Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Monday, November 15, 2004

Muslim Violence in the Netherlands

Via Drudge, story here, based on a series of news reports from the past few weeks.

Looks like Holland should try to be even more appeasing, right?

Well, that's my snarky, conservative, gut reaction to the story. But if you read the whole thing, you'll see that there's more to it than that. So you should read the whole thing, because it presents a good picture of why Holland is not just a case of appeasement versus fighting terrorism. We're looking at a complicated situation - dare I call it "nuanced"? - that arises, as the title of the piece implies, from the clash of civilizations.

But it's one thing to diagnose a situation as complicated and leave it at that. We'll call that "the Kerry method." It's something else entirely to propose a solution to what is clearly developing into a tragedy. At one extreme, Holland could simply expel all Muslims, regardless of ethnicity, citizenship, past history of violence, etc. That could theoretically work, but I doubt that even with all its current problems an ultra-permissive Holland would ever take such discriminatory measures, nor do I think they should. At the other extreme, Holland could simply yield the government to the extremists and assume dhimmi status. Again, that's not going to happen, and indeed it's not likely to solve anything - the clash is between cultures, and the article demonstrates that the two cultures simply do not mix. The immigrant Muslims don't learn Dutch, don't go to Dutch schools or markets, don't learn the history, and so forth. The cultural divide (and consequent clash) would still exist, but a different group would be in charge. That's no solution at all.

Another solution proposed by a Dutch political party, which enjoys wide support among the Dutch, is an end to immigration. But the Dutch version of the Supreme Court recently outlawed that party as impermissibly racist. Furthermore, I doubt you could calm down the boiling elements in Dutch Muslim society by telling them their compatriots and co-religionists are no longer welcome. That simply adds fuel to the fires of alienation.

What I picked up from the article as the two root causes were the Muslim horror at the world-famous permissiveness of Dutch society, embodied in the twin vices of prostitution and legal drug trade, and the general poverty and unemployment among Muslim communities. All of the preceding proposed solutions are doomed to fail, therefore, because none of them answer either of these two root problems. They only offer the short-term fix of limiting the number of enemy foot-soldiers should full-fledge war break out. That's no real fix at all.

I doubt there is any real way to approach the first of these root causes. The adoption of more rigid social standards would both alienate the libertine Dutch, and would not go far enough to assuage the more radical Islamic elements. Furthermore, there is no reason to suggest that prudish people can't live in disreputable places. I am a prudish person, and I live in New Orleans. There's no problem, because I just avoid Bourbon Street, and Bourbon Street avoids me. We co-exist just fine, and I've never once built a bomb to destroy the wicked in the French Quarter.

It is the latter root cause - poverty and unemployment - that, in my opinion, is most likely to produce the desired results without sacrificing important social values. It is a truism that poverty creates crime. That truism is not defeated by government programs to support the poor, because then the poor have enough money to get by, none of the self-respect that comes with providing for a family, and a lot of time on their hands. An effective internal War on Terror, therefore, must involve an effective War on Poverty.

(Two notes: I say "internal" War on Terror to distinguish what Holland is doing in Holland from what America is doing in Iraq. Second, for all the Libertarians who just shuddered when I mentioned a "War on Poverty," please take careful note of the preceding word: "effective.")

America has tried and basically failed to fight poverty for many years now. That failure stems from the fundamental theoretical flaw of assuming that government can directly end poverty. Government handouts are not the answer. A welfare state is not the answer. De-regulation and low corporate taxes are the beginning of the answer. Letting employers flourish and make money means an expanded economy, which means more jobs, which means less poverty, which means people have enough hope in the future to stop them from strapping bombs to their chests. Education is another part of the answer, but government schools cannot single-handedly fill that role. Witness the public schools in the District of Columbia, which get the most funding per capita of any schools in America, but which suck. Bad. A voucher program creates teacher accountability, which improves quality, which means a better education and a better chance of employment.

If the Dutch can improve their education, employment and poverty situations, the anti-social rage of the radical Muslims will lose so much impetus that the clash of civilizations will naturally be blunted.


Update: Another report here, via Boortz:

"Politically liberal, Fortuyn sensed in the Muslim intolerance of homosexuality a threat to his own liberal lifestyle and the freedoms of his easygoing countrymen and women, and he formed a political party to fight it. He found a quick response among the voters. He expressed what they had been thinking privately and had been reluctant to voice because they didn’t want to sound, well, intolerant."

Fortuyn was assassinated about two years ago because of his anti-immigration views.

Another interesting passage, especially as it criticizes the policies of the right of center government:

"The Dutch are now asking why the burden of tolerance is always on them, rather than the immigrant population. Why, for example, were immigrants not required to learn to speak Dutch? Why were their children educated in the language of their parents rather than the language of their host country? Why were Dutch taxpayers paying the salaries of imams? These hyper-tolerant attitudes have allowed a parallel population, which owed no allegiance to Holland, to thrive and fester."

And the key quote:

"Last Thursday, in an emergency debate, the government agreed on new proposals to deal with Muslim extremism, adopting a wide-ranging package of new counter-terrorism measures. The size and mandate of the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) will be expanded, and measures will be taken against radical imams and mosques."