Here’s an interesting graf:
The United Kingdom stands out as a paradoxical country. Non-Muslims there have strikingly more favorable views of Islam and Muslims than elsewhere in the West; for example, only 32 percent of the British sample view Muslims as violent, significantly less their counterparts in France (41 percent), Germany (52 percent) or Spain (60 percent). In the Muhammad cartoon dispute, Britons showed more sympathy for the Muslim outlook than did other Europeans. More broadly, Britons blame Muslims less for the poor state of Western-Muslim relations.
But British Muslims return the favor with the most malign anti-Western attitudes found in Europe. Many more of them regard Westerners as violent, greedy, immoral, and arrogant than do their counterparts in France, Germany, and Spain. In addition, whether asked about their attitudes toward Jews, responsibility for 9/11, or the place of women in Western societies, their views are notably more extreme.
Now, put aside for the moment whether negative attitudes among “many” British Muslims is necessarily a security issue, or whether it’s merely a perception issue. This still presents proponents of the Middle Eastern democracy project – your correspondent included – with something of a conundrum: A majority of British Muslims, living in a modern, democratic European culture that provides for their material well-being as well as co-equal political rights returns the favor with a malignant view of that host culture. One might be tempted to ask, “Well, why did you move there?” but that would be churlish. Instead one might more seriously ask, “What hope is there for international peace when by our intervention we give other, perhaps similar majorities in less hospitable climes the right to choose their own government, and in fact those government’s policies?”
Only this: As the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza are discovering every day, elections have actual consequences. They puckishly choose for a government members of a terrorist-linked organization which the rest of the world finds odious, and now watch as the rest of the world’s donations to support that government – the number one employer of the Palestinian people – dry up, along with a fair portion of the rest of the world’s (in my view, misplaced) sympathy for their plight.
The freedom to vote alone is not enough, of course. Without those other institutions of democracy: a free press; a fair and impartial judiciary; a relatively incorrupt bureaucracy – the result might well end up being little but a sham: “one man, one vote, one time.” Still, one step at a time, and for moral clarity it certainly beats any of the obvious alternatives.
Or, anyway, it’s at least worth a try. For starters.
And it’s also true that the freely elected government of Iraq’s eagerness to see coalition troops leave their shores immediately is rather less visible than that of many preening and supercilious BRING THEM HOME RIGHT NOW! types who nevertheless claim to “support the troops” back here at home. Iraqi President Nouri al Maliki has managed, from a position of ever-increasing strength, to split the opposition with an offer of amnesty and political inclusion. Those Ba’athists and nationalists in turn, having bet (and lost) the flower of their youth on the notion that the cut-and-run types would win the day – give them credit where it’s due, it worked in Somalia – and are starting to see the benefits of participating in the process as opposed to their personal alternative.
Taken together, these are object lessons in the kind of hard-headed realism that makes Arab businessmen so formidable, as well as lessons in the dangers of the kind of magical thinking that Pipes obliquely refers to in his opening paragraph dealing with the supposed Arab proclivity towards conspiracy theories.
That conspiracy mongering has at least as much to do – in the Arab homelands, anyway – with the fact that the government sponsored media cannot be trusted to tell the truth as it does with any genetic or cultural predisposition. There is always something untrue, something that hasn’t been said or something written there between the lines and many a happy moment is spent in cafes and bazaars trying to tease it out. Which brings us back to democratic institutions.
And which returns us to Britain -
They have a free press, and all the institutions of democracy – why then these Mulsim malcontents?
My suspicion lies on the stifling embrace of dependency – a welfare state which drew the detritus of a legacy empire into dead-ended, stultifying torpor while offering too few tools and incentives towards joining the broader and more productive culture. The Brits have been more than generous with their poor, but their taxpayers are never going to pay so much as to offer economic parity to those who simply won’t get work, and the difference breeds resentment. No other explanation holds up, considering how otherwise close the British and American political cultures are to each other. Apart from a half-dozen fools with ill-conceived pretensions to grandeur, we’ve had nothing like the kind of home grown trouble and discontent with our Muslim minority as have they.
So, hat’s off to Billy Jeff!
And that mosque? It’s in Dearborn, Michigan.