sexta-feira, 1 de abril de 2016
Europe empowers Muslim reactionaries
Europe empowers Muslim reactionaries
The West must find its confidence and insist newcomers fit into its core consciousness.
( …) “Two fundamental conditions need to be met for any chance of peace or security to remain in our globalized century of mass migrations. European and American societies have to regain confidence in their deepest self (not merely in their free market or political principles) and immigrants to the West need to recognize the flaws of their own cultures. The first requires that Western societies reaffirm their identity-forming traditions and insist that newcomers incorporate them as a core consciousness. The second requires newcomers to have the cultural humility to do so.”
By MELIK KAYLAN 4/1/16, 5:30 AM CET
As we struggle to stem the wave of Islamist horror sweeping the world, we know that the vast majority of Muslims in Western societies are not terrorists or sympathizers. We know that alienating them will only create more grievances for militants to exploit, and that an ideal democratic society is one in which people of all faiths rub shoulders in peace.
These are unexceptionable propositions, surely — self-evidently humane and aligned with Western principles. They appeal to our better nature and require that we ourselves remain decent and tolerant, unlike the Trumps and Le Pens of this world.
But does anyone truly believe that holding such a position will halt the onslaught of jihadist violence abroad and at home? Those, like Tariq Ramadan, who argue that the solution lies in the West — because the cause apparently does too — have got the problem back-to-front.
As the violence spreads across continents, what we are witnessing is a meltdown of the Islamic universe. Populations in Africa are as much in the cross-hairs as those of India, Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere. The victims may be diverse but the culprits are of one affiliation. To say that the West’s bloody missteps abroad, the slaughter of Muslims in Iraq, and decades of support for dictators in Islamic countries constitute the original sin is not entirely false — the West certainly has a lot to answer for. But blaming the West conclusively means believing in an alternate and very unlikely scenario: that Islam was going to create stable democratic states on its own.
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The West introduced democracy to Islam. Political enlightenment in the Islamic world first became apparent in the Ottoman Empire during the Tanzimat (Reform) period of 1837 to 1878 under the tutelage, first, of Frenchmen and the ideals of their revolution, and later of Western powers. Minorities, including homosexuals, acquired rights during that time. At every step, reformists were thwarted by the popular will and by opportunistic populists who saw the changes, rightly, as inspired from without.
Some 150 years later, the Muslim Brotherhood won the elections in Egypt. Just recently, President Erdoğan deplored the Western response to his moves to silence the Turkish press. And just 10 years ago, Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad funneled droves of jihadis into Iraq to thwart President Bush’s forcible attempt to sow the seeds of stable democracy in the region. Neither the West’s Gulf allies nor its enemies wanted any such thing for obvious reasons: It threatened the foundations of their absolutist power structures.
President Bush’s ill-conceived, badly planned, badly executed nation-building adventure in Iraq suffered above all from criminal ignorance.
So let’s be clear. The West didn’t invent despots in the region. The tradition predates Western influence, one strongman dynasty has replaced another for centuries — and always with a great deal of popular momentum backing its strong Islamic leaders. Now, the winds of globalization blow those despotic spores everywhere.
President Bush’s ill-conceived, badly planned, badly executed nation-building adventure in Iraq suffered above all from the besetting American sin of criminal ignorance abroad — ignorance of cultural conditions and regional forces opposing liberal democracy on the ground.
Centuries of despotism can evolve toward the light but not easily, not suddenly and not without a wholesale change in ideas. Bush’s airy Rousseau-esque notions — that everywhere man is born free and will be free if you just inspire the urge — ignores the simple fact that politics is rooted in culture and history.
The Western liberal belief that, given a chance, all Muslim migrants will embrace Western political ideals makes the same Panglossian error. Why do we expect host countries to succeed in convincing them that women have a right to equal treatment, especially when liberal thinking in Europe and the U.S. urges immigrants to hold fast to their own cultures?
Citizens of Muslim countries like Turkey who have fought the reactionary currents in their societies for decades resent this delusional drift in the West. They have been lectured and criticized de haut en bas by Europe for their secular elitism. They feel abandoned.
Europe had the chance to accept Turkey into the fold when its population still espoused Kemalist pro-Western principles. It is too little too late for today’s re-Islamicized Turkey to be grudgingly allowed open visas into the EU. Some Europeans will feel their bias toward Turks confirmed. Educated Turks will look at the Le Pens and Orbáns — and feel their own prejudices vindicated. What did the EU expect, when it can’t safeguard its values at home and fails to reward supporters of those values abroad?
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Molenbeek and other Islamized neighborhoods in Europe have become fortresses of separatism. And the influence of those neighborhoods is not easily contained. There’s sufficient evidence to believe that the lackadaisical approach to undigested multiculturalism backfires repeatedly. It could all end catastrophically at any moment.
This is not alarmist speech for the sake of inciting hostility between communities. This is hard-headed survival thinking at the eleventh hour. If it takes only a handful of perpetrators, a minority within a minority, to obliterate the majority a large number of lives at a time, then our calculations must change. And we must scale the political impasse that keeps us from acting decisively.
Windy rhetoric has lost all meaning after the Paris attacks, let alone after Brussels. If the West wants to retain the liberal principles that attract so many outsiders, it must vouchsafe its own existence first.
Once the West starts taking itself — and its predicament — seriously, others will too.
The tragedy of these terrorist attacks is not only the death count of innocents, or the divisions created between host and immigrant citizens. It is also the derailing of the West’s sense of direction, of its history and values. If that geography of tolerance and opportunity ceases to exist, the West will resemble any other power bloc of dubious stability or well-being. There’s a reason why migrants are not making a beeline for Russia, China or Africa. Imagine the world without the heartbeat of Western principles at its center: Immigrants would find no safe haven.
Two fundamental conditions need to be met for any chance of peace or security to remain in our globalized century of mass migrations. European and American societies have to regain confidence in their deepest self (not merely in their free market or political principles) and immigrants to the West need to recognize the flaws of their own cultures. The first requires that Western societies reaffirm their identity-forming traditions and insist that newcomers incorporate them as a core consciousness. The second requires newcomers to have the cultural humility to do so.
The West’s deepest self — its sense of rooted history and site-specific tradition, of intellectual achievement from Plato to Orwell — must re-emerge vigorously if outsiders are to have anything to which to assimilate.
Equally, followers of Trump and Le Pen cannot expect immigrant communities to emulate them if they merely embody rampant consumerism and yahoo gun-culture. Placing Christian ideals at the center of the national tradition is not the worst thing — Christian principles built the Western world — but it must be the higher, broader Christianity of cathedrals and poetry and science and Renaissance painters, not of reality shows or that brand of cheap diversity that equates dead white men from Shakespeare to Einstein with oppression and invites all newcomers to keep their culture so long as they chase money and consume as impartially as the next guy.
There is still, but only just, such a thing as becoming American or European in the deepest sense. Once the West starts taking itself — and its predicament — seriously, others will too.
Melik Kaylan is a foreign affairs columnist for Forbes.com and co-author of “The Russia-China Axis: The New Cold War” (Encounter Books, 2014).