Tuesday, May 14, 2002
Andrew Sullivan posts a very interesting letter from Michael Elliott at Time apropos of Fortuyn. Elliott notes that what Fortuyn was advocating - an assimilationist policy towards immigrants - is official policy in France, while Britain and the Netherlands have taken a more multicultural line. He then asks the following:
Which approach has been more successful? Hard to say. I think I could make a case that London - but, please note, no other British town - is the most racially harmonious city in Europe. On the other hand, there's no doubt that insofar as Fortuyn's criticisms of Dutch policy make sense, they apply, mutatis mutandis, to that of the UK. And there are indeed worrying signs that in the UK the policy of "let a hundred flowers bloom" leads to troubling consequences; some of the flowers are weeds, note, eg, the rise to prominence of the Finsbury Park mosque and other locales of Islamist extremism. The French, I think, could legitimately argue that a policy of assimilation has worked reasonably well for Francophones from Africa and the departments d'outre mers in the Caribbean; I was taken to task a while ago by a Martiniquais teacher in France for writing something that implied he was not "French." But assimilation doesn't seem to have worked as well for the Muslim community. (Indeed, the Marseillaise was booed at a soccer match between France and Algeria a few months ago.)
Which brings us back to the question that you (and many others) have asked since Sept. 11: what are the conditions in which large numbers of Islamic immigrants to western nations can be persuaded to accept western political and social values, without being asked to disavow their religious faith? We need to find the answer. Fast.
This is, indeed, the key question. I don't know the answer - if there is one.