Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Terrorism Is Not The Only Reason To Be Skeptical Of Muslim Immigration

Terrorism Is Not The Only Reason To Be Skeptical Of Muslim Immigration

“Not a terrorist” cannot be our standard for potential immigrants. We need to talk about the mores, customs, and beliefs that characterize migrant groups.
Nick Saffran
When we debate Muslim immigration—as we are again, as President Trump prepares to re-instate a revised travel ban—we mostly think about terrorism. This is a mistake, in part because it can border on fearmongering. Very few Muslims are terrorists, and the proposed restrictions are not well-tailored to stopping terrorists.

But fundamentally, it is a mistake because of what it ignores. Focusing only on terrorism—rather than on the beliefs, habits, and mores of potential immigrants—creates a false dichotomy, in which the opposite of “terrorist” is “moderate.”

This is a fuzzy category. “Moderate” in relation to what? We apply the term to vast numbers of people who have no commitment to political liberalism, the bedrock of Western democracy. As we move beyond a short-term debate about travel bans and refugees, and begin to think about the long-term effects of mass immigration, we must confront its most salient challenge: namely, how to form people into citizens.

Chasms Between the Muslim World and West

Both right and left acknowledge that terrorism cannot be ignored. They also acknowledge that very few Muslim immigrants will be jihadists. What remains is a feverish debate about just how small that small number is, and what sacrifices we should make to get it to zero.

But “not a terrorist” cannot be our standard for potential immigrants. That one has refrained from donning a suicide vest is a paltry indicator of character. The overwhelming majority of Muslims are not terrorists, but we know from survey data that many do sympathize with Jihadists. More importantly, an even larger number hold beliefs that many Americans, on both right and left, would consider incompatible with a free society.

A more serious immigration debate would consider some sobering findings from public opinion surveys in the Muslim world. For example, in 2013, Pew released a comprehensive report entitled “The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society.” Though the report has its bright spots—for example, wide majorities of Muslims express support for democracy—it also reveals chasms between the Muslim world and the West.

Muslim Views On Homosexuality and Honor Killings

Take, for example, Muslim opinion on whether homosexuality is morally acceptable. Remember, this is not a question about gay marriage. Here, Uganda emerges as a relative bastion of progressivism, with 12 percent saying “yes.” In the Middle East and Southeast Asia, the highest figure is 2 percent.

Maybe this isn’t a big a deal. After all, there was a time in the not so distant past when most Americans disapproved of homosexuality. More important than beliefs on sexual morality is whether, and how, they will be acted upon. That is why the responses to another question—whether honor killings are ever justified as punishment for pre- or extra-marital sex—are disconcerting.

Central Asian and Eastern European Islam tends to be more moderate—in large part because of the secularist legacy of the USSR—but even in those regions, between 15 percent and 50 percent of Muslims believe it is sometimes acceptable to execute girls for sexual impropriety. In all but two countries in the Middle East and South Asia, a majority believe honor killings are sometimes or often acceptable.

How Mass Muslim Migration Affects Gender Relations

We might also ask what mass Muslim immigration might portend for gender relations in the West. The chart below shows the number of people—both men and women—who agreed that a wife must always obey her husband.


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