Monday, May 06, 2002

I hope my rather flippant post below regarding Fortuyn wasn't misinterpreted. This is an incredibly unpleasant and disturbing development, both for supporters and detractors of the man. Apparently they have arrested a "white man of Dutch nationality" (whatever that means) but I haven't yet heard of a motive.

Fortuyn's problem, to the extent that I understand it, is not that he is anti-immigration, it is that he is anti-immigrant and anti-anyone who doesn't fit his idea of proper Dutchness. I, myself, am very pro-immigration with respect to this country - in fact, I would argue that increased immigration in the 90s did much to bring the country out of a cultural and economic stagnation. But, it is perfectly valid to be against immigration for whatever reason, even if some of those reasons might spring from ugly racist roots. But, it is not okay to campaign against the enemy within - to consign a portion of your legal population to the margins of society by pitting "us" against "them."

On the other hand, some European countries need to come to terms with a very real problem they have. Europeans I know generally try to pretend the issue isn't really there - or that it's simply a conflict between National Front types and immigrants, with the rest of the population simply washing their hands of the problem. In Slate, this passage is revealing:

Strangest of all, the touchy issue of France's large immigrant population, their alleged failure to assimilate, and their supposed responsibility for France's huge crime wave has received relatively few mentions in public. Even the postelection TV coverage on French state television—at least the first few hours of it—included virtually no mention of immigrants or immigration. Strangely, to my American eye, no Arab or black leaders had even been invited into the studio to offer instant comment on the results.

[aside: this of course is no different than our news media's almost complete failure to provide a platform to gay men to discuss/refute claimed links between homosexuality and pedophilia.]

France prides itself on the fact that they collect no race-based statistics of any kind, and though this attitude is somewhat laudable it is also both naive and damaging. There is no data, so there is no problem.

Of course, the fact this is of any concern to me is partially motivated by my annoyance of European smugness about those racist Americans. One friend who came to visit honestly seemed to believe that our entire African-American population was living in walled-off ghettos without indoor plumbing, and was genuinely shocked to discover that this was not the case.