By David French — January 8, 2016
Muslims pray on the streets of London
To hear the Left tell it, the debate over mass Muslim immigration — especially from conflict zones — is a simple contest between compassionate tolerance and cowardly xenophobia. They claim their opponents are cowards because the percentage of refugees or immigrants who are terrorists is very small (your bathtub is more dangerous than a Muslim immigrant), and they’re xenophobes because they have no understanding or appreciation for the blessings and benefits of diversity. Conservatives are all fear and no heart.
According to the rules of this debate, there are but two kinds of Muslim immigrants — the tiny few terrorists and the overwhelmingly deserving, suffering majority. Question this narrative, or call attention to the vast cultural gaps between the refugees and the Western nations they’re fleeing to, and you’re a racist. After all, our cultural elite understands the Muslim world better than you do. They went to Harvard with Muslims, and the Muslims they know have great accents, cool customs, and — most importantly — tales of imperialist oppression that turn the leftist heart to mush. What’s not to love?
The recent events in Cologne and other German and Austrian cities represent a necessary, reality-based corrective to this absurd binary thinking. On New Year’s Eve, German women faced attacks from roaming gangs of North African and Middle Eastern immigrants, including asylum-seekers. According to German officials, “sexual crimes took place on a huge scale.” More than 100 women were victimized in a single evening, with up to 1,000 attackers involved.
As my colleague Ian Tuttle notes, this sexual violence is part of a “disturbing trend” in European countries with large Muslim-immigrant populations. Sweden now has the “third-highest rate of rape per capita in the world.” Britain’s horrifying Rotherham rape scandal — where 1,400 children were systematically raped and abused over a period of 16 years while authorities turned a blind eye — still shocks the conscience.
But the challenges go well beyond terrorism and sexual violence. Immigrants and refugees are pouring into the West from regions overrun with anti-Semitism and featuring vast numbers of people who support the imposition of sharia law. For example, 99 percent of Afghans want sharia to be the “official law of the land” in their home country, along with 91 percent of Iraqis, 89 percent of Palestinians, 84 percent of Pakistanis, and 83 percent of Moroccans.
This means that substantial majorities of these populations believe, among other things, in the death penalty for leaving Islam and stoning as the punishment for adultery. Moreover, vast numbers believe that sharia should apply to both Muslims and non-Muslims.
Further, as I’ve discussed before, Western soldiers are coming home from conflict zones describing cultures that feature systematic child rape in Afghanistan, brutal treatment of women in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and a shocking level of fatalism and disregard for human life.
Simply put, there are powerful cultural reasons why many of the nations of North Africa and the Middle East are miserable places to live — and those reasons go well beyond terrorism. And while it’s true that some immigrants are intentionally fleeing that culture and hoping to embrace more humane Western values, bitter experience in Britain, France, and elsewhere teaches us that a substantial number hope to enjoy the material blessings of the West while maintaining and defending many of the worst beliefs and practices of their home nations.
The worst actions — terrorist violence and sexual assaults — are symptoms of a much larger disease. Even when the Left tries to minimize Muslim violence, it often refutes its own case. After the San Bernardino shootings, the New York Times shared this chart, showing the relative terror death tolls in the U.S. since 9/11 split between “Islamic extremists” and “non-Islamic extremists”:
Yet with Muslims representing a mere 1 percent of the American population, this chart demonstrates that 1 percent of the population is responsible for an almost identical number of terror deaths as the remaining 99 percent combined. And this chart doesn’t even include 9/11, with its staggering death toll at the hands of Muslim visa-holders.
Let’s be honest: When someone advocates for large-scale Muslim immigration from the world’s worst conflict zones, they are arguing that the West should open its borders to people who are overwhelmingly anti-Semitic, disproportionately religiously intolerant, and harboring disturbing numbers of men who have no moral reservations about sexual assault.
Culture matters, and cultural differences exist for a reason. The miserable cultures of much of North Africa and the Middle East exist in part because of the very people who now wish to migrate to Western shores. I would be proud to welcome those who’ve demonstrated they’re committed to American ideals — and we do have allies who’ve bled with us on the battlefield who should be given safe passage to the West — but the burden of proof is on the immigrant, and proper vetting for terrorists is but the beginning of the challenge.
— David French is an attorney and a staff writer at National Review.