Thursday, September 08, 2005

Outraged Europeans Take Dimmer View of Diversity

"It was less than genteel, not the kind of thing a Londoner liked to admit, but Matthew Pickard couldn't help himself when drawn into a discussion about the recent bombings on the city's transit system. There is an "undertow," he said, a feeling of resentment toward ethnic communities that had long been welcomed.

"My friends, who are all educated and professionals, they're saying, 'What gives those people the right to come up from other countries and set up homes and set up families and then start bombing and maiming people?' " the 33-year-old engineering consultant said. "They just don't move in and integrate with society. They move in and take over. I just think enough's enough."

Since the July 7 attacks that killed 52 commuters, an increasing number of Britons have become worried that their nation has been too tolerant of foreigners. Enticed by generous asylum laws, jobs, welfare benefits and a commitment to racial cohesion, millions of immigrants, many from nations once part of the British empire, have found a home here. But their presence is being challenged, especially in the case of people from Muslim cultures.

The frustration and anger in Britain resonate across a continent where deadly attacks in Spain and the Netherlands over the last 18 months have tested faith in multiculturalism. From Rome to Paris to Berlin, governments are rethinking the balance between civil rights and national security, proposing tighter immigration and asylum laws and drafting tougher measures against voices of hate.

Many Europeans' suspicion of Islam underscores deeper concerns about the failure to integrate ethnic communities that are now seen as spinning away from Western influence. Nations are confronting years of troubled immigration policies that critics say have produced false portraits of social harmony. Cities such as Amsterdam, for example, cast a veneer of tranquillity over smoldering ethnic tensions. Late last year, a Muslim radical with links to a terrorist cell fatally stabbed the Dutch director Theo van Gogh on a city bike path. The killer was apparently angered by a Van Gogh film that was critical of Islam.

The integration question is growing more complex. Many poor immigrant neighborhoods are crowded with the children and grandchildren of people who arrived half a century ago. These immigrants are full-fledged European citizens, holding passports, speaking the languages their parents never mastered and benefiting from generous welfare systems.

But many of them don't feel welcome. They have sought to define their identity with a defiant brand of globalized Islam, a disturbing dynamic that allows radicals to conceal their intentions in nations they are adept at navigating. Londoners were stunned that three of the four men accused of carrying out the July 7 bombings were born and raised in Britain.

Multiculturalism "was thought to be a source of strength, but it has proved to be a source of rebellion," said Mufti Abdul Kadir Barkatulla, senior imam of the North Finchley Mosque in North London, once a place of worship for suspects in the failed July 21 copycat attack on the transit system. "Diversity has its economic and cultural strengths. But it has proven, security-wise, it is vulnerable."

No major European country has found the perfect answer to the question of integration. Britain's liberal approach urged immigrants to blend in while keeping their distinctive cultural backgrounds. This improved relations but allowed radical clerics to flourish in ethnic neighborhoods. France preferred that its immigrants mute their lineages and adopt all things French, a policy that has contributed to the anger of legions of Muslim men living in slums outside Paris. Germany opened its borders to "guest workers," most of them Turks, beginning in the 1960s. But the nation didn't intend for them to stay, creating a cultural limbo in which Germans kept their distance even as the Muslims became citizens and severed ties to their native lands.

Suspicion has widened such divides. Many apprehensive Europeans are taking the view that certain factions of Islam, including radicals seeking a worldwide religious caliphate, are at odds with multiculturalism and the principles of Western democracy.

This was reflected in a Dutch intelligence report following the Van Gogh assassination. The report's less than politically correct tone reflected the larger Dutch sentiment that the state, which supports affirmative action and funds Muslim schools and Arabic-language TV stations, has been too soft for too long.

Puritanical Islamic groups "want Muslims in the West to reject Western values and standards, propagating extreme isolation from Western society and often intolerance towards other groups in society," said the December report of the AIVD intelligence service. "They also encourage these Muslims to [covertly] develop parallel structures in society and take the law into their own hands. What they mean is that Muslims in the West should turn their backs on the non-Islamic government and instead set up their own autonomous power structures based on specific interpretation of the Sharia," or Islamic law.

Many Muslim leaders, however, say Europe has a historical prejudice toward foreigners, especially its Islamic population, which has doubled over the last decade to as much as 15 million. They argue that multiculturalism sounds eloquent but lacks credibility on a continent imbued with nationalism and skeptical of all that is not Christian and white. Germany, for example, has 3 million Muslims in a population of 82 million, but only two of the 601 members of parliament are Muslim. In its capital, Berlin, unemployment among Turks runs at about 45%.

Burhan Kesici, a leader of the Islamic Federation in Berlin, recounted a recent experience during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan to illuminate Europe's cultural divide. "We were attending a conference on European integration. We couldn't pray because we didn't want to interrupt the meeting," he said. "An imam I was with said to me: 'How can we Muslims integrate any more than we have already? We didn't pray when we should have prayed. We didn't eat right after sunset, and now we're in an Italian restaurant that serves alcohol.' "

Relations had seemed less distant between cultures in Britain, or at least London. Just days before the July 7 bombings, civic leaders had lauded the capital's "unique multiculturalism" as critical to the city's winning bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games. The selection was a recognition, said the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, "that our capital offers the best real-world answer that humanity has to the challenge of ethnic and religious diversity."

Many Muslims appeared to agree with the assessment. "The most important popular food now is curry, not fish and chips," said Ahmed J. Versi, editor of the London-based Muslim News. In 2004, "Mohammed" jumped more than 15 places on the list of Britain's most popular names for newborn boys, ranking behind Jack, Joshua, Thomas and James.

But by then questions about multiculturalism were being raised, including in the prominent liberal magazine Prospect, which published an essay titled "Too Diverse?" Some Muslim leaders were also worried about rising extremism among Britain's 1.6 million Muslims, with mosques echoing with fiery anti-Western rhetoric. Ten extremist clerics were arrested recently and targeted for deportation under Prime Minister Tony Blair's new anti-terrorism measures.

More here


Nothing disturbs working women more than the statistics often mentioned on Labor Day showing that they are paid only 76 cents to men's dollar for the same work. If that were the whole story, it should disturb all of us; like many men, I have two daughters and a wife in the work force.

When I was on the board of the National Organization for Women in New York City, I blamed discrimination for that gap. Then I asked myself, "If an employer has to pay a man one dollar for the same work a woman would do for 76 cents, why would anyone hire a man?"

Perhaps, I thought, male bosses undervalue women. But I discovered that in 2000, women without bosses - who own their own businesses - earned only 49 percent of male business owners. Why? When the Rochester Institute of Technology surveyed business owners with M.B.A.'s from one top business school, they found that money was the primary motivator for only 29 percent of the women, versus 76 percent of the men. Women put a premium on autonomy, flexibility (25- to 35-hour weeks and proximity to home), fulfillment and safety.

After years of research, I discovered 25 differences in the work-life choices of men and women. All 25 lead to men earning more money, but to women having better lives. High pay, as it turns out, is about tradeoffs. Men's tradeoffs include working more hours (women work more around the home); taking more dangerous, dirtier and outdoor jobs (garbage collecting, construction, trucking); relocating and traveling; and training for technical jobs with less people contact (like engineering).

Is the pay gap, then, about the different choices of men and women? Not quite. It's about parents' choices. Women who have never been married and are childless earn 117 percent of their childless male counterparts. (This comparison controls for education, hours worked and age.) Their decisions are more like married men's, and never-married men's decisions are more like women's in general (careers in arts, no weekend work, etc.). Does this imply that mothers sacrifice careers? Not really. Surveys of men and women in their 20's find that both sexes (70 percent of men, and 63 percent of women) would sacrifice pay for more family time. The next generation's discussion will be about who gets to be the primary parent.

Don't women, though, earn less than men in the same job? Yes and no. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics lumps together all medical doctors. Men are more likely to be surgeons (versus general practitioners) and work in private practice for hours that are longer and less predictable, and for more years. In brief, the same job is not the same. Are these women's choices? When I taught at a medical school, I saw that even my first-year female students eyed specialties with fewer and more predictable hours.

But don't female executives also make less than male executives? Yes. Discrimination? Let's look. The men are more frequently executives of national and international firms with more personnel and revenues, and responsible for bottom-line sales, marketing and finances, not human resources or public relations. They have more experience, relocate and travel overseas more, and so on.

Comparing men and women with the "same jobs," then, is to compare apples and oranges. However, when all 25 choices are the same, the great news for women is that then the women make more than the men. Is there discrimination against women? Yes, like the old boys' network. And sometimes discrimination against women becomes discrimination against men: in hazardous fields, women suffer fewer hazards. For example, more than 500 marines have died in the war in Iraq. All but two were men. In other fields, men are virtually excluded - try getting hired as a male dental hygienist, nursery school teacher, cocktail waiter.

There are 80 jobs in which women earn more than men - positions like financial analyst, speech-language pathologist, radiation therapist, library worker, biological technician, motion picture projectionist. Female sales engineers make 143 percent of their male counterparts; female statisticians earn 135 percent.

I want my daughters to know that people who work 44 hours a week make, on average, more than twice the pay of someone working 34 hours a week. And that pharmacists now earn almost as much as doctors. But only by abandoning our focus on discrimination against women can we discover these opportunities for women.


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