Thursday, June 15, 2006

Clash of civilizations

Mollified Muslims in France? (October 28, 2006)

Media coverage of the French riots that 'erupted' last November dissipated as the number of vehicles set on fire fell from upwards of 1,400 per night. Prior to this conflagration, dozens of cars were being set ablaze on a nightly basis, and French police faced daily assault from Muslims in-country. So after the spike almost a year ago, the level of chaos fell back to the forty or so burning cars, right? Hardly:
The figures are stark. An average of 112 cars a day have been torched across France so far this year and there have been 15 attacks a day on police and emergency services. Nearly 3,000 police officers have been injured in clashes this year. Officers have been badly injured in four ambushes in the Paris outskirts since September. Some police talk of open war with youths who are bent on more than vandalism.
A little over a year ago, a level of destruction only a third of what occurs today was considered normalcy. Then the deaths of a couple of thugs sparked a powder keg, and anarchy spilled out of France's immigrant enclaves. After the riots burned themselves out (!), we assumed a return to that putative normalcy. But said normalcy is actually much worse, yet little attention is given to it because it's not sensational enough relative to what transpired before.

We're boiling slowly, unaware of slight but continual temperature increases. The most egregious Islamic activities, like the death of Theo Van Gogh, the cartoon madness, the various train and subway bombings, and the French riots work against the Islamization of Europe because they make salient the problems Muslims create. Similarly, the Hispanic immigrant protests in March of this year created a backlash. Better for La Raza to tell the migrants to lay low while the group throws relentless charges of racism at any person advocating immigration reform. It's the subtle changes that are the hardest to counter.

Attacks against French police continue their steady rise:
National police reported 2,458 cases of violence against officers in the first six months of the year, on pace to top the 4,246 cases recorded for all of 2005 and the 3,842 in 2004. Firefighters and rescue workers have also been targeted — and some now receive police escorts in such areas.
Western media sources are good at sensationalizing 'freak' occurences but not so good at putting less sensational happenings into proper perspective. Though last year's riots got the headlines, this year is on pace to be 16% more destructive than last, in spite of the high-profile chaos that transpired last year. But since there hasn't been an abrupt, sensational surge this year, a more violent year is getting less coverage regarding violence than a less violent year did.

Adding to the frustration, muddled birthing trends may be creating a positive veneer to mask an ominous reality:
While falling birthrates threaten to undermine economies and social stability across much of an aging Europe, French fertility rates are increasing. France now has the second-highest fertility rate in Europe -- 1.94 children born per woman, exceeded slightly by Ireland's rate of 1.99. The U.S. fertility rate is 2.01 children.
Randall at Parapundit then asks:
What I'd like to know: what is the native French fertility rate and what is the Muslim fertility rate?
Great question. Unfortunately the French government doesn't keep statistical information by race or ethnicity. The comments section is rich with speculation and other commentary that's worth the read nonetheless. Common sense and compassion dictate that if it is the French that are causing the 'youths' to riot, more innocent Muslim children should not be brought into the oppression and poverty faced by the nation's Muslim minority. And if the Muslim enclaves are responsible, the same dictate that French citizenry not be subjected to such aggression. France needs to know where the ferility rates are coming from to gauge whether or not the incentives have been successful.

However, the growth might not be overwhelmingly attributable to Muslims. With nearly 10% of the country now comprised of Muslims, primarily from Algeria and Morocco, an increasing number of births are not to children of European descent. Still, fertility in those countries, at 1.89 and 2.68 births per woman, respectively, doesn't make it obvious that French Muslim fecundity is significantly greater than that of the European French. It'll be interesting to watch how incentives and subsidies offered to Japanese parents turn out (Japan, like Russia, is suffering an absolute population decline and is interested in the French model).

Sweden shifts right, but is it too late? (September 18, 2006)

One of the world's most salient leftist countries has scooted a bit to the right:
A center-right opposition vowing to streamline Sweden's famed welfare state ousted the Social Democratic government in a close parliamentary election Sunday, ending 12 years of leftist rule in the Nordic nation.

Prime Minister Goran Persson, who had governed for 10 years, conceded defeat and said his Cabinet would resign after the Social Democratic Party's worst election result in decades.

With 99.7 percent of districts counted, the four-party opposition alliance led by Fredrik Reinfeldt had 48.1 percent of the votes, compared with 46.2 percent for the Social Democrats and their two supporting parties.
Sweden's Social Democrats, who have led the majority for 65 of the last 74 years, fell to modest tax reduction policies, opposition to a six hour workday, and the advocating of reforms aimed at streamlining business operations. With the exception of a brief stint in the early nineties, the ruling leftist Social Democrats have seen Sweden plummet from the world's fourth wealthiest industrialized country in 1970 to sixteenth at the end of the millenium (and currently 19th in terms of purchasing power parity for nations with at least one million people).

Quasi-socialism (30% of Swedish workers are employed in the public sector) and generous welfare benefits (unemployment runs at 80% of salary as well as 18 months paid maternity or paternity leave) simply cannot hold a candle to capitalism, ceteris paribus, when it comes to sustainable economic and productivity growth.

But so what if production efficiency and effectiveness are not maximized when less than 2% of your GDP comes from agriculture, half of your industrial output comes from the engineering sector, you have abundant natural resources, almost a fifth of your population has a college degree, and you enjoy an average IQ of 101 (about as sharp as Massachusetts but with 50% more people)? With all of that going for you, you can afford to dole out generously to the less fortunate, do not have to be confined to the cubicle for 50 hours a week, and can live with a sense of financial security due to a buoyant social safety net.

That is, until you open up the floodgates to immigration and stop having children:
It touches the topic everyone knows is an issue but nobody will argue about: immigration. Sweden was one of only three European Union countries along with the UK and Ireland to open its doors fully to eastern Europeans last year and continues to accept large numbers of asylum seekers almost without question.

There is a general feeling that being Swedish is more about a set of values than racial attributes, but clashes of culture in a society once Europe’s most homogenous are easy to see.

In the busy city centre, blond teenagers play “chicken” in early evening sunshine, stripping to their underwear to dash through traffic and plunge into a fountain. A group of Arab boys stare on with mixed expressions of lust and disapproval, literal victims of shock and awe.

Sweden's total fertility rate is 1.66 children per woman, well below replenishment level. And its population, with a median age of 40.9 years old, puts it in a tie for the sixth most ancient among countries with populations larger than a few thousand. As the erudite, middle-aged Swedes approach retirement, the immigrants that are supposed to provide for them are instead living destitutely in ghettoes with both a sense of entitlement and a visceral dislike of the Swedish society that surrounds them (Sweden's Muslims, at 3.9% of the total population as of 2003, appears to be Europe's third highest, next to France and Holland).

The economic and social strains of rampant third-world immigration combined with an aging workforce and enormous governmental spending (78% of GDP in terms of purchasing power parity) are a recipe for disaster.

Although Sweden's problems are severe, they are similar to those faced by much of the rest of the Old Continent. And as if that weren't enough, Al Fin reports on an exodus of Europe's middle class to places like New Zealand, Australia, and Canada (come here, damnit, and then vociferously support a merit immigration system and an absolute halting to net liability immigrantion so the US doesn't end up like moribund Europe!):
Escaping the stress of clogged roads, street violence and loss of faith in Holland's once celebrated way of life, the Dutch middle classes are leaving the country in droves for the first time in living memory. The new wave of educated migrants are quietly voting with their feet against a multicultural experiment long touted as a model for the world, but increasingly a warning of how good intentions can go wrong. Australia, Canada and New Zealand are the pin-up countries for those craving the great outdoors and old-fashioned civility. ...

More people left the Netherlands in 2003 than arrived, ending a half-century cycle of surging immigration that has turned a tight-knit Nordic tribe into a multi-ethnic mosaic with three million people of foreign roots out of 16 million. ...

Unlike most earlier waves of migration to the new world, this one is not driven by penury. The Netherlands has a per capita income higher than Germany or Britain, and 4.7 per cent unemployment. "None of my clients is leaving for economic reasons. You can't get a visa anyway if you haven't got a work record," said Frans Buysse[, the head of a private immigration consultancy]. Europe's leader for much of the last century in social experiments, Holland may now be pointing to the next cultural revolution: bourgeois exodus. ...

According to Filip Dewinter, the leader of Vlaams Belang, Belgium's Flemish anti-immigrant party, about 4,000 to 5,000 Flemish residents are leaving Antwerp every year, even as 5,000 to 6,000 non-European immigrants arrive in the city each year. ...

These are not just any emigrants but, as the director of a migration consultancy bureau in Amsterdam, Grant King, notes, "Most of our applicants are in high-paying, good, solid positions here - they are not the unemployed. They are mostly middle-class Dutch people with college or university degrees. … The problem for the Netherlands is that the ones that they don't want to lose are the ones that are leaving."

Even as Israel reels over its war with Hezbollah, instability in Iraq, and growing Iranian influence in the Middle East, scores of European Jews want to move to Israel to avoid anti-Semitism:
Ha'aretz reports today on a survey that finds "60,000 French Jews want to move
to Israel." Arik Cohen of Bar-Ilan University reached this conclusion by giving
questionnaires to the 125,000 French Jewish tourists who visited Israel in the summer of 2004. Of this huge sample, 52 percent said they see their future in Israel. Half of those aged 15-18 said they had personally experienced instances of anti-Semitism in the past four years. A third of the youth said they are considering immigration to Israel in the near future.
It's time to halt all immigration from the Muslim world. Europe has mostly been moving to the right, with a rightist victory in Poland and narrowly in Germany, as well as a strong showing in the UK, the results from Sweden, and the likely victory of Sarkozy in France. I expect continued Islamic immigration and the strain both that and an increasingly archaic population put on social welfare systems will continue that trend. Hopefully this will induce more of what the Netherlands, Britain, and Germany have been doing in essentially filtering out hardline Islamic immigrants.

There is a glaring lesson here for leftists: Uskilled, uneducated third-world hordes work against much of what you support. They strain the welfare system and fail to contribute as much as they consume, rendering it untenable in the long run. They increase criminality so markedly that liberal policies on crime also become untenable. Vermont can afford to elect a Socialist to the Senate and let the occasional child rapist run free because it has an intelligent, prosperous population and relatively few criminals. But California certainly doesn't have these luxuries.

These liabilities also increase pollution, the population density, and breed like rabits. The Sierra Club is opposed to all of this, yet while putatively supporting population reduction, the organization is nowhere to be found on what is causing over half of America's current population growth:
Sierra Club takes no position on United States immigration levels and policies. The Club's membership voted on April 25, 1998 to remain committed to environmental rights and protection for all within our borders, without discrimination based
on immigration status.
This even though Hispanic immigrants in the US appear to be more fecund when they come here than when they stay in Mexico!

Muslims in Europe are virulently intolerant of Western liberalism. Hispanic immigrants are the most anti-Semitic ethnic group in the US. Both groups are as or more religious than the natives in their host countries. These are all things leftists tend to oppose. Why, then, the strange alliance with these groups? Is it to morally posture into a position superior to that of 'bigoted' rightists (which assumes that little legitimate threat is seen in these immigrants)? Is it to accrete the leftist voting bloc, even as the haughty intellectual liberalism camp and proletariat racialist redistributionist camp diverge?

Liberalism is Western. When the Europeans that sustain it dwindle, so does it.

Dutch PM on democracy and Sharia law (September 14, 2006)

The Netherlands' PM illustrates why the now widely debunked myth that democracy inherently leads to liberalism is so dangerous:

Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner has provoked an angry response by stating it has to be possible for Sharia Law to be introduced in the Netherlands via democratic means. ...

Muslims, he said, just like Protestants and Roman Catholics, have a right to the perceptions of their religion, even if that included dissenting rules of behaviour such as imams refusing to shake hands with women.

Maybe Jefferson really should have said, "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%," instead of being faithful enough to "subscribe to the principle, that the will of the majority honestly expressed should give law."

Then again, Donner doesn't realize how his argument justifies deportation and internment of Muslims in Holland and an absolute ending of all immigration from the Islamic world, should that become the Dutch predilection. The Netherlands is still quite white (somewhere between 83%-90%). So this (mostly nominal) Catholics and Protestants combined majority could repel the Islamic incursion if they wanted to. Indeed, if the Dutch want to avoid Van Gogh repeats and the miasmic influence of Sharia law, now is the time to get behind Geert Wilders (here's Wikipedia's entry on this refreshing politician), who supported the Dutch cartoonists, is behind new immigration queries designed to filter out potential Muslim immigrants, and has been long opposed to extending EU membership to Turkey.

Donner continued thus:
He went on to say: "It must be possible for Muslim groups to come to power [in the Netherlands] via democratic means. Every citizen may argue why the law should be changed, as long as he sticks to the law.
Mob rule. We're a nation of vicissitudes, Joseph K.

Democracy is a means to some end. That end might be personal freedoms, free markets, and empirical institutions. Or it might be 7th Century law, monopolistic control of natural resources, and fanatical religious institutions. Donner appears to believe, however, that the means justify the ends, however distasteful those ends may be. It's not the results of the decision that matter, it's how those decisions were decided upon.

If this is truly the mindset of an open-bordered Occident, Western liberalism is doomed. An aging population and birthrates well below replenishment (the only two developed countries with fecundity enough to keep up with the rate of death over the long-term are the US and Israel, the former's position being due to unskilled third-world immigration).

Said Donner:

"It is a sure certainty for me: if two thirds of all Netherlanders tomorrow would want to introduce Sharia, then this possibility must exist. Could you block this legally? It would also be a scandal to say 'this isn't allowed!'

"The majority counts. That is the essence of democracy."

An Iraqi majority becomes an Iranian ally. The US is now caught in an about-face as it beefs up forces in Baghdad to quell the surging Shia militias that are now massacring minority Sunnis (the Baathists who used to be our unequivocal enemies). The Kurds want to redefine the geography so they become the majority. Majority voting in the Palestinian territories leads to an 'unacceptable' Hamas' victory that finds both the US (and Israel) in an act of blatant hypocrisy. Yet still President Bush drones on about freedom in the Middle East. While the House of Saad is corrupt and coercive, we could do a lot worse. Is anyone foolish enough to argue that the Saudi majority would retain King Abdullah? That we woud be so lucky. 'Moderate' Jordan would choose bin Laden over Abdullah, and the Saudis would probably do the same.

The Islamic majority doesn't want liberalism. They want to be able to murder homosexuals with impunity and disallow women to accuse those who rape them. They want to burn American effigies and torch embassies and kill one another over cartoons and rumors about books being defiled. Why actively aid this turpitude at great cost in American blood and treasure? Keep the Muslim world out of the West, and let guys like Qaddafi know that if international terrorism threatening the US is allowed to flourish in their respective countries, the lives of their family members and the minarets of their palaces have a very tenuous future. No occupation. Just the promise that the wrath of God awaits them should they fail to keep the lid on the pot. America's third generation warfare doesn't fare well against Al Qaeda types. But it does work wonders against people with identifiable return addresses. Let Mubarak do the dirty work, however it has to be done. Let his life and generally amicable relations with the US be the incentives that insure that the job gets done.

After coming under fire for his remarks, now claims he was attempting to rhetorically present the danger Sharia law posed to Dutch freedoms. Let's hope he demonstrates there's truth to that.

British see threat in Islam (August 27, 2006)

British attitudes toward Muslims are moving in the direction of German attitudes. A majority of the English see a civilizational clash taking place on their own soil, and increasingly feel that it is not driven by fringe Islamic extremists, but instead by mainstream Islam:
A growing number of people fear that the country faces "a Muslim problem" and more than half of the respondents to the YouGov survey said that Islam posed a threat to Western liberal democracy. That compares with less than a third after the September 11 terrorist attacks on America five years ago. ...

The proportion of those who believe 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 nearly doubled from 10 per cent a year ago to 18 per cent now.
The number who believe that "practically all British Muslims are peaceful, law-abiding citizens who deplore terrorist acts as much as any- one else" has fallen from 23 per cent in July last year to 16 per cent. ...

A higher proportion than last year now feels that the police and MI5 should focus their counter-terrorism efforts on Muslims and far fewer people are worried that such an approach risks dividing the country or offending law-abiding Muslims.

Most strikingly, there has been a substantial increase over the past five years in the numbers who appear to subscribe to a belief in a clash of civilisations. When YouGov asked in 2001 whether people felt threatened by Islam, as distinct from fundamentalist Islamists, only 32 per cent said they did. That figure has risen to 53 per cent.

Five years ago, a majority of two to one thought that Islam posed no threat, or only a negligible one, to democracy. Now, by a similar ratio, people think it is a serious threat.

Better to realize this late than never. The creation of a "cohesion and integration commission" hardly inspires confidence in the government's response (the idea for the commission came out of the train bombings on July 7, 2005), but Communities' Secretary Ruth Kelly recently showed some spine:
Miss Kelly said: "We must not be censored by political correctness and we cannot tiptoe around the issues."

She said: "Our ideas and policies should not be based on special treatment for minority ethnic faith communities. That would only exacerbate division rather than help build cohesion."
These comments were interspersed with the obligatory (and baseless) assertion that diversity has been a "huge asset", revealing that the supine still outweigh the spine.

Why should white Westerners buy into the putative benefits of diversity when they cannot see or feel them, and are excoriated for even questioning them? Muslims have put a strain on the generous welfare policies of western Europe. They are less economically and more criminally productive than are their European counterparts. They cluster in distinct enclaves and overwhelmingly consider themselves Muslims before citizens of the various countries they live in. They kill people for free expression, and riot over minor things like cartoons. Occasionally they blow up trains, buses, or (at least attempt to blow up) planes. They come from countries where the average IQ tends to be around 85, a standard deviation below that of most of Europe.
The average European's lying eyes inform him of all this. But he doesn't see the "huge asset" they provide. He can't put his finger on the benefits they bestow upon him, and the more he gets to thinking about it, the more skeptical he becomes of the existence of such benefits at all. It is his leadership that is responsible for the benefits and liabilities that the importation of Muslims provide (which now represents more than half of the UK's population growth). It is their job to convince him that the benefits outweigh the costs. The British appear to be coming to grips with how poorly a job their leaders have done at making this case.

Western civilization is the most amazing civilization on the planet. It has produced virtually all the theoretical, technological, artistic, and philosophic advancements of the last half-millenia. It is time that so incredible a culture, and its population representing one-sixth of the world's, set strict standards on who can be a part of it. The Netherlands, Germany, and France, have all created immigration applicant surveys aimed at filtering out people with hardline Islamic beliefs that are incompatible with Occidental liberalism.

Why not greatly expand upon this start? Institute a merit immigration system that takes into account health, age, education, intelligence, occupation, cultural and social beliefs, and means. Europe's high standard of living allows it to do this. Certainly the US, with the widest immigrant-to-emigrant margin in the world, can afford to take the pick of the litter while spending a couple of months worth of the Iraq miasma to build a wall along the southern border and stop the unskilled Hispanic influx.

Our way of life is worth preserving, our civilization worth saving.

Women's rights in Pakistan (August 25, 2006)

Women's groups in the West, especially in Europe, should take the lead in opposing continued immigration from the Islamic world:
President Pervez Musharraf has opened a new and especially bitter confrontation with radical Islam by trying to rewrite Pakistan's controversial rape laws.

These place an almost impossible burden of proof on women by compelling them to produce four "pious" male witnesses to prove rape or risk being convicted of adultery and face 100 lashes or death by stoning.

This law, known as the Hudood Ordinance, has been regarded as untouchable since its passage 27 years ago.
Further growth in Britain's Pakistani population, numbering almost 750,000 according to the UK's 2001 Census, isn't good for gender equality. Immigration restriction will do far more for women's rights than countless domestic abuse awareness campaigns will do.

Musharraf's coalition holds a majority in Parliament, but not all of its members support Hudood (which translates as "punishments") reform:
Lawmakers nursing serious reservations against President Pervez Musharraf's efforts to ease discrimination against women absented themselves in Pakistan's National Assembly Friday to thwart the introduction of a bill to amend the controversial Hudood laws.

Only 30-40 members of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Qaid) were present. The opposition parties, bent on a no-confidence move against the government of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, walked out.

Islamic fundamentalists have led rallies throughout Pakistan in opposition to the law, vowing in some cases even to defend Hudood to the death. However, the crowds such displays have drawn are paltry:
Mairaj-ul-Huda Siddiqui, a leader of an opposition alliance of six religious parties, told a crowd of about 200 in the city of Karachi after Friday prayers: "We will even sacrifice our lives for this and will not allow these amendments to take place,"

"This is part of a US and Jewish conspiracy and we will resist it forcefully," Siddiqui said.

Similar small protests were held in Lahore, Peshawar and the capital, Islamabad.

Certainly doesn't compare to the rabble roused in response to the NewsWeek report on Koran desecration. On the other hand, the push for reform doesn't have a populist vein either (think estate taxation in the US). Musharraf favors it, but elections are coming up and he's justifiably concerned about how his perception as a Western stooge might play into a fourth assassination attempt.

That there are several political parties with representation in Pakistan that vow to fight to the death to defend laws that severly punish victims of rape if they cannot produce four male witnesses and allow men to marry girls should tell us that Pakistani culture is not compatible with the Occident. In the words of Thomas Jefferson:
Immigrants will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, or if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbridled licentiousness, passing, as usual, from one extreme to the other. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty.
Why rely on a miracle when rejected visa applications will do?

Iraqi liberation brings misery to gays (August 7, 2006)

This is more saddening than surprising:
Hardline Islamic insurgent groups in Iraq are targeting a new type of victim with the full protection of Iraqi law, The Observer can reveal. The country is seeing a sudden escalation of brutal attacks on what are being called the 'immorals' - homosexual men and children as young as 11 who have been forced into same-sex prostitution.
It's not only flamboyant gays that are being killed. Innocent children, abducted into the sex trade and prostituted out to homosexual men, are getting bullets through the eyes. And it's legal:
Eleven-year-old Ameer Hasoon al-Hasani was kidnapped by policemen from the front of his house last month. He was known in his district to have been forced into prostitution. His father Hassan told me he searched for his son for three days after his abduction, then found him, shot in the head. A copy of the death certificate confirms the cause of death.

Homosexuality is seen as so immoral that it qualifies as an 'honour killing' to murder someone who is gay - and the perpetrator can escape punishment. Section 111 of Iraq's penal code lays out protections for murder when people are acting against Islam.
I think of my thirteen year-old brother and get sick to the stomach.

Iraq is a disaster. Bush's quixotic goal of bringing a Jeffersonian democracy, along with the peace and prosperity that putatively come with it, has crashed tragically on rocks of reality. Almost 2,600 of our most patriotic have been sacrificed, $300 billion has been poured down the drain, and we've unnecessarily alienated our natural allies. For it we have growing Iranian influence in the region, liberated Iraqis chanting "Death to America" and burning American and Israeli flags in the streets of Baghdad, and theocratically-determined sharia law budding up across the ummah.

It's time to realize that liberal democracy is a privilege, not a natural right. We don't give driver's licenses to blind people because giving them freedom on the road has catastrophic implications. Lots of people--lots of societies--cannot handle democracy either. Iraq has an esimated average IQ of 87, a PPP of $3,400 (due mostly to oil production), an extensively inbred population, a tribalistic social structure, and an uncompromising and intolerant religious belief system. This is a recipe for disaster. Better to have such a population under an authoritative regime that has the iron-fisted will to keep the society from unravelling into chaotic anarchy on the national level and ugly populism on the local level, especially for 'protected' groups like women, gays, and minorities.

Gay leader Ali Hili says life was better under Saddam:
We were very modern. We were very, very Western culturalized — Iraq — comparing to the rest of the Middle East. Why it's been shifted to this Islamic dark ages country? We were much better off in the Saddam time, although he's a tyrant.
Because our leftist neocon leaders are incapable of realizing that unelected tyrants in the Middle East bring the backwards Islamic world much closer to modernity than does giving the people a right to control their own destiny.

Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani appears to condone the violence against homosexuals (although not specifically against children):
Islam considers homosexuality sinful. A website published in the Iranian city of Qom in the name of Ayatollah Sistani, Iraq's most revered Shia cleric, says: "Those who commit sodomy must be killed in the harshest way". ...

The BBC asked Mr Sistani's representative, Seyed Kashmiri, to explain the ruling.

"Homosexuals and lesbians are not killed for practising their inclinations for the first time," Mr Kashmiri said in a response sent via email. "There are certain conditions drawn out by jurists before this punishment can be implemented, which is perhaps similar to the punishment meted out by other heavenly religions."

Hmm, obscure passage in Romans that I've never heard mentioned even in passing at church versus international proclamation by renowned Shiite spiritual leader. Unless Kashmiri meant to add "centuries ago" after "...other heavenly religions."

The Islamic world is managing to show us how inherently flawed nation building and multiculturalism both are. Yet as the Occident continues on into senescence, the war drums beating for Iran and the West's self-immolating refusal to halt immigration from third-world sinkholes doesn't inspire confidence in our ability to learn from our mistakes.

Pew on views concerning Muslims (August 3, 2006)

The West's opinions on Muslims are tough to make sense of. A Pew Global Attitudes Survey recently probed the feelings of Muslims living both in the West and in the Middle East, as well as those of non-Muslim Westerners. Occidental liberalism seems to dictate an accomodating, welcoming view of Islamic immigrants, even as concerns about local Islamic communities is strong and growing. Germany, where a substantial Turkish population has existed for several decades, is the least amiable toward the Islamic Middle East.

A couple of the findings are bemusing. The percentage of people in the following countries who think continued immigration from the Middle East and North Africa is a good thing: Spain - 62%, France - 58%, Great Britain - 57%, Germany - 34%. This even though an overwhelming majority of people in each country are concerned about rising Islamic extremism. And more people in each of these countries believe an Islamic identity distinct from a national identity is growing: Spain - 46% (compared to 36% holding a contrary view), France - 68%, Britain - 69%, Germany - 72%. The public in these places that feel a Muslim identity is growing firmly believe that this trend is a bad thing: Spain - 82%, France - 87%, Britain - 59%, Germany - 83%.

So at least 38% of the Spanish, 59% of the French, 41% of the British, and 60% of the Germans feel that what is happening in the Muslim community in their home countries is a bad thing (assuming, likely in error, that all respondents ambivalent toward or disagreeing with the assertion that Islamic identity is growing at home approve of the way the Muslim community conducts itself in their home countries). Why the French anomaly? A majority feels continued Islamic immigration is good but a similar majority believes what is happening in the French Islamic community is bad.

Curiously, the Spanish and French publics had the least sympathy for the Islamic rioters in France last year (37% and 46% sympathized, respectively, compared to 62% in Britain and 64% in Germany) even as these countries are quite enthusiastic for more Islamic immigration. Is it national rivalry that causes two-thirds of Germans to feel for the Muslim rioters because they have to live in France even as most Germans don't want anymore immigration from the Muslim world?

While Westerners continue to think of themselves in terms of their national identity (an average of 62% of Christian Europeans and Americans think of themselves in this way), Muslims see themselves as Muslims first (an average of 65.5% among Muslims in Europe and 60% among Muslims in Islamic lands) and denizens of their various countries second.

Also of interest, the Muslim world clearly favors Iran over the US (in all places both in the Middle East and Europe that were surveyed felt this way with the exception of German Muslims, who slightly favored the US with 44% supporting the US and 40% supporting Iran), has an unfavorable opinion of Americans (in every place the question was asked), and by an even greater magnitude despises the war on terror instead of supporting it at a rate of 6-to-1 for Muslims in Britain, almost 4-to-1 for Muslims in France, 2-to-1 for Muslims in Germany, 7-to-1 for Muslims in Spain, 8-to-1 in Egypt, 5.5-to-1 in Turkey, 3-to-2 in Indonesia, 2-to-1 in Pakistan, and 4.5-to-1 in Jordan.

The campaign to win the hearts and minds isn't going well. It's time we stopped spilling blood and treaure trying to make it work, and instead divert that money into making alternative energy sources economically viable so Islamic opinion of the US becomes about as important as what Nairobians think of America.

Canine-anmen square massacre (August 2, 2006)

I struggle daily with the depression that comes from being so unacculturated. The more I see of other cultures, the less tolerant of them I become. In Mouding county, in the province of Yunnan in southwestern China, the local government has responded to the death of three citizens from rabies by indiscriminately massacring over 50,000 dogs:

Dogs being walked were taken from their owners and beaten on the spot, the newspaper said. Other killing teams entered villages at night, creating noise to get dogs barking, then honing in and beating them to death.

Owners were offered 63 cents per animal to kill their dogs before the teams were sent in, the report said.
Receive two-thirds of a dollar and you can murder your pet in a way you're comfortable with. To be fair, given the per capita wealth gap between the US and China, that's roughly equivalent to receiving $3.87 stateside, and dogs are an acceptable food source in China, so it might be better to imagine your local police force culling the city's pet rabits for comparison, although in Mouding county there are a lot of dogs--roughly one dog for every four people. Brutal pictures are here and here. Individual tales of the slaughter speak volumes about the lack of individual rights in the PRC:
On Saturday, a woman was walking her dog - a small white animal she'd had for a long time - in a Yunnan Province alley. Several men approached, talked her into handing them the leash and then beat the dog to death as the owner looked on in horror.
Impetus for the campaign stems from a relatively high incidence of dog attacks on Mouding's population of 200,000, with one in 556 residents having been bitten in the last year. Initially the government's reaction was to vaccinate the county's 55,000 or so dogs, but the apparently high-profile case of a 4 year-old girl who was mauled to death sparked the cleansing. Although at least 4,000 of the county's dogs had previously received vaccination, all dogs found were dispatched irrespectively:

On Saturday, officials said that 90 percent of the dogs had been killed, and they expected to finish their work on Sunday.
Military and police dogs were spared.

Rabies vaccinations cost around $10, so the Mouding campaign saved half a million minus the wages paid to task force officers involved in the midnight raids. Would you shell out ten bucks to prevent your dog from being gang-beaten by guys with wooden sticks?

Most of Mouding's residents agreed with the government's response. The Han have few qualms with eradicating all dogs because a few have caused problems. This highlights a major fault line between the West and places in the East, not only in China but also in the Islamic world: The Occident focuses on the individual, not the group. Our response would be to immunize the canine population and destroy individual rabid dogs, just as a crime commited by a thug demands punishment for that particular thug, but not for his entire extended family (or ethnicity or religion or whatever). That perspective is not ecumenical, however, and extended close contact with disparate cultures is forcing the West to face difficult questions about how far to extend individual protections to groups that violate and refuse to respect them.

The best response I see is to come up with ways to help insure that people in nations with a Western individualistic ethical worldview agree principally with the basic tenets of that worldview (which is what countries in Europe have already begun doing in asking questions of prospective immigrants that are anathema to many Muslims). Include this as part of a merit immigration system that selects only immigrants who are likely to increase the quality of life for natives by requiring a certain level of education, skills, health, IQ, etc corresponding to the construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border, the deportation of illegals who reveal that illegal status in public (through transactions, arrests, etc), and the enforcement of pungent punitions for businesses that hire illegals.


Anonymous said...

If you can afford it, get advice from a lawyer.

Get the title report, make sure the deed is signed by all parties with an interest in the property. Ask for a warranty deed (the seller may be inexperienced enough to give you one!). Do not accept less than a grant deed (don't take a quitclaim deed). I suppose you know not to close without issuance of title insurance. You can probably get some free advice on this aspect of the paperwork from the title insurance company.

Be sure to list all personal property (say, washer & dryer) that is being sold with the house. Also list valuable or unique stuff that someone might mistake for personal property (say, fancy door or stained-glass window) and try to swipe. Inventory that stuff before escrow closes.

In the purchase contract and escrow instructions make sure you have dealt with the question of seller holdover. If you decide to grant the seller extra time to move out, define him in a writing, signed by him too, as a tenant for a (very short) fixed term, and get him to tender his chattels to you on expiry. This will often make it easier to evict when you close escrow but the seller or his stuff is still on the property.

Do not allow escrow to close unless you are satisfied. That's really the golden rule. Just refuse to sign unless the place meets your requirements (e.g., previous owner out, no significant problems). A crooked seller will be full of heartwrenching stories; you must sit firm, tie down and gag your natural sympathy, and say "I won't sign until we resolve everything and you're off the property."

daveg said...

Anything "fixed" to the house like lights, built in fridge, in-wall phones, spealkers etc. are presumed to be part of the house unless expressly called out in writing.

crush41 said...


Luke said...

Hire a professional inspector who is bonded (cost around a hundred bucks) to check the condition of the foundations, roof, structure, furnace, etc. That way if identifialbe but unidentified problems turn up later he has to pay and not you. A friend of mine had this experience.

crush41 said...

Thank you.

crush41 said...


I got the warranty deed. Much thanks for the tip!