Chris Powell: Block immigrants from repugnant, anti-Western cultures

According to police and news reports about Omar Mateen, the perpetrator of the atrocity in Orlando:

·      He was a Muslim and the son of refugees from Afghanistan who was born in New York.

·      His father imagines himself president or a military leader of Afghanistan and hosts a television program on which he has supported the Taliban and called for killing homosexuals.

·      He was said to have made remarks sympathetic to terrorism that brought him to the attention of the FBI, which found nothing actionable.

·      In accordance with the teaching of the crazy cult that is trying to hijack Islam he frequently beat his first wife, who came to consider him psychotic and left him.

·      Also in accordance with the teaching of the crazy cult, he was enraged by homosexuality, and, completing his psychosis, had homosexual tendencies himself, having often visited the gay bar where he eventually perpetrated his murderous rampage.

In this context Mateen's mid-rampage call to police to proclaim his loyalty to the Middle Eastern terrorist group ISIS seems more like a vainglorious afterthought than part of a conspiracy.

Predictably enough, Democrats are using the atrocity to argue for their gun-control agenda, including prohibition of "assault weapons," apparently any rifle with a magazine, any rifle capable of firing more than one or two shots at a time without reloading -- a dubious proposition. As for the Democrats' more compelling propositions -- more background checks for gun buyers and such -- they probably would not have disqualified Mateen from purchasing the guns he used. For he was already licensed as a security guard, held a Florida gun permit, and repeatedly had cleared background checks undertaken by his employer, a federal government contractor.

Also predictably enough, Republicans are using the atrocity to argue for restrictions on immigration and foreign visitors, and at last Donald Trump has figured out that while immigration and visitation cannot be restricted by religion -- not constitutionally and not practically, since no one at a border crossing would admit his adherence to a prohibited religion -- immigration and visitation can be restricted by national origin.

After the atrocity Trump and his recent rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, asserted that the United States should not be welcoming people from countries that sponsor or are infected by terrorism or that oppress women, homosexuals, and disfavored religions. Such an exclusion would cover most of Africa and all the Middle East except Israel, the only democratic country there and the refuge of many homosexual Palestinians but nevertheless the bogeyman of the political left.

As Mateen demonstrates, and as has been demonstrated by other recent acts of terrorism,  such as the Boston Marathon bombing and the Fort Hood massacre, a background in an oppressive culture can span the generations and explode unexpectedly.

Thus the atrocity in Orlando can be attributed as much to this country's negligent immigration policy as to its negligent gun policy. For our negligent immigration policy celebrates "multiculturalism" even as the culture being imported is repugnant. Europe, which is being overwhelmed by migrants who have contempt for Western values, lacks the will to defend itself and has become Eurabia, thereby showing where negligent immigration policy will take the United States.

Defending the country requires getting a lot more selective with immigration, admitting only those people who can show a firm commitment to democratic and secular culture, not mere desire to get away from someplace else. The country needs no more Afghan refugees, nor more of the Syrian refugees Connecticut's governor lately has been celebrating, nor any more immigrants from the vast expanse of primitive barbarism that constitutes Religious Crazy Land.

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.


Raja Kamal/Arnold Podgorsky: Reform Judaism's lessons for Muslim immigrants

In a recent article in the Eurasia Review, Riad Kahwaji identified a troubling relationship between ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks and increasingly hostile reactions from nationalist and other right-wing parties across Europe. Muslim immigrants most often arrive in the West from Islamic countries beset by oppression, illiteracy and poverty, he notes. Western Muslim leaders have not effectively addressed these challenges, and resistance to assimilation by many in their communities has made them more vulnerable to extremism.

Among the factors that make integration into Western societies difficult for Muslim immigrants are the ways in which Islamic principles have been inculcated by parents and other elders; apparent biases concerning life in the West that have been influenced by government, political and religious propaganda in their countries of origin; and a lack of cultural empathy, common languages, and understanding of Western culture. In addition, Muslim communities in Europe are overly reliant upon imams recruited from abroad who are not overseen by an Islamic higher authority that sets standards of education and practice for the clerics.

Combine these factors with resistance from elements of the predominantly non-Muslim population, high unemployment rates among young Muslims and lack of opportunity for social and economic advancement, and it is easy to see why a significant minority of Muslim youths in Europe and certain U.S. communities are susceptible to radicalization. In France, about 10 percent of the population is Muslim, but 70 percent of the prison population is – and prison is the single most fertile ground for recruitment of terrorists. Attacks by individuals and groups purporting to represent Islam not only alienate average citizens but also produce a furious backlash of anti-immigrant fervor on the part of right-wing political leaders and organizations.

To address the challenges faced by Muslim immigrants, it might be instructive to consider the lessons of the Judaic diaspora. After their destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, in 70 A.D., the Romans expelled the Jewish people from the Holy Land. For centuries, Jews often lived separately from indigenous populations, gathering in tightly knit communities. Informed by suspicion of “the other” and often by outright antisemitism, what today would be called “host communities” frequently prohibited Jews from participating in most professions and crafts and in the political and cultural life of the societies. Sometimes, anti-Jewish attitudes were expressed violently, and attacks on Jewish people and their communities were not uncommon. Jewish separateness, whether voluntary or enforced, was essentially the norm.

By the end of the 18th Century Reform Judaism emerged in Germany and eventually in the U.S. The movement developed in part as an extension of the growth of rationalism in Western thought since the Enlightenment and in part as a reaction to the strictures and separateness that traditional Judaism demanded. The Reform movement (and, to a lesser extent, the movement for Conservative Judaism) advocated a relaxation of the more fundamental practices of traditional Judaism and greater assimilation into the economic, educational, and political mainstream of European societies. It welcomed modernity. In place of strict observance, Reform Judaism emphasized ethics, charity, and the admonition to “heal the world” as essentials of the Jewish character.

To bolster new ideals, an infrastructure of Jewish institutions and organizations evolved that not only served the needs of Jews but also interacted with similar structures in host societies. Among the new institutions that were most critical were seminaries that provided rigorous professional education for new generations of rabbis.

Over time, the threats of political oppression and violent antisemitism diminished in many places (not at all times or in all places, but generally). Progress was made in part because it was based on the long-established Judaic principle that Jews are to respect the laws of the lands they inhabit (except where they directly conflict with fundamental Jewish belief as, for instance, in the case of idol worship).

The Reform movement spawned contemporary Jewish pluralism, which now includes several streams of Jewish thought and practice.  These diverse approaches provide an example of integration and response to evolving philosophical and political norms, while preserving essential and nourishing tenets of the Jewish faith. Adherents have managed to assimilate effectively into societies that are predominantly non-Jewish by adapting religious practice and expression to fit with the laws, culture and customs of their adoptive homelands.

Might the experience of the Jews in Western societies provide a model for the growing Muslim communities of Europe and North America? Perhaps so, but it is essential that reform in Islamic practice and custom be initiated and molded by leaders in those Muslim communities. We recognize that such efforts to reform will be met with resistance, but success is possible if all remember that, in our diverse communities, we can only embrace the ways of peace by respecting and making room for each other – and, in matters of faith, there is always more than one path up the mountain.

Raja Kamal is senior vice president of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging; based in Novato, Calif. Arnold Podgorsky is a lawyer and former president of Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, DC, a Conservative synagogue.

Europe and Islam

  You can understand  why  so many people in Europe fear the growth in the  Muslim population there. While the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, within that population are  a few murderous fanatics who reference Islam as an excuse to engage in virtually any kind of barbarity. (See ISIS for what they are capable of.)

And even in the wider Muslim population there tends to be considerably less tolerance  than among native Europeans of other groups' and individuals' views and a disinclination  to integrate with the wider,  democratic and tolerant society that the West is  so proud  of.  Of course, the West's record of tolerance is erratic,  and most  literate people know the totalitarian viciousness that it has been capable of.  Still, it has generally been the freest  and most humane part of of the world for the past few decades, while Islam's golden age  of tolerance was a lot longer ago.


The trouble is that so many Muslims move to the West (Western and Central Europe, the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand)  only for economic reasons and/or to escape the brutalities and corruption of the Mideast, South Asia and North Africa,  where Islam is dominant.  Too few move to the West primarily to enjoy its  respect for tolerance and human rights, which too many Muslims don't seem to understand at all.


Islam is a far more encompassing religion  than Christianity has been for a long time.  It's been quite a while since the term ''Christendom'' was used widely.  Among other things,   traditional Islam sees the state and religion as the  same thing.  So there's a totalitarian potential in  parts of Islam that threatens Western society. Europeans know that, and that's a major reason so many oppose further immigration from Muslim nations.


--  Robert Whitcomb