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Friday, February 17, 2006

Objectivists object

On the issue of Muslim immigration in Europe, my response to Rogel Sokolin-Maimon, of the blog It Looks Obvious got a little long winded. Since it would make a decent blog post in and of itself, here it is.

(His original post, to which I am responding, can be read * here *.)

You make some excellent points, and in many places, I'm sure you wouldn't be surprised to hear that we are agreed.

But to get to the point, if the question for me is "which culture is preferable?" I think there's no doubt but that my answer would be, "it's the one that embraces liberal values."

But, in my mind, that isn't really the question. I am not at all convinced that most modern Europeans embrace liberal values or that most European Muslims do not.

And even if there were such a disparity in values, I cannot say what a libertarian or an Objectivist - politically speaking - would propose to do about it. Neither of us offers a political system that proposes to change cultural values. We would probably both say "prosecute those who use violence," and you might add "convert more people to Objectivism.” But I doubt that either of us would propose, “white people are better, close the borders!” as I get the distinct impression Dalrymple and his ilk would.

I don’t want to be accusable of ignoring the recent demonstrations against Danish newspapers, and so on. As regards those demonstrations, we can at least say that in Europe, by and large, they have been peaceful.

And to put them into perspective for a moment, pick a period in the US’s history when you imagine the country was most liberal. Is it immediately after the founding or perhaps right after the Civil War? Whenever it is, now that you’ve thought of it, imagine that a major newspaper in the Northeast publishes a picture featuring (please pardon the illustration) Jesus Christ in a bed with the covers up to his neck and a woman beside him, similarly positioned. Frankly, this is something that offends me deeply even to type, but I think the mental exercise is an important one.

Would it be even remotely surprising if – say – the South (or even the Northeast itself) then erupted in protests? The almost indisputable fact is that it would have – and as the result of an image that, in today’s America, would hardly cause a stir outside of Christian publications. Now, are you re-thinking your idea that the US was a mostly liberal nation during this time, or are you merely qualifying it with the thought that, “okay, but it’s possible to be a Christian country and a liberal country at the same time.”?

* * *

Sorry for the long comment. In conclusion, if I were to have my way, Europeans would (unlike Dalrymple) frame their comments in terms of, “Muslims should open their minds to the notion of a free press,” than – as they currently seem to be saying – “Europe must beware of Mohammedans in our midst, their culture will rot ours from the inside out!”

The first statement would find broad support even in Muslim Europe. The second statement strikes me as thoroughly bigoted, and ill-informed.



Anonymous Rogel said...

I'm leaving the debate aside and will assume that both of us believe that values of freedom and tolerance are essential and any attempt to limit them is dangerous, if by Immigrants or by "Old European" is wrong.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Tanner said...

I'm with you 100%.

I very much enjoyed our discussion.

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Rogel said...

Me too Tanner, me too.
but to the point, I beleive Dalrymple last response should prove me right :)

"Although it is not a complete answer, a flexible labor market is very important, because there is nothing like work to integrate people. One of the problems in France is that youth unemployment is very high, and you only have to ask a plumber or a carpenter why he does not employ anyone to find out why. Thus, huge numbers of young immigrants or descendents of immigrants gather in one area—"social housing"—without realistic prospect of work."

8:55 PM  

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