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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Culture, separatism and the new American flag

I haven't been linking to the wonderful Dakinikat lately, but this piece on right-wing Islamophobia is definitely worth your time. She draws her argument from this article out of Texas and this piece in the Texas Tribune. The opening paragraphs of the latter demand republication:
Freshman state Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, is not in Austin today to celebrate Texas Muslim Capitol Day. But she left instructions for the staff in her Capitol office on how to handle visitors who are, including asking them to declare allegiance to the United States.

"I did leave an Israeli flag on the reception desk in my office with instructions to staff to ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws," she posted on Facebook. "We will see how long they stay in my office."
No matter where you stand on the question of Israel and the Palestinians, you should be disgusted at the suggestion that declaring allegiance to the United States somehow requires a display of respect toward the flag of Israel, a foreign nation.
In June, she took to the social network to pledge that "finding Jihadists in Texas and arresting them" and purging the state "of all Muslim, military training camps including Imam's [sic] who promote, assist and encourage Jihad" would be among her top priorities as a legislator.

In the comments on that post, she warned her followers that "Muslims cannot be trusted no matter how peaceful they appear."
What nonsense. There are no Muslim training camps in Texas, and no jihadists threatening that state. This woman is either a gross opportunist preying on the fears of the weak-minded, or she is simply out of her gourd.

About that business of declaring allegiance to the United States: Not only is this a good idea for immigrants (who do, in fact, make such a pledge when they become citizens), I think we should make a similar demand of all Texans. Their loyalty is so tenuous, so questionable, that representatives from Texas have been invited to attend a summit of separatist states. In fact, maybe we should require a declaration of allegiance from all Republicans, since at least two of the Republican presidential aspirants in the 2012 primaries supported the concept of seccession.

Dakinikat, who lives in Louisiana, has a particular problem with Governor Bobby Jindal, of whom the Atlantic said the following:
In London, Jindal said “non-assimilationist Muslims” threaten the West not merely because they support acts of violence, and not merely because they adhere to Islamic rather than national law. Most fundamentally, they pose a threat because they refuse to embrace the cultures of the countries to which they immigrate. Denouncing the left’s claim that “it is unenlightened, discriminatory, and even racist to expect immigrants to endorse and assimilate into the culture in their new country,” Jindal insisted that “it is completely reasonable for nations to discriminate between allowing people into their country who want to embrace their culture, or allowing people into their country who want to destroy their culture, or establish a separate culture within.”
The writer of this piece, Peter Beinart, notes that Jindal's own Christian beliefs tend toward separatism. There are Catholics in the United States who inhabit what may be considered a separate Catholic universe. Sometimes, they live in monasteries and convents -- and sometimes, they transform their own homes into Catholicland.

Kat notes that the Amish, who are nothing if not separatist, have lived in this country for many years without a problem -- or rather, the only problems that have occurred were ones created by outsiders.

What about Orthodox Jews? In (for example) Rockland County, New York, there are communities of ultra-Orthodox Jews which may fairly be described as separatist. Within American Judaism, there has always been tension between the assimilationists and the non-assimilationists. That long-running conversation is one that Jews must conduct among themselves; they probably have no desire to hear advice from an outsider, and I have no desire to give it. I can say, however, that America is large enough to accept those who choose either way of life.

If America is large enough to accept Catholics, Jews, Amish and others who make a rigorous effort to maintain a separate cultural identity, then we can certainly accept those Muslims who seek the same. There is no need to force all Americans to follow the same dress codes, dietary strictures and other customs.

Let's take another look at Jindal's bigoted words:
“it is completely reasonable for nations to discriminate between allowing people into their country who want to embrace their culture, or allowing people into their country who want to destroy their culture, or establish a separate culture within.”
How many Muslims living in this country seek to destroy our culture? None. I can say that with great confidence.

Obviously, we must concede that there may well be Muslim terrorists living among us, although they must be very few in number. Everyone knows that the "terror cells" caught by the FBI were largely creations of the FBI. If Islamic terrorists were more numerous, there would have been no need for entrapment in those cases.

Still, terrorists do exist. Some terrorists are white and Christian, as any denizen of Oklahoma City will tell you. And, yes, some are Muslims. Do they want to destroy American culture? No. They may not like American culture, but they are not foolish enough to think that they can eradicate it.

Even the most idiotic terrorist must know that "destroying" a culture is an impossible goal. It is far easier to bring down a building than a culture. You could set off five hydrogen bombs across the United States and a month later, Americans would still be filling whatever was left of their lives with Dunkin' Donuts, Batman movies, Facebook, the Disney Channel, Walmart, guns and corn-based beer. Culturally, we would still be what we are.

The 9/11 terrorists did not target our culture. Bush may have said that they did, but they didn't. Their actual motives (as opposed to the motives that exist only the feverish imaginings of creatures like Bobby Jindal) are succinctly listed in paragraph two of this article.

Nor are Muslims attempting to erode our culture by imposing Shariah law on others. That claim is pure myth -- a stupid myth, believed only by the most feeble-minded and easily gulled members of our citizenry. I would have greater respect for someone who thought that Elvis staged his own death to marry a Sasquatch.

As for any Muslims who might seek to create a separate culture within these borders: Who cares? How would such a community differ from the Jews of Rockland?
Corn based beer? Deary me.

Also, succession should be secession.
Damn, Stephen. I never make that mistake. And yet I made it.

Thanks. I have corrected.

Budweiser and similar mass-market American brews are in fact made from corn and rice, not barley. It's cheaper. But don't judge all American beer by those examples -- we have some of the world's best small breweries.

Ah, I would give much for any chance to sip Anchor Steam in San Francisco...
Budweiser? Who can afford Budweiser. If you want a good local beer Joseph, Hop Pocket is about as good as it gets.

I am the one true Anon. Accept no substitutes.
Actually, Elvis staged his own death to marry Nessie, but she ran off with a Sasquatch, leaving the King sobbing at the altar. :(

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