Is India pursuing equality too zealously in this case, risking too much change too quickly, foisting top-down legislation upon traditions that will resist it and do not recognize its legitimacy? In pursuing (or at least legislating it), do you also risk less equality?
Derek Bok, who was asked to step back in at Harvard after Summers was ousted, has his book, the Politics Of Happiness reviewed here. Have we backed into an idealism not sufficiently skeptical of what government can do?
Rather than see the vote as a failure to allow Muslims their religious freedoms (populist response to the immigration wave?), Hirsi Ali suggests the ban rather should be thought of, in part, as a check upon the political ambitions that stem from Islamic theology:
“Islam is an idea about how society should be organized: the individual’s relationship to the state; that the relationship between men and women; rules for the interaction between believers and unbelievers; how to enforce such rules; and why a government under Islam is better than a government founded on other ideas. These political ideas of Islam have their symbols: the minaret, the crescent; the head scarf, and the sword.”
Because this fits into a view that many Europeans already have about how their own societies should be run:
“In their response to the presence of Islam in their midst, Europeans have developed what one can discern as roughly two competing views. The first view emphasizes accuracy. Is it accurate to equate political symbols like those used by Communists and Nazis with a religious symbol like the minaret and its accessories of crescent and star.”
According to Ali, it’s not an attack on religion per se, but rather a workable European solution to to Islam’s inability to separate politics from religion… because (what I think is the real target here) there’s another view of Islam in Europe:
“The second view refuses to equate political symbols of various forms of white fascism with the symbols of a religion. In this school of thought, Islamic Scripture is compared to Christian and Jewish Scripture. Those who reason from this perspective preach pragmatism. According to them, the key to the assimilation of Muslims is dialogue.”
“These two contrasting perspectives correspond to two quite distinct groups in Europe. The first are mainly the working class. The second are the classes that George Orwell described as “indeterminate.” Cosmopolitan in outlook, they include diplomats, businesspeople, mainstream politicians, and journalists. They are well versed in globalization and tend to focus on the international image of their respective countries.”
As a good American, I don’t know where I stand on day to day European politics, I’ll try and leave that to Europeans. I have to say, though, Hirsi Ali is a pretty smooth political operator herself in a cosmopolitan, populist sort of way.
Are you convinced?
Addition: I think Hirsi Ali correctly points out how much room for improvement there is in Europe’s handling of Muslim immigration…
Another Addition: She has directly challenged Islam as well, and this is not tolerated, resulting in numerous death threats.