The Moral Calculus of Muslim Immigration
I need to start this article by saying that I am not condemning all Muslims with what I am about to write. If anything, I am criticising their sacred texts and the behaviours they inspire. I find it lamentable that I feel compelled to preface such a critique with this sort of statement, but the Left’s reliable labelling of anyone who questions the masochistic mantra of multiculturalism and cultural relativism as a bigot, racist, or xenophobe makes such a caveat necessary.
Whenever I think about immigration, I think about a conversation between Sam Harris and Maryam Namazie. They were discussing the migrant crisis in Europe and what might be reasonable and rational caveats to open borders. It was quite telling that Namazie was completely unwilling to acknowledge that unrestricted immigration of mostly Muslim immigrants might pose issues in Europe. This sort of obfuscation is understandable from one perspective: to advocate for the restriction of immigration based on religion seems like outright bigotry. Throughout the discussion, Harris tried to get some sort of confession from Namazie that some Muslims hold troublesome views. But this fact never transitioned to an admission that reasonable measures should be in place to vet potential migrants.
The problem is simple: what is a rational balance between a compassionate intake of humanitarian refugees and the maintenance of Western values? I can already sense the visceral outrage being stirred in the bellies of readers as they absorb what appears to be an implication that Muslims might have values inconsistent with our own. Surely not? They’re looking to maximise their own happiness in this world, just like everyone else. Well, yes and no. We need to consider how many people we want immigrating to our country who don’t support freedom of speech (notwithstanding the problem that even westerners have with this concept). We need to consider how many immigrants might be sympathetic to female genital mutilation. Raising these issues does not make one bigoted. On the contrary, it makes one concerned with the maintenance of civilisation. Society needs to stop peddling the myth that all religions and cultures are equal and equally promoting of human wellbeing. Allowing immigration, irrespective of whether the immigrant believes that women are his property or not, is sacrificing our ethics at the altar of moral relativism and political correctness.
There really are values that are better than others. Believing that women are equal to men and that everyone is deserving of human rights is demonstrably superior to forcing women to live in cloth bags, whether explicitly or through indirect indoctrination. Does anyone think the two positions are equivalent? Does anyone believe that there is no difference between striving to grant gay people equal rights and throwing them from the tops of buildings? These abhorrent beliefs are contained in the Qur’an and the Hadith. We can no longer afford to engage in the obscurantist politics of denying the link between Islam and the values that a large number of Muslim people hold. It seems counterintuitive that most on the Left would simultaneously campaign for equal rights for women and advocate for taking in refugees, a substantial percentage of whom will espouse antithetical beliefs. Liberals need to recognise that tolerance of intolerance is a toxic mantra that leads only to the downfall of their values. Western society needs to stand against theocracy and the ideals of those who practice and promote it.
It’s worth noting at this point, that I am not specifically against Muslim beliefs. I am against any values that contradict the core of liberal democracy. Censorship, blasphemy, misogyny, internecine conflict: these are things that one must oppose if one claims to be a liberal. Islam is the most recognisable and widespread paradigm of these beliefs. It is better to support girls attending school than to throw acid in their faces for daring to read. It is better to support freedom of expression, even if you find it offensive, than to murder cartoonists for blaspheming Mohammed. It is better to allow people to determine their own religious convictions than to brand them as apostates and wish for their deaths. It shouldn’t need to be enunciated: the Qur’an and the Hadith promote, sanction, and command these behaviours. To accept this is merely the first step to realising that there is a balance to be struck between humanitarian and societal concerns.
I’m not calling for the demonization of refugees or their barbaric detention in offshore facilities (if you don’t believe me, read my article “John Stuart Mill on Nauru”). I’m calling for a reasonable discussion of the implications of beliefs and their impact on behaviour, without being fettered by false and frivolous accusations of bigotry or racism. There is no doubt that people may use this as an excuse to air their actual xenophobia, but the only way we can separate the real bigots from the herd is to acknowledge that there are reasonable concerns to raise about Islam and the future of Western civilisation.