Thursday, August 25, 2011
Muslims have become too much even for the tolerant Dutch
The Dutch government says it will abandon the long-standing model of multiculturalism that has encouraged Muslim immigrants to create a parallel society within the Netherlands.
A new integration bill (covering letter and 15-page action plan), which Dutch Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner presented to parliament on June 16, reads: “The government shares the social dissatisfaction over the multicultural society model and plans to shift priority to the values of the Dutch people. In the new integration system, the values of the Dutch society play a central role. With this change, the government steps away from the model of a multicultural society.”
The letter continues: “A more obligatory integration is justified because the government also demands that from its own citizens. It is necessary because otherwise the society gradually grows apart and eventually no one feels at home anymore in the Netherlands. The integration will not be tailored to different groups.”
The new integration policy will place more demands on immigrants. For example, immigrants will be required to learn the Dutch language, and the government will take a tougher approach to immigrants to ignore Dutch values or disobey Dutch law.
The government will also stop offering special subsidies for Muslim immigrants because, according to Donner, “it is not the government’s job to integrate immigrants.” The government will introduce new legislation that outlaws forced marriages and will also impose tougher measures against Muslim immigrants who lower their chances of employment by the way they dress. More specifically, the government will impose a ban on face-covering Islamic burqas as of January 1, 2013.
If necessary, the government will introduce extra measures to allow the removal of residence permits from immigrants who fail their integration course.
The measures are being imposed by the new center-right government of Conservatives (VVD) and Christian Democrats (CDA), with parliamentary support from the anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV).
As expected, Muslim organizations in Holland have been quick to criticize the proposals. The Moroccan-Dutch organization Samenwerkingsverband van Marokkaanse Nederlanders, which advises the government on integration matters, argues that Muslim immigrants need extra support to find a job. The umbrella Muslim group Contactorgaan Moslims en Overheid says that although it agrees that immigrants should be better integrated into Dutch society, it is opposed to a ban on burqas.
But polls show that a majority of Dutch voters support the government’s skepticism about multiculturalism. According to a Maurice de Hond poll published by the center-right newspaper Trouw on June 19, 74 percent of Dutch voters say immigrants should conform to Dutch values. Moreover, 83 percent of those polled support a ban on burqas in public spaces.
The proper integration of the more than one million Muslims now living in Holland has been a major political issue ever since 2002, when Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn was assassinated for his views on Muslim immigration, and since 2004, when Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was stabbed to death for producing a movie that criticized Islam.
Muslim immigration to the Netherlands can be traced back to the 1960s and 1970s, when a blue collar labor shortage prompted the Dutch government to conclude recruitment agreements with countries like Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. In the 1980s and 1990s, Muslims also arrived in the Netherlands as asylum seekers and refugees, mainly from Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Somalia.
There are now an estimated 1.2 million Muslims in the Netherlands, which is equivalent to about 6 percent of the country’s overall population. Moroccans and Turks comprise nearly two-thirds of all Muslims in the Netherlands. Most Muslims live in the four major cities of the country: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.
As their numbers grow, Muslim immigrants have become increasingly more assertive in carving out a role for Islam within Dutch society. For example, a documentary aired by the television program Netwerk in June 2009 reported that Dutch law was being systematically undermined by the growth of Sharia justice in the Netherlands.
In December 2004, the Dutch Ministry of the Interior published a 60-page report titled From Dawa to Jihad. Prepared by the Dutch intelligence agency AIVD, the report says that the Netherlands is home to up to 50,000 radical Muslims whose key ideological aim is to target the Western way of life and to confront Western political, economic, and cultural domination.
Cameron’s cure will make British society sicker
The PM's post-riots promise of more intervention into troubled families is mad – it is precisely such intervention that devastated parental authority
In Britain, they start very young these days. An 11-year-old girl who has not yet started secondary school recently pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage. Nottingham Magistrates Court heard she had been seen on the streets of the city, 25 kilometres from home, hurling rocks at shop windows. Her father, in his daughter’s defence, explained: ‘She is going through a bad time at the moment and just ran away from her foster place. She has got a sister going through care.’
Numerous children between the ages of 11 and 14 participated in the looting of shops and the destruction of property that made news around the world. It signifies that childhood has gone astray and that adult authority has been tragically eroded.
Policymakers, politicians and opinion-formers point the finger of blame at parents. British prime minister David Cameron claimed the collapse of families was the principal driver. ‘The question people asked over and over again last week was “Where are the parents?”’, he asserted. Either ‘there was no one at home’ or ‘they didn’t much care or they lost control’.
Reading between the lines, policies designed to ‘improve’ parenting are likely to be one of the main government responses to the rioting. Cameron has promised to put ‘rocket boosters’ under efforts to turn round 120,000 troubled families and has warned that his government will be less sensitive to claims that its intervention was ‘interfering or nannying’. In reality, his policy represents a continuation of New Labour’s failed strategy of early intervention in family life. This was the great idea of former prime minister Tony Blair, who wrote at the weekend that the conclusion he reached while in government was that ‘we had to be prepared to intervene literally family by family and at an early stage’, in order to prevent children from turning into criminals.
Cameron’s call to turn around 120,000 troubled families is an excellent example of what can most accurately be described as a fantasy policy. It is based on the delusion that governments and bureaucracies are capable of solving intimate family problems. But parenting is not an institution that can be reformed through state intervention. Parenting is a cultural accomplishment that is cultivated through decades of interaction in communities. That is why the billions of pounds spent so far on family intervention has failed to realise government objectives.
Worse still, the intrusion of officialdom may be partly responsible for the inability of many parents to control the behaviour of their children in the first place. For more than three decades, policymakers and the child-protection industry have sought to stigmatise and criminalise parents who punish bad behaviour. Official early-intervention programmes discourage parents from disciplining their children and often inadvertently undermine parental authority.
Campaigns against smacking put many parents on the defensive about exercising any form of restraint. Ironically, as politicians complain that parents don’t control their children, parents are lectured that discipline is repressive and results in dysfunctional children. The term ‘discipline’ now carries connotations of an abuse of power. A well-deserved smack on the wrist is represented as a crime against humanity.
The implicit objective of a no-smacking campaign is to restrain the exercise of parental authority. The wider agenda of influential anti-smackers is to undermine the right of parents to discipline their children at all.
No-smacking advocates believe that parents who withdraw affection as an alternative to smacking may cause even more damage to a child, and that punishments designed to make children feel uncomfortable or undignified are just as emotionally dangerous as the physical kind. The main outcome of their crusade is to undermine the capacity of parents to control their youngsters.
This problem is mirrored in the classroom. Many teachers are frightened of exercising their authority and find it difficult to maintain classroom discipline. Last week Brian Lightman, the leader of Britain’s head teachers’ union, said there were some ‘hard questions and ‘uncomfortable truths’ for parents to confront in the aftermath of the riots. Following politicians, he blamed dysfunctional parents who fail to draw boundaries for the looting and rioting. Sadly, he misses an important point – which is that teachers are no less responsible then parents, and more importantly that hard questions need to be asked of adult society as a whole.
Many parents of children arrested during the riots argued that they were not responsible for the violence. One mum of a 13-year-old Manchester boy who appeared in court exclaimed: ‘You can’t say what your child’s doing 24 hours a day, no matter what a good parent you are.’ Her statement was the cry for help of a mother who is all too conscious of the fact that she lacks the means to contain the misbehaviour of her child.
To put it bluntly, adults have become estranged from the task of taking responsibility for the younger generations. Yet the assumption of adult responsibility is critical for the conduct of community life and for the socialisation of children. It is our obsessively protective parenting culture that is responsible for the erosion of intergenerational relationships. Adults feel awkward and even anxious about interacting with other people’s young children. A crying five-year-old is no longer picked up and reassured by a nearby adult. A six-year-old boy who misbehaves will not be reprimanded by grown-ups passing by.
Children will always test the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. And that’s how it should be. However, today children’s behaviour is no longer contained and controlled through the response of adults. Childcare has become entirely privatised. The neighbour, the shopkeeper, the child’s friend’s father, and in many cases even the child’s aunt no longer have a role in the upbringing of a child.
Today, the real damage begins when children are as young as seven or eight. Ironically, the breakdown of adult solidarity, which is driven by the paranoid imperative of child-protection policies, leads to a situation where young people’s behaviour is uncontained by the intervention of responsible grown-ups. A long time before they become teenagers, children know they face no sanction from anyone other than their parents. Is it any surprise that a minority of teenagers will come to regard the absence of adult intervention as an invitation to bad behaviour?
The reluctance to restrain the conduct of youngsters really means evading the task of socialising younger generations. The failure to communicate a community’s traditions and values leads to its slow disintegration. Children, who have not been taught to take seriously the prevailing norms and values, are unlikely to feel strongly about adhering to a community’s conventions.
The display of destructive and anti-social behaviour during the riots is the inevitable outcome of the failure of socialisation. The fault lies not with parents, but with the failure of society to give meaning to adult authority.
One final point. It is important to emphasise that the origins of the weakening of parental control, the erosion of adult authority and the problem of socialisation, are not to be found within the affected communities. Government intervention in family life has done for the self-esteem of its target population what welfare payments have done to the recipients of its largesse. Tragically, well-intentioned social engineering and government policies have systematically devalued the right of parents to discipline their children. When the erosion of adult authority has undermined the capacity of grown-ups to socialise children, it is not surprising that far too many English children, who have little respect for their elders, also have little esteem for the law and the property of others.
If Cameron really wants mothers and fathers to become more effective childrearers, he should challenge all the petty laws and conventions that force parents on the defensive. He could do worse than launch a campaign to restore adult authority, and most importantly he needs to resist the temptation to try to colonise family life.
Constructing community life through fostering adult responsibility for the young is the only way forward for England.
Last June, Missouri Congressman Todd Akin made a speech in which he said that liberalism involved “hatred of God.” Needless to say, the professionally touchy were inflamed, and the Congressman was quick to issue an apology. Some local pastors weren’t satisfied with that, however, and sought a face-to-face meeting with Akin at his office. Maybe an apology doesn’t take the first time, or maybe being a follower of Jesus today means never saying anything to offend. Is that what Jesus did?
I don’t know exactly what Akin meant by comparing liberalism with “hatred of God,” but perhaps he was thinking of the liberal penchant for seeing all problems as social, with a liberal government providing solutions, justice, prosperity, etc. In other words, a liberal government replaces God as the source of all blessings. And do we not read in Scripture that those “who are not with Me are against Me?” So maybe Akin’s thinking was along those lines. Maybe not. I’m not losing any sleep about it. What bothers me is not what Akin said, but the fact that he seemed to feel it necessary to apologize for it.
It’s easy to make an off-the-cuff remark that offends someone, and in that case, an apology may, or may not, be in order. Akin’s remarks, as I understand it, were given in a radio interview, and thus were, to some extent, spontaneous. But Akin is a politician, and not likely to deliberately insult possible constituents. If his comment caused offense to some, so what? In recent years, it has become routine for public figures to say things that they subsequently apologize for, as though it were an offense against good manners and etiquette to express ideas which some people don’t like. There’s a significant difference between deliberately insulting someone, or some group, and then apologizing, and stating your beliefs, which may annoy or irritate some sensitive souls. In the latter case, why should an apology be necessary? For a politician, especially, to never utter a word offensive to anybody, would require him to speak nothing but the most banal platitudes. Come to think of it, that would offend me! Apologize!!
So to simplify matters, I have produced the following statement, which any public figure is free to copy and hand out after any public utterance that could conceivably hurt someone’s feelings. Feel free to modify it to suit your own situation as needed.
I (name), speaking for myself or anyone associated with me or acting on my behalf, or on behalf of any organization with which I have ever had any connection, do hereby offer the most sincere and abject apologies for anything that I, or we, say, have said, or might say in the future, that anyone, or any group, anywhere, at any time, might, under any circumstances, find offensive, annoying, irritating, irksome, or distressing. We also abjectly apologize to any who are psychically or emotionally wounded by our failure to say something they think we should have said, as well as to those who find our apologies offensive and hurtful. Our remarks--or maybe the lack of them--were inappropriate, and we are really, really, sorry.
Where but in France could a chauvinist sexual predator still be feted as the nation's saviour?
Poor Dominique Strauss-Kahn! He lost his job as head of the International Monetary Fund and his chance to be President of France all because a New York chambermaid made a false accusation of rape. Now that he has been released he can pick up the pieces of his political career again.
This about sums up the views of many members of the oh-so-sophisticated French political class, particularly in the Socialist Party, to which the enormously wealthy Mr Strauss-Kahn (or ‘DSK’, as he is affectionately known) belongs. They talk of him as a victim who has just emerged from a nightmare not of his own creation.
His close friend Martine Aubry, a leading Socialist candidate for the Presidency, describes his release as ‘great news’, and says he remains ‘useful to France’.
Her main rival, Francois Hollande, says he is ‘delighted’. The release, he added, came ‘after three months of an unbearable ordeal’. This ordeal, by the way, was mostly spent in a £35,000-a-month New York townhouse, to which fancy restaurants delivered expensive delicacies to sustain poor DSK in his agony.
It is probably too late for him to throw his hat into the ring as a Socialist Party candidate for next year’s Presidential election. More likely, he will be a kingmaker. Should the Socialists win, he may end up in the Cabinet. Should they lose, he could be their candidate next time around.
In other words, there is a general feeling, especially among his colleagues, that although his paintwork may be a bit chipped in places, Mr Strauss-Kahn is ready and fit for action. Generous souls who are not parti pris say that, as he has not been convicted of any crime, it is only right that he should be allowed back into the fold.
But is it? As the wonderfully superior French newspaper Le Monde conceded yesterday, the decision not to prosecute was not a declaration of his innocence. A sexual act, as the phrase goes, took place. DSK claimed it was consensual; the chambermaid, Guinean-born Nafissatou Diallo, said it was rape. It was his word against hers.
Unfortunately — or fortunately for Mr Strauss-Kahn — Ms Diallo’s reputation for veracity was somewhat undermined by her having mentioned monetary gain in a taped conversation with a ‘fiancé’ who happened to be languishing in a detention centre in Arizona. When seeking asylum in the United States she had told a story of being gang-raped in Guinea that turned out to be untrue.
Who, other than the two people involved, can say what really happened in that hotel suite, for which the ever-frugal socialist DSK reportedly paid a mere $3,000 a night? I hope it is not unbearably prudish of me to suggest that, if it was not rape, neither was it pleasant: cursory and possibly exploitative sex with a woman he had met only a few moments before.
Nor was this a fleeting aberration. Mr Strauss-Kahn’s general attitude to sex seems to be that of a rutting bear. We have read stories — many of them previously suppressed by the self-censoring French media — of prostitutes in Paris and New York, of multiple extra-marital liaisons, and of habitual visits to a ‘swingers’ club’.
More seriously, a writer called Tristane Banon alleges that DSK tried to rape her when she interviewed him as a 22-year-old journalist in 2003. Her difficulty in making the charge stick may be lack of evidence after so long a period, though she did make the allegation without naming him during a television programme in 2007.
Ms Banon’s mother, a socialist politician called Anne Mansouret, says she persuaded her daughter not to press charges at the time for fear it would tarnish her career. Now, the mother has the bit between her teeth. It turns out that she once had a fling with Mr Strauss-Kahn — a consensual encounter on this occasion in which, so she suggests, he behaved with the ‘obscenity of a soldier’. What do they see in him?
A word should be said about his (third) wife, Anne Sinclair, who is even richer than him. If she were English she would long ago have cut off his suit sleeves, if not something much more important to him. As a French woman she tolerates his serial and sometimes brutal infidelities because that is what French women of her class and background are usually supposed to do.
Here we come to the nub of the argument. The supposedly sophisticated French elite regards Anglo-Saxon attitudes to sex as repressed and judgmental, and our newspapers in particular as prurient. The French believe themselves to be liberated, and far more advanced.
But isn’t it the French who are in fact more primitive, indulging and even encouraging chauvinist monsters such as Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who treats women as though they were chattels, to be consumed, despoiled and discarded? Almost his only vocal critics in France have been younger feminists who do not go along with the old notion that men — and in particular rich and powerful men — can do what they like in private in the certain knowledge that French newspapers will not write about their abuses.
DSK may like to see himself as a modern-day Don Juan, albeit an elderly and portly version. In Mozart’s version, the libertine is a pitiless seducer, a nobleman who thinks he can have whatever he wants, and is not even superficially attractive. He finally gets his comeuppance.
Whether Mr Strauss-Kahn will ever do so is much more doubtful. He is being hurriedly rehabilitated by the political class. His financial acumen and experience are celebrated by his defenders. France has need of DSK, is their message. It can’t do without his great brain.
Well, I don’t care how intelligent he is. If I were French, I would not trust this man in any matter to do with politics or money or life. I think he is greedy and unscrupulous, and I don’t believe those defects are restricted to the bedroom.
Some people say that at least parts of the French media regret that they concealed his behaviour for so long. A few even suggest that in future French newspapers will not be so indulgent, and that their cosy and protective relationship with the political class is coming to an end. I wonder. It will take a cultural revolution to bring about such a transformation.
All I can say is that I am glad to live in a country where a man like Dominique Strauss-Kahn would not be cosseted for years by the media, and then almost instantly forgiven by the political class. I’m sure that we may sometimes produce such politicians, I’m sure they exist, yet I don’t believe they would be allowed to thrive in Britain.
But I am also perfectly aware that there are some people — some politicians, some judges, some of the rich and powerful — who only wish that our newspapers were as accommodating and compliant as the French ones, and who are in the process of doing their utmost to bring that about.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
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