Friday, November 12, 2004

Tolerance, European style

From the Netherlands:
The anger is such that for the second time in two days an Islamic elementary school was attacked Tuesday, this time in Uden, part of what Dutch authorities fear are reprisals after van Gogh's killing, The Associated Press reported. The authorities said that Muslim sites had been the target of a half-dozen attacks in the past week, The AP reported.

In apparent retaliation, arsonists attempted to burn down Protestant churches in Rotterdam, Utrecht and Amersfoort, the news service quoted the police as saying.The attacks have scratched the patina of tolerance on which the Dutch have long prided themselves, particularly here in their principal city, where the scent of hashish trails in the air, prostitutes beckon from storefront brothels and Hell's Angels live side by side with Hare Krishnas. But many Dutch now say that for years that tradition of tolerance suppressed an open debate about the challenges of integrating conservative Muslims.

After 9/11, reprisal attacks were feared as possible against the American Muslim population. But, perhaps surprisingly given the enormity of what happened, these attacks simply did not manifest in any serious form. Now, in the supposedly cosmopolitan and tolerant Europe, one man is killed, however unjustly and barbarically, and the tolerant Europeans explode in a frenzy of xenophobia, bigotry and violence.

As much as America is derided for our supposed unenlightened intolerance, it would behoove the Europeans to take a look in the mirror and see the tinderbox of latent animosity among its own population that has been created by their high-minded, but ultimately destructive, policies.

The overarching American national identity unites all Americans under a common banner and confers basic similarities onto all groups contained between the shining seas. The Netherlands has embraced the creed of multiculturalism, gave up most of its national identity for the cult of "universal humanity" and sacrificed much of its sovereignty to the EU. In this way, the common ties amongst the population have been frayed to the point of rupture. The simple platitudes of the diversity movement can do nothing to bring Netherland back from the brink of disaster. The cult of multiculturalism has failed.

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