Anglostan.

The Wahhabist and Deobandi sects of Islam are particularly puritanical. The have important followings in Pakistan. However, Pakistan is a country of emigration and many people leave for Britain in hopes of finding more economic opportunity.   There are about 750,000 people of Pakistani descent in Britain, out of a total Muslim population of 1.8 million. However, that doesn’t mean that they want to become “British” or that they find opportunity. There are two themes here worth exploring a little.[1]

First, the lack of opportunity. Many of the immigrants settle in the decayed industrial towns of the Midlands where there is little opportunity. As a result, while the general unemployment rate in Britain is a low 5.5 percent, the unemployment rate among young male Muslims is a very high 22 percent. Second, there is the refusal of assimilation.   A recent survey found that 37 percent of young Muslims would rather live under a strict Muslim legal system. Many Muslim immigrants retain their traditional beliefs about gender roles. Many Muslims disdain the cultural and moral liberalism that characterizes British life.

These factors have contributed to a very uncomfortable situation. On the one hand, some immigrants have turned to the extremely puritanical forms of Islam from a combination of alienation and hope to save themselves from poverty, drugs, and crime. In a few cases, this turn toward religious radicalism has led to political radicalism. In July 2005 four Muslim suicide bombers killed 52 Londoners; in 2006 British authorities foiled a plot by 23 British Muslims to bring down twelve airliners over the Atlantic Ocean. On the other hand, Britons have grown leery of Muslims. Anyone on the Tube reeking of perfume and muttering to himself, with his wallet shoved into his sock, might be a suicide bomber. (Or another “victim of Thatcherism.”)

After the July 2005 bombings, Prime Minister Tony Blair launched a program called “Prevent.”[2] The goal is to encourage people to identify potential jihadis in their community and then to intervene with voluntary anti-radicalization programs. Then, in 2015, four girls from Bethnal Green (see: Jack the Ripper) did a bunk and ended up in the ISIS Caliphate. If “encouraging” didn’t produce satisfactory results, the government would “require” schools, hospitals, social service agencies, and local government authorities to report extremist behavior. The government issued a list of 22 “contributing factors” that might make Donald Trump look over his shoulder.[3] School computers track student searches, with little alarms going off if someone Googles “How to make a suicide vest out of materials in your Dad’s garden shed.”

These efforts arouse all sorts of civil rights concerns. What is “extremist behavior”? Especially in a young person? What sort of person is willing to “nark on” someone they know?   Who is willing to empower the neighborhood gossip? (See: “Brooklyn” for one example.) Isn’t this just profiling poor, conservative Muslims? Will stigmatization by an alien community just increase radicalization? Muslim communities have not supported “Prevent.”

On the other hand, in truth, how many people destined for Oxbridge or Silicon Valley are going to be attracted by ISIS? Then, school teachers, as opposed to London lawyers, aren’t necessarily concerned. They’ve been dealing with issues like the forced marriage of Muslim female students. Others have been threatened. “You are on my beheading list,” reported one. Naturally, some of them favor a “counter-narrative” to the ISIS recruiting media. I would.

[1] “Britain’s restive Muslims,” The Week, 4 May 2007, p. 17.

[2] Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, “British Effort to Identify Potential Radicals Spurs Profiling Debate,” NYT, 10 February 2016.

[3] However, they appear to have been boosted from drug abuse awareness leaflets.

Africa Adio.

A while ago, you wouldn’t have thought that Sub-Saharan Africa would become a hot-bed of Islamism. In culture, it was African, rather than Arab; in religion it was Sufi, rather than Wahhabist.[1] Sufi leaders—many of them not particularly well-educated and perhaps similar to the village priest of the European Middle Ages or the mountain reverend of the Appalachians–preached accommodation with formally secular governments and co-existence with Christians. People sought the consolation of religion mainly when they grew older.

However, the situation has changed dramatically over the last couple of decades. As was the case before with post-liberation Arab states, Sub-Saharan governments have failed to deliver higher living standards or respectable authority. Meanwhile, since the 1970s, oil-rich Saudi Arabia has sponsored conservative Sunni evangelists throughout the Muslim world. Sub-Saharan Africa was no exception. Thousands of eager young theology students from the region have studied in Saudi “universities.” Modern telecommunications allowed for the rapid spread Wahhabist preaching.[2] As a result, in recent years vast numbers of the Muslims of Sub-Saharan Africa have switched affiliation to Wahabbism.[3] More mosques are attended by larger congregation of younger people.[4] Many of those mosques have been built with Saudi money.

Then the American overthrow of the Gaddafi regime in Libya in 2011 opened one pathway between the ISIS caliphate and Sub-Saharan Africa, just as it opened a pathway in the opposite direction for migrants driven by poverty between Sub-Saharan Africa and the Mediterranean sea-route to Europe. The migration to Europe and the rise of Boko Haram are two sides of one coin.

As a result, pro-Western governments have been operating in an increasingly difficult environment. Boko Haram turned to armed struggle in northern Nigeria in 2009. In 2013, an Islamist movement partnered with an indigenous Tuareg rebellion in Mali.[5] French troops beat back that threat. When the president of Niger openly sympathized with the victims of the Islamist attack on “Charlie Hebdo” in early 2015, mobs burned down forty Christian churches and the French cultural center. Additional British, French, and American special forces soon joined the fight, while the US set up bases for observation drones in Cameroon and Niger. On the other hand, ISIS seems to have increased its support for the Islamists, both remotely through the Internet and directly through dispatching advisors. Driven off the battlefield, Boko Haram resorted to terrorism. In January 2016, Islamists terrorists killed 86 people in Dalori, Nigeria, 32 people in Bodo, Cameroon, and 30 people in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.[6] In early February Boko Haram suicide bomber killed 58 at a refugee camp in Dikwa, Nigeria.

Yes, these bastards need killing. However, mowing the lawn isn’t going to solve the problem over the long term. It will take sustained economic development and good government.

[1] Basically, esoteric (focused on individual communion with Allah and loosey-goosey about assimilating elements of traditional African religion), rather than exoteric (focused on the strict observance of rites).

[2] In a different context, the American-born preacher Anwar al-Awlaki offers a good example. See: “Just like imam used to make.”

[3] See Gilles Kepel, Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam (2003).

[4] Would it force the analogy to see the supporters of Bernie Sanders and of Donald Trump in the same light? Angry or idealistic people who see the system as rigged against them is one common feature. That isn’t meant to denigrate either the young Islamists or the supporters of the American candidates denounced as “populists” in the mainstream American media. Nor is it an endorsement of their policies.

[5] See: “Sahel of a Good Song.”

[6] Yaroslav Trofimov, “Jihad Comes to Africa,” WSJ, 6-7 February 2016.

Franco-Jihadis.

French Muslims have been bent out of shape for some time.[1] In theory, France is a “secular” country that pays no attention to religion and allows no obvious expression of religious affiliation. In 2004, the government banned the wearing of veils by school-girls. As an afterthought, they also banned the (visible) wearing of crucifixes and yarmulkes, but everyone knew it had been directed against Muslims. In 2005, rioting broke out in the Parisian “banlieues” (suburbs) after the police chased a teen-age punk to his death in an electrical power distributor.[2] More than 10,000 cars were burned in the rioting—unemployed young Muslims not owning many cars. In 2011, the government banned wearing the “niqab” or the “burka” (which cover a woman’s face). It is illegal to deny the Holocaust, but is acceptable to mock the Prophet Muhammad. In January 2015 came the “Charlie Hebdo” massacres and in November 2015 came the attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. Now, an estimated 1,200 French Muslims have gone to join ISIS. Is France a hot-bed of radical Islam, and, if so, why?

After the First World War France recruited a lot of foreign labor from southern and eastern Europe (Russkies, Poles, Spaniards, Italians) to make up for the huge wartime casualties.[3] After the Second World War, France recruited a lot of labor from its North African colonies to make up for a short-fall in births in the Thirties and Forties.[4]

France is a “secular” country that pays no attention to religion. So, it is hard to tell exactly how many Muslims live in France. The best guess appears to be about 7.5 percent of the population. That turns out to be about 5 million Muslims, the largest Muslim population in Europe. So, 1,500 jihadists out of 5 million people is a pretty small share. Today there are about 1.5 million people of Algerian origins, 1 million of Moroccan origins, and 400,000 of Tunisian origin. Most of the so-needed immigrants ended up in the tower housing blocks on the outskirts of French cities, especially Paris.[5]

How well do European countries assimilate Muslims? It varies. If you look at unfavorable views of Muslims (not Islam), then 63 percent of Italians and 46 percent of Spaniards, but only 27 percent of Frenchmen have an unfavorable view. However, 74 percent of Frenchmen also thought that Islam is incompatible with France’s secular values. (Curiously, in November 2015, only 56 percent of Americans thought that Islam’s values were “at odds” with America’s values.[6] Marine Le Pen, head of the National Front party, compared the Muslim population to the German occupation of France during the Second World War.

This may be the source of concrete phenomena. One 2010 inquiry found that job applicants of African origin who claim to be Christian are 2.5 times more likely to be asked back for an interview than are Africans who claim to be Muslim. The national unemployment rate in France is 10 percent, but the unemployment rate in the “banlieues” heavily populated by the descendants of Muslim immigrants is 20 percent. The unemployment rate in the “banlieues” for those aged 15-24 is 40 percent. Some 60 percent of the prisoners in French prisons are Muslims. “Religion is all we have left,” said one French Muslim.

[1] “France’s alienated Muslims,” The Week, 30 January 2015, p. 11.

[2] As is the case in the United States, being a punk is not formally a capital crime.

[3] So much for the Republican chicken-hawk derision of France. “How many troops does it take to defend Paris? No one knows. It’s never been tried.”

[4] OK, French people who “aren’t in the mood” is not a cultural stereotype. Still, it happened.

[5] Just for fun, see, “B-13:”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHSoPTJNfPE

[6] “Poll Watch,” The Week, 27 November 2015, p. 17.

The Islamic Brigades II.

In 2007, more than twenty men—most from the large Somali immigrant community in Minneapolis–went to join Al Shabab, the Somali Islamist militia. Federal authorities launched an investigation. They ended up prosecuting eight men as facilitators and recruiters.

In recent years, eight young men from the Norwegian town of Frederikstad have gone to Syria. Norwegian authorities have investigated the role of an Islamist group called Prophet’s Umma for its role in recruiting jihadis and facilitating their movement toward the battlefront.

Investigating the recruiters and facilitators is important to the fight against radical Islamism. So, too, is trying to understand why some people are open to recruitment. There aren’t any good answers here so far. Mostly, there are just some anecdotes about human beings. Can we learn anything from looking at them?

Two friends from the same neighborhood in Minneapolis; high-school drops outs; in minor trouble with the law; converts to Islam; and soldiers of jihad.[1]

Troy Kastigar (1981-2009) went from being a funny, energetic, boundary-testing kid to smoking weed, drinking, and failing his high-school classes.[2] He dropped out of high school, later got a G.E.D., and worked fitfully between bouts of unemployment. He went back to school to become an X-Ray tech, but he was told that it would be difficult for him to get a job in the field because of his criminal record. His friend, Doug McCain, also dropped out of high school, then had some run-ins with the law over drugs, moving violations, and theft.

In about 2004, both men converted to Islam. There is a large Somali community in Minneapolis, so Islam presented itself more prominently there than in many other American cities. After a while, they moved beyond Islam to Islamism. In November 2008, Kastigar went to Kenya. He said he was going to study the Koran. In fact, he soon crossed the border to join Al Shabab. He was killed fighting with the group in September 2009. In 2009, Doug McCain moved to San Diego. He had family out there, he worked in restaurants, and he took some classes at a community college. In 2014 he went to Syria. In August 2014 he was killed fighting with ISIS.

At least one other man from the same social circle also traveled to Syria. Abdirahmaan Muhumed, worked at the airport from November 2001 to May 2011. At different times he worked at refueling planes and on cleaning crews. Acquaintances had seen him as a more secular than a religious man. He worked out a lot and played basketball. Then he started to become exercised over the fighting in Gaza and in Libya. Muslim people suffering under assault from Western powers. Muslim or not, Muhumed drank—and to excess—on some occasions. Drinking just enflamed him all the more on the issues. He went to Syria and died in the same fight as did Doug McCain.

The little town of Frederickstad, Norway, is south of Oslo. It is a more diverse place than one might expect of a small town. The Muslim community is largely made up of Somali refugees, but there also are immigrants from Algeria, Pakistan, Kurdistan, and Chechnya.[3]

The Chaib family came from Algeria to Frederickstad. Their son Abdullah (1989-2012) grew into a popular figure in his school and neighborhood. His ability at soccer enhanced a general “cool guy” demeanor.   At some point and by some means, Abdullah Chaib became committed to jihad. A then-radical Norwegian Muslim who visited Frederikstad recalled Chaib as “a real fanatic…[who] talked about jihad all the time.” In November 2012 Abdullah Chaib went to Syria. In December 2012 he died fighting there.

Chaib’s death in battle set an example for some other boys in the town. Among them was Adu Edelbijev. His parents came to Norway from Chechnya in 2002. He attended the same school as Chaib and, like Chaib, was a good athlete. He didn’t feel estranged from Norway, but his hopes to join the army were foiled by bad eyesight. He began to take religion seriously. By 2013 he had begun to prepare to go to Syria. He left in August 2013. In November 2014, he died while fighting with ISIS near Kobani.

Rebecca Sanchez Hammer was a Filipina who came to Norway and married a Norwegian who later died. They had a son, Torlief Sanchez Hammer. A group of goofy dopers used Torlief Hammer’s basement as a place to bake their heads. For several years, the police regularly broke up their parties and confiscated their drugs and pipes.

When, before he left for Syria, Adu Edelbijev lectured Torlief Hammer about his bad habits, the boy listened. Hammer converted to Islam, took the new first name Abdul, and suddenly stopped using drugs. His run-ins with the police ended, but his satisfaction with life did not improve. “”I have no friends, no job, nothing,” he told his mother. This did not cause him to reject Islam however. It only deepened his commitment. In December 2013, the young man took the road to Syria.

The parents of Samiullah Khan (1991- ) came from Pakistan to Norway, but did not prosper. His father murdered someone, did a stretch in prison, then accidentally killed someone else while driving drunk. This background left Khan feeling marked and excluded by native Norwegians and Pakistani immigrants. He went to fight in Syria, was wounded, returned to Norway, and was arrested for belonging to a terrorist organization.

It is easy to write off these people as failures who made foolish—and fatal–decisions. But is it possible that there foolish and fatal decision reflected an aspiration for a more satisfying life than what the larger societies in which they lived could offer?

A friend of Kastigar and McLean argued that “They just wanted to be a part of something. They were just trying to find something that just accepted them for who they were.” A friend of Abdirahman said that “He always wanted to be a freedom fighter, he always wanted to be a hero,” recalled a friend.

“None of them ever even mentioned religion when we knew them,” recalled one policeman speaking about the group around Torlief Hammer. “The only thing they had in common is that they did not function in society. But they wanted to be able to do something, to be good at something.” Torlief Hammer told his mother that “he wanted to fix himself after too much disco, too many girlfriends and too much smoking.”

In March 1940, George Orwell published a review of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. In it, Orwell argued that Hitler “has grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life. Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all “progressive” thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security and avoidance of pain. In such a view of life there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and the military virtues. The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won’t do. Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades. However they may be as economic theories, Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life.”[4]

As the United States lugubriously embarks on the election campaign of 2016, will any of the candidates offer voters “struggle and self-sacrifice”? Or will they promise “ease, security and avoidance of pain”? That is an easy question to answer. But what if there are a lot of people who would never consider radical Islam, yet still feel some longing for something more ennobling than the next entitlement or the next tax cut?

[1] Jack Healy, “For Jihad Recruits, a Pipeline From Minnesota to Militancy,” NYT, 7 September 2014.

[2] I wondered if these were signs of Depression. His mother describes him as having had a “sadness and a darkness” move into his life.

[3] Andrew Higgins, “A Norway Town And Its Pipeline to Jihad in Syria,” NYT, 5 April 2015.

[4] http://genius.com/George-orwell-review-of-mein-kampf-annotated

The Muslim Civil War.

With the “Arab Spring” of 2011, the “corrupt and dysfunctional Arab autocracies that had stood for half a century in places like Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya lost credibility because they had failed to meet the needs of the citizens.”[1]

Well, no. The “Arab Spring” counted not at all compared to American interventions. The corrupt and dysfunctional autocracies of Iraq and Libya were overthrown only by American attack. The corrupt and dysfunctional autocracy in Egypt quickly reasserted itself after a moment of panic induced by an American moment of panic. The corrupt and dysfunctional autocracy in Syria has retained the loyalty of many of its citizens and the Obama administration has tacitly abandoned its intemperate demand that Bashar al-Assad leave power.

Now, “an array of local players and regional powers are fighting skirmishes across the region as they vie to shape the new order, or at least enlarge their share of it.”

Well, no. We’re witnessing the outbreak of a Muslim civil war.[2] Sunni Saudi Arabia never got around to sending air or ground forces to battle the radical Sunnis fighting against the Shi’ite-dominated government of Iraq, but it has now intervened in the fighting against the Shi’ite Houthi rebels in Yemen. Shi’ite Iran is the principal supporter of the Shi’ite governments in Baghdad and Yemen and of the Alawite government in Damascus.

The Obama administration has claimed that there are “moderate” forces with which it can work to create stable states, if only people will get with the program.

Well, no. The Shi’ite-dominated government of Iraq began persecuting the Sunnis the minute the Americans were out the door. The Syrian “moderates” were virtually non-existent and unwilling to fight. Yemen is a primitive tribal society which a thin shellac of Western government titles could not disguise. Now Iranian forces have been introduced into Iraq’s fight against ISIS.

The administration claims to discern a difference between “moderate” and “hard line” forces in Iran. It hopes to strike a deal with the moderates over Iran’s nuclear program. The American drive to get a deal with Iran has most publically angered Israel’s prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu. However, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are just as concerned as is Israel that the United States has started to tilt back toward Tehran as its chief partner in the Middle East.

Iran is trying to obtain nuclear weapons to shift the balance of power in the Persian Gulf region. Saudi Arabia doesn’t want Iran to get nuclear weapons. Israel doesn’t want Iran to get nuclear weapons. Neither country places much trust in the fair words and promises of a distant United States. Both have modern American supplied air forces and airborne control systems. Aside from American objections, the chief impediments to an Israeli pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities have been that the Israelis don’t have enough planes and they would have to over-fly Saudi Arabia. You do the math. (While you’re at it, Israel has nuclear weapons.)

If a “Muslim Civil War” does break out in flames, what course should the United States pursue? Intervene or stay neutral? Intervene against the country that already hates us (Iran)? Intervene on the side of those most likely to win in the short run (Saudi Arabia if backed by Israel)? Do a lot of off-shore drilling and tell the Middle East to solve its own problems? Head it off?  There’s no clear guide here, but there is the need to choose.

[1] Mark Mazzetti and David D. Kirkpatrick, “Policy Puzzle in the Middle East,” NYT, 27 March 2015.

[2] Or perhaps just a renewal of the long wars between the Shi’ite Safavid Empire of Persia and the Sunni Ottoman Empire.

Bozo Haram.

Religion can have internal (esoteric) and external (exoteric) components. The esoteric approach is essentially mystical. The exoteric is essentially about adherence to the law. As institutions, churches are usually satisfied with the exoteric. Sometimes true believers want the esoteric in order to achieve union with God. In Islam, those who pursue the esoteric are often called “sufi.”

Nigeria gained its independence from Britain in 1956. The new nation divided between a Christian South, with access to rich oil resources, and a Muslim North, which suffered from poverty. Bitterness arose in the North, where people complained of both the evils of the Christian government and the failings of their own clergy and traditional leaders to obtain justice. A religious protest movement arose around Mohammed Marwa (c. 1920-1980, knick-named “Maitatsine”) that led to violence and deaths. The government never entirely managed to suppress support for it. Then, during the 1960s and 1970s, Sufism began to make in-roads among Muslims in northern Nigeria. Inspired by the Saudi Arabian Wahhabist-funded World Muslim League, Sheikh Ismaila Idris (1937-2000) began to push back. In 1978 he founded the Izala Society to advocate a traditional form of Islam. One of the bright lights of this movement was Ja’afar Mahmud Adam (1960-2007). He was trained as a teacher in Nigeria, then studied at the Islamic University in Saudi Arabia. From 1993 to 2007 he preached in a mosque in Kano, Nigeria. One of his followers was Mohammed Yusuf (1970–2009). About 2002, Adam and Yusuf fell out.[1]

Yusuf went his own way to found Boko Haram. He seems to have recruited many of the same sorts of people with the same sorts of grievances who had followed Marwa twenty years before. Yusuf concentrated his mission on building support in the far northeast of Nigeria, near the borders with Chad and Niger. Yusuf may have aimed at the creation of an Islamist state. Certainly, he gathered arms and young men with nothing to lose. One of these was Abubakar Shekau.[2] Shekau became Yusuf’s second-in-command.

In July 2009 Boko Haram clashed with Nigerian security forces and Yusuf was killed “while trying to escape.” Shekau took command of Boko Haram. In September 2010 he opened war against the government with a prison break that freed over a hundred members of the group. Beginning in 2011 Boko Haram has used bombings (suicide and IED) and shootings to drive the police off the street and then out of towns. As a result, general lawlessness spread throughout the north. The Army and police reacted violently, but usually against civilian target that came to hand rather than against the Boko Haram militants. Reports of massacres, rapes, and pillaging carried out by the “forces of order” became common. During 2013 the conflict spilled over into Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. In 2014, Boko Haram transiently caught the attention of the world when it kidnapped several hundred girls from a school at Chibok.[3] The gory fight goes on.

As is the case in Syria and Iraq, the Islamists are up against corrupt or incompetent or non-existent governments. They aren’t fighting real soldiers: they’re fighting men with guns hired to prop up the government. They’re “filled with a terrible certainty,” while their opponents “lack all conviction.” Probably because the courts are rigged.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boko_Haram for a more detailed account.

[1] In 2007 someone shot Adam to death in his mosque. The whole area was too violent to pin the blame on Yusuf.

[2] He may be anywhere from his mid-30s to his mid-40s.

[3] I haven’t seen a lot of “Bring back our girls” posts of late on my FB feed. First there was the “ice bucket challenge,” then all the memes sent out by groups like AddictingInfo to denounce the enormities of the Republicans.

Rivers of Blood I.

Muslim immigration to Western Europe began by stages after the Second World War as labor-short economies and the end of empires combined to draw non-Europeans toward the “mother country.” A great deal of thoughtlessness went into these migrations. All host countries were ill-prepared to deal with the immigrants.

In January 2015 there are an estimated 20 million Muslims in Europe. About 5 million are in France, where they make up 8 percent of the population. (See: “The other land of liberty and opportunity.”) In Britain and Germany they make up 5 percent of the population. One of the things that eats at European countries is the feeling that immigrants have come to their countries to prey on the generous social welfare provision of enlightened countries. In the 1970s, two-thirds of the immigrants in Germany were in the labor force, while one-third were not. Thirty years later scarcely more than a quarter of immigrants were in the labor force.[1] Another problem, revealed by a poll in L’Express in January 2013 is that 74 percent of those polled said that Islam “is not compatible with French society.” Yet this feeling finds no expression in the “mainstream” or “respectable” French political parties. Why not?

Christopher Caldwell argues that the European left has made discussion of the problems raised by immigration almost impossible.[2] On the one hand, they have evoked European historical crimes—the Holocaust above all—to justify repressing unwelcome speech. He implies that they have undermined the foundations of democracy in the process. In France, he sees the “SOS Racisme” group created in the 1980s as a puppet of the Socialist Party intended to shout-down conservative voices and the 1990 Gayssot Law against Holocaust-denial as an entering wedge for people who want to stifle discussion of other historical events—many of them highly unpleasant and non-Western. Most recently, the anti-immigrant Front National Party got left out of the post-Charlie Hebdo parade on the grounds that it was not “republican” enough.

On the other hand, people on the left have failed to understand that, whatever was done to European Jews, it wasn’t done by Muslims. Just as Palestinians have felt free to reject the State of Israel as European expiation of European crimes at the expense of Arabs, so too have Euro-Muslims felt free to reject European progressive thought as an alien set of values intended to curb their own beliefs. If one adds these forces to the failure to integrate the immigrants and their French-born descendants into French society, one can begin to understand some of the impulses that set the Kouachi brothers and Amedy Coulibaly on the path to terrorism. They are not alone in their alienation, hostility, and religious fervor.

Caldwell understands that Europe’s aging and declining non-Muslim population makes immigration essential. He is less quick to say that the anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiments expressed by parties like the Front National can have no practical expression in public policy. Yes, the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492. Is that what the Front National or other parties expect to repeat with Muslims? Some of the Front National voters undoubtedly do want that, but the program of the party calls for a halt to further immigration and a defense of “secular values.” France already has more police per capita than any other European country. Even so, security lapses allowed the Kouatchis and Coulibaly to escape detection of their plans to kill.

There is going to have to be a third way between “political correctness” and stupidity.

[1] Two million out of three million in the early 1970s versus two million out of seven-and-a-half million in th early 2000s.

[2] Christopher Caldwell, “Europe’s Crisis of Faith,” WSJ, 17-18 January 2015.