pageok
pageok
pageok
"Twenty Years On: Internalising the Fatwa":

A very interesting column in the Spiked Review of Books by Kenan Malik, author of the forthcoming From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and its Legacy. An excerpt:

For many, the controversy seemed to come out of the blue. For many, too, especially in the West, the image of the burning book and the fatwa seemed to be portents of a new kind of conflict and a new kind of world. From the Notting Hill riots of the 1950s to the Grunwick dispute in 1977 to the inner-city disturbances of the 1980s, blacks and Asians had often been involved in bitter conflicts with British authorities. But these were also, in the main, political conflicts, or issues of law and order. Confrontations over unionisation or discrimination or police harassment were of a kind that was familiar even prior to mass immigration.

The Rushdie Affair seemed different. It was the first major cultural conflict, a conflict quite unlike anything that Britain had previously experienced. Muslim fury seemed to be driven not by questions of harassment or discrimination or poverty, but by a sense of hurt that Salman Rushdie's words had offended their deepest beliefs.

Twenty years later, the Rushdie Affair seems equally like a conflict from a different age --- but for the opposite reason. Not only have the issues that it raised --- the nature of Islam, and its relationship to the West; the meaning of multiculturalism; the boundaries of tolerance in a liberal society; the limits of free speech in a plural world --- become some of the defining problems of the age. But the politics of the pre-Rushdie age are now what seems anomalous.

It has now become widely accepted that we live in a multicultural world, and that in such a world it is important not to cause offence to other peoples and cultures. As the sociologist Tariq Modood has put it: 'If people are to occupy the same political space without conflict, they mutually have to limit the extent to which they subject each others' fundamental beliefs to criticism.'

John (mail):
The author says, "It has now become widely accepted that we live in a multicultural world, and that in such a world it is important not to cause offence to other peoples and cultures." Really? I haven't seen this expressed by the billion or so muslims around the world--quite the reverse, if their more outspoken leaders are to be believed, and if their fatwas and jihads are seen for what they are.

Furthermore, the concluding sentence ("'If people are to occupy the same political space without conflict, they mutually have to limit the extent to which they subject each others' fundamental beliefs to criticism.') seems totally off the mark. A free society is precisely that one where anybody's "fundamental beliefs" are subject to criticism. If this be "conflict," make the best of it. Without that criticism, change will never happen. Moreover, if these "fundamental beliefs" cannot stand against criticism, then it's hard to sympathize with their proponents.

The problem is not words--it is conduct. It is the notion that a fair response to words is killing the speaker. That is the problem of the age here. Unfortunately, multiculturism inhibits proper responses to this problem.
12.24.2008 10:27am
Sammy Finkelman (mail):
The idea of limiting the extent to which people subject others' fundamental beliefs to criticism is unworkable, and even where it is, it is workable only if both sides know where to go.

For an example, just consider Proposition 8 and Rick warren etc. One group of people considers the very idea of homosexual "marriage" intolerable and the other group considers not accepting it intolerable.

What is workable is not limiting the extent of criticism, but limiting the forums where it occurs. Not bringing it up at every opportunity.
12.24.2008 10:34am
DiverDan (mail):
I agree wholeheartedly with John -- Just why has the response to the Salmon Rushdie Affair, and the Mohammed Cartoon Afair, and so many others, been a demand that we not utter words or express ideas that just might offend the Muslim sensibility? We really ought to be demanding tolerance - tolerance of words, thoughts, and ideas. If you are offended by Salmon Rushdie's words, it is perfectly acceptable not to buy the book, or publish a response, or even boycott the publisher; it is NEVER acceptable to call for the author's death, or to act on such demands.

The Koran itself rejects the idea that Muslims may convert by force non-believers; it accepts the right of others to their own beliefs, even if those beliefs are contrary or offensive to Islam. We all have, in the interest of liberty, a right to not only ask for, but demand, tolerance of not only our right to beliefs contrary to Islam, but our right to express those beliefs as we see fit without the threat of violent response. If the Muslim World as a whole refuses to accede, and insists on violent responses to any words, images or ideas they find distasteful or heretical, then we have the unquestioned right to respond in kind.
12.24.2008 10:42am
Thales (mail) (www):
DiverDan:

"If the Muslim World as a whole refuses to accede"

See, I was with you until you turned it into this formulation of collective guilt and punishment. There is no "Muslim World" that acts as an entity anymore than DiverDan is your real name.

Rushdie, an outstanding writer (I recommend Midnight's Children to all), is all for subjecting bad ideas and bad people to criticism, and for tipping sacred cows. But this comes out of a humanist sensibility and respect for the power of words and ideas to effect progress. Your sensibility, I fear, is hateful, prejudicial and maybe even violent, and ascribes all bad characteristics of a group to each individual within the group.

The article is disheartening if the trend it describes is true. Offense for its own sake in conversation or politics is base and to be avoided for sure, but to avoid giving offense in literature?! How absurd.
12.24.2008 11:13am
Mhoram:
Nice thought, DiverDan. Too bad the real world gives lie to it.

The reality is that Christians, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Animists, Shintoists, Pagans and Atheists rarely respond to insults to their religion with calls (and action) for murder. Those that do, such as Fred Phelps, are ignored or condemned by the mainstream of their religion.

Islam is different. Riots and murders over cartoons, fatwas, and suicide bombers are, at the very least, accepted by the mainstream muslims.

Sure, you can look around and find some muslims, usually in America, who are willing to condemn the excesses, but you have to work at it. Usually, you only get calls for tolerance and acceptance and pleas not to offend the muslims most holy beliefs.

For a simple thought experiment: What would have been the result if Robert Mapplethorpe had used Mohammed as the subject of some of his most offensive artwork instead of a crucifix? Or, on the other side, do you think atheists would have rioted if he had put a figure of Madeline Murray O'Hair in a jar of urine?

Polite people do not intentionally offend the religious beliefs of their neighbors, but we also have to live with people who are not polite. Ostracism is a far better way to deal with that sort of person than murder.
12.24.2008 11:17am
Pragmaticist:
Offense may be unavoidable.

Theists are offended when atheists spread their ideas, which necessarily involves the assertion that theism is false. Atheists are offended by the view that avoiding hurting theists' feelings requires atheists to not assert that religion is myth and superstition.

Long live free expression.
12.24.2008 11:19am
Happyshooter:
That's funny.

The lesson I learned is that the liberal/academic class gets their rocks off doing stuff like putting Jesus on the Cross in a jar of urine, and being as nasty as they can against Christians.

Exact same folks will see muslims killing people over a cartoon or novel and think that is just dandy.

Rushdie was the first time I realized the academic class were full of crap and really just hated Christians for being good. After 9-11 I realized liberals hate America so much they will accept the murder of people just like them so long as America is slightly harmed.

Since then during the war on terror the same academic class has done whatever it takes to make us lose.
12.24.2008 11:39am
JosephSlater (mail):
Ah, Happyshooter, you've got us liberal academics figured out. We do indeed think it's just dandy to have muslims killing people over cartoons; we really do just hate Christians for being good; and we certainly do accept deaths of people just like us as long as America is slightly harmed.

That is all just . . . so . . . true.

Happy holidays!!!
12.24.2008 11:53am
srg:
Happyshooter,

Nearly everyone I know is a liberal, and not one of them hates America or accepts any murder, much less that of 9/11.

I don't know any academics who have tried to "make us lose," though I guess you could find a very small number.
12.24.2008 11:57am
lonetown (mail):
The challenge is not to TAKE offense, that's the mark of civilization.
12.24.2008 12:23pm
Jay Myers:

It has now become widely accepted that we live in a multicultural world, and that in such a world it is important not to cause offence to other peoples and cultures.


That's fine, but Rushdie comes from a Muslim family and so he was offending his own people and culture. What do the mullahs of multiculturalism have to say about that?
12.24.2008 12:29pm
TruePath (mail) (www):
People who want to write articles about multiculturalism, pluralism, religious diversity or tolerance should be forced to take a mandatory course in mathematical logic. Particularly, they should have to show they understand how diagnolization arguments work.

Obviously some people, such as my self, take as a fundamental beliefs that no belief ought to be beyond criticism and that our demands for respect and tolerance ought only to affect the form of the expression and never prevent the plain statement of a intellectual position.
I also believe that virtually all of the popular religious beliefs are deeply confused or outright wrong. It is thus flat out contradictory to assume that a society which substantially limits the criticism of other people's fundamental values is possible, much less that it exists.

These comments absolutely infuriate me because the authors are even more guilty of the practice they criticize then those they accuse of being intolerant. Rushdie et. all may think their intellectual opponents are wrong, even dangerous but they still respect their right to express these ideas and do them the honor of taking them seriously enough to present a reasoned critique. People like this author feel that not only is this belief wrong and dangerous but also that my fundamental beliefs are just too different to even count as fundamental beliefs and thus I don't even deserve the privlege of expressing what I believe.
12.24.2008 12:50pm
Kirk:
Tariq Modood is wrong, and preposterously so. For example, I (and many if not most mainstream Christians) think much of Mormon theology is just plain wrong, and we don't mind saying so at the right time and place. But we don't think Mormons should be persecuted for their beliefs, we don't think in the middle of a Mormon wedding or funeral is the time and place for a discussion or protest or anything like that, and we would have been willing to vote for somebody like Romney if his politics had aligned with ours.
12.24.2008 1:17pm
Richard A. (mail):
Another nice little irony here is that before this controversy Rushdie went to Nicaragua at the very time the Sandinistas were censoring La Prensa and wrote a book called "The Jaguar Smile" in which he sided with the censors. He also predicted that La Prensa owner Violetta Chamorro could never win an election against Daniel Ortega, which she did.
It's important not to forget that at the time of the "Satanic Verses" controversy, censorhip by force was an accepted idea in the entire part of the world run by Marxists. So Salman has always been a bit muddleheaded.
12.24.2008 1:28pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Kirk.
And if you had been loud in your criticism of Mormons, you wouldn't have to get a remote starter for your car.
12.24.2008 1:28pm
JB:
Mhoram,
"Sure, you can look around and find some muslims, usually in America, who are willing to condemn the excesses, but you have to work at it. Usually, you only get calls for tolerance and acceptance and pleas not to offend the muslims most holy beliefs. "

You've hit the nail on the head. The center of gravity of Islamic thought is located in the uncivilized world--countries with authoritarian, restrictive governments, no civil society, and little free enterprise. In most Muslim countries, expressing any sort of dissent gets you shot, thus no one engages in lively debate. Everyone with authority uses it to silence their opponents with threats.

The result is that, when presented with religious controversy, they rely on the tactics they use for everything else--riots and death threats. Only those Muslims who live in the civilized world, where they have become used to arguing with people on the merits, respond sensibly.

Of course, in the civilized world we have to deal with the multiculturalist position that no one should ever offend everyone (this idea has been taken up by many right-wingers and is now fully bipartisan, although it originated on the left). Thus American Muslims don't threaten to blow anyone up, they just demand tolerance. They too have learned from their political surroundings and act accordingly.
12.24.2008 2:39pm
Steve:
In most Muslim countries, expressing any sort of dissent gets you shot, thus no one engages in lively debate.

Right. This is of course true.
12.24.2008 3:03pm
dearieme:
"If people are to occupy the same political space ...": if.
12.24.2008 3:41pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Muslims in America demand tolerance....
What intolerance have they faced?
Universities are, ahem, awash with footbaths.
On the downside, cabbies don't get to refuse folks with booze or guide dogs. IT IS NOT TO BE STOOD!
12.24.2008 3:55pm
neurodoc:
Mhoram: What would have been the result if Robert Mapplethorpe had used Mohammed as the subject of some of his most offensive artwork instead of a crucifix? Or, on the other side, do you think atheists would have rioted if he had put a figure of Madeline Murray O'Hair in a jar of urine?
Andres Serrano, not Robert Mapplethorpe, gave us Piss Christ. Mapplethorpe shocked in other ways.
12.24.2008 4:22pm
neurodoc:
'If people are to occupy the same political space without conflict, they mutually have to limit the extent to which they subject each others' fundamental beliefs to criticism.'
I wish the people of Iran, which renamed itself so as to make clear to call is an "Islamic Republic," better, but I am content to let them live in their dark cave of a country ruled by their obscurantist clergy. If they chose to jam all radio, television, and satelitte broadcasts to their country; block Internet access to Iranians; ban all movies, books, periodicals, and other publications from the non-Islamic world; prevent their citizens from traveling and deny non-Muslims entry; and otherwise insulate themselves from those not of their persuasion; I would not object. But if they and other Muslims want to co-habit with non-Muslims in North America, Europe, and other parts of the non-Islamic world, I don't think we should have to "subject each others' fundamental beliefs to criticism."

[Re Khomeni's fatwa calling for Rushdie to be killed...would a Sunni have been as likely (or unlikely) to act upon it as a Shia? Or would that fatwa meant nothing to Sunnis because it came from a Shia cleric?]
12.24.2008 4:48pm
neurodoc:
Oops. That should have been "so as to make clear to all that it is..." (not "so as to make clear to call is..."
12.24.2008 4:50pm
Federale (mail) (www):
He proves that connection between race and nation. Muslim immigrants are outsiders and enemies of the values of free and democratic societies (Democratic in that there are elections but also rights for all, and, yes, that is really a republican form or government, but I digress.). Above all, Muslim immigration is nothing but a source of violent conflict and threats to the very nature of free societies. We can see this now in the U.S. with both massive Mexican and Muslim immigration. Both groups work hard to destroy freedom of speech and our indigenous culture. Was not the Rivers of Blood speech so prophetic?
12.24.2008 5:38pm
Nathan Wagner:
Guys, click the link and read the whole review. Malik, the author, argues against Tariq Modood and his proposition that:

'If people are to occupy the same political space without conflict, they mutually have to limit the extent to which they subject each others' fundamental beliefs to criticism.'
12.24.2008 5:48pm
KenB (mail):
'If people are to occupy the same political space without conflict, they mutually have to limit the extent to which they subject each others' fundamental beliefs to criticism.'
Giving deference to Nathan Wagner, these are not the words of Kenan Malik but of Tariq Modood. They also are consistent with talk one hears these days from many Muslims and their apologists.

I would disagree with the sentiment, even if those propounding it intended to apply it equally, but they don't. As a case in point, note recent news reports of Ahmadinejad's claim that, were Jesus Christ alive today, he would oppose U.S. hegemony. Were Jesus Christ alive today, I am sure he would disapprove of many things, but put the shoe on the other foot. What would be the Muslim world's reaction if George Bush opined that, were Mohammad alive today, he would oppose certain policies of Muslim countries? We've be seeing a lot more shoes waived in front of television cameras.

Or take the insistence that the call to Jihad, properly understood is metaphorical, that it is really just a call for self improvement. Yet we are supposed to eschew "crusade" because of Muslim sensitivities. Except in discussions of historical events, when is the last time you heard "crusade" used other than metaphorically?
12.24.2008 6:16pm
Redlands (mail):

. . .

For an example, just consider Proposition 8 and Rick warren etc. One group of people considers the very idea of homosexual "marriage" intolerable and the other group considers not accepting it intolerable.

. . .


Actually, the "other group" considers the "one group" to be filled with hate, explaining their opposition to gay marriage.
Maybe not so far from radical Islam.
12.24.2008 7:40pm
NowMDJD (mail):

It has now become widely accepted that we live in a multicultural world, and that in such a world it is important not to cause offence to other peoples and cultures. As the sociologist Tariq Modood has put it: 'If people are to occupy the same political space without conflict, they mutually have to limit the extent to which they subject each others' fundamental beliefs to criticism.'

So, presumably, Malik and Modood will



limit the extent of their criticism of the fundamental belief of all of Judaism (except some of Reform) regarding of the connection between the Jewish people and the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.

And presumably they disapprove of the sort of stuff you can access on memri.org-- crude invective against Jews, and cartoons that look like they come out of Nazi Germany. And presubmably they disapprove of Moslem clerics calling Jews apes and dogs.
12.24.2008 7:41pm
Randy R. (mail):
"Another nice little irony here is that before this controversy Rushdie went to Nicaragua at the very time the Sandinistas were censoring La Prensa and wrote a book called "The Jaguar Smile" in which he sided with the censors. He also predicted that La Prensa owner Violetta Chamorro could never win an election against Daniel Ortega, which she did. "

Ah, that explains it. When the fatwa against Rushdie was issued, Margaret Thatcher was rather quiet, despite many entreaties directed towards her. I don't recall Ronald Reagan condemning the fatwa either. I guess that they didn't because they didn't like Rushdie in the first place.

So Thatcher and Reagan seem to have been in collusion in supporting Islamists and their intolerance towards any dissent.

Redlands: "Actually, the "other group" considers the "one group" to be filled with hate."

Yes, when Warren states that gays are pedophiles, sick and perverted, I can feel the love he has for us. When 'one group' runs ads claiming that few things are as horrible as having to explain what gay marriage is to kids, they are only doing so out of love of gay people. yes indeed.
12.24.2008 8:42pm
Randy R. (mail):
This is actually interesting. Suppose Islamic fundamentalists became the majority is a state such as California. they then approve a ballot measure to amend the state's constitution to prohibit any marriage that is not recognized by Islam.

I suppose most people here would denounce such a move, right? And yet, if they constitute the majority, why couldn't they do such a thing both morally and legally?
12.24.2008 10:24pm
ll (mail):
would that be a "revision" or an "amendment"?
12.24.2008 11:58pm
KenB (mail):
Randy R hypotheses a Muslim fundamentalist majority in California and asks the moral and legal basis for objecting to their then banning in California all marriages not recognized by Islam. Off the top of my head, a legal objection would be the First Amendment's proscription of the establishment of religion.

I suppose Randy R's point is that Proposition 8 has vitiated that rule. But even if Pro 8 violates the rule, it's hardly open season on other violations. And while I don't want to defend the merits of Prop 8, it is not inherently based on religion as would be a ban on all marriages not recognized by Islam.

That most pro-Prop 8 voters were probably motivated by religion does not make the rule suspect. The government cannot act for religious reasons, but voters can, so a long as the voters' act does not compel the government to act based on religion. Whether or not one agrees with them, there are secular arguments for Prop 8.

Again, I'm not speaking to the merits of any arguments about Prop 8, but there is a big distinction between it and requiring that all marriages be recognized only according to certain religious rules.
12.25.2008 12:07am
Ken Arromdee:
So Thatcher and Reagan seem to have been in collusion in supporting Islamists and their intolerance towards any dissent.

Rushdie referred to Thatcher as "Torture. Maggie the Bitch." I think if Thacther was slow to defend him (I don't recall if she did or not), it would be for reasons having nothing to do with support of Islamic theocracy.

Of course, that's one of the major ironies of the fatwa: Rushdie hated the West, but his hated West supports his freedom of expression, while the third world and Muslim culture he adores seeks to kill him.
12.25.2008 12:42am
TruePath (mail) (www):
I do think that a great many things done in the name of Islam are awful. I also think there is a greater amount of evil done in the name of Islam than that of any other religion. However, I think people here are being way to quick to somehow credit this harm to the influence of the Koran or otherwise conclude that any kind of belief in islam is going to encourage these harms, e.g., talking as if raising suburban kids in America using the Koran instead of the bible would produce harm.

What people need to realize is that while a huge (majority?) percentage of the Christian world is made of rich industrialized societies much of the Islamic world still lives in poor, primitive, semi-tribal patriarchal societies. If you go look at how Jews behaved when they lived in this fashion they were no better. Indeed, even in their holiest book they gleefully celebrate the genocide of enemies and the killing of those who choose to worship the wrong god or even just fail to worship correctly. Most of the bad things that are done in the name of Islam would be the same no matter who their prophet had been.

I mean just compare the behavior of the Christians of the crusades with those in america today. The holy book hasn't changed, only the cultural context. People interpret their religions however they need to do to behave as their cultural and economic constraints require. For instance black muslims in the US behave very differently from Arabic Muslims in the middle east.

--

Secondarily I would point out that people who don't call for censorship when things they view as sacred are verbally/symbolically defiled are few and far between. Just consider the flag burning issue here.
12.25.2008 1:49am
glangston (mail):
lonetown (mail):
The challenge is not to TAKE offense, that's the mark of civilization.



Yes, that, and a few (or a lot) less laws. At least we're pursuing freedom, not perfection.
12.25.2008 1:53am
einhverfr (mail) (www):

As the sociologist Tariq Modood has put it: 'If people are to occupy the same political space without conflict, they mutually have to limit the extent to which they subject each others' fundamental beliefs to criticism.'


I think that Modood is onto something true but nonetheless misses the mark. The problem is not criticism. If people have trouble taking criticism, that is usually a sign of insecurity and that, quite frankly is their problem.

However, one thing that should go is the agonal way that most people approach criticism. For me, I love to argue, so this is something I have to temper in many areas. However, at the same time, I won't argue with people whom I don't respect, as that would be pointless. The idea, however, that the universe is a battle of ideas between the Good Guys and the Bad Guys is the problem.

If we are to have a reasonable reduction in conflict, we must forego the ideas of human arrogance that say that WE are right and THEY are wrong and argue in the spirit of seeking greater truth for both of us.

At the same time, some people just need to grow thicker skins.
12.25.2008 2:34am
Ricardo (mail):
It should be emphasized that this above quote is written from a British perspective. In the U.S., I don't see any serious erosion of the American preference for "verbal combat" as it were. This is reflected both in the American legal system which continues to give much stronger protection to those who engage in "hate speech" as well as in the broader culture, in my opinion.

One data point is the fact that both Salman Rushdie and Hirsi Ali are now U.S. residents.
12.25.2008 6:04am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"It has now become widely accepted that we live in a multicultural world, and that in such a world it is important not to cause offence to other peoples and cultures."

Multiculturalism is something the west has brought upon itself by encouraging and facilitating mass immigration. Unfortunately many of the immigrants are simply incompatible with western values, and rather than adapting to their host countries they seek to change them. Thus Americans are supposed to speak Spanish and the British are expected to make concessions to Sharia law. Would Muslim countries reciprocate? Of course not. Would Mexico become bilingual to accommodate Americans? Not a chance. Does anyone care about offending Americans or Europeans? Never. There is nothing inevitable about this trend. Immigration can be halted and people can be deported. It only takes the will to stop destroying your country.
12.25.2008 8:57am
Ken Arromdee:
If you go look at how Jews behaved when they lived in this fashion they were no better. Indeed, even in their holiest book they gleefully celebrate the genocide of enemies and the killing of those who choose to worship the wrong god or even just fail to worship correctly.

Secular historians don't believe that these things actually happened. So it's not a case of Jews killing heretics, it's a case of Jews believing that their ancestors killed heretics, which of course is just what we have now.

I get tired of how every time actual genocides and conquests are brought up, someone says "but the Jews did it too". No, they didn't.
12.25.2008 12:23pm
Plutosdad (mail):
I can't believe he uses the Jewel of the Medina as an example of how much better and enlightened we are. Does he really think an outraged "academic" is what cancelled it? It was the threat of violence, and nothing else. Basically the author is stating "hooray, thanks to the continued threats of violence, they don't have to riot anymore, just have a professor say he doesn't like something, and the violence is implied and we get what we want, without rioting in our own neighborhoods"
Western culture has been cowed and beaten down and are afraid of saying anything that might be construed as offensive (and the Jewel of the Medina, if you read interviews with the author, was not meant to be offensive in any way), and this guy is celebrating it.
12.26.2008 11:28am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Pluto.
Correct. But.
It wouldn't work without the usual unbalanced PCness from the usual suspects.
The Muslims have, most ingeniously, managed to combine the status of bully and victim, deployed as required.
The latter prevents civil society from defending against the former. Cries of Islamophobia, chauvinist, racist, and so forth, still affect the gullible.
12.26.2008 4:12pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
A. Zarkov:

Multiculturalism is something the west has brought upon itself by encouraging and facilitating mass immigration. Unfortunately many of the immigrants are simply incompatible with western values, and rather than adapting to their host countries they seek to change them. Thus Americans are supposed to speak Spanish and the British are expected to make concessions to Sharia law. Would Muslim countries reciprocate? Of course not. Would Mexico become bilingual to accommodate Americans? Not a chance. Does anyone care about offending Americans or Europeans? Never. There is nothing inevitable about this trend. Immigration can be halted and people can be deported. It only takes the will to stop destroying your country.


Do you see anything wrong with American businesses advertising the fact that they have people who do speak Spanish?

The Sharia Law issue is a better example, but to play Devil's Advocate, if Israel recognizes it in civil disputes, why shouldn't the UK?*

As for halting Immigration, I am reminded of a great political cartoon (not sure where I saw it). Two Native Americans are watching a political rally with lots of people holding up signs saying "Stop Immigration!" One says to the other, "I wish we had thought of that..."

I personally think our immigration laws need a fairly strong overhaul. They are too lax in places they need to be tighter and too tight in areas where they need to be more lax.

But then..... My wife is from a Muslim country. The BCIS took forever to process her immigration application so eventually I quit my job, moved in with my inlaws, and re-applied through the embassy there. The result was instead of a one-year wait, we had the visa in a bit under two months.

I think that there are better solutions to stopping immigration.
12.26.2008 7:15pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Do you see anything wrong with American businesses advertising the fact that they have people who do speak Spanish?"

Yes.

" ... if Israel recognizes it in civil disputes, why shouldn't the UK?"

It's a mistake for both Israel and the UK to accommodate Sharia law. It communicates weakness.

Two Native Americans are watching a political rally with lots of people holding up signs saying "Stop Immigration!" One says to the other, "I wish we had thought of that..."

Exactly. We should learn from their mistake and not repeat it. Good example.

"I think that there are better solutions to stopping immigration."

Immigration should only not be stopped; it should be reversed by deportation. What possible benefit is it for the US to import hordes of low-skilled incompatible people from the Third World? Already California has gone broke providing social services to immigrants both legal and illegal. What better solution is there to not creating a problem in the first place?
12.27.2008 12:59am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
A Zarkov:


"Do you see anything wrong with American businesses advertising the fact that they have people who do speak Spanish?"

Yes.


Why is it a bad thing to try to make one's customers feel more comfortable as a way to build brand loyalty?


" ... if Israel recognizes it in civil disputes, why shouldn't the UK?"


It's a mistake for both Israel and the UK to accommodate Sharia law. It communicates weakness.


My original point was as devil's advocate. However, there is a HUGE difference between Israel's application of Sharia and what would happen if the UK adopted a similar measure. Sharia in Israel is recognized as an alternative to Jewish law in dealing with civil disputes. Since the common law tradition of Israel is Jewish Law, it makes sense to allow non-Jews their own alternatives. This is more-or-less mandated by the Israeli Constitution.

A good comparison would be to the fact that English Common Law is not looked to for guidance in Louisiana and French equivalents are substituted.


Immigration should only not be stopped; it should be reversed by deportation. What possible benefit is it for the US to import hordes of low-skilled incompatible people from the Third World? Already California has gone broke providing social services to immigrants both legal and illegal. What better solution is there to not creating a problem in the first place?


When you talk about reversing immigration by deportation, that suggests to my mind deporting legal immigrants, such as my wife.

However, the basic problem with illegal immigration is that we have a whole set of policies (including immigration law) which has created a tremendous black market for illegal labor. At this point, these policies are so rotten (in the structural sense) and disfunctional that this is one of those few times when it is better to build replacement policies rather than baby steps.

Here is what I would suggest:

1) Tax all employees regardless of immigration status. The IRS should not be an immigration law enforcement service. Where income tax is collected by states, this would go a long way to easing the burden. We already issue social security cards to people who don't qualify for employment under immigration law, so it wouldn't be a big change this. (I.e. anyone can apply for a social security card. If you don't qualify for employment, you will get one which says so on the card. However, this allows foreigners to come in and open bank accounts, for example.)

2) Institute guest worker programs.

3) Strengthen our borders.

4) Look for ways to bankrupt the smuggling cartels. One option would be to legalize the growing of cannabis in the US but forbid its import. This might heavily reduce the presence of large armed forces on our southern border.
12.27.2008 12:54pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> Here is what I would suggest:

> 1) Tax all employees regardless of immigration status.

We do. Failure to have a valid SS# does not exempt one from tax.

> The IRS should not be an immigration law enforcement service.

It isn't.

If there are folks in the US who want to work but aren't legally allowed to, some employers are going to offer them jobs paying less than said employers would have to pay legal workers and hide said employment. Said employees are probably going to try to duck taxes, piggybacking on the employers' efforts to hide their employment.
12.27.2008 2:42pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Andy Freeman:

If there are folks in the US who want to work but aren't legally allowed to, some employers are going to offer them jobs paying less than said employers would have to pay legal workers and hide said employment. Said employees are probably going to try to duck taxes, piggybacking on the employers' efforts to hide their employment.


A lot of things are theoretically taxable where collection is impractical in the real world. Embezzled money is theoretically subject to income tax. In the practical world, it is not, for example.

So why not fully sever some of the requirements between immigration and employment reporting? One option would be to state that tax records may not be sent from the IRS to law enforcement personnel unless the issue is tax fraud.
12.27.2008 3:47pm
Barry P. (mail):
Would Mexico become bilingual to accommodate Americans? Not a chance

You've obviously never been to Cancun.
12.27.2008 4:29pm
pst314 (mail):
"people here are being way to quick to somehow credit this harm to the influence of the Koran"

I take it you haven't actually read any of the Koran or the Hadiths.
12.27.2008 7:47pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Barry P.

"You've obviously never been to Cancun."

I can get an English language ballot in Cancun?
12.28.2008 11:14am
A. Zarkov (mail):
einhverfr:

"We already issue social security cards to people who don't qualify for employment under immigration law, so it wouldn't be a big change this."


To get a Social Security card you must have a Green Card. To get that you must be here legally. I think that you are confusing a SS number with a Taxpayer ID number used by non-resident foreigners for bank accounts. These numbers are not SS numbers and cannot substitute for them. On the application you must sign a statement under penalty of perjury that you are not working in the US.

"The IRS should not be an immigration law enforcement service."

I don't know what you mean by this. The IRS enforces the tax laws. If someone has income and fails to report it, he is guilty of tax evasion. If someone fails a fraudulent tax return, say one with an invalid SS number, the IRS will take action as it would against anyone doing so. You seem to be suggesting that illegal immigrants be given some kind of immunity from the US tax code. That such a person would have special rights a citizen or legal resident doesn't have. You can't be serious.

"When you talk about reversing immigration by deportation, that suggests to my mind deporting legal immigrants, such as my wife."

Until people become citizens, they are subject to deportation. If it is in the interest of the US to reduce its population by deporting people, then it can do so. We are supposed to be a sovereign state, and the authority to deport people goes with that. Unfortunately there are a tremendous number of bogus marriages and this needs to stop. I've meet people who do it regularly to supplement their income. I not saying that yours is, but sometimes the innocent have to suffer for the guilty.
12.28.2008 11:40am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
A. Zarkov:

To get a Social Security card you must have a Green Card.


Not true. Anyone can get a restricted card. No green card required (or other work authorization). A restricted card allows you to engage in financial transactions such as opening a bank account, but does not allow one to work. Those with temporary work authorization can also get a less restricted card which says that it is only valid for work with additional work authorization cards.

Such cards are available for foreigners who wish to engage in business with financial institutions in the US (open bank accounts, apply for credit cards, etc) but are not eligible to work at the time of application. Once status is adjusted they can get a new card without the restrictions.


Until people become citizens, they are subject to deportation. If it is in the interest of the US to reduce its population by deporting people, then it can do so. We are supposed to be a sovereign state, and the authority to deport people goes with that. Unfortunately there are a tremendous number of bogus marriages and this needs to stop. I've meet people who do it regularly to supplement their income. I not saying that yours is, but sometimes the innocent have to suffer for the guilty.


Legal justifications won't turn bad policy into good. Evidently you don't know much about immigration law either, given the factual errors regarding social security cards....
12.28.2008 1:00pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
In case you are wondering why a restricted card makes sense, consider the following scenario.....

Suppose you live in Vancouver BC and have a consulting business where, say, 55% of your major customers are in the US. You want to provide a fast and easy to handle their payments.

So you drive down to Seattle, apply for a restricted SSC. You get one which basically says you can't work here (though you can work for yourself in Canada, and get NAFTA-mandated business visas which allow you to do billable work for customers on visits to the US). You then open an account near the border, but on the US side.

Once a week or so, you drive down to the bank and deposit the checks, and when you need to move the money out, you can transfer it to your bank in Canada.

This is what restricted social security cards allow you to do.
12.28.2008 1:09pm

Post as: [Register] [Log In]

Account:
Password:
Remember info?

If you have a comment about spelling, typos, or format errors, please e-mail the poster directly rather than posting a comment.

Comment Policy: We reserve the right to edit or delete comments, and in extreme cases to ban commenters, at our discretion. Comments must be relevant and civil (and, especially, free of name-calling). We think of comment threads like dinner parties at our homes. If you make the party unpleasant for us or for others, we'd rather you went elsewhere. We're happy to see a wide range of viewpoints, but we want all of them to be expressed as politely as possible.

We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention, and in different moods. We try to be fair, but we make no promises.

And remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.