Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Emerging Danish dynamics   posted by Razib @ 3/08/2006 12:57:00 AM

The American Conservative has a nice article by Paul Belien on Denmark's immigration and assimilation policies. The whole article is worth reading, and though TAC is a journal of opinion it is not that far off the even keel, especially the first half. One thing to note is that Denmark is aggressively reducing the inflow of immigrants from other countries, and making proactive efforts to assimilate the minorities, especially Muslims, that already reside within the country.

In an email exchange with Diana about a week ago I expressed the opinion that in the medium-term the most negative impact of Muslim-non-Muslim conflict in Europe would be toward individual Muslims. It seems a no brainer in the context of a society that is overwhelmingly non-Muslim, and where Muslims to a large extent reside in a state of dependency vis-a-vis the majority. For every "no-go" zone of a major European city no doubt Muslims would have to face heightened hostility throughout the vast majority of their country of official citizenship. Of course, conceding Denmark its aggressive assimilationism (the article points out that there have been threats to expel families who send children back to the home country to inculcate them in traditional values) will have negative consequences for long term group identity and coherency in relation to the majority, and, it will undermine the position of "community leaders" who are vested in a particular set of norms and customs which separate their putative constituency from the majority.

As I noted in my post a few weeks ago on various forms of multiculturalism, the emergence of distinct minority group identities is to some extent a function of bureaucratic classification and conference of legitimacy to particular individuals who claim to represent a coherent community. In the short term the Danish intransigence at the emergence of a proto-Islamic community with sharply demarcated boundaries in relation to the majority culture is causing problems, but, it could be argued that the costs incurred within the next decade or so will be returned many-fold by the reduction of persistent overhead endgendered by a multicultural modus vivendi.

The Danish logic, elucidated in the piece, is plainly common sense. The rate of assimilation seems clearly inversely proportional (all other parameters held equal) to the ratio of the size of the minority population to the majority. Even if humans are not random actors who interact with an unbiased sample of the overall population, as the minority becomes a smaller fraction the likelihood of forced confrontation of the "outside" world by a minority increases.

On one final point, there is a perception by some (often expressed on this blog as well) that Muslims are somehow peculiarly indigestable because of the nature of their religious ideology. In comparison to Chinese immigrants, for example, this is clearly true, and I am open to the contention that the Muslim "memecomplex" has within it defensive measures spawned by the 1,500 year arms race with Christendom. That being said, one example often used to illustrate Islamic imiscibility is the expulsion of the Moriscos of Spain in 1610. But, if you read Infidels by Andrew Wheatcroft, where several chapters chronicle Muslim-Christian dynamics in Iberia, you will note that a substantial (perhaps a majority) of Moriscos converted to Christianity, and, some of the most vociferous proponents of expulsion were Christians whose own familial background as conversos was thrown in a very bad light by co-ethnics who lived the lives of crypto-Muslims (one Christian priest from a Morisco background proposed castrating all crypto-Muslim males). In other words, though the proponents of multiculturalism often privilege group rights above individual considerations, the historical record tells us that scratching below the surface will often stir up interests that are individual, even if they don the mask of some higher ideal.