Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Howard on Islam

"There is a section, a small section, of the Islamic population . . . which is very resistant to integration.

"Fully integrating means accepting Australian values, it means learning as rapidly as you can the English language, if you don't already speak it.

"People who come from societies where women are treated in an inferior fashion have got to learn very quickly that that is not the case in Australia." - John Howard.

Okay, first, I don't see this as any kind of cynical ploy or anything that might suggest Fearless Leader isn't stating what he believes to be 100% truth. I think Howard believes that society should be monocultural, that it should remain basically the same as it has been for generations, and that people who arrive should assimilate into it with zero regard for any benefits to Australia that their original culture may bring to us. Strength through conformity and tradition are more important than strength through individuality and adaptation in this worldview. I disagree with it, but I don't doubt the sincerity of those who might agree with it, such as the Prime Minister.

Second, remember when we were supposed to be worried about being swamped by Asians? How quickly people forget. Which brings me to one reason why I think Muslims are getting singled out now in the same way that Asians were singled out last decade: because they are unfamiliar, and their unfamiliarity is most visible right now. It's stupid, but the good news if Hansonism is anything to go by is that such stupidity only lasts for a few years at a time. The bad news is that the reason that one group stops being viewed as an unfamiliar danger may be simply because a new group's alleged unfamiliar danger has taken its place.

Third, an anecdote: my sister mentioned a friend of hers who emigrated from Lebanon. She is a Muslim and didn't wear a headscarf when she first arrived here. She had children and grandchildren while here. Those children pressured her into wearing the headscarf on the grounds that they didn't view her as a true Muslim unless she did so.

People who view Islamic extremism as an immigration problem might want to ponder that. Me, I view Islamic extremism as an attempt to resolve an identity crisis in the children of immigrants who find themselves caught betweeen the security of conformity offered by mainstream Islam and
the enabling freedom of first-world living. The above example is hardly evidence of anything violent, but I do think it's telling that the more rigid structures of Islam were accepted - and enforced - by the children of an immigrant more than they were by the immigrant herself.

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