Recent London bombing and the assassination of Theo van Gough in Netherlands, both perpetrated by either first or second generation Muslim immigrants has raised doubt about the viability of liberal ideal. Liberal ideal is defined here as a set of social values that emphasis on tolerance, individualism, and openness rather than principals regarding governance and economy.
Doubts about the viability of liberal ideals lead another crucial question – that is – are people of non-Western/Christian tradition capable of assimilating to liberal ideals? Or put simply is liberal ideal universal enough? I for one argue yes given time it will be universal enough.
One only has to look back one to two hundred years to see who far Western Christian has come to reach their liberal ideal today. With all due respect for Western Christians but there were intolerant, racist, sexist, violent, superstitious, and religious people who were run by oppressive monarchies. Western Christian was not much different to today so call Islamist extremist. If the Western Christian can, why can’t the Muslim communities?
Culture assimilation is a process that happens naturally, it is only restricted when ruling power forcefully enforces isolation. In fact, I would argue it is a necessary condition for development. Again looking back into history, Ming dynasty’s decision to isolate itself, forbidding any ocean going ship in 1500AC that mark the beginning of the end of China’s centuries of superiority. It was not until early 1970 the China decision to open itself to foreign influence that marks the beginning of its recovery and economic development.
I say, if movies are an exportable culture than a quick glance at the popularity of English speaking movie in non-English speaking countries well tell you that indeed liberal ideals are quite universal. In fact while only weights 16.4% of world total, English langue films accounts for 54.2% of global box office.
So, what is the reason for the seemly unbridgeable differences between the liberal ideal and Muslim communities? Hmmmm… I don’t know, but if I have to guess. The following would be my answer.
Liberal policy without proper preparation
Novelist D. DeLillo described a cosmopolis in his novel as a person who “wants to be one civilization ahead of this one”. That is probably the correct description of liberal policies. Liberal policies are artificially inserting large numbers of immigrants without proper measures to prepare them and natural citizens for culture assimilation. As well as the lack of proper economic masuers to counter the effect large inflow of immigrants have on the economy, especially in causing higher unemployment. As the results, some natural citizens blame migrants for the lost of jobs, treating them with hostilely suspicion and often racism. Leading to the disenchantment of immigrants and their children and making it assimilation more difficult. Some of these disenchanted migrants isolate them self within closed Muslim communities and become vulnerable to Islam extremist hate rhetoric. Ultimately, few of these disenchanted souls end their life with London bombing and the assassination of Theo van Gough.
Liberal assimilation takes time and its can only be artificially hasten to a limited without causing too much side effect or blowbacks. Liberal policy makers seeing the benefit of assimilation are trying to run ahead of the natural pace of globalization by speeding it up. Like the cosmopolis analogy, they want to be one civilization ahead of this one.
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Retitled from: Running ahead of Time