. Millions of Americans would like to know why we didn't send in more troops when it became obvious that Iraq was spiralling into an insurgency. Their curiosity goes unsatisfied.

Finally, part of the blame must lie with a political opposition which has been the insurgents' best tool in their war against the coalition forces. Nothing has degraded the ability of the administration to respond appropriately to events on the ground than the relentless sniping, criticism, and carping of the president's political foes. No matter what the president does it gets distorted and maligned by an adversary media and political party that acts as if they really believe the rhetoric of those who proclaim that George Bush is a greater threat to world peace and safety than are the Islamo-fascist jihadis.

Even so, there are glimmers of hope. The president sounded as determined as ever to continue to fight the war against terrorists in his press conference last Monday. Moreover, it may be that our vote for Res. 1701 was a consequence of our assessment that Ehud Olmert was not interesting in prosecuting the war against Hezbollah and was himself hoping that the U.N. would step in to stop it. If that's so, there would have been no point in the U.S. voting against the resolution to end hostilities.

The next several months will tell us a lot about the president's determination. Will we neutralize or eliminate al-Sadr? Will we hold the Iranians to their claim that they're willing to enter into serious negotiations over their nuclear weapons program? Will we offer full support to Israel when the conflict in Lebanon flares up again? If not, then we can conclude that the aggressive phase of the war against Islamic terror is over and we will have pretty much decided to play rope-a-dope for the last two years of the Bush presidency.