The recent riots in Sweden by Muslims are extremely similar to what happened in France a few years ago, and the role of prejudice is being laid once again at the wrong feet. This isn’t about Muslims invading and forcing their host countries to conform — it’s about making people believe that is what they are doing to rationalize plain, old-fashioned xenophobic fear.
Part of it is a language problem, perhaps even an intentionally dishonest translation of such terms as “banlieue” — the locales in which Muslims live. It is usually mistranslated as “suburb”, but it really means the worst connotation of the word “ghetto” — a place where immigrants or “undesirables” are herded and kept from integrating into the larger society, including employment opportunities and access to quality education. And then they are blamed for not assimilating …
Once again, these events have nothing to do with Islam, but it’s the default reaction. That common cultural label is the flavor du jour of the same old story. America (and other countries) has a long history of riots and in the 60’s people asked the same question about why it was always “Blacks” doing these things, as if it were inherent in their souls rather than circumstances.
In Europe, Muslims are the new Jews and in America “they” — the “Aye-rabs” — are called epithets connecting sand and the letter “N”. Like I say often these days, ‘Muslim’ is the new ‘Black’.
But what is the cure for contracting France’s famously institutionalized ethnocentricity? One must only recognize that most of these people (in France, Sweden, and elsewhere) are refugees FLEEING Islamist chaos and control. They are not welcomed with open arms and so cannot be expected to act like welcomed guests.
It is a simple clash over immigration and social oppression against a minority. It’s not all peaches and handouts in these countries like we’d like to think it is in America. Heck, it’s against the law to pray in public in France, and that offends Muslims there the same way Christians are offended we cannot pray in public schools. (And such comparisons tend to fall on deaf ears.)
And not that we should have to make comparisons or keep score to justify some actions with that of others, but there have been recent Hindu and Buddhist riots in various countries as well. No one ethnic group’s or religion’s hands are clean — if you can even make such a statement meaningfully to begin with. But we see through the filter of what media we are exposed to and are missing the bigger picture of what’s going on out there, focusing only on one self-fulfilling perception certain factions it is currently in fashion to be outraged against.
In any new immigration population, there is a period of being “outcast” due to combinations of prejudice, language, cultural differences, etc. where ethnic-based neighborhoods form out of necessity. In America, at different times, this was true for Poles and Irish and nearly anyone else you can think of, each with their own neighborhoods. When the surrounding culture keeps them out of the larger society, it always means trouble. Fortunately we’ve integrated new peoples better than some because of the nature of our country being originally so many peoples to begin with.
But right now, in Europe, most of these communities are composed of diaspora from Middle Eastern countries, and most (but not all) are demographically Arabic Muslim. And like other times, people, and places, evil is a self-fulfilling prophesy. When I say their communities were like “ghettos”, I mean it in both the sense of (1) bad neighborhoods with no opportunities and little investment by the society AND (2) where Jews were kept under Nazism. Such conditions of segregation by force statistically correlate to more influence by Islamic extremists, which we must see is the EFFECT and not the CAUSE of tensions.
It is easy to radicalize anyone who can be so easily shown they are the enemy to begin with, and we all must take some responsibility for that.