Wednesday, December 29, 2004

SULLY'S CHILDREN. The pure products of Andrew Sullivan go crazy. Now we have Reihan Salam talking about Holland's problems with unassimilated Muslims, and desperately seeking therein new and exciting meanings to prove himself the rightwing shizznit.

Yet at what a cost to common sense! Salam seems to suggest, by his wringing of a quote by Ian Buruma ("Buruma wrote on Iraq, arguing against 'perfect democracy,' i.e., rigorously secular democracy... he might consider applying it to Holland") that Holland should fight sectarian violence by writing more religion into its Government. Salam doesn't take time to tell how this religification might be achieved -- and that is one of the advantages of his breezy style: it leaves little time to speculate on possible real-life applications of his ideas ("The Chair recognizes the Honorable Member from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints").

Salam ends premonitorally:
That negotiation and compromise were preempted by elite consensus in Holland now seems clear. Democracy failed. To say that it’s only now under threat, now that the exclusion and alienation of an immigrant class has reached a crisis point, is to ignore the deeper tensions.

Which is one reason why the liberal disdain of populist conservatism is misplaced. That secular liberals will seek to defeat populist conservatives in argument is a given. But marginalizing concerns over “moral values,” the approach fatefully taken in Holland and elsewhere in Europe, has had ugly consequences all its own. Be careful what you wish for.
Maybe I'm reading this wrong (it wouldn't be hard) but here Salam seems to compare Holland's religious problems with America's. Taking him at his word that religious violence is widespread in Holland, what would be the American equivalent? Unitarifascists? The Radical Quakers?

Okay, so obviously there's no equivalent among American religious organizations. But there is a group that, while not religious itself, has been so strenuously and negatively associated with religion of late -- as seen in thousands of the-ACLU-stole-my-Christmas stories -- that it would quickly spring to any mind appropriately softened as the kind of clear and present danger Salam is talking about.

Under the circumstances, we may be forgiven for suspecting that the part of the Angry Muslims will be played in the U.S. production of Salam's "Get Religion!" by the Godless Secularists, America's current religious menace of choice. Marginalize "moral values" and you get armed gangs of secularists rampaging through church sales and Bingo nights, and perhaps even assassinating Trey Parker.

Or maybe he means something very different. Who can tell? The way the Sullivanians mangle their words, it's no wonder Roger L. Simon's goon squad thinks Ross Douthat is a liberal.

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