Monday, October 02, 2006

Islam, Immigration, Assimilation

Wide awake and lying in bed at 3:30 a.m. this morning, I was thinking about the attitudinal shifts that immigrant populations undergo when they move to America, and whether this was an issue with Muslims who move to a new country. Sure enough, this morning's Der Spiegel has an interview that references the problem of attitudinal shifts:

SPIEGEL: But how do you expect to draw the third generation away from the influence of the mosques?

Tibi: I don't have any clear idea either about how this should be done. The situation is this: young Muslims want to be "members of the club," part of German society. But they are rejected. And parallel societies provide warmth. It is a vicious circle.

The first generation moves to a country and tries to set up a mini-homeland (think Chinatown). The second generation rejects the first generation's strategy and does everything it can to assimilate into the mainstream. The third generation rejects their parents' assimilative notions and tries to return to the values of their grandparents. In America, by the fourth generation, the assimilative cultural forces are too strong to overcome.

Assimilation is the most powerful cultural force in America. That force is not present in Germany or in most other countries (Australia being one exception, and perhaps Canada--both countries with a history of encouraging immigration). Muslims cannot find ways to assimilate because those ways will not be provided. I now wonder if they would assimilate even if it were possible.

The rest of the article is spot on with regard to the way the Western half of the dialogue has no grasp of what the real Muslim intent is. Enough has been done and said at this point that it's no longer necessary to say what that intent "seems" to be.

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