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Whose ‘Ghetto Children’? Yours?

Denmark's government cracks down hard on Muslim immigrant families

Here’s a chilling New York Times story from Denmark:

Starting at the age of 1, “ghetto children” must be separated from their families for at least 25 hours a week, not including nap time, for mandatory instruction in “Danish values,” including the traditions of Christmas and Easter, and Danish language. Noncompliance could result in a stoppage of welfare payments. Other Danish citizens are free to choose whether to enroll children in preschool up to the age of six.

Denmark’s government is introducing a new set of laws to regulate life in 25 low-income and heavily Muslim enclaves, saying that if families there do not willingly merge into the country’s mainstream, they should be compelled.

The problems are in Denmark’s poor Muslim ghettoes, where gang violence and radicalism are big problems. Any rational person should sympathize with Denmark’s dilemma. But look at how far the government is going to address it:

Some are punitive: One measure under consideration would allow courts to double the punishment for certain crimes if they are committed in one of the 25 neighborhoods classified as ghettos, based on residents’ income, employment status, education levels, number of criminal convictions and “non-Western background.” Another would impose a four-year prison sentence on immigrant parents who force their children to make extended visits to their country of origin — described here as “re-education trips” —in that way damaging their “schooling, language and well-being.” Another would allow local authorities to increase their monitoring and surveillance of “ghetto” families.

Some proposals have been rejected as too radical, like one from the far-right Danish People’s Party that would confine “ghetto children” to their homes after 8 p.m. (Challenged on how this would be enforced, Martin Henriksen, the chairman of Parliament’s integration committee, suggested in earnest that young people in these areas could be fitted with electronic ankle bracelets.)

Think this stuff is only going to be foisted on Muslims? Look at what the British government is doing to Hasidic Jewish schoolgirls. Sohrab Ahmari reports that the education regulator’s condemnation of the Yesodey Hatorah school in part for failing to expose its students to sexual diversity, thereby depriving them of “’a full understanding of fundamental British values’ and limited their ‘spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and [did] not promote equality of opportunity in ways that take account of differing lifestyles.'” Ahmari:

The attack on Yesodey Hatorah is part of a larger campaign against religious education in the U.K. Faithful Jews, Catholics, and Muslims are all targets. Former Education Secretary Justine Greening laid bare the agenda last year in an interview with Sky News. “We have allowed same-sex marriage,” she said. “That’s a massive step forward for the better. And for me, I think people do want to see our major faiths keep up with modern attitudes.” Senior government adviser Louise Casey expressed similar sentiments at the House of Commons: “It is not OK for Catholic schools to be . . . anti-gay marriage. I have a problem with the expression of religious conservatism because I think often it can be anti-equalities.”

If and when totalitarianism arrives in the West, it will carry the grammatically appalling banner of “equalities.”

Be vigilant, Americans. The god of secular progressivism is a jealous god.

My sympathies lie with the Danish Muslims, but I confess that the Danes really do have their backs up against it, given their conception of society. From the NYT story:

Critics would say “the state cannot force children away from their parents in the daytime, that’s disproportionate use of force,” said Rune Lykkeberg, the editor in chief of Dagbladet Information, a left-liberal daily newspaper. “But the Social Democrats say, ‘We give people money, and we want something for this money.’ This is a system of rights and obligations.”

Danes have a high level of trust in the state, including as a central shaper of children’s ideology and beliefs, he said. “The Anglo-Saxon conception is that man is free in nature, and then comes the state” constraining that freedom, he said. “Our conception of freedom is the opposite, that man is only free in society.”

“You could say, of course, parents have the right to bring up their own kids,” he added. “We would say they do not have the right to destroy the future freedom of their children.”

But aren’t these Danes also guilty of seeking “to destroy the future freedom” of Danish Muslim children to carry on in their family’s traditions? Where do anti-modern Danish Christians fit into this scheme? I’d seriously like to know.

Maybe what this is telling us is that liberalism can only work in societies where there is broad consensus. What the Danish state is doing to Muslim families is appalling to me. I can imagine the state trying to do the same thing to dissenting Christian families. On the other hand, if crime and social dysfunction is heavily concentrated within Islamic ghettoes, what are the government’s choices? The Financial Times reported earlier this year that the Danish government calls its plan: “One Denmark without parallel societies — no ghettos by 2030.” Previous government attempts to integrate Muslim immigrants have failed, the paper said.

Here, in Danish, is the government’s plan. (If you have Google Chrome, you can translate it.)

If it weren’t for the crime and radicalization problem, would the Danish government be so eager to forcibly integrate Muslims? That is, if Muslims were living peaceable lives in a parallel polis, would this be a problem with the Danes? Or would it be more like the Orthodox Jewish situation in Britain, where Orthodox Jews cause no social problems, but their very difference — especially on matters of sex and sexuality — offends the government?

I’d like to hear from readers in Denmark, or who are informed of the situation there.

UPDATE: Reader Anna:

I lived in Denmark for 6 months 25 years ago (so, a different political situation, but it was already brewing) and I think you’re putting an unfair spin on this, for a couple of reasons:

1. It’s very hard for an American to understand what a huge role national culture and social cohesion play in how Danish society functions. E.g., the transit system (in those days) collected fares strictly on an honor system. Theoretically, this was spot-checked by random inspections, but I never once in half a year of frequent ridership saw an inspector. Nor did I ever once see somebody fail to pay their fare. That’s just how Denmark is. (Or was, anyway.)

Nor did I ever see a police officer, that I was aware of. Danish citizens basically maintain public order themselves. The average Dane would never dream of littering or committing other minor transgressions most Americans wouldn’t think twice about. As a Dane supposedly told an occupying Nazi soldier during WWII, when he was puzzled why the king went out riding every day without guards: “All Denmark is his bodyguard.”

You take a society like that and throw in a bunch of people from lawless middle eastern oligarchies where taking bribes, nepotism, etc., are simply a way of life, and you have a huge problem. Why shouldn’t they insist on enculturation as a condition for immigration?

2. At least in my experience, the Danes I knew weren’t actually racist or bigoted against religion as such. Yes, they thought religious people were weird, but they had no problem with their large immigrant population of Vietnamese Catholics. It was the Muslim immigrants (mainly Turks) that the Danes I knew were upset about, mainly because of how they treated women.

UPDATE.2: An American Muslim reader e-mails:

First, I’ll start off by saying that I am not at all offended by this government policy. In fact, I can argue that it’s a natural reaction against the presence of what Danes perceive to be a culture alien to their own. While I am not sympathetic to the Danish cause, I can understand them, in that I wouldn’t want my own country being dominated by a foreign culture either.

What struck me, though, was the following:

Starting at the age of 1, “ghetto children” must be separated from their families for at least 25 hours a week, not including nap time, for mandatory instruction in “Danish values,” including the traditions of Christmas and Easter, and Danish language. Noncompliance could result in a stoppage of welfare payments. Other Danish citizens are free to choose whether to enroll children in preschool up to the age of six.

Don’t the Danes, and the Europeans in general, see the inherent contradiction between the claims of liberal democracy and what I highlighted above?

Liberal democracy essentially operates upon the basis of a relativist worldview, where it assumes (wrongly) that all cultures are equal, all religions are equal, and that all people can somehow magically assimilate into some ideal notion of citizenship.

And yet, this new government policy, if accurate, is essentially mandating a form Danish of “jizya”for these Muslim immigrants, where adherence and acceptance to Danish values (represented by the likes of Christmas and Easter) is a prerequisite towards getting specific benefits. And what’s even more ironic is that secular Danish society only pays lip service to Christmas and Easter – they’re merely cultural relics of an age long past.

What this situation clearly shows to me is that all governments and nations, when push comes to shove, must and will enact policies that are designed to preserve their respective cultures and values. This is natural, and it aligns perfectly with what we call in Islam the “fitra” of the human being. “Fitra” roughly translates into man’s natural disposition, and secular liberal democracy simply does not fit with it.

The Qur’an says, roughly,

“Fight those who believe not in God and in the Last Day, and who do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden, and who follow not the Religion of Truth among those who were given the Book, till they pay the jizyah with a willing hand, being humbled” (9:29)

The Judeo-Christian blowhards who have been parading this verse for several years to show how intolerant Islam is are actually the missing the point. What I’m about to say is not at all exhaustive as an interpretation of this verse (and the Arabic is more nuanced), but here’s my take:

When believers in the tenets of Islam are in charge of a territory, it is God’s Law, and law based on revelation, that forms the basis for a community and for the society as a whole. If you do not hold to the tenets of Islam, you have a choice: pay your jizyah and keep your culture and values to yourself and your community (at the same time enjoying the protection of the state from foreign aggression) while acknowledging that law of Islam is going to be the supreme law of the land, or face the consequences.

Harsh? Maybe, but it works. And it worked. And we see every society, in one form or another, implements a similar policy, in the sense of placing their own culture in a privileged position vis-a-vis the residents in its territory. The Danes are doing ,despite all the pretense to liberal values.

Look at all the hullabaloo about illegal immigration in the United States. If the US had its own jizyah system, the problems the government is having south of the border would have been easily resolved long ago.

Islam’s prescription for the minority problem is correct and more in line with human nature than anything that secular liberal democracy has devised. I think Islam should be praised for the very things that it gets criticized for, but I’ll elaborate on that some other time.

Secular democracy promises inclusion and citizenship, but only after you’ve accepted it’s fundamental assumptions about being and existence. Once you assimilate, you become a secularized consumer with no firm basis in community or even identity.

Liberalism has its own doctrines and tenets that are similar to those of a religion, and make no mistake about it, it is a religion. I laugh at and pity the fools who say, “Islam is not a religion, it’s a totalitarian political ideology.” By shouting out such tired old claims, the Westerners are actually describing themselves. Aren’t Western-based values all consuming and totalitarian? Hasn’t the Western world attempted to spread its lifestyle to the entire planet militarily, politically, and economically?

Media, politics, medicine, technology, banking, finance, NGOs, culture, clothing, food – everything the secular West has created has spread its tentacles worldwide, attempting to impose its liberal democratic religion on all of mankind, a religion that seeks to govern nearly every aspect of human life.

Secular humanism, liberal democracy – whatever you want to call it – at its core, is philosophically not only hostile towards Islam but it is hostile to Judaism and Christianity. It is hostile to revelation, it is hostile to scripture, it is hostile to God Himself. But it won’t show its fangs toward Judaism and Christianity the way it does to Islam, because it has emasculated the former two.

In the end, it is Christendom (specifically Western Christendom) that has given birth to this secular beast, and Christians have to ask themselves questions as to why this happened. I personally already believe that I know the answer, and it’s not one a lot of Christians want to hear, but I’ll leave it at this: Christians themselves have destroyed Christendom, and they have no one but themselves to blame.