2004 January 21 Wednesday
Muslim Veils, Marking Territory, Broken Windows

Christopher Caldwell analyses the debate in France over headscarves and veiling.

But the most recent statistics--1,200 cases of veiled girls in state schools, with four expulsions--would seem to indicate little more than a dress-code problem of limited extent. Yet the French are debating it as Americans would debate a declaration of war.

Which is what the French man on the street perceives it to be. At issue is the assimilability of France's Arab immigrants and their children. France is now about 10 percent Muslim. Some set the Muslim population (almost all of it Arab) at 5 million, others at 8 million. But all agree that the Muslims are disproportionately (even unconscionably) poor, clustered in housing projects surrounding France's biggest cities, victimized by discrimination, and ravaged by unemployment and increasingly crime. Young men of Arab descent (beurs, as they're called) have been responsible for a lot of that crime, including the vast majority of the hundreds of attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions in France over the last three years, and for much of an epidemic unruliness in France's schools. In "The Lost Territories of the Republic," the sociologist Emmanuel Brenner made an inventory of such classroom incidents--kids guffawing through lectures on the Holocaust, teachers subjected to ethnic taunts, humiliation of girls--that is reported to have shocked Jacques Chirac profoundly. So the veil is to the French imagination what graffiti were to the American imagination in the late 1970s: harmless per se, yet a marking of territory, sparking fear that those willing to do harm are in the neighborhood.

Many American libertarians, liberals, and neoconservatives view the French attempt to ban the wearing the veil in many public institutions simply as a violation of individual religious rights. But in my view that analysis is hopelessly naive. What is going on is something more akin to a "Broken Windows" interpretation of the causes of crime but with an interesting twist: instead of trying to discourage criminals and criminal gangs that hold themselves apart from society the French (and increasingly other Europeans - see below) are viewing the religious symbols of the Muslims as something akin to tribal identifying signs which are an implicit challenge to secular authority. This is not an unreasonable interpretation. Islam's founder never said "Render unto Ceaser that which is Caesar's". In fact, Mohammed's attitude was quite the opposite: that governments should rule as Muslim governments. The idea of separation of mosque and state does not enjoy the legitimacy in Muslim-majority countries that it enjoys in the West and the reason is that Islam at its core rejects this separation. To the extent that Muslims are walkng around wearing apparel that signals that they are Muslims they are making a political statement to each other and to the non-Muslims who exist in the same country.

To a teacher in a French school who can't get her Muslim students to stop hissing when she tries to teach the history of the Holocaust there is a great deal of value in being able to prevent an even more Islamic atmosphere and the bonding between Muslim students against everyone else. The same holds in the larger society. To the extent that Muslims see themselves as separate from the larger society because they are Muslims the larger society really is threatened. Should the Muslims some day become a majority in France, Belgium, or the Netherlands their religious belief in their superiority and in their values will place the non-Muslims in a condition far worse in terms of violated rights than whatever the Muslims in Europe can complain about today.

Belgium may follow France with a headscarf ban.

With Belgium now also considering a headscarf ban, there appears to be a growing trend towards assimilation. It's a process that's already caused a storm among Islamic communities in Europe and abroad, and may be fraught with as many problems as the "opposite" policy of multiculturalism.

France may ban other ways of wearing wearing religious symbols.

The latest twist in France's controversial plan to ban religious symbols from classrooms came Tuesday, when Education Minister Luc Ferry said the planned ban on religious symbols could also cover facial hair and bandannas, sometimes worn as a discreet alternative to the traditional Muslim head scarf.

If you want to wear something on your head in France make sure it is sexy and decadent-looking.

"If we had chosen the word `visible,' we could have seen the appearance of other signs,' " Mr. Ferry said.

For that reason, he explained, "The bandanna, if it is presented by young girls as a religious sign, will be forbidden."

He also contended that hairstyles or the wearing of certain colors could be a source of manipulation. "Signs could be invented using simple hairiness or a color," he said. "Creativity is infinite in this regard."

The Sikhs are upset by the threat to their wearing of the beard and turban.

Fourteen-year-old Vikramjit Singh, who lives in suburban Paris, says giving up his studies would perhaps ruin his material life.

"But if I have to give up my turban, I am sacrificing my spiritual life. And that is totally unacceptable to me," he told BBC News Online.

The Sikhs are caught up in this even though they are so few in number that they couldn't possibly pose a threat to the secular state. But my guess is that the French can't be seen to be making exceptions for other less-threatening religions.

Also see my previous post Headscarf Bans In Schools Coming To France, German States.

Update: In support of my argument about tribalism and "Broken Windows" above see my recent post Imported Spouses Preventing Assimilation Of Dutch Muslims and also a post by Razib of the Gene Expression blog where he reports on the incredibly low rate of intermarriage of Muslim immigrants with native Norwegians even in the third generation.

Human Rights Service figures for henteekteskap, or "fetching marriages" - in which one spouse is "fetched" from the other's ancestral country - are staggering. From 1996 to 2001, 82 percent of the men marrying the Norwegian granddaughters of Moroccan immigrants were themselves Moroccans; another 14 percent were of Moroccan origin. For Norwegian granddaughters of Pakistani immigrants, the corresponding rates were 76 percent and 22 percent. In that five-year period, only three granddaughters of Moroccan immigrants married ethnic Norwegians; only one granddaughter of a Pakistani immigrant did so.

Also, cousin marriage may be a big factor in keeping the Muslim immigrants marrying people brought in from their country of origin. Start here to go thru my posts on consanguineous marriage, society, Islam, and politics in the Middle East.

Update While 70 percent of the French public supports the headscarf ban opposition to the ban is growing among some French politicians.

Francois Bayrou, who heads the UMP's coalition partner the Union for French Democracy (UDF), said he "feared from the start that such a law, which of course goes down well in the polls, would quickly heighten tensions and offer the fundamentalists an opening which they could only have dreamed of."

The French are between a rock and a hard place. Their problem with Islamic fundamentalists is going to grow no matter what they do. Muslims are going to be an increasing percentage of the French population. At the very least they should aggressively deport illegal aliens in order to limit the Muslim population growth.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 January 21 03:54 PM  Civilizations Clash Of

Steve Sailer said at January 21, 2004 5:58 PM:

A big irony is that the traditional French policy toward immigrants of color-blindness, cultural assimilation, devotion to abstract political propositions, and individualism is almost identical to the neoconservative outlook in the U.S. To my mind, the French seem to be doing the right things, they've just got too many of the wrong kind of foreginers to be doing them with.

Dan Van Zile said at January 22, 2004 2:48 PM:

I spent 2 months in Europe last spring. In Barcelona I was talking with my landlord, (I stayed in aprtments,) he was saying that the "arabs" had disrupted his children's school, and that his son was always fighting with them. There was also an article in the International Hearld Tribune about a "arab" neighborborhood in a city, the name of which currently escapes me, that was too rough for city buses to go into. In Amsterdam my landlord told me not to take buses to a certain area , it seems to me it was an area about 30-40% of the city. She said that they were arab and too rough. Dan

cks said at January 22, 2004 5:15 PM:

One way to view the law against headscarves, ect. is an application of the Tit-for-Tat algorithm in the repeated prisoners' dilemma game. In that game, taking a "meek" strategy of not turning on the opponent is dominated by the opposite strategy. Thus, tolerating a group that refuses to assimilate and maintains hostility to French culture is a poor strategy. In the repeated prisoners dilemma game, the tit-for-tat strategy does better than the "meek" strategy. Tit-for-Tat starts off "meek", and then chooses the strategy chosen by the opponent in the last turn. An opponent choosing the "intolerant" strategy pays a large penalty. Eventually, the opponent can switch to a "meek" strategy and receive a higher benefit in the game.

Applying this strategy, the French continue to pass laws against muslim culture until it becomes more tolerant. At that point, it switches back to a tolerant stance. When playing prisoners dilemma, this strategy usually works out well. People who argue that the French should tolerate muslims fully in spite of their demonstrated intolerance for the majority French culture are in fact advocating the worst possible strategy from a game theoretic stance.

AMac said at January 23, 2004 7:02 AM:


Your post illustrates the central dilemma faced by the democratic societies in responding to the sorts of problems we are encountering, in this instance 'the hijab'. While there is a statement-of-fact aspect of your characterization of the two sides of the 'game' as "the French" and "the Muslims", de facto, "French Muslims" are also a part of "French society."

One of the Enlightenment values our societies are built around is the recognition of the Individual as the foundation of society. It's individual citizens who 'sign' the social contract, who give their consent to be governed, who have certain inalienable rights. Speaking about the US now, we have seen the franchise expand from property-owning white males, to everyone over 18 born on American territory or naturalized.

Overall, this has worked amazingly well, but implicit in this transformation is the concept that citizens want to be citizens, and will act as such. What happens to this ideal when Urdu-speaking Pakistani Muslims move to Holland with the intention of remaining same, and transmitting their culture, untransformed, to their children and grandchildren? Or Spanish-speaking Mexicans to the US, or Arabic-speaking Algerians to France?

To concieve of the issue as cks has is to implicitly concede that 'we' (the citizens) must stop thinking of resident Pakistanis/Mexicans/Algerians as fellow-citizens or as potential fellow-citizens. As this and other ParaPundit posts show, these sorts of momentous decisions are rapidly approaching for many countries; most don't have the political or social framework in which such a choice can be legally made, much less enforced.

Bob Badour said at January 23, 2004 8:19 AM:


When I read cks's post, I find it clear he conceives of resident foreigners as potential fellow-citizens, and his post proposes a strategy for realising the potential.

The US has always had a strong assimilationist tradition, and I suggest the solution involves returning to this tradition. Growing up in Canada, I was heavily indoctrinated with propaganda that assimilation is evil and that multiculturalism is good. As a grown man, I have concluded that the propaganda amounted to a Big Lie and that the exact opposite is true.

Multiculturalism is a return to primitive tribalism and a rejection of enlightened values. I came to this conclusion after witnessing the fiasco of the Meech Lake Discord.

Immigration policy based on family unification runs directly counter to the values that place the individual as the foundation of society. It usurps that foundation making the extended family the foundation instead.

America should lead the way by deporting illegal immigrants on a massive scale and by demanding assimilation of core American values from all immigrants. America needs to reconsider its immigration policy, drastically curtail immigration and start asking of all would-be immigrants: "What's in it for us?"

I find it ludicrous to dilute the values that made America great through massive importation of political actors who reject the separation of church and state or who subordinate individual choice to the extended family or tribe.

For instance, banning doweries from foreign brides makes perfect sense to me. Why should America allow someone to sell American citizenship to a complete stranger? Would America let a young woman sell citizenship to some bloke from Brighton? Why let a young man sell citizenship to some girl from Hyderabad? Or Cairo?

What is wrong with expecting a new immigrant to leave the extended family behind? Americans are extremely mobile, and it is very common to find children living thousands of miles from their parents. What's wrong with an immigrant doing the same? If the would-be immigrant values his or her extended family more than his or her individualism, let him or her choose to stay with the family. Make America a refuge for those who want to flee the oppression of their tribe!

Multiculturalism is evil. Those who promote fractious tribalism harm humanity, and I observe that the loudest proponents are marxists. It's time for America to voice its objection to this evil and to excise the malignancy.

AMac said at January 23, 2004 11:54 AM:

Bob Badour,

Thanks for the thoughtful rejoinder. I agree with cks' central point, tolerating a group that refuses to assimilate and maintains hostility to French culture is a poor strategy. My reservations concern the extent to which this strategy conceives of "the Muslims" as homogenous. This and the other groups I mentioned are comprised of individuals, with a range of opinions on the question of assimilation. As we value individuals qua individuals, the key is to devise policies that favor members who are well-disposed to society, and burden those who are hostile to it. Rereading cks, presumably this is what he meant, and you offer suggestions along those lines as well. OTOH, policies which treat Group X as a group may have the unintended effects of increasing Group X's internal solidarity, and their sense of resentment and victimization with respect to society at large. These consequences are undesirable.

Related to this thread, The Open Borders Lobby and the Nation's Security After 9/11 is a disturbing and lengthy discussion of the U.S. "Open Borders" movement, and the malign anti-assimilationist ideology that is at its foundation.

Bob Badour said at January 23, 2004 2:53 PM:

I agree there is a problem applying the prisoner's dilemma to this problem as cks does because the prisoner's dilemma is an inherently two player game. Society has far more players than two.

The prisoner's dilemma offers no option but to play. France and the US can decide with whom to play through their immigration policies.

While initially optimistic tit-for-tat is the best general strategy for prisoner's dilemma, it is important to point out that tit-for-tat becomes a negative sum game when playing opposite a pessimistic or aggressive player. It is a positive sum game when played opposite an optimistic or optimistic tit-for-tat player.

When one has the opportunity to choose the players and when one views society as an aggregate of prisoner's dilemma games, the rational policy for maximizing utility is to choose exclusively optimistic or optimistic tit-for-tat players and to exclude all pessimistic or aggressive players.

This suggests removing the aggressive players from society and blocking aggressive players from entering society, which in turn suggests a radical change in immigration policy and in immigration law enforcement.

If a legal immigrant commits a violent crime, why not deport the immigrant at the end of incarceration? If necessary, why not revoke acquired citizenship and deport the violent immigrant? Right now, the US fails to deport violent illegal immigrants at the ends of their sentences. I find that outrageous and ridiculous.

Michael said at January 23, 2004 2:58 PM:

AMac,you're projecting your own values to a large degree.These people don't share your enlightenment values and many do NOT consider themselves "French Muslims",but rather as "Muslims in France" and feel the burden is on the host society to respect their customs while dismissing the values and customs of the host society.
They possess a sense of entitlement and supremasist belief.
A not all that subtle distinction,but a significant distinction just the same.I believe this demand will continue with increasing amounts of cultural aggresion against the host society,eventully increasing these demands with violence.You're concern with distingueshing individuals from groups is admirable,but it may come to the point that this will simply not be viable.No doubt there were many Germans who were not Nazis,simply ordinary people trying to live their lives,but it simply was not possible to seperate them from the nazis during bombing missions.They were simply caught in the middle of something far beyond their control.

Bob Badour said at January 23, 2004 3:19 PM:


I find your accusation of AMac totally off the mark. AMac does not project anything but accepts that every large group of individuals represents a broad spectrum of individual values. Quite clearly, some muslims do accept enlightened values and do embrace ecumenism even while many muslims reject those values and spurn ecumenism.

Irshad Manji comes to mind as one Canadian muslim who contradicts the broad stereotyping brush you use.

Many muslims clearly do possess a sense of entitlement and do look at the world through bigoted chauvinist eyes. Anyone who reads Islam's base texts and history will understand where this bigotry and chauvinism comes from. AMac does not deny this, but he points out that some muslims lack the sense of entitlement and examine their religious texts with a very critical eye. He is right; some do.

I find nothing subtle about your post. Is it possible you project your own tribalistic tendencies onto all muslims?

I don't view all muslims as my enemies. I only view those muslims who oppose the separation of church and state or who regard atheists as having fewer rights or worth or who decide I am an enemy as enemies. AMac is right: We should not make enemies of the rest.

Randall Parker said at January 23, 2004 3:24 PM:

Bob, I think AMac and Michael are both making excellent points.

As for judging people as individuals: There are of course practical limits to any attempts to do so. If you do not favor Open Borders (and I know you do not) then you are already drawing distinctions between people as groups.

Bob Badour said at January 23, 2004 4:21 PM:


Perhaps the four ounces of Stoly I consumed while reading it has blurred my judgement if not my vision, but I am finding the essay you linked to fascinating. At this point, I am at the end of the first page, and I am not sure whether it is the first page of the essay or the first page of the foreword, but it is really eye-opening.

All I can say is: It's time to oppose illegal immigrant suffrage. After all: Haven't they suffered enough?

AMac said at January 23, 2004 4:34 PM:

Michael (2:58pm),

You clearly have a tragic view of human events. In broad outline, so do I, and perhaps Bob Badour and Randall Parker as well. However, I'm unwilling to give up on the basic precepts of Liberalism; these traits are what distinguish our Enlightenment-based societies from all others, in the world today and throughout history. In particular, our (US) constitution enshrines values such as the rule of law and equality for all persons under the law.

I cannot see contemplating a comparison of a treatment of a group within our society such as American Muslims (or Muslims in America, if you wish) with the USAAF's treatment of an enemy population. (The "area bombing" of Germany that you reference was highly controversial for a number of reasons, but that discussion doesn't apply here.)

As Randall Parker said somewhere else, good policies can only arise out of a clear and intelligent appreciation of the key facts and trends at hand. They don't result from good intentions or from limiting considerations to the short run.

In no way would it be "good"--for "us non-Muslims" or for Muslims--to fight Islamist or other extremism by abandoning the social contract that our society is based on. Refer to Bob Badour's comments above and to numerous of Randall Parker's other posts for policy ideas that would limit the ill effects of increasing extremism, without violating citizens' rights or alienating large groups of citizens. (Don't look to Bush's immigration initiative for such ideas; see the frontpagemag.org article I referenced earlier.)

We've been here before. Many Christian beliefs of a few hundred years back were as pernicious as militant Islamist ideas are today. Communist subversion 1920-1989 provides a more recent example of an extremist threat. Ultimately, ideas more than violent force were key in allowing Liberal society to triumph over these competitors.

cks said at January 23, 2004 5:12 PM:

Wow - some good reaction on this thread. I'll agree with Amac's observation that my suggestion of a game theory model with only two players is quite abstract compared to the messy realities in society. I do think that the model illustrates the point I'm trying to make, that a tolerant policy toward a group that exhibits hostility towards and attempts to subvert the majority culture is a dominated strategy.

The extreme form of liberalism is utenable - it cannot defend itself from overthrow from the inside. I think that's a realisitc way of looking at what could happen in France. European culture and its tradition of liberalism is at risk of displacement if current demographic trends continue unless some line is drawn that selects for immigrants who wish to assimilate, provides a strong incentive for those who have immigrated to adopt the mainstream culture. None of this addresses, of course, the original point of Randall's post: is the "Broken Window" strategy that targets head-scarves and other religious symbols the best way to go about things?

Perhaps a complementary strategy, at least in France, is to re-think the social welfare policies that allow unassimilated communities of hostile immigrants to persist in a government-subsidized "Zone"" are unwise.

Bob Badour said at January 23, 2004 6:38 PM:


I would agree that immigration policy is a blunt instrument. I am not sure the US should make the barriers to Mexican or Muslim immigration insurmountable, and the same goes for France and Algerian immigration. I suggest it makes sense to make the barriers sufficiently challenging to discourage most Mexican or Muslim immigrants to the US.

Just as a thought experiment and pulling the numbers out of the air. Suppose 1% of muslim immigrants truly embrace liberal values and seek to escape the oppression of their tribalistic heritage. Suppose as well that 1% of muslim immigrants enter the US seeking to actively attack and destroy liberal values in the name of Jihad. If the US places challenging barriers to entry, they may not deter either of these groups and may deter the rest.

That would cut out the 98% of muslims who reject western liberal values but who are willing to endure them for economic benefit and for the opportunity to one day vote them out of existence. It would also alter the law enforcement task from one of finding the 1% belligerents from the 99% who voice objection to western liberal values to one of finding the 50% belligerents from the 50% who voice objection to western liberal values. Okay, they will quickly learn not to voice the objection, but cutting out those 98% will reduce the law enforcement task almost by a factor of 50. Not a factor of 50% but a factor of 50.

Considering that 1% is probably a gross exaggeration of both groups, increasing the barrier to entry above the economic value of entry might reduce the law enforcement task by a factor of 500 or 5000. It would also mean that those immigrating would contribute more than they receive.

It would also facilitate the task of assimilation again by a factor of 50 or more.

While it's true that I sort of ridiculed the INS (or whatever they are called today) recently for hassling me for bringing cash into the US to spend during my visit, I have the maturity to encourage them to keep doing that if carrying cash is an effective profiling attribute to identify potential criminals and enemies of the US. As the inspector said at the time, when I enter the US, I am no different than someone knocking at my door. It is America's right to refuse me entry for any reason just as I can refuse entry to anyone who knocks at my door and for any reason. I have no right to enter the US. Neither does any muslim or any mexican or any european or any indian or any brit or any australian etc.

While I would very much like to escape the morally bankrupt collectivism that consumes Canada, and while I know I would contribute to America, I would not encourage America to accept all Canadians. I know more than a few individuals in Canada that America should never allow across the border for any reason or for any length of time.

I do ridicule America, however, and I will continue to ridicule America for asserting that right in Detroit while renouncing it in San Diego. I suppose I should note the inherent racism in the discrepancy, but I don't think that would go very far.

I really think America needs to apply immigration policy on an individual basis, which argues strongly for reducing the number of immigrants. I don't think America needs to single out any tribe or group for special treatment. I think America only needs to get back to the basics of "What's in it for us?" Cost of assimilation falls on the negative side of the cost/benefit analysis. Some handful of individuals might never assimilate but might contribute so much to America to tolerate their excentricity. However, importing hundreds of thousands or millions of unassimilable economic sinks makes no sense whatsoever.

AMac said at January 23, 2004 8:09 PM:

Thanks cks and Bob Badour for amplifications of the points you've made. My personal experience of "multiculturalism" has been in the University and at high-tech companies, and it's been almost wholly enjoyable. However, this is a far cry from how this innocuous-sounding concept is playing out in French cites and in American poultry plants. To the extent that "Open Borders" is a joint project of the Marxist Left and Islamists to weaken the fabric of Western free-market democracies, it needs to be contested. My amiable firsthand account has to be matched with cks' and Bob Badour's substantive misgivings.

Randall Parker said at January 23, 2004 10:38 PM:

Note that we already have lots of widely accepted laws and rules in which we judge people as members of groups. The concept of citizenship divides the whole world between citizens and non-citizens. Legal residents who are not citizens are an additional category somewhere between citizens and those in the rest of the world.

But there are more ways we judge people as rather automatic members of groups. To name a few:

1) Age requirements for driving, voting, drinking, joining the military, entering into binding contracts, entering into marriage (which is not quite a contract), running for the Presidency, having sex, and for other purposes. Those age requirements are not uniform.

2) Restriction of public lavatory use and other facilities restrictions by sex.

3) Restriction of communists from a variety of types of jobs and I think from immigration as well.

Why is this done? All sorts of reasons. Not all communists would have betrayed the country. But a much higher percentage would have and those who would have were considered so dangerous that all communists face restrictions of various sorts. So the idea of restrictions on people who embrace a dangerous ideology therefore does have precedents that are very widely seen as legitimate.

Another interesting one is the fact tha teens restricted from drinking. The argument is, in part that they are a lot less likely to do so without violating the rights of others. Yet not all drinking teens are dangerous and not all drinking adults are responsible. We simply recognize that some group-average differences in behavior are too large to be ignored as a matter of public policy and law.

But there is something else afoot when it comes to ideologies, whether religious or secular. It is analogous to mob psychology. There are lots of people who would do something when part of a mob that they'd never do as individuals. Similarly, there are people who embrace rather illiberal ideologies who would never do certain things by themselves but given enough like people around them they would begin to act in all sorts of ways that they'd never otherwise act just on their own.

In a similar vein, there are ideas that will be maintained in a subpopulation if the members of that subpopulation are sufficiently numerous enough and/or concentrated enough to have a large fraction of their contacts with each other rather than with the larger population. They will also be more likely to act as a group if they can maintain outer markings of their identity. But they are also far more likely to do so if they embrace a belief system that encourages their separation.

Should we individually judge people who embrace a belief system that encourages them to think of themselves as separate from and superior to non-believers? I mean, if we already know that they embrace such a belief system don't we already know some very important fact that exceeds what else we might hope to practically know about most of the believers in such a belief system? I guess part of my reaction to the ideal that we should judge each personally individually that I question my own capacity to get to know and really judge very many people individually. I think the whole idea of holding as a very high ideal the ideal of judging each person as an individual is based on the fallacy that it is even possible to do so. We do not have enough time to get to know all that many people. Plus, talented liars lie too well. Religious belief systems that actually have a doctrine encouraging the deception of non-believers even make it easy on the conscience of believers to do so.

Bob Badour said at January 23, 2004 10:50 PM:


I have a couple points to make about your 5:12pm post.

First, I think a lot of things would change if you were to change one word: Consider how your post reads if you change it to say "a tolerant policy toward an individual" (or individuals) instead of "a tolerant policy toward a group".

Second, what you refer to as "extreme liberalism" is not liberal by classical western liberal values at all. Whether one calls it political correctness, marxism or transnational progressivism, it is entirely collectivist, tribal and intolerant of dissent. I wonder whether the inherent tribalism of the two extremes you observe has seduced you into adopting a somewhat tribalistic position yourself, which seems to be the major objection AMac has to your original post.

I think Randall's Marking Territory point is more accurate than the Broken Windows point when it comes to the Hijab. Certainly, a Broken Windows flavour applies to lax immigration policy enforcement and anything short of firm discipline for disrupting classes on the Holocaust. It is certainly possible that such tolerance for antisocial behaviour in France led to burning synagogues and schools.

When it comes to the Hijab, I really see that as a means for aggressive antisocial thugs to fly their colours. To a certain extent, the fact that they pressure their sisters who may not be so aggressive and antisocial confounds the issue. But I really see it as no different than the hooded robes of the KKK or the tatoos and garments that mark one street gang from another. (I see no modesty in a brightly coloured fine silk garment with ornate if subtle patterning.)

Would anyone object to a prohibition on Hell's Angels bomber jackets in the classroom? There is a time and a place for everything including flying one's colours. That doesn't mean every time and every place is appropriate.


I think there are important differences between ethnic diversity and multiculturalism. Multiculturalism has aspects of moral equivalency or even moral perversity that are absent in ethnic diversity. Ethnic diversity celebrates the individual while multiculturalism subjugates the individual.

The United States were always ethnically diverse even before their emergence as a nation. The national language was very nearly german and not english. New York, one of the early capitals of the new nation, was predominantly dutch. Much of the northeast was originally populated by the french.

In many ways, the formation of the United States as a nation was an intentional rejection of tribalism and an embrace of ideas and core values as a single unifying culture transcending ethnic origin. Every ethnic group has a long and bloody history. Some ethnic cultures cling to victimology while others almost ignore their defeats to marvel at their victories.

Regardless, the United States created a new culture taking what was best and leaving the rest. It divorced itself from ethnic rivalries of the past while claiming all the benefits that eventually emerged from hundreds of years of european religious civil warfare. The United States elevated the individual above ethnicity as the rights bearing unit. Liberty and tolerance are opposites sides of the same coin in as much as one cannot have liberty without tolerance; although, one might have tolerance without liberty.

Multiculturalism rejects that single unifying culture and embraces tribalism again. Whereas ethnic diversity within a single culture requires one to relinquish any aspects of one's ethnic culture that are incompatible with the ideas and core values of the unifying culture, multiculturalism morally equates all cultural ideas and values. Actually, in practice, it goes further by denigrating and delegitimizing the western european culture from which those unifying ideas and values emerged.

I, too, enjoy diversity: ethnic diversity, intellectual diversity -- even moral diversity within reasonable bounds. Those who promote multiculturalism will attempt to blur the distinction between ethnic diversity and multiculturalism. I think it is important to understand the difference and to recognize their mendacity.

Bob Badour said at January 23, 2004 11:04 PM:


I think the key grouping is citizen and non-citizen. I suggest America's first step should be to make it very difficult for the latter to become the former.

Randall Parker said at January 23, 2004 11:25 PM:


But Marking Territory is the sort of thing that Broken Windows theory argues should not be allowed. Immediately remove gang markings so that the order imposed by the larger society is unchallenged by any visual indications. This is why Caldwell's comment about marking territory reminded me of the Broken Windows theory.

cks said at January 24, 2004 11:32 AM:


In using the term "group," I didn't mean to imply that the French should crack down on all individual immigrants just because some of them are hostile to the prevailing characteristics of French culture. The reason I used the term group is that there is a group (a subset of the muslim immigrants to France) that _is_ hostile to prevailing French culture and hopes to push it aside and impose their views on the rest of the country. If its not clear that I'm trying to state a fact rather than a judgement, my previous posts were unclear.

I'm not sure that the "Broken Windows" strategy of targeting publicly displayed religious symbols is necessarily the most effective strategy for encouraging assimilation. It doesn't distinguish individuals by behavior - one could imagine that tolerant muslims may want to wear religious symbols. On the other hand, as the Tit-for-Tat analogy suggests, the policy need not be permanent.

The link I included in my last post described situations in the French public housing projects surrounding their major urban areas. The author of the article I linked, Theodore Dalrymple, argues that the conditions of these housing projects promote resentment among the residents and discourage assimilation into the prevailing French culture. I think that a solution addressing the conditions in these projects may be a good step towards handling the cultural problems facing France.

Bob Badour said at January 24, 2004 1:46 PM:


Applying this strategy, the French continue to pass laws against muslim culture until it becomes more tolerant.
Your original statements don't seem to convey the meaning of "group" as a proper subset of muslim culture, which I believe prompted AMac's reaction. As you say, the post was probably unclear, but the clarification was certainly a very interesting exchange.

I perceive a very serious flaw in the logic of tit-for-tat as a strategy to alter behaviour. It doesn't. Nor does it attempt to. Optimistic tit-for-tat adapts one's behaviour to react to the opponent's behaviour to maximize gains and minimize losses. It does nothing to alter the behaviour of the opponent, and confronted with a betraying opponent the strategy assures losses on both sides. However, the losses are smaller for the tit-for-tat player than for a strictly optimistic player.

I suggest we consider the value in seeking solutions that do not guarantee universal loss.

Dalrymple's article strongly suggests a tit-for-tat strategy will only further entrench resentment and paints the classic picture of broken windows left unmended.

AAE said at February 2, 2004 6:07 AM:

It is important to realise that the ban on relious symbols in France is actually encouraging Mulsims to join fundamentalist groups. It is making them feel more and more ostracized by society and is actively encouraging them to "leave" mainstream French secularism behind. Chirac's actions are increasing violence and racism against muslims as well. They are discriminated against constantly, it is difficult for them to find employment , good housing etc. And this has been the case for years. What is so facinating about all of this is that there is this huge debate over what boils down to a young girl's choice in head gear. The French Government should put more effort into eliminating the underlying causes of this Islamic/secular tension, ie mulsim poverty and put less effort into battling the hijab. By failing to do so, they are turning what would only be a minor incident into what could be a major catastrophe. The two girls who sparked this whole debate, Lila and Alma, have a Jewish father who supports their decision to wear the hijab. Hmmm, could that be multiculturalism working? Isnt that against the whole idea of tribalism? Either way, one wouldnt think that a man belonging to the Jewish faith would support his children in Mulsim endevors now would one? Normally, one would presume that there would be more intolerance in that relationship, especially with the anti-semetic attitudes of most of France's Muslim population (which is caused by the poverty of muslims and the prosperity of the Jewish, yesh, just get them a job already). What one person calls multiculturalism, another may call tolerance. What one calls assimilation, another might call indoctrination and a lose of one's culture. I personally find that assimilation against ones will is morally unjustified, but then, morals differ from person to person, and I also find that people who are proponents of assimilation tend to be the least tolerant of dissenting viewpoints and more likely to engage in acts of intolerance (and on occasion violence). Humanity tends to seek to destroy that which it does not understand, or that which differs from its own pov. This whole line seems to be about "us" vs. "them", I dont see it that way, but then I am one of those evil proponents of multiculturalism that Bob was bashing earlier. I prefer the whole live and let live line of thinking instead and if that is a bad way to play a prisoner's game, then so be it. I dont think that life boils down to anything so simple as a prisoner's game anyways, there are always underlying reasons and factors and there is always a way to win that does not involve tit for tat. Two wrongs dont make a right and returning good for evil is the only way to live. Simplistic yes, stupid maybe, but that is the way that I see it.

Bob Badour said at February 2, 2004 8:17 AM:


Welcome to the discussion, and I hope you take some time to read Randall's entire blog in detail--especially his points regarding triumphalism and exceptionalism.

One seldom encounters anyone with the requisite intellectual honesty to admit he or she clings to simplistic, stupid ideas for no particular reason. I find that very refreshing, and I thank you for providing such an excellent paradigm of the mutliculturalist position.

I have never heard of Lila and Alma. The precipitating events leading the french to consider a ban of the Hijab in public schools include rape and arson as well as the verbal abuse of teachers in the classroom. I assume Lila and Alma are nothing more than the poster children of those opposed to the dress code chosen specifically for their power to manipulate those too lazy to think.

I am not sure how you conclude a declared member of one tribe encouraging his children to display the identifying markings of their separate tribe is anything other than tribal.

Perhaps you could read Dalrymple's article and explain how you interpret "the Zone" as unicultural or assimilationist. Multiculturalism is very much about "us" and "them". "We" have one culture, and "they" have other cultures. That's how multiculturalism works. It is playing out in France with one culture in "the Zone" and another culture elsewhere.

It is interesting that you mention tolerance. Tolerance is one of the core values and ideas we must insist all immigrants assimilate. I very much favour a live and let live approach to the problem. We can live here in our culture and let others live elsewhere with their culture. If someone wants to come here and live with us, let them assimilate our core values that make 'here' such a desirable location to live in the first place.

Since nobody is forced to immigrate here, assimilation would be entirely voluntary. Unlike, for instance, the assimilation of many young muslim women at the hands of their brothers or for fear of 'morality police'.

boyo said at November 21, 2004 7:55 AM:

Did you know you are a googlewhack

Ali said at February 17, 2005 7:01 AM:

Dear Human,
I read almost all of what you wrote, it was all from one side against the other(Muslims).
i wanted also to say try to understand why this people behave like this, put yourself instead of them, be foreigner, you left your place because...(every one has his owne reasons) all they looke at you strangely, every day on the news you're attacked as religious or as race... every day such feeling grows in the person and start to be hate against every one(people from your origine and once who are not), but not the one who is good to you.
From all this i wanted to say that the person can be good but where he lives can change his personality either better or bad, so the way we behave to eachother can give good or bad relationship. so let change the way we behave to echother, let's have bigger heart , bigger to bring all races and all what's good together.
with all respect.

Ali said at February 17, 2005 7:01 AM:

Dear Human,
I read almost all of what you wrote, it was all from one side against the other(Muslims).
i wanted also to say try to understand why this people behave like this, put yourself instead of them, be foreigner, you left your place because...(every one has his owne reasons) all they looke at you strangely, every day on the news you're attacked as religious or as race... every day such feeling grows in the person and start to be hate against every one(people from your origine and once who are not), but not the one who is good to you.
From all this i wanted to say that the person can be good but where he lives can change his personality either better or bad, so the way we behave to eachother can give good or bad relationship. so let change the way we behave to echother, let's have bigger heart , bigger to bring all races and all what's good together.
with all respect.

M.Robinson said at July 22, 2005 7:47 AM:


The above is what certain people are demanding. In Britain we do not have hang ups, because we have always been more cleverer than the french. the French want to force the muslims to accept all their ways, you cannot do that and as such muslims are more at ease in britain, I have seen religious muslims and those that are not so religious, this is because not every aspect of british culture will appeal to a religious person(whether Christian, muslim,or jew) and as such you cannot have homogenous societies.

Seems to me a lot o people here are anti -muslim to the extreme.

Randall Parker said at July 22, 2005 10:43 AM:


Yes, Muslims in Britain are so at ease that they go around blowing up trains and busses.

M.robinson said at July 25, 2005 6:08 AM:

You seem to forget your home grown Militia's and the likes of Timithy Mcveigh. Killed 300 of his own countrymen/women.
Im sure Randall that you would like to imprison the muslims in a similar manner to what the US did to americans of Japanese origin during WWII. Truly democratic, when you consider a lot of American Japanese were fighting and dying for the USA.

The actions of a few do not incriminate the whole of a particular community.

multiculturism exists even within a single race, i.e we the 'whites' of europe have different languages, food, literature, musical taste etc. Over a period of intermingling the customs have 'cross polynated' and been accepted as the native custom or value etc.

Randall Parker said at July 25, 2005 8:33 AM:


It took a few hundred million non-Muslim people to turn up a couple of US bombers for a one-off event. In Britain one and a half million Muslims are enough to produce dozens of bombers and wannabe bombers and the bombings in Britain look set to go on for many years to come.

The problem is that the actions of a few are just the tip of the iceberg. A double digit percentage of British Muslims approved of flying jumbo jets into NYC skyscrapers.

Spin all you want. But Islam is not compatible with Western liberal democracy.

M.Robinson said at July 27, 2005 7:37 AM:

[But Islam is not compatible with Western liberal democracy...]

Well neither is christianity, judiaism or hinduism. The religious right in the USA are trying to push their agenda through 'secular' government establishments for religious ideas to be accepted, because if you listen to the likes of Pat robertson(and his like), then you will notice that they deny the separation of religion from the constitution.
In Israel you have the tussle between Orthodox and the secular. the Orthodox even want to ban flights on a saturday. their infleunce and power is growing.
In India the Fundamentalist BJP gained power(their manifesto being to declare India as nuclear state, which they did by exploding nukes), Changed history books to reflect their outlook on historical facts. This is the BJP which is an offshoot of the RSS, It was one of their members who assasinated mahatma Ghandi.
In britain we have a democracy where the religious are kept at arms length and politicians don't go on about their faith in public, as we see it happens in the USA.

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