cfimages et al: Firstly, I’m not a bigot.
The important word there is any, although I realise that word could actually be interpreted in at least two ways in the above sentence. I’ve already outlined that I am impressed by some other communities and particular aspects of their cultures.
cfimages: Yes, the Muslim world was once great. Far greater than the Western world, in fact. If I’d been talking about Europeans in the 12th Century, I would have been calling them a bunch of miscreants also. I’m not talking about the 12th Century though. I’m talking about the 20th and 21st Centuries, and clearly, the Muslim world has been severely lagging.
This is not about race. This is not about a good or bad experience. It’s about the success or failure of cultures and states. I have argued elsewhere on many an occasion that I believe much of the West has been falling into decay for some time now. At some point, it will be eclipsed, maybe within my own lifetime. I believe any group or culture, can, at any time be evaluated as a whole on its merits and defects. Obviously not every Muslim is a failure, just as not every East Asian is a success. Look at these two profiles though:
The person won numerous mathematics competitions in high school, graduated top of his class and then went on to attend an elite university, where he graduated with honours and later became a highly successful actuary;
The person was often truant in high school, at which times he was involved in petty crimes. After dropping out of high school, he existed mostly on welfare and graduated to more serious crimes, before serving time in prison.
Would anyone seriously claim that if we knew that both were the children of immigrants in say, Germany, and one was of Arabic background and one was of Chinese background, that it would be a 50/50 shot for who matched which profile? Would anyone really claim that? Isn’t that what the German banker who started this whole controversy was on about, and that Merkel was continuing?
Mucha Man: I suspect that, as someone has previously mentioned, Canada goes about immigration (and probably welfare also) in a much different way to Germany, which is a large part of the issue, as I have already mentioned.
That said, just because people may claim they want to fit in, doesn’t mean they are actually trying. I may claim that I want to fit into Taiwanese society, but the reality is that I’m pretty lazy about learning Chinese, and I’m not particularly into singing karaoke or Hello Kitty or whatever else people are into here. Hell, I don’t even try to fit into Australian society because I’m not particularly interested in sport. When people ask me which AFL team I support, and I tell them I don’t, they assume that I support an unpopular team, and find it really strange when I tell them that, no, I don’t actually follow AFL.
On this point, I would say that many foreigners in Taiwan don’t try to fit in at all (myself included), and I can completely understand why that would piss Taiwanese off. As someone previously mentioned, many Taiwanese have bad opinions about Westerners here. I think they’re fairly justified. Obviously, not every English teacher here is someone who turns up five minutes before class and hasn’t done any preparation, and is hungover (I’m not). Yet enough of them are that it gives everyone a bad reputation. The solution, in my mind, is two-fold. Firstly, Westerners here need to discourage this behaviour from other Westerners. Secondly, Taiwan probably needs to change its immigration policy so it doesn’t accept so many cretins. Likewise for Germany and its problems.
steelersman: Why don’t you keep that debate where it belongs? Or were you hoping that I’d be too busy countering others that I wouldn’t notice when you tried to get a cheap shot in?
suiyuan: No, seriously. Please show me all of the Muslim Nobel Laureates, or please show me what, aside from oil, the Muslim world (or at least that part of it that doesn’t reside in Malaysia and Indonesia) produces that is of great importance to the world. If all of China (about the same population as the whole of the Muslim world) were to disappear into a black hole tomorrow, the world would be in a right state. If all of the West, which accounts for less than the Muslim world in terms of population, were to disappear tomorrow, the world would be in a right state. Hell, even if Switzerland, which is miniscule compared to the Muslim world, disappeared tomorrow, it would cause more of a fuss. Probably if Easter Island disappeared tomorrow, more people would be upset. Aside from oil, would anyone actually miss the Muslim world?
Your points about why Merkel is doing this are valid. There probably aren’t anywhere near as many Vietnamese as Muslims in Germany, and there probably is a certain crossover for those who dislike both, although I think five years ago, if you’d polled Germans, or Europeans generally for that matter, about their attitudes towards Vietnamese and their attitudes towards Muslims, you’d probably have found that the percentage of people who have issues with Vietnamese would have been similar then to now. Not so with Muslims. This is why I think that Merkel (who strikes me as a fairly stodgy kind of politician who doesn’t really have any kind of axe to grind), is getting in on this. The reason she is targeting Muslims, instead of say, Vietnamese, is partly for the reasons you mention, partly perhaps she sees some political expediency to it (though to be honest, it might have been more politically expedient at this point in time to remain out of the debate or to give some kind of bland, nebulus response), but also because Vietnamese are probably regarded as very productive members of society by most Germans. If anything, they’re probably regarded as over-achievers.
My point about the solutions to this issue is that a large part of this problem is to do with how Germany has done immigration and welfare, as others have pointed out. Germany now has the option of revamping its immigration and welfare policies (and probably various other things too) so that it either selects for the right kind of people (i.e. keeping the riff-raff out) or it changes the incentives for those already there or when they arrive so they don’t become a burden on the wider society, or both. That’s option one, but it would, to some extent, be a repudiation of the European concept of the welfare state (as well, as others have mentioned, of the concept of a “volk”, though that word is probably not used anymore for obvious reasons), and an admittance that they’d gone down the wrong path. That’s what I mean by being “mean”. I don’t mean “mean” as in round them up and re-open Auschwitz (even though that’s in Poland). I mean “mean” in the sense of kicking them off welfare and expecting higher standards of them in school and wider society. Surely you were deliberately misreading what I wrote there.
The other, is indeed to pretend that a serious public debate about the future direction of German society and what it means to be German (I for one, wouldn’t be so flash on the idea of “Christian values”, given that I’m not a Christian, so on that point, I take exception with Ms Merkel), and possible radical change of direction in immigration and welfare policy is not something that should be broached. The danger of that is that someone else would grab the ball and run with it, and that person would be an extreme right wing populist, and that would not be a good thing in any country, but would be extremely counter-productive for Germany, given its history.
What are the other options? Are you saying that Germany (and perhaps many other European societies) doesn’t need to take a good, hard look at itself?
As to your next point, it’s not that I don’t believe Muslims don’t have worth. I would be appalled if anyone started rounding them up and herding them off to a revamped Dachau. However, I can certainly say that not all groups are equal. Maybe in your world, there’s no first, second and third, and every kid gets a medal, but that’s not how it is in my world.
Yes, the problem is with the people brought in to do the grunt jobs (though it’s not only with them). No one is entitled to anything (which also applies to white Germans who think they are somehow entitled to a job over anyone else). That means that if Muslims brought in to do grunt labour in good times don’t want to find themselves on the scrap heap in bad times, they need to make sure they are largely inexpendable by doing well in school and getting good careers so they graduate from being grunt labourers.
Jews clearly weren’t unproductive drains on society in Weimar Germany. They actually punched well above their collective bodyweight in virtually all fields of human endeavour, which is why I said that Germany ripped the heart out of its society by killing them off or driving them away. This is pure speculation, but if Germany had actually retained its Jewish scientists, the outcome of WW2 may have been quite different. Yet clearly, this is not the case with Muslims, who are disproportionately represented amongst the ranks of those with poor education, the unemployed and those involved in crime.
Individually, we can make all sorts of claims. I’m sure there’s a guy out there with only one leg who can run faster than me. There are probably a dozen such people. Collectively though, who would you bet on being the faster runner, a random guy with one leg or a random guy with two legs? What if we took all of the people with two legs and took their average running speeds and compared those with all of the people with one leg and took their average running speeds? You may say that we shouldn’t make the bet to begin with. Yet that’s not how life works. Every day, from the smallest to the largest level, we are forced to discriminate about the best way to use our resources. That includes the kind of people admitted into a society and the incentives they are offered once they are there.
Nice job on your part for continuing to deliberately miss those points though.