Friday, February 03, 2017

Hear, hear...


  1. I have absolutely no problem with trying to counter the causes, spread, and effects of radicalism, whether Islamic or otherwise. The question is, what actually works? For that, we need clear thinking, not emotional and/or irrational responses. Part of the problem is that far too many people (Americans?) only hear 'Islam' when we speak of 'radical Islam'.

    I'd like to see what Trump has in mind (if I assume he has anything in mind other than glorious and sweeping promises) to counter radical ideologies. In many ways, it is a nearly intractable problem, both at home and abroad. Fostering division and hate doesn't help. Spreading lies doesn't help. For example:

    Living in Germany, I am all too aware of how difficult integration can be, and I'm particularly critical of certain aspects of the German refugee programme: for example that, unlike in Sweden, refugees are not obliged to take part in integration and language courses. There are a number of initiatives, often on a local level, but they are piecemeal and essentially voluntary -- many supported by church groups.

    My husband, who is a minister of religion, has been involved for years in ecumenical work with the imam of our local mosque (there are many Turkish Muslims in our area), and mutual respect and cooperation have developed. Though far from perfect, the integration of Muslim immigrants, especially in the second generation, may not always be easy but it is possible.

    I tend to believe that enlisting the Muslim communities themselves in the process is a crucial step.

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  3. Apologies, my link was incorrect. Here's the right one:

  4. Jeff Mauvais2:43 AM

    There's no question that radical Islam is a danger to the United States. The question is how best to contest it. Trump's "temporary ban" on Muslim immigrants from seven countries fails to make sense for several reasons.

    First, as a recent report from the Cato Institute points out, it would have saved 0 American lives had it been in effect from 1975 through today. No one from any of those seven countries has killed an American in an act of terror on U.S. soil during that period. Obviously, vetting of immigrants from these countries has been and continues to be remarkably effective.

    Second, it does nothing to tighten immigration from countries that are demonstrable threats to the United States. The 9/11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Lebanon. None of those countries are on the list -- no doubt because Trump has business interests in the first two and has explored options in the latter two. One of the San Bernardino shooters was an American and his wife was a Pakistani immigrant. But Pakistan is not on the list either, which is inexplicable to me because it represents, along with North Korea, the greatest present danger to this country. The Boston bombers were Chechen (Russian) immigrants, but Russia is not on the list.

    Third, over 1000 foreign service field officers, people who've actually served in these countries, have stated that the ban will provide ISIS with the greatest recruiting boost it has seen in years. I don't know if you are familiar with bin Laden's concept of the "far war", but the ban and the inevitable backlash in even moderate Islamic countries are following his script to the letter, bringing closer the "clash of civilizations" he hoped to provoke.

    The best defense against terrorism is the kindness of the American people. The city where I was born -- Boise, Idaho -- has welcomed thousands of refugees from conflict zones during the past forty years: Vietnamese, Bosnian Muslims, Congolese, and now Syrian Muslims. The Bosnians, the largest group by far, built a mosque and have maintained many Islamic traditions, but have never caused problems and are regarded as a vibrant addition to the city's culture by the vast majority of Boiseans.

    Trump has deemed the ban temporary, but don't count on that being true. Its main architect is Steve Bannon, who, in a radio interview last year, stated his desire for a permanent ban on immigration from the Middle East, and an extreme tightening of immigration from anywhere outside of Europe. In his view, we're letting in too many brown people, who are stealing jobs from white Americans.

    To me, the most disturbing aspect of Trump's anti-terrorism policy is his recently stated intention to devote ALL of our resources and attention to Islamic terrorism, removing all support from the agencies monitoring white nationalist and anti-government groups. For someone like me who grew up in the Mountain West, these groups and the menace they pose are all too real. People shouldn't forget that the second worst act of terror in U.S. history, the 1995 bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City (168 deaths, 680 injuries) was carried out by two working class white guys: Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.