Mike Steketee in "Learning to Rub Along" (The Australian, November 24, 2005) by the facts of his own argument seems to be the first “taker” of John Stone’s joke of founding The Queen Isabella Society (On Line Opinion "Some will not integrate" November 25, 2005). Not however willingly, but “drafted” by the reasoning of the former secretary of the Treasury.
However, before being trapped by his own data, Steketee cannot avoid the shameful temptation to portray Stone, by his doodling insinuation, as a devotee - if not a future Grand Inquisitor of Australia - of the Spanish Inquisition. His statement, that Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand “brought us the Spanish Inquisition … which executed thousands of Muslims and Jews”, which is true, followed by, this “sounds extreme even by the former Treasury secretary”, which is untrue, had no other purpose but to connect Stone intellectually and ideologically to the Spanish Inquisition.
Stone stated an historical fact, the defeat of the Moors at Granada, in 1492, and their expulsion as occupiers, not - even by the most distant and vague inference - his support of the Inquisition and the execution of “thousands of Muslims and Jews”. Steketee continues, “Stone is always keen to take the prod to politicians, most of whom are much too timorous for his tastes”, which is correct, but which also includes journalists like Steketee. The former secretary having the insight, which his critic lacks, that the call in our critical times is not for timorous and irresolute politicians, nor for historically shallow and gloomy feuilletons, who cannot distil any lessons from past and recent history.
But let us deal with the thrust of his argument. Steketee claims that 99.9 per cent of Muslims reject terrorism. If you ask however, this same number of Muslims about the political and moral standing of bin Laden, the majority of them will tell you that he is “good man”. They will also tell you, that the war in Afghanistan and in Iraq is occupation and colonisation by the American led coalition, and not a war against global terror. The “rejection of terror” by this 99.9 per cent is a figment of Steketee’s imagination and has no roots in reality.
If he had the analytical depth to probe into this 99.9 per cent under its surface he would have come to a different conclusion. That is, if this percentage of Muslims solidly rejected terrorism it would have been most unlikely that it would have spawned terrorists with such vigour and robustness in its own ranks. The fact is, that terrorism for many years now had the tacit, if not the open support, of a substantial part of this Muslim “silent-majority”.
This is thanks to the unstinting financial backing of the Saudis who set up the indoctrinating grounds of Wahhabism, in the form of the madrassas, in the heartlands of the West, not to mention those established in the East. Does Steketee seriously believe, that this mushrooming number of madrassas in the Western world influenced only 1 per cent of Muslims in the fundamentalist creed of Wahhabism preached by their radical imams? Moreover, he is purblind and cannot see that while there maybe “no subversive superstructure” - though this is contradicted by the proliferation of the madrassas - the subversiveness by its nature lies in the substructure, and that is why it cannot easily be seen.
Finally, Steketee unconsciously completely undermines his own contention about the viability of multiculturalism by his own evidence. He states that Moroccans in France and in the Netherlands, whose governments respectively have policies of integration and multiculturalism, “having turned away from their Moroccan identity (which is a highly doubtful assumption) and encountered discrimination … they found a new identity in international Islam”. So part of the cause of at least nascent homegrown terrorism is the failure of integration and multiculturalism, which is exactly Stone’s contention, in those countries that Steketee mentions, France and the Netherlands.
While he pooh-poohs “integration training”, logically he digs his own grave by quoting Schnabel. “Schnabel points to the integration into Dutch society from the former colonies of Surinam and Indonesia as successful examples of multiculturalism”. Integration however, is not multiculturalism. It’s the shedding of Marx’s “deadweight of tradition”, that is the first step in entering a modern society. It’s the acceptance of the major tenets and principles of the mainstream culture, which however the majority of Muslims are unwilling to do. And this is the main reason why they remain at the margins of modern societies and in alienation.
But what has happened to multiculturalism in the Netherlands? In the land of freedom and equal opportunity and after the murder of the filmmaker Van Gogh by a Muslim fanatic (because the former criticised the treatment of Muslim women by Muslim men) many Hollanders no longer feel free to walk the streets of their own country without bodyguards.
And what about Australian multiculturalism - which is touted by its supporters as an exemplary success - is it also a failed idea and practice? The answer is given by events in the early 90’s, when Greeks and Slavo-Macedonians were burning each other’s Christian churches, and when each community was turning itself into a diplomatic post of their respective governments to lobby for the Australian government’s support. It’s also given by the Brack’s legislation of vilification laws in Victoria, which makes it an offence to critique migrant and indigenous communities: which literally amounts to the suspension of freedom of speech.
It also exposes the rickety and artificial nature of multiculturalism, and the realisation even among its unflappable advocates - which reveals clearly their own diffidence in the viability of multiculturalism - that it needs legislative measures to make it workable. That is, you would have to force people to accept it by the enactment of laws. This is no less than the “creation” of multiculturalism by legislation. Moreover, Muslims are no “fans” of multiculturalism, despite their professions to the opposite, because they indefatigably believe in the superiority of their culture and religion. To expect them to be supporters of multiculturalism is to expect them to become believers in polytheism.
Like most things in life cultures are in a perennial state of competition. No dynamic culture in its acceleration to achieve its goals will stop to pick up a culture that lags behind or treat it equally. It’s the latter that has to catch up with the former. In our case, the adherents of Islamic culture must be willing to cast off all the parts that are incompatible with Western culture, if they are going to be successful in achieving their ambitions in a modern world and not teeter on the precipice of hopelessness and despair. This is an elemental law of biology. Species that cannot adapt to their new environment wither away.
Will the majority of Muslims have the moral strength and wisdom to liberate themselves from the rigid parts of their religion, like their great forebears, Avicenna, Averroes, and Omar Khayyám, have done? The signs are not auspicious. And the twin failure of multiculturalism and integration is written in the stars.