Diversity and its Discontents

The first thing my wife and I comment on when we go to a restaurant or a park is the … Continued

The first thing my wife and I comment on when we go to a restaurant or a park is the diversity. We generally want more. We’re part of a generation of Americans raised on the “celebrate diversity” mantra. Our elementary school books were illustrated with pictures of kids of different colors. We read Toni Morrison and Richard Wright in college.

So reading Robert Putnam’s study on the downsides of diversity is disconcerting. Putnam put the term “social capital” on the map in his book, Bowling Alone. Civic engagement, he believes, is crucial to America, and it is seriously in decline.

In Bowling Alone, Putnam blamed much of this decline on television (which I’m happy to have as the culprit, even as I confess that the idiot box is on in the background as I write this).

Several months back, he released a publication stating that something else essential to America is bad for civic engagement – diversity.

“Diversity, at least in the short run, seems to bring out the turtle in all of us,” he writes.

He explains further that people in more diverse communities tend to “distrust their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television.”

Here’s how Michael Jonas sums it up in an exceptional article on the study, “Birds of different feathers may sometimes flock together, but they are also less likely to look out for one another.”

This research has won Putnam a host of admirers he would rather not have, including David Duke.

Those of us who are not David Duke, and think diversity is a positive thing, still need to take Putnam’s findings seriously.

I frequently cite Diana Eck’s work in this blog, and I think it is absolutely central to thinking about this topic. Eck, a Harvard professor who first made her name as a scholar of Hinduism and more recently as a writer on America’s growing religious diversity, makes a crucial distinction between diversity and pluralism. Diversity is simply the fact of people from different backgrounds living in close quarters. Pluralism is the “energetic engagement” of those differences with the purpose of creating not only positive bonds but also active social capital. Diana’s work with the Pluralism Project exhibits where this is happening in America with respect to religious diversity, and where it’s not. It was Diana’s work that I relied on most heavily when founding the Interfaith Youth Core.

In other words, it’s not about whether diversity is good or bad. Diversity is a fact, and in America it’s not going away. The question is how to best engage the fact of diversity in a way that builds social capital and increases civic engagement. And when the pluralists don’t engage diversity by building positive social bonds, then we leave a vacuum that is often filled by extremists or bigots.

That’s why I’m always on the lookout for institutions that are intentional about bringing people from different backgrounds together to build positive bonds. I’ve long believed that the model for this was Jane Addams Hull House, set up on the west side of Chicago in the late 19th century to bring immigrants from different backgrounds together and introduce them to American democracy.

A few months ago, I read about a 21st century version of Hull House – a school in Decatur, Georgia that is so diverse the weekly newsletter is published in six languages, and still many parents can’t read it. An excellent New York Times piece on the school pointed out both the wonder and the warts of this institution – both the unlikely friendships that are made, and the unique educational challenges that such diversity presents.

Some people might say this is too hard, but the truth is there is no turning back from American diversity. The only question is what we do with it.

Those kids from all those different backgrounds in Decatur would still be living in close quarters even if that school didn’t exist. How would they view each other? What would their relationships be like? If they weren’t in this school with a set of teachers encouraging appreciative knowledge of their diversity and facilitating positive relationships, who else might have stepped into the vacuum, and what messages might those people bring?

I believe institutions like the International Community School are America at its best. And because I travel and speak a lot about religious diversity for the Interfaith Youth Core, I get to see similar efforts all over the country.

Recently, I was in Syracuse, New York, a small city welcoming the world’s diversity, and engaging it in a way that builds pluralism. A major refugee resettlement center, Syracuse possesses remarkable religious diversity for a city its size. In addition to the collection of Christian and Jewish denominations one might expect, Syracuse is also home to thriving Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim communities. More importantly, though, these communities are in relationship with one another through an assortment of interfaith and other civic organizations. Started in the wake of 9/11, Women Transcending Boundaries is a “community of women from many religious and cultural traditions” that “seek to nurture mutual respect and understanding by sharing information about our diverse beliefs, customs, and practices and by working together to address our common concerns.” The Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse (ACTS) brings together Syracuse’s diverse communities to work for better education, economic development, and healthcare. InterFaith Works of Central New York ” holds community dialogues on issues of race and religion, working to build sustained relationships throughout Syracuse.

Not surprisingly, Syracuse University also plays a strong role in cultivating social capital and transforming mere diversity into pluralism. The University’s Hendricks Chapel hosts a dozen different chaplaincies, providing each with both the institutional support and physical space for their communities to thrive on campus. A range of student religious groups come to know each other through the auspices of the Chapel, and serve together through the Chapel’s Office of Community Engagement and Integrative Learning. Last year, a dozen religiously diverse students went to Turkey together on an interfaith trip.

As a lead up to the University’s “Big Event” this spring – a University-wide service day – student members of many of these groups (organized by an Interfaith Youth Core Fellow named Nicole) will be chalking the campus with expressions of their personal call to service, drawing public attention to both the diversity of religious expression at the University as well as the shared value of service. Next fall, students will be able to enroll in a new field course on “Religious Communities in Syracuse,” co-taught by a senior named Rachel committed to introducing her classmates to not just the diversity, but the pluralism of religious life in Syracuse.

Those are initiatives that turn diversity into pluralism.

About

  • Idolator

    Two interesting articles in WaPo yesterday: One about culture of violence and drugs in NWFP of Pakistan and from where the next attack to U.S. will come and secondly a review in Book World of Steve Coll’s new book on bin laden (born to a 15 year old Syrian-following prophet’s footsteps) family.His father married numerous time and produced 54 children (definition of diversity in Islam). An educated, succesful businessman left about 3 percent to his male children and about 1 percent to his female offsprings (equality in Islam).bin laden, when 17, married a 14 year old cousin and has produced numerous children and divorced umpteem times… (hero of the Islamic world)..

  • Paganplace

    I do get quite tired of seeing these arguments repeated whenever a Muslim opens his or her mouth, here. Mr. Patel is not Muslim countries, …he’s talking about *America* here. Pluralism is of key importance because so much ethnic and religious and racial *conflict* emanates from people trying to force other groups to conform, or feeling that difference alone justifies suspiion and hatred between people who really ought to know each other better. There is no ‘safety’ from what the fearmongers fear by *isolating and alienating* people who are different, only by making sure that America is a place where *American* ideals and common humanity bring us together, while, as we choose, preserving and adapting our ways to this common society. It’s important to point out that just living on top of each other does not pluralism make. Neither does insisting on complete assimilation. America is the *product* of that ‘melting pot’ idea… actually *made* of the many different groups that have come here. And that’s a strength, not a weakness.

  • DOES IT MATTER

    Paganplace: Paganplace, the usual diatribes against Muslims are indeed a waste of space, but you should see the ulterior motive Ebrahim aka Eboo has in his themes. He is set out to “whitewash” many potentially dangerous trends. In this post for example; he wants “Multiculturalism”! It sounds pretty harmless. In fact even noble. But that is just the camel’s head in the tent! He wants the society to celebrate the very things that the secular societies fought so hard to resist. Let’s celebrate headscarves! May be we can let Muslims resolve some issues in their own, small family courts! Just small matters, you know! Now that we have accepted that; why not have a separate civil law for Muslims? Pluralism allows for that! Then we can start allowing them to pay “zakat” instead of taxes through IRS. It is after all money given to society!

  • Paganplace

    “This is called a slippery slope Paganplace!”A lot of things have been called ‘slippery slopes.’ People think allowing my life partner and me dignity and civil rights is a ‘slippery slope’ to their kids eloping with barn animals. Fear doesn’t make it true. The thing about slippery slopes that people always forget. It’s not about climbing up or sliding down. You traverse. So you can stand. And walk.

  • DOES IT MATTER

    Paganplace Trust me, you and your partner will have absolutely zero rights in THEIR world. It is not “fear” but a fact! We ( the strict secularists) are on your side chum; all these so called ‘holy” books have been pretty mean to “your people”

  • Arif

    Islam is a culture on its own, it allows none other. Multiculturalism is pushed and promoted by Muslims the most, it servers them the best. We never hear of Buddhists or Hindus promoting Multiculturalism or pluralism. Once this becomes a mandate then we’ll have little mosques in public schools, foot washers for Muslims in public schools/colleges, prayer rooms and special toilets for Muslims working in all businesses and offices, special foods for our Multicultural Plural Muslim friends. We also must allow them to drive with burkas (I have witnessed a tent driving a mini-van on an interstate!). Mandatory time off for Muslim workers for prayer breaks. How about allowing them to yell their prayers 5-times a day on those loudspeakers like in BFE? Muslim holidays, six year old girls wearing Hijabs for Allah in public – Multicultural why not? Censorship of the press; all too terrified to air someone’s point of view that a certain cults violent trends stem directly from Allah’s Koran.

  • Paganplace

    Get it, “Does it matter?” I know you’re afraid. Paranoid, even. We’re being Americans right now. And what matters to that is we stand with our honor and principles, even if it *means* being a little afraid or uncomfortable. *Accepting* the kind of risk that always comes of welcoming ‘strangers.’ No, no illusions about what people who treat the Koran much like many people with power over my life already treat the Bible would do. But they can only scare me so much, either. My ancestors didn’t come to America to *cower.* We stand for principles. With honor and welcome, and we darn well protect ourselves *against* any forces that would compromise our rights and liberties. We do *not* chicken out on those principles cause someone says that’ll make us safer. Home of the brave, remember? Let’s show a little backbone and meet the neighbors.

  • Arminius

    Paganplace, good replies to those here who do live in senseless fear. A voice of reason at last.For the most part, this thread proves Eboo’s point: by not embracing diversity, the vacuum here has been filled with ignorance, bigotry, and even a conspiracy theory – Creeping Islam. I have worked, recently, in a very diverse workforce. Fully 40% or more of the employees were non-Christian and non-white. It functioned better and more smoothly than any other bunch I have ever worked with. I loved it.Arminius

  • Paganplace

    Hey, Arminius. I was *just* thinking of you. Thanks. :) One of these days, an interfaith board will be able to discuss what an interfaith *dude* says. Then maybe we’ll see some America going on here.

  • DOES IT MATTER

    PAGANPLACEThen ask Ebrahim (Eboo) if he is willing to say that there are parts of his book that he is willing to denounce?But then again, you love to play with danger,don’t you? Have fun doing it.

  • DOES IT MATTER

    Dear PAGANPLACE, Ask them to do this and then come to the table and we shall break bread!

  • Paganplace

    Seriously. You really think I give a crap what brand name of theological overlord is supposed to do to me what they already did their level best to do to me, anyway?I’m for America. All of us. We the people. You. Me. My partner. Mr. Patel. Those wacky jealous Fundies, even. Win or even lose, we do this as Americans. Or you can stuff your fears and wars.Now, if you can get your lily liver down out the back of your throat, let’s talk to a Muslim American.

  • Paganplace

    Yes, btw. If you entertain some kind of fear Islam’s going to waltz into Southie and take over, they got another thing coming as well as you. This is about reality.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Lets solve it all at once!!!”Deflaw it all”- and there will be no Mecca, no Vatican, no holy places in Jerusalem and no Mormon Tabernacle leaving only great museums !!!

  • Paganplace

    Well, put it up for referendum, Concerned, and see what you get. In the meantime, Christians, Muslims, and mono-atheists clamoring at each other who’s hardest on little ol’ me neither scares nor impresses me…Meanwhile, back in real America, someone you won’t call Mr. Patel is trying to do something *constructive….*Focus, guys. You’re all about *reason,* right, Concerned? Surely you can read and discuss, right?

  • DOES IT MATTER

    One more thing PAGANPLACE, Remember, for every Christian fundamentalist; you see 5 Christian liberals. For every crazy nutjob Jew you get 5 pork eating Jews…( well, may be I will lower the bar.. forget Saudi Arabia, let her walk freely in the UK or the USA)

  • Rajni

    Interesting. Wonder what happens to diversity whereever Muslims are in majority? Saudi Arabia-the land of your “compassionate” and “tolerant” prophet is the most intolerant and violent culture in the world. So goes for almost all the other 50 Islamic nations.

  • joe803

    What’s up with all these crazy comments? It’s clear to me that bigotry is alive and well in the USA.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Rajni,I ditto your comments about the lack of religious diversity in Islamic countries i.e one of the major flaws of Islam.And note Eboo never, never comments about the the flaws of Islam. Some other major flaws of Islam:1. Belief in “pretty/ugly wingie thingies”.2. Belief that an hallucinating, illiterate Arab did actually talk to the “pretty Gabriel” in the hot “Gabe” cave and therein received the warmongering and anti-female words and resultant laws now listed in the koran.3. That Sunnis are superior to Shiites in all aspects of life. And Shiites think the same way about Sunnis. 4. That Islam is perfect and the koran inherently condones no sin even though the 24/7, 800 year-old blood feud between Sunnis and Shiites gives significant credence that greed, hate, suicides, assassinations, maiming, and murder are condoned by the koran. Having multiple wives also gives significant credence to the sins of rape, adultery, lust and polygamy. The condoned treatment of these wives gives credence that the koran allows the sins of hatred, anger and greed.

  • DOES IT MATTER

    forgot to mention, Not a big deal that Bart Ehrman has his job, what is wonderful is that he has it is a STATE ( tax payer funded; in NC where atleast a plurality of taxpayers are “the people of the good book”). That would be like Hirsi holding a Chair in “Islamabad University” or “Cairo University” would it not?

  • Paganplace

    “You are like this sparrow fighting her image in the mirror, picking fight with me instead of these so called “faithful”!”Is that what you see? Interesting. :) Speaking of mirrors and all, that is.

  • Paganplace

    “What’s up with all these crazy comments? It’s clear to me that bigotry is alive and well in the USA.”Probably safest to assume so, but I still can’t be sure this isn’t just post-mortem twitching. Darned if I can see a pattern of responsiveness. :)

  • Paganplace

    *patpat* Good boy, JJ. I’m sure someone’ll be along with your kibble any time, now. How brave you are.

  • HCP

    The author writes: “Diversity is a fact, and in America it’s not going away. The question is how to best engage the fact of diversity in a way that builds social capital and increases civic engagement.”Well, that’s one question. Another question, though, that is buried in this statement and not addressed by the author is how much more diverse the United States should become. Should immigration policy be implemented to bring a halt, whether temporary or permanent, to the importation of additional ‘diversity’? Should we have an immigration time-out to let us assimilate the current wave of diverse immigrants. These questions are just as important as the ones raised and addressed by the author.

  • Anonymous

    In 1991,george Bush senior mounted operation desert storm.Tens of thousands of Iraqis where killed in the war [200000 died in gulf war ,USAtoday,30may 1991].

  • Paganplace

    Topic?

  • Anti-CCNL

    CCNL and Rajni:The Hindu Caste system has a four fold division (1) Brahman (priests), (2) Kshatriya (warriors), Vaishya (business and traders}, and (4) Shudra (the craftsmen and farmers) plus a fifth one outside the four fold divisions of the Dalits (the untouchables).A person is born into this system and the membership is lifelong and no upward mobility is possible.For thousands of years each group has hated the others and discriminated against the Dalits. They burned the villages of Dalits and did consider even the shadow of Dalits “polluting”.Rajni writes his/her rants against Muslims and then CCNL dittos it.Who knows if the two are the same individuals or have formed a mutual admiration society.They are blatant in their diatribe against Muslims.There is no worse anti-diversity system in the world than the Hindu Caste system. They are still fighting elections based on this system–all in the name of “world’s largest democracy”.

  • Rajni

    Concerned the Christian…., in the last blog you were accused of being a “parrot” for repeating the same message. But it is the Muslims all over the world who act like a parrot and blow up civilians without any reason? You just point out the flaws.What is the reason for blowing up civilians in a food bazaar or a market place?Reason for 9/11? Beslan school massacre? Madrid, London, Mumbai… train massacres? Can not think of any reason, other than Muslims are acting like parrots and satisfying Allah and prophet.Regarding diversity: it is high time that we have a vis-a-vis immigration policy with Muslim nations. If a Muslim nation is not diverse, then the U.S. should stop immigration from that country. Just like the Dutch politician is suggesting.

  • steve

    Here’s how Muslims addressed “diversity:”Today’s religious map of the Middle East traces to the unification of the Arabian tribes under the banner of Islam in the 7th century, and their subsequent conquest of much of the known world. Muhammad’s genius was in finding a way to unite the myriad of fissiparous, feuding Bedouin tribes of northern Arabia into a cohesive polity. Just as he had provided a custom of rules under which the people of Medina could live together, so he enlarged that tradition for all Arabs, but this one had the imprimatur not just of Muhammad, but of an Allah, submission to whom called — Islam — spelled out in the Koran, bound Arabian tribesmen into the community of bedouin believers, the umma.Building on the tribal system of “balanced opposition,” Muhammad was able to frame an inclusive structure within which the tribes had a common, Allah-given identity as Muslims. But unification was only possible by creating a tribalized enemy against which Muslims could make common cause. This Muhammad did by opposing Muslims against infidels; and the dar al-Islam, the land of Islam and peace, against the dar al-harb, the land of infidels and conflict. Through the precepts of Islam, traditional Bedouin raiding was sanctified as an act of Islamic religious duty.With every successful battle against local unbelievers, especially after the critical early battle against the Meccans, more Bedouin joined the umma. Once united, the Bedouin warriors of the umma turned outward, destroying the world on the of jihad, holy war. The rest, as they say, is history.The Arabs, in lightning thrusts, challenged and beat the Byzantines to the north and the Persians to the east, both weakened by their continuous wars with one another, thus imposing their control over the Christian majority in the Levant and the Zoroastrian majority in Persia, and therefore over the entire Middle East. These stunning successes were rapidly followed by conquests of Christian and Jewish populations in Egypt, Libya and North Africa’s Maghreb (Arabic for “the West”), and, in the east, central Asia and the Hindu population of northern India. Not content with these triumphs, Arab armies invaded and subdued much of Christian Spain and Portugal, and all of Sicily. Since the Roman Empire, the world had not seen such power and reach. All fell before the Saracen blades.Most accounts of Islamic history, even that of the Lindholm’s esteemed The Islamic Middle East, glide over these conquests, as if they were friendly takeovers. But the truth was very different.The evidence is overwhelming that vast numbers of infidel male warriors and civilians were slain, and that most of those spared, particularly the women and children, were enslaved for domestic and sexual servitude. While men who willingly converted were spared, their wives and children were taken as slaves. In conquered regions, children were regularly taken from parents, while on the borders — especially in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Africa south of the Sahara — raiding for slaves was normal practice. Of the male slaves, a substantial number were made eunuchs by the removal of sex organs, in order to serve in harems. This account of the Arab campaign in northern India illustrates the usual procedures:”During the Arab invasion of Sindh (712 CE), Muhammad bin Qasim first attacked Debal; It was garrisoned by 4,000 Kshatriya soldiers and served by 3,000 Brahmans. All males of the age of 17 and upwards were put to the sword and their women and children were enslaved. “[Seven hundred] beautiful females, who were under the protection of Budh (that is, had taken shelter in the temple), were all captured with their valuable ornaments, and clothes adorned with jewels.” Muhammad dispatched one-fifth of the legal spoil to Hajjaj, which included 75 damsels, the other four-fifths were distributed among soldiers.”The multitude of reports from Muslim, indigenous and other sources of the Islamic conquests are equally detailed and equally daunting to a modern reader. It is true that throughout history intergroup relations in most of the world were exploitative and repressive, and not infrequently brutal and bloodthirsty. The world of Islam was not so much an exception to this, as exemplary of it.The theological foundation of the Arab Empire was the supremacy of the Arab Islam and the obligation of each Muslim to advance its domination. The notion of Jihad, in particular, served to establish the Muslim community’s permanent state of war against the dar al-harb until the infidels’ conclusive submission and the absolute world supremacy of Islam.Yet even as Islamic armies were coming to dominate the known world, fissures emerged within Islam, which would give rise to the bloody internecine battles that continue to this day in Iraq and elsewhere.Most notably, the relentless oppositions within tribal life have been reflected on a large scale in the battles between Sunni vs. Shiite, a battle originating in a squabble between closely related kin groups over the leadership of the Islamic empire following Muhammad’s death. Their divergent philosophical orientations are based on two tribal principles: Sunnism recognizes leaders based on an enforced consent; Shiism recognizes leaders based on descent. The continued anatagonism between the two groups constitutes one of the many ways in which the tribal spirit continues its dominance in the Middle East.Philip Carl Salzman is professor of anthropology at McGill University. This article is drawn from his forthcoming book, Culture and Conflict in the Middle East

  • DOES IT MATTER

    EbrahimIf you are advocating pluralism as it is practiced in say Canada (under the name “Multiculturalism”) or in India under “SarvaDharmaSamBhav”) you are wrong again as usual!The best thing going for America is its agnostic Diversity. Diversity here is neither an end nor a means to anything. It just happens as an accident of immigration. America has a strong libertarian streak to it and the immigrants who arrive here (and thrive) do carry that in them too. That is the expectation from them and they know it by and large!I understand why you would want pluralism. Your co-religionists are not really designed to integrate. They do not assimilate. They stand out like sore thumbs in every society that they immigrate to. Your religion forms your sole and all encompassing identity! You look for answers to every issue in your scripture. From innocuous sounding foot-washes and headscarves to ominous demands for Sharia!

  • Anonymous

    EbooThe only problem with your “celebrate diversity” theme is the Muslims.Americans have no problems with the Sikhs, Hindus, Bahais, Hari Krishnas, Buddhists, etc that do not act arrogant and create violence wherever they go. Muslims are the world’s BIGGEST HYPOCRITES…DEMANDING EQUALITY in the US, while giving NO EQUALITY to people of other religions in muslim countries. Even their associations based on Saudi Wahhabism promote lying to Americans and propaganda to give Americans a false sense of security. In America I was raised to value honesty but Muslims value lies as a legitimate means to an end. ISNA lies and says it promotes democracy, but in truth they advocate that Muslims EXPLOIT democracy until it can be replaced with Shariah law. What a disgusting cultural ethic. What a disgusting people to follow and many muslims do because so many are brainblind to reason. Being sneaky is what muslims think its all about. Why should anyone respect such parasites to society?Islam lacks the promotion of honesty and fairness with the rest of humanity, therefore they do not contribute to society only detract from it.Its not Islamophobia. It is the truth derived from observing the disgusting lack of ethics amongst muslims. These people know not the meaning of decency or respect for humanity.The BEHAVIOR of Muslims reveals WHO they are. You don’t need Eboo to try to whitewash their miserable lack of ethics and ways of deceit.Don’t ever be stupid enough to accept the propaganda of these liars. Muslims will be able to intigrate into American society when muslim countries SHOW that they understand the value of integration and can offer respect and security to people of other faiths and races.As long as they ACT like ignorant barbarians, they can expect to be treated as such.

  • BGone

    The whole idea behind religion is to make everyone identical. Not much diversity allowed in Islam is there?The whole idea behind ecumenical is to make everyone identical. Not much diversity allowed by, “unless you accept Jesus Christ…” is there? Muslims are very diverse, just like Christians.How about Jews, Buddhist and Hindi? Do they promote diversity?Religion is not the solution, it’s the problem.

  • Malcolm

    We should be extremely thankful that the Jews progressed beyond the lunatic theology of Moses. The world would really be screwed up with fanatic muslims and Moses-era Jews running loose.

  • Paganplace

    Topic, assuming some *reasonable* people are trying to live, here?

  • James

    A trip to the supermarket in my suburb of Chicago – Naperville – that has become a veritable Tower of Bible over the last few decades – Latinos, Poles, East Indians, Chinese, Russians etc. etc. – has become a rather grim experience. Everyone does seem to have withdrawn into their own little bubble. Very different from the same place before this tsunami of immigration when I was growing up here in the 60′s and 70′s. The small gestures that ease tension under crowded conditions – a Hello, a smile, saying “excuse me” are gone. Then there’s their traffic etiquette. The situation has gone too far.

  • James

    I meant Tower of Babel.

  • Anti-CCNL

    DOES IT MATTER:Oh, you forgot to mention Manu, the father of the Caste system. Manu emphasized that the Bramans represent (or originated) from the head, the Kshatriya from the arms, the Vaish from the stomach and the Shudra from the legs. The only thing left is the feet which symbolizes the Dalit (untouchables).The fanatic Hindus are in full force here. They are seeking alliances with other evil forces like CCNL, A. Kafir etc. etc.If you want to consider me to be a friend then start expressing hatred against Muslims. If you be fair, only then you can be my friend.

  • DOES IT MATTER

    JamesOne would have made the exact same statement around the turn of 19th century. Just change Naperville to New York and change “Latinos Poles, east Indians and Russians” to “Jews, Irish & Italians”

  • Anti-CCNL

    DOES IT MATTER:Oh, you forgot to mention Manu, the father of the Caste system. Manu emphasized that the Bramans represent (or originated) from the head, the Kshatriya from the arms, the Vaish from the stomach and the Shudra from the legs. The only thing left is the feet which symbolizes the Dalit (untouchables).The fanatic Hindus are in full force here. They are seeking alliances with other evil forces like CCNL, A. Kafir etc. etc.If you want to consider me to be a friend then stop expressing hatred against Muslims. If you be fair, only then you can be my friend.

  • DOES IT MATTER

    anti CCNL,

  • George in Alaska

    Pagan Place: Curious as to why you do not post original comments rather than ragging on what everybody posts? Oddly, you refer to what you have had to suffer with your “partner”, but that is a choice that you have made; therefore, you bear the consequences. It is not like being born a certain color and suffering for it. Having a people populate us who’s religion dictates that they rule over us, or kill us if we are a Xian or Jew – means I’d be killed (which I do not fear) – but I do not want to leave my country to my family in such a state. Of course we can rub elbows with the Islamic Americans, those already here; they have integrated for the most part. Their brothers overseas by the millions are waiting to come over until they have enough of a population, and that is the threat, the continued immigration of Muslims without consideration for how many we have in the US overall.

  • Anonymous

    The fact is that for Western world pluralism is a very new phenomenon and they are finding it very hard to digest it. Their democracy has been monolingual, mono-religious and mono-cultural. As far as political democracy is concerned it is well established but freedom of opinion and differences of opinion are confined merely to political sphere and within the frame- work of mono-religious and mono-cultural situation. For Asians, on the other hand, pluralism has been the way of life. They have lived and co-existed with different religions harmoniously. Even in the absence of political democracy tolerance towards other religions and cultures has been their way of life. We do not find bloodshed in Asian countries between followers of different religions throughout medieval ages. In the West, on the other hand, though there has been political democracy and tolerance for political differences, its record on religious and cultural tolerance has not been very glorious. Since political democracy demands tolerance and freedom of opinion, they tried to apply it to religious and cultural field too but I am afraid, not with very great success. Below the skin they remain mono-religious and mono-cultural. There is one more dimension to this problem. West has never been very comfortable with Islam and Muslims. It was always seen as a religion of the alien, and hostile alien, at that. France with all its democratic and secular values interpreted secularism within a very narrow French framework it became very uncomfortable with hijab worn by school girls and at last the Central Government banned it. How the hijab worn by schoolgirls could be a threat to French secularism, we fail to understand. In fact hijab was only a symbol. Behind it they saw Islam as a threat. In all European countries, Muslims are recent migrants and are perceived as double threat – as migrant and as Muslim. All migrants make natives uncomfortable and more so if they belong to a religion or culture perceived to be hostile. Prof. Huntington of Harvard had given vent to the western feelings when he wrote Clash of Civilizations. Western countries were compelled to allow Asian and African migrants as they were experiencing acute shortage of human-power after Second World War but once migration reached saturation point and economic downturn began tensions began to surface and in many countries racial riots broke out. There is yet another factor: these Asian and African migrants soon realised they are condemned to remain on margins of western society. They do not get opportunities for better and well paid jobs and their children, out of frustration, take to drug or crime or to violence further reinforcing the images of violent outsider. The rejection becomes more intense leading to more tensions. Recent disturbances in France, which continued for several months between the police and young Africans, proves the point. Since there is so much hostility between Western Christians and migrant Muslims, it erupts in different ways. The recent cartoons and caricature of the Prophet should also be seen in this light. The events of 9/11 have only aggravated the whole situation. Be it Salman Rushdie affair or the cartoons published in the Newspaper of Denmark, it is part of same phenomenon. Deep prejudices against Islam and Muslims spring up in different forms and are defended in the name of press freedom. Many Western leaders like Bush and Kofi Annan have admitted that one cannot disregard religious sensibilities in the name of freedom of opinion. I need not say that freedom of opinion cannot be absolute as many Westerners maintain. One cannot defend right to abuse others or caricature founders of religion in the name of freedom of press or freedom of opinion. One can concede that west is much more secularised and Muslim world is not. Let us not forget that West has taken more than three centuries to secularise and this process of modernisation and secularisation has begun only in last few decades. Cultural differences are there but these differences should not be depicted as hostile resulting in clashes. Muslim world is still far behind in the field of science and technology. As pointed out above when west with all its progress has not been able to shed its prejudices and hostile perceptions, how can one expect it from the Islamic world?

  • George in Alaska

    Anonymous:You make several cogent points. The last few lines of your post does mention the “prejudice” and “hostile perceptions” of the west. Please answer me this: do we in the west march in the streets chanting and screaming for the death of muslims and in particular your political leaders? No, yet that is not an uncommon sermon preached frequently by your “holy” men. We pigs and dogs, jews and christians, must die according to them. Also, how many planes have we flown into your major cities intentionally bringing down the largest buildings in a time of peace, all in the name of your religion? NEVER!!!As for the cartoons, the Da Vinci Code was and is an afront to most christians who are committed to the Bible and I whole heartedly disagree with it’s portrayal of Jesus and abhore it. I have not, however, marched violently against the author, the movie theaters, etc. nor to I know anybody who has, personally. In this country, the rights of those to show the movie were protected. Would that happen in ANY Muslim country of the Danish cartoons?I think not.

  • Arif

    George In Alaska says “Having a people populate us who’s religion dictates that they rule over us, or kill us if we are a Xian or Jew – means I’d be killed (which I do not fear) – but I do not want to leave my country to my family in such a state. “When you mention not being afraid of being killed I begin to wonder, Muslims say that often. I have to admit (sheepishly) I am afraid of being killed; I am not ready to lay down my life…yet. Therefore, I make certain choices while living only to make sure I die of old age. Having said that, I feel Islam is a threat to modern civilization. Muslims lie to promote their faith, when the faith reaches a “promoted/preferred” status through Pluralism and Multiculturalism the lie will cease and the other jihad will begin. I seem to prefer the radical Muslim; at least his intentions are clear. It is the “scholar” I worry about. I would not want my children to witness such a state of affairs. It takes a generation or so for Islam to gain roots. Once that state is achieved the other Jihad begins, I do hope by now you know which Jihad I am referring to.

  • George in Alaska

    Arif: I agree with you wholeheartedly. I am not afraid to die for my faith, is what I mean, though I’d also rather go out of old age. That being said, it is obvious that Islam has it’s not so hidden agenda and that once they have a critical mass in enough cities around the country, the demonstrations for concessions here and there for sharia law will begin, then they will escalate into more and more militant demonstrations, then the full fledged Jihad. In the meantime, we will have let so many in that it will be difficult to close the borders to them at all. That is why we need to take action to severely limit immigration now. The “educated” and professional Muslims are the ones who talk politically correctly and only lay the groundwork for those more radical to follow.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Anon, Anon, Anon,The West as you call us has always be wary of Islam’s intentions because of the foundations of Islam. History has shown that our concern is and was justified.The foundation of Islam:Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/ hallucinating/ plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added “angels” aka “pretty wingie thingies” and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers. Recent history:This agenda continues as shown by the assassination of Bhutto, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, and the Filipino “koranics”.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Anon, Anon, Anon wherever you are,The Gulf War was fought to free Islamic Kuwait from the warmongering Saddam Hussein. From Wikipedia:”The Gulf War or Persian Gulf War (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991)[8][9] was a conflict between Iraq and a coalition force from 34 nations[10] authorized by the United Nations (UN) and led primarily by the United States in order to return Kuwait to the control of the Emir of Kuwait.”No invasion, no war, no deaths, no corrupt Oil for Food program, and the normal infant mortality rate!!!

  • mo

    world delusionism.the idolism who been hanging on the cross for the last 2000+years for the sin and saftey and the integration of mankind?????????????????.the newly discoverd idolism (democracey) who also died for the sin and safety and integration of mankind????????????????????????????????.both delusionism proved failure ,just look at the world status quo ,those who are leading the world right now are those who they embrace the above delusionism .

  • Paganplace

    “Curious as to why you do not post original comments rather than ragging on what everybody posts?”*laugh* Actually, I often do. See somewhere below. It’s just hard to hear it when these topics turn into the same old “Muslim-bashing” threads. I’m not comfortable with what some of the Koran says can or should be done to me than I am with similar passages in the Bible others want to rule me with. I know you’d rather Muslim Americans went away or something, …but the fact is they’re here, among many other groups with many different beliefs and appearances and ways, and the *real* issue is what Mr. Patel is generally trying to address: How do we understand and *get along* with each other?And that’s a whole lot more productive than all this shouting and recrimination and trying to ‘prove’ someone must be bad people cause you’d rather think it’s that simple than actually deal with them.

  • Bill Mosby

    There are different kinds of diversity.Diversity of skin color, ethnic and national origins, religion, culture, financial status – these are facts of life that don’t have to be detrimental to social well-being.Diversity of behavior, values, and interests can cause distrust and alienation. Language diversity is foremost among the differences that can cause problems, because it literally makes understanding of behavior, values, and interests among people of diverse backgrounds more difficult.When we all can communicate adequately, we can begin the process of becoming comfortable and trusting in those other areas. And that’s largely up to the newcomers. Or else those who are here, including previous newcomers, will have to spend most of our remaining time learning new languages.

  • Etou

    Eboo,As always, you give an interesting analysis of contemporary pluralism. As a mathematician, the issues you’re describing with respect to Putnam et al. remind me of something called a “negative feedback loop.” My impression here is that diversity isn’t so much a cause of decreased social capital as it is a factor that can accelerate social capital that’s already on the wane. If people are less connected to each other, then differences in race and religion can increase the disconnectedness, even if they might contribute positively in a more connected world.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Paganplace,You have been drinking too much of the “voodoo juice” of Islam if you think the Muslim message is one of peaceful coexistence. Keep in mind the following famous quote and you will not need any more guidance:”Until the koran is deflawed, no one is safe!!!!”

  • Paganplace

    I didn’t say I did, Concerned. You know darn well I’ve no particular use for Muslim religion, but this is an American man who’s speaking. Your constant braying that everything else in the world but your apparently-compulsive insults need to be ‘deflawed,’ however, you could go do alone and let the big kids talk about something productive. Gods.

  • Paganplace

    Do I have to repeat and emphasize that, Concerned? He’s an American man. With some ideas on diversity issues. That we could talk about. Not the entire Muslim world, history, or the embodiment of any particular reading of the Koran.

  • Bev

    Well seems like to me, Mr. Patel, that this country is not ready to embrace diversity. Indeed, from the postings, diversity appears to rank up there with the concept of original sin – or at least with flag-burning. Amazing the degree of intolerance that has bubbled to the American surface since 9/11

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    PaganPlace,I stand by my statement:”You have been drinking too much of the “voodoo juice” of Islam if you think the Muslim message is one of peaceful coexistence. “The “To the point” History of Islam:Mohammed, an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added “angels” and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers. The recent agenda:The assassination of Bhutto, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, and the Filipino “koranics”.The money behind the agenda:The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni “Wannabees” of Saudi Arabia.

  • bcsal

    “Those of us who are not David Duke, and think diversity is a positive thing, still need to take Putnam’s findings seriously.”So, Eboo, you just admitted that if someone disagrees with you, they are automatically on the level of David Duke. Way to objectively examine both sides.

  • DOES IT MATTER

    Bev

  • Steve

    Hey Pagan Place – I see your point, but the trust and openness that you advocate is just what Eboo & his ISNA pals exploit.He and they are counting on your American liberalism to play you for a fool and advocate slipping in, little by little, special rights for Muslims, like special family courts and prayer areas in public buildings like airports and bus terminals. But that’s the small stuff – what they really want is to make the US Constitution a meaningless addendum to Shariah law. The goals of Eboo’s pals are ripe with treason. And his “face of Islam” President of the corrupt Egyptian Brotherhood. That dear, sweet girl is there to lie to you and make Islam look so pretty and harmless.I admire your open ways, but be wise, not somebody’s fool.Did you not hear the latest from Gaza TV for little muslims. A child stabbing Bush and putting a mosque where whitehouse used to be.Believe me, there are times I’ve felt like taking a stab at the politicians myself, but I would never advocate hate and violence and brainwashing a child as Muslims do. A child is too young to discern a metaphorical stabbing from a hatefilled and bloody act of violence.These people lie and teach hate. That is uncivilized, therefore they should be restricted from civilized societies.

  • Steve

    Pagan Place wrote:I’m not comfortable with what some of the Koran says can or should be done to me than I am with similar passages in the Bible others want to rule me with. I know you’d rather Muslim Americans went away or something, …but the fact is they’re here, among many other groups with many different beliefs and appearances and ways, and the *real* issue is what Mr. Patel is generally trying to address: How do we understand and *get along* with each other?And that’s a whole lot more productive than all this shouting and recrimination and trying to ‘prove’ someone must be bad people cause you’d rather think it’s that simple than actually deal with them.From Steve:I like the way you think Pagan Place. You’re a person who seeks realistic solutions. Yet the “Brotherhood” groups are going to try everyway they can to EXPLOIT our liberties. That is what they do, the record shows.So let’s be practical. How should we deal with the Muslims here, many of whom are honorable and not a part of the treacherous Wahhabi lobby and their many affiliates.Well, I propose:1) Outlawing the Egyptian Brotherhood as so wisely done in Egypt, along with all other known radical groups that support terrorism, actively or financially.2) Removing the tax-exempt status on all religious property and activity. Bring their shady financial dealings under the auspices of the IRS.3) Religious schools must comply with federal laws and have open financial books. The latest is Muslims funneling money to Hamas and Hizbillah through Islamic schools. It seems that they have no ethical problem with exploiting children and their educational system. Oh yes, the corrupt lobby has a financial overlord and many schools under its umbrella. 4) Groups like MAS and MSA must not be permitted to sponsor speaking engagements where their key criminal thugs inspire others to be criminal thugs. One of their key speakers is a co-conspirator to the World Trade Center bombing. This is the kind of inspiring leader the “Brotherhood” present as an Islamic example to their youth. Radical groups spawned from Saudi funding like MSA should not be permitted on any campus.Now this means ofcourse that ALL religious groups must forego the same rights.You see, when we are dealing with those who exploit our freedoms, we are the ones who lose too as we must restrict our own freedoms to keep their treachery in check.It is sad. These are not spiritual people or even religious people but societal parasites who cause us all grief. Now, I hear cries of Islamophobia from the galley. Well why then if the problem is not caused by Muslims themselves, why do we live so harmoniously with our Hindu and Sikh neighbors.The answer: Because they are not exploiters who have come to destroy our system and replace it with theirs.The other religious groups act honorably and comply with the “Live and let live” policy that makes pluralism viable.But Pagan Place, if you’ve got any solutions, I’m listening.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s another example of Islam’s beautiful diversityToday’s news: 04/01/08A report posted on Islam Watch, a site run by Muslims who oppose intolerant teachings and hatred for unbelievers, exposes a prominent Islamic cleric and lawyer who support extreme punishment for non-Muslims — including killing and rape.A question-and-answer session with Imam Abdul Makin in an East London mosque asks why Allah would tell Muslims to kill and rape innocent non-Muslims, including their wives and daughters, according to Islam Watch.”Because non-Muslims are never innocent, they are guilty of denying Allah and his prophet,” the Imam says, according to the report. “If you don’t believe me, here is the legal authority, the top Muslim lawyer of Britain.”The lawyer, Anjem Choudary, backs up the Imam’s position, saying that all Muslims are innocent.Click here to watch the interview with Islamic lawyer Anjem Choudary.”You are innocent if you are a Muslim,” Choudary tells the BBC. “Then you are innocent in the eyes of God. If you are not a Muslim, then you are guilty of not believing in God.”Choudary said he would not condemn a Muslim for any action.”As a Muslim, I must support my Muslim brothers and sisters,” Choudary said. “I must have hatred to everything that is not Muslim.”

  • Paganplace

    ” Steve:Hey Pagan Place – I see your point, but the trust and openness that you advocate is just what Eboo & his ISNA pals exploit.”We have to be strong in our openness and ideals of freedom, Steve. Fear and ignorance are much *easier* to exploit.Alienating people from the America we love does not help.

  • FAN

    here are some markers from UK( look at mcb.org for a detail study) Performance & Innovation Unit, Cabinet Office – Ethnic Minorities in the Labour Market (UK)*Muslim men of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin are disproportionately unemployed compared to other Asians. Even after allowances for education and residential area, Pakistani Muslims are three times more likely to be jobless than Hindus are. Indian Muslims are twice as likely to be unemployed than Indian Hindus are. *Black and Indian pupils have achieved a significant improvement in GCSE results over the past two years. From 1998 – 2000, the percentage of African Caribbean youngsters achieving five or more A*-C grades has risen from 29 to 37, while the proportion of Indian pupils getting top grades has leapt from 54% to 62%. A group defined as “other Asian” which includes Chinese pupils, also showed impressive gains. Last year, 70% got five or more top passes, up from 61% two years ago. However, a fall in achievement among Bangladeshi pupils from 33% to 30% and a below average rise in the performance of Pakistani children means the gap between the highest and lowest achieving ethnic groups has widened.*48% of Muslims supported faith schools within the state sector, compared to 26% of Church of England (White) respondents, & 13% Hindu respondents.*Perinatal mortality rate amongst Pakistani mothers is 16%, twice UK average

  • Rational

    DOES IT MATTER:Why do you insist to express your prejudice through your ignorance? For the sake of argument (I don’t mean to demean any religion), consider the following facts:(1) The poorest country of the world and the Western hemisphere is a Christian country–Haiti.(2) The Philippines is a Christian country of Asia and among some of the poorest in the world.(3) The Christian Latin America is far less developed and has a lower standard of living than Dubai, S. Arabia, Kuwait, Malaysia and Indonesia.Think about your destructive thought. You are just an ignorant brat.

  • Wow! Beautiful insight & outsight!

    ATT: Malcolm:March 31, 2008 11:50 PM

  • Anti-CCNL

    CCNL wrote:” Concerned The Christian Now Liberated:anti-cnnl,Thumping of the koran and bible have been going on for many a millenium. To cure this requires therefore thumping of the truth for the same many a millenium. Get used to it!!!!”Response:I think you are a shallow person who is only semi-literate and therefore has no capacity for a civil dialog. All you can do is repeat like a parrot or you suffer from EXCESSIVE, COMPULSIVE, Personality DISORDER.By the way the plural of millenium is millenia.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Note how Eboo never, never comments about the the flaws of Islam. If he ever does, maybe some of the violent Sunni-Shiite diversity in Islam will disappear. Until then,”Until the koran is deflawed, no one is safe!!!”

  • Paganplace

    Hi, JJ. All that barely-understood physics, divine revelation, and still with the sexuality issues? You may note I’m the only one who occasionally talks to you, at this point. What will you have if I go away? :)

  • Anti-CCNL

    Concerned The Christian Now Liberated:Notice CCNL has learned parroting the same words and like a parrot repeats it again and again.That is why some people wonder if he suffers from EXCESSIVE, COMPULSIVE, PERSONALITY DISORDER.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    anti-cnnl,Thumping of the koran and bible have been going on for many a millenium. To cure this requires therefore thumping of the truth for the same many a millenium. Get used to it!!!!

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Anti-CCNL,The first four major flaws and errors of Islam (632-2008 CE): (to be repeated five times a day for the next millennium and “many a millennium” after that):1. Belief in “pretty/ugly wingie thingies”.2. Belief that an hallucinating, illiterate Arab did actually talk to the “pretty Gabriel” in the hot “Gabe” cave and therein received the warmongering and anti-female words and resultant laws now listed in the koran.3. That Sunnis are superior to Shiites in all aspects of life. And Shiites think the same way about Sunnis. 4. That Islam is perfect and the koran inherently condones no sin even though the 24/7, 800 year-old blood feud between Sunnis and Shiites gives significant credence that greed, hate, suicides, assassinations, maiming, and murder are condoned by the koran. Having multiple wives also gives significant credence to the sins of rape, adultery, lust and polygamy. The condoned treatment of these wives gives credence that the koran allows the sins of hatred, anger and greed.

  • Paganplace

    Yadda, yadda, yadda.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    It is obvious from the 800 year blood feud between Shiites and Sunnis that there is no diversity allowed in Islam.

  • Paganplace

    “It was an attempted suicide. Pyotr put his head on a tree stump and started hitting his head with a log.”Sounds like most apocalyptic beliefs to *me.*

  • James

    I beleive that Religion is divisive. I also beleive the belief in a God, an entity that you beseach, is asinine. I beleive beleif itself, in the supernatural is downright stupid. Anyone who beleives in God is weakminded and perpetuates a vicious stupidty that has wreaked havoc upon mankind. It’s time for rational sane people, people who understand anthropology, who have read Joseph Campbell, etc. to no longer sit idly by as the idea of God is floated. This massive ignorance must be shown to be what it is. Complete nonsense. Enough is enopugh. The sane amongst us will no longer tolerate beibg held hostage by crakckpots like you, the author of this idiotic “Religion” column. Grow up punk!

  • Ant-CCNL

    The major flaw in your personality is schizophrenia, sitting on your computer at 3:00 A.M. to post a parroting sentence or two.

  • perspective

    Anon – Jonah Goldberg ain’t no liberal and that’a a fact. As for the Darwin fish, I’d much rather see a recumbant human outline with DARWIN smack in the middle. Let the Christians have the Jesus fish – the Age of Aquarious needs Darwin. Check your astrology book….Pisces is in retrograde and Aquarious is upon us. Loaves, fishes, walking on water, and miracles in the desert are all so yesterday. Get with the program!! The Age of Reason is upon us. Give science a chance. Secular Humanism = the Age of Aquarious.

  • ASTROLOGY IS SCIENCE NOW?

    ????????????????????????????????????????????????

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