Sunday, March 27, 2016

Literally Every Muslim Country

In an impassioned takedown of Sally Kohn's rhetoric, the following statement was made in a previous post:

"Literally every muslim country on the planet is embroiled in conflict, and the problem is so dire that Nobel prizes are given to anybody that is willing to put down a gun or fortunately managed to survive an assassination attempt."

A conscientious reader objected - it must be noted that challenges like these is what makes writing interesting in the first place:

Even if we consider countries with "skirmishes and clashes that kill less than 100 people a year" to be "at conflict," there are still plenty of Muslim-majority countries that aren't at conflict. Just to name a few: Albania, Morocco, Malaysia, Jordan, Oman, Mauritania, Senegal, and Kazakhstan.
If we use a more sensible definition and only consider conflicts that kill at least 1,000 people in a year, then only about 10 out of the 50 Muslim-majority countries in the world are in conflict. That's terrible, but to say that "ever Muslim country in the world is in conflict" is still beyond ridiculous.

While the reasonable thing to do would be to backtrack from the possibly exaggerated use of the word "literally", the entertaining thing to do is to double-down and defend the idea that indeed literally every muslim country has a real problem with Islamist conflict.

For example, Senegal arrested 500 people while investigating a network related to attacks in Mali and Burkina Faso. Typically the detention of 500 people can reasonably be labelled a "conflict".

As for Morocco, it's own share of Islamist terror attacks. Authorities in Morocco, a country of only 30 million and the ancestral home of the Brussels attackers, are probably not waiting until the death toll reaches 1000 annually to realize that it has a problem. Similarly, few are planning a destination wedding in Jordan.

Mauritania had a coup d'├ętat in 2008, killed some French tourists in 2007, and blew up bombs outside the French embassy in 2009.

Kazakhstan manages Islamists by deporting people that it thinks proselytize too much. The approach taken is not too far from that of neighboring Tajikistan, which apparently took to shaving the beards of 13,000 to battle "radicalism". Apparently a nation can become an idyllic Islamic republic by managing religion as Donald Trump would.

It is true that Malaysia is quite peaceful, which can be credited to Malaysia's vigilance, tolerance, and success in keeping Valentine's day in check.

Last on the list of muslim countries that apparently have their head on straight are Oman and Albania, accounting for a sum total of six million people existing in comically dysfunctional states.

Given all this, it seems more than fair to describe the entire muslim world as a series of countries that are failed states. A nation in this set can only qualify as a success story when viewed in the "context" of the disaster that surrounds many of them. That is, good marks are only granted when graded on the curve made only of other muslim nations.

Perhaps it is unfair to say "literally every muslim country is embroiled in conflict". More accurate may be to say "literally every muslim country is embroiled in careless corrosive chauvinist corpulence".

View of countries aside, the comment also contained a criticism of the claim that 1% of Belgian muslim men of fighting age have joined ISIS:

Your calculations assume that Belgian Muslims have the same age distribution as the general Belgium population. Given that A) many Belgian Muslims are immigrants and B) Belgian Muslims have a higher birth rate than non-Muslim Belgians, that is almost
certainly incorrect.

Also, given that 2/3 of American and 31% of British Islamic terrorists have been converts, it seems likely that a significant portion of Belgian ISIS fighters weren't Muslim before they joined ISIS.
Absolutely correct - if the Belgian muslim population is not fixed to the Belgium's published population pyramid, then the calculation changes. And born-again bombers do change the calculations even more. This is even more reason for papers to do the "problematic" math and gather the relevant data instead of merely chanting about the moderate "1.6 billion muslims" that are said to exist some number of thousands of miles away.

An analysis of converts would be particularly interesting, as it may turn out that the number of David Headleys and Jihad Johns far outnumber the "marginalized" fighters that liberal journalists like to believe inhabit Islamist circles.

It is not recommend to hold one's breath while waiting for these survey results.

Fixing the New York Times' stupid chart

For quite some time the New York Times has been a fan of a specific visualization that it hopes explain the threat Islamists pose to Americans.

The visual:

The big absurdity in this is that the assumption is that Americans don't exist outside the bounds of the United States. In reality, Americans register about 30 million overseas trips a year. That's about the entire state of Texas deciding to hop on a plane and leave the continent, every single year.

So what happens when one starts counting American citizens killed abroad by jihadists?

A short crappy analysis of recent attacks globally (fixed to NYTimes' timescale) and excluding Iraq and Afghanistan, yields the following table of fatalities which is definitely an underestimate:

2002 Bali Bombings (7)
2002 Daniel Pearl (1)
2002 Zamboanga City bombings (1)
2003 Riyadh car bombings (9)
2004 Riyadh compound bombings (9)
2004 Shooting in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia (2)
2005 Bali bombings  (6)
2006 Karachi car bombing (David Foy) (1)
2008 Mumbai attacks (David Headley charged with killing 6) (6)
2012 Yemen shooting of English teacher (1)
2012 Benghazi (4)
2015 Bombing in Garoowe, Somalia (1)
2015 November Paris attacks (1)
2016 Brussels attacks (2)
2016 Tel Aviv knife attack (1)

Adding this to the NYTimes data, we get the following yearly running total counts:

2002 : 2 domestic + 9 overseas = 11
2003: 2 domestic + 18 overseas = 20
2004: 2 domestic + 27 overseas = 29
2005: 2 domestic + 33 overseas = 35
2006: 3 domestic + 34 overseas = 37
2007: 3 domestic + 34 overseas = 37
2008: 3 domestic + 40 overseas  = 43
2009: 17 domestic + 40 overseas = 57
2010: 17 domestic + 40 overseas = 57
2011: 17 domestic + 40 overseas = 57
2012: 17 domestic + 45 overseas = 62
2013: 21 domestic + 45 overseas  = 66
2014: 26 domestic + 45 overseas = 71
2015: 45 domestic + 48 overseas = 93
2016: 45 domestic + 51 overseas = 96

The actual graph then becomes something like: (Islamist attack fatalities in green)

The takeaway is that jihadis domestically killed as many as every other group of nutjobs combined, (racists, anti-abortionists, tax protesters...) and then managed at least double their casualty count in operations overseas. 

Hopefully one cannot be blamed for not having a New York Times graphics department to select the correct tone, hue and beautifully stitch the line together. Much more time was invested in actually compiling and thinking about the data, and even then the information is full of omissions - both accidental (the count of overseas deaths is actually closer to 87 when using Department of State data, eyeballing Wikipedia data is what resulted in a count of 51) and intentional.

An example of such intentional omission, in this chart and New York Times', is the deaths of Leila Mazloum, Leila Taleb, Hussein Mostapha. They were residents of Dearborn, Michigan that were killed in a bombing in Lebanon in 2015 -- however these deaths do not actually count. They do not count as the bombing did not happen in Michigan, and they do not count as none of them actually have citizenship. Therefore in the view of the New York Times, they are doubly not Americans.

An exercise for the reader (if not the New York Times graphics department) is to improve on this lazy correction and actually publish the experiences of Americans without the myopic, provincial view of what qualifies as the "real" "domestic" threat.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Fact Checking Sally Kohn

One cannot be faulted for not knowing who Sally Kohn is. For those that need an update, Sally Kohn is basically an off-brand Rachel Maddow. Kohn makes up for her lack of charm by being edgy and "factual" on Twitter.

One of these facts was shared recently:

The article, titled "Muslims Are Not Terrorists: A Factual Look at Terrorism and Islam" is filled with the usual falsehoods about Islam that have already been debunked. But let's go over all of them again, for Sally's sake.

The "facts":
1. Non-Muslims make up the majority of terrorists in the United States: According to the FBI, 94% of terrorist attacks carried out in the United States from 1980 to 2005 have been by non-Muslims. This means that an American terrorist suspect is over nine times more likely to be a non-Muslim than a Muslim. According to this same report, there were more Jewish acts of terrorism in the United States than Islamic, yet when was the last time we heard about the threat of Jewish terrorism in the media? For the same exact reasons that we cannot blame the entire religion of Judaism or Christianity for the violent actions of those carrying out crimes under the names of these religions, we have absolutely no justifiable grounds to blame Muslims for terrorism.

Absurd. As explained before, the data treats 9/11 as a single event - and every eco-terrorist "attack" as a single event. Perhaps Sally Kohn believes Greenpeace is as threatening as al-Qaeda.

2. Non-Muslims make up the majority of terrorists in Europe: There have been over one thousand terrorist attacks in Europe in the past five years. Take a guess at what percent of those terrorists were Muslim. Wrong, now guess again. It’s less than 2%.

Absurd for several reasons. If one follows the links from HuffPo to ThinkProgress to finally the EU paper cited, the data clearly does not come out in Islam's favor. For example, the Islamist attacks of recent memory managed to kill fifty-five times more people than all of the 152 "attacks" by non-muslims in 2013. Furthermore, the wishful figures do not include any analysis of arrest rates, which has been increasing for religiously motivated terrorists and decreasing for every other group.

To add insult to injury - like many of the figures cited about the United States, the European figures do not even bother counting deaths of Europeans killed by Islamists outside of Europe.

3. Even if all terrorist attacks were carried out by Muslims, you still could not associate terrorism with Islam: There have been 140,000 terror attacks committed worldwide since 1970. Even if Muslims carried out all of these attacks (which is an absurd assumption given the fact mentioned in my first point), those terrorists would represent less than 0.00009 percent of all Muslims. To put things into perspective, this means that you are more likely to be struck by lightening in your lifetime than a Muslim is likely to commit a terrorist attack during that same timespan.

Absurd.  Think of the conclusion of this. Essentially, the argument is that Islam could be responsible for all terrorism, and presumably also all FGM, polygamy, domestic violence, etc - yet still be blameless due to some entirely unexplained population-based moral reasoning. It's completely nonsense.

If one still accepts the premise anyways, applying the appropriate data controls results in a vastly different number. In the case of Belgium, as high as 1% of muslim men between 20 and 29 years old may have left to fight in Syria/Iraq. This is appropriate filter of those that have means and opportunity - Molenbeek does not become less of a problem simply because a HuffingtonPost blogger decided to put all the senior citizens in Indonesia in their chart.

4. If all Muslims are terrorists, then all Muslims are peacemakers: The same statistical assumptions being used to falsely portray Muslims as violent people can be used more accurately to portray Muslims as peaceful people. If all Muslims are terrorists because a single digit percentage of terrorists happen to be Muslim, then all Muslims are peacemakers because 5 out of the past 12 Nobel Peace Prize winners (42 percent) have been Muslims.

Absurd. Literally every muslim country on the planet is embroiled in conflict, and the problem is so dire that Nobel prizes are given to anybody that is willing to put down a gun or fortunately managed to survive an assassination attempt. If this makes one a peacemaker, then anyone that manages to at least keep the entrance of their apartment clean is then an impeccable homemaker.

5. If you are scared of Muslims then you should also be scared of household furniture and toddlers: A study carried out by the University of North Carolina showed that less than 0.0002% of Americans killed since 9/11 were killed by Muslims. (Ironically, this study was done in Chapel Hill: the same place where a Caucasian non-Muslim killed three innocent Muslims as the mainstream media brushed this terrorist attack off as a parking dispute). Based on these numbers, and those of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the average American is more likely to be crushed to death by their couch or television than they are to be killed by a Muslim. As a matter of fact, Americans were more likely to be killed by a toddler in 2013 than they were by a so-called “Muslim terrorist”.
When a drunk driver causes a car accident, we never blame the car manufacturer for the violent actions of that driver. This is because we understand that we cannot blame an entire car company that produces millions of safe vehicles just because one of their cars was hijacked by a reckless person who used it to cause harm. So what right do we have to blame an entire religion of over 1.6 Billion peaceful people because of the actions of a relatively insignificant few?

Pure ignorance. It's offensive, insulting and crazy to believe that Islamism isn't a problem until it approaches the accidental death rate in a country of 300 million people. Imagine if the Pope made an apologetic speech - "Things are bad, but statistically speaking your child is far more likely to be hit by a car than be raped by a priest." Truly winning hearts and minds.

Thankfully the United States is a very safe country - because it has a functioning government. Americans are more likely to be killed in mundane ways simply because the Department of Homeland Security and other organizations are at least somewhat effective. If planes, trains, drugs, automobiles, alcohol, chicken wings and toddlers happen to kill more people than Islamists, then please do call the NTSB, DEA, ATF, CPSC, FDA and CDC. It is the entire reason these organizations exist.

Americans may be Islamophobes or not - but let's not pretend that Americans are not also Salmonellaophobes. Recall that United States is ready to close borders and quarantine all the nurses just as soon as anyone says the word "ebola".

If Americans put focus on Islamism as they put on other issues, one would need to be 21 years old to enter a mosque. Chris Hansen would be asking catfished jihadis to have a seat. It is ultimately foolish to make the comparison between Islamism and "the real issues" when one does not fully grasp how much effort is put into "the real issues".

Muslims should be thanking Allah and all his silly prophets that they not treated like casual marijuana users. For it's comedy that while it's legal to circumcise one's sons and force women to wear uniforms, it's a very serious crime to sample cannabis.

Let's simply treat Islam as if it were an adult Justin Bieber. Irresponsible, narcissistic, and given too many excuses.

Is that so hard?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Disgraceful Exploitation and Lies

PZ Myers thinks people are out to get him again.

In a post titled "Disgraceful exploitation", PZ Myers writes:
A woman says she was raped by Neil deGrasse Tyson in grad school. She contacted me and asked me to share her story. But here’s the disgraceful exploitation that’s going on.
She did not know who I am, at all. She came to me because she was advised to…by slymepitters. The same people who have been indignant for years that women might speak out against harassers. They are trying to deploy this woman as a weapon.
Now, unfortunately, I looked at her story. I can’t say she’s wrong, and she’s definitely sincere, and I can’t rule out the possibility, but her supporting evidence is terribly weak: it’s her personal testimony, which I do not reject, with no other evidence. Her web page does not help her case at all, either — it’s a lot of astrology, and a scattering of youtube videos that are completely irrelevant to her claim. That’s it.
I told her that I won’t go on the record supporting her accusation, because there is no corroborating evidence at all to support it. I took her story seriously, read the case she made, and found no independent evidence to back up the claim that she even knew Tyson.
You can guess where this story is going next.
Now those same assholes are howling that I accepted the accusation against Shermer with no evidence, and that I’m not accepting this one because the victim is a black woman. They must believe their own lies.
I treated this case in exactly the same way as the one against Shermer. What these people have forgotten (or are intentionally lying about) is that before I posted that story, (Post Titled: "What do you do when someone pulls the pin and hands you a grenade?") I got independent evidence that the woman was at the conference, that she was interacting with Shermer, that she was in his hotel room — there was opportunity. I further got accounts of the distress the woman experienced afterwards. Without all that, I might have been willing to believe her, but I would not have been able to step forward and present her account as true, believable, and supported by witnesses.
It’s the same story here. I am willing to believe Tchiya Amet (although I’d rather not believe such a thing of Tyson), but there is no corroboration of any kind, and I cannot go before the public and state that a good case has been made that this crime occurred. It hasn’t.
But I can say that the exploitation of this woman’s pain by a group of people who have been consistent in denying the difficulties women face is one of the more cynically despicable acts I’ve seen them commit.

A comment on the post adds:

27 January 2016 at 10:30 am
Also PZ, the fact that this story is linked to the Slymepit is a huge flashing sign that it’s completely fabricated bullshit. That alone is enough to dismiss it out of hand.

PZ Myers wishes everyone to believe that this woman approaching him with her story is a frame-job setup by his enemies to demonstrate his hypocrisy. And it may be just that, but that wouldn't be a problem if PZ Myers took the opportunity to explain his approach to accusations of rape and sexual assault. This is what Myers attempted to do, but only managed to further confuse the matter.

PZ Myers would have you believe that his critics are "weaponizing" a possibly mentally ill woman to make a shallow point in a sordid drama.

The facts:

  1. PZ Myers literally profits off of every view of his blog post - his blog is unreadable without an ad blocker. If anybody has incentive to keep the disgusting drama going, it is PZ.
  2. PZ Myers had every opportunity to take the discussion with the accuser to a private forum. Instead, he chose a half dozen tweets and a blog post chastising his enemies. (Proving point #1)
  3. The accusation that critics are "weaponizing" rape victims is absurd and ironic as PZ Myers himself called the accusations he published against Shermer "a grenade". 
  4. Rape survivors relying on their story going out as a part of PZ Myers' pioneering reporting are about as successful as those that chose Sabrina Erdely (another known career-building weaponizer).
  5. PZ Myers actually dismisses the accuser's allegations in light of her supernatural views ("Her web page does not help her case at all, either — it’s a lot of astrology")
  6. There was again no mention of the allegations of sexual assault made against PZ Myers that he managed to quickly dismantle in a calculated way. 
  7. PZ Myers regularly references massacres of women only to use the memory of the victims to smear his opponents as violent and misogynistic. 
  8. The "Slymepit", labelled as creating "fabricated bullshit", was the forum of mischief that outed FreeThoughtBlogs' Avicenna - one of their most prolific writers - as a serial plagiarist. If anyone is truly in the bullshit fabrication business, it is FreeThoughtBlogs.

As much as we can dissect, we can rely on simple truths to describe PZ Myers' actions. PZ Myers won't throw his name behind this victim for the same reason that he's not supporting Elyse - the accuser has no one connected to Myers' inner cabal of "feminist" friends to vouch for her, so she may as well not exist.

Furthermore, there is the obvious matter that the accused - Neil deGrasse Tyson - is a diverse darling within the "community" that PZ Myers cannot afford to be seen to treat unfairly. There is no upside opportunity for Myers to sap NdGT's limelight, and a lot of downside if Myers' "progressive" compatriots happen to finally notice that Myers is a bearded white man with a superiority complex that makes side money by co-opting the lived experiences of marginalized women.

With over 200 comments in a matter of hours, Myers' post about this accusation may be the most visited article he's written in several months. 

What a selfless ally of women everywhere.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Rebecca's Richard Rage

A wonderfully funny thing has happened in the world of secular/skeptic drama - Richard Dawkins' foundation has been merged into the Center for Inquiry.

This event gave Rebecca Watson a reason to point out that Dawkins does not like her.

Quoting a recent post:
This is very exciting news for me, because it means I no longer need to wonder whether I’ll ever be invited back to a CFI event again. No! The answer is no.
Speaking of Richard Dawkins refusing to allow me to be invited to events where he is speaking, for the many years I performed at the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism (NECSS), which began as a live show on my former podcast, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, the organizers could never quite convince Dawkins to attend. Well, I quit SGU and now NECSS has announced that the first conference they’ve planned since my exit will feature Richard Dawkins as the keynote.
In conclusion, the skeptic/atheist sphere is an embarrassing shitshow and the organizations will continue polishing Richard Dawkins’ knob until he dies, at which point he will be sainted and his image will be put on candles and prayed to in times when logic is needed.

This is rather humorous as Watson is again restating her arguments made several years ago (it is highly recommended to read this recap of events) that didn't make a lot of sense then and have not gained any more seriousness. For as Watson wishes one to believe what the CFI will do next is basically synonymous with a boycott. When in fact Watson is presumably allowed to attend CFI events like any other person. The shame comes about as Watson believes herself entitled to be a celebrity of equal measure as any other speaker that would receive a paid invitation.

The simple reality is that Watson and Dawkins have a mutual dislike and do not enjoy each other's company. Dawkins is not being invited to Watson's "Quiz-o-tron", which must be an abuse of equal measure as Watson's shows must be as good as any other speaker session. It's important to maintain a sense of equality in these affairs.

It is not that Watson desires a panel seat beside Dawkins, it is that she desires the opportunity to decline one in protest. Turning down an invite would be a nice followup to Watson's boyfriend dumping the CFI in "it's not me, it's you" way not too long ago. Now the CFI can presumably be thought of as an organization that Dawkins has committed an even greater amount of his resources to. For as much good as inviting this drama will do, Watson may as well criticize universities that name buildings after big donors.

This is of course in Watson's eyes choosing to "continue polishing Richard Dawkins’ knob", which is imagery that is not surprising coming from a group that has a habit of miming blowjobs at their own parties when they are not ridiculing the sexual prowess of critics. Snarky social media feminists find nothing as alluring as a dongle joke that "punches up".

The confusing thing about Watson's position is that she is no stranger to mutual dislike within the secularist community. In fact, she's had more toxic quarrels with former female colleagues. That Richard Dawkins is blameworthy in this dispute is to not grasp just how rare it is for these obtuse opinionated oafs to get along.

Richard Dawkins, while being oftentimes correct, can definitely be a honey-loving diva. Yet one can still hope that these two sides of the many-sided "schism in skepticism" can make amends.

It would be entertaining to get the divas back together again.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Three Horsebros: A Defense of Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris

One of the upsides of arguing with strangers on Twitter is one is occasionally invited to challenge articles.

In a post titled "Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins just don’t get it: The real reason(s) progressives can’t stand them", Adam Johnson states the case against Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Bill Maher.

Some snippets:
Firstly, no one thinks “Islam is a protected species” as Maher put it. This is a typical strawman New Athiest employ. Dawkins doesn’t go after “all religions” equally. Quite the opposite, he has said that Islam is uniquely sinister, referring to it as “unmitigated evil“, on numerous occasions. Accusations of bigotry against Dawkins, therefore, are not selective in favor of Islam, they are areaction to his selective, repeated highlighting of it – fair or not. Secondly, this position is dripping with libertarian false equivalency. The “I criticize all religions equally” is the close cousin to “I criticize all races equally” — a principle that sounds cute in theory but willfully ignores the burden of history and imperialism.
After some discussion of American wars, Johnson continues:
Never mind this. To them, religion is seen in a historical and political vacuum in the same way crime and economic hardship is to libertarians.
[... some discussion of US support of Salafist entities]

What say they of this? Almost nothing. Maher and his loyal band of Twitter partisans have little to say about colonialism, and when it’s brought up, as Glenn Greenwald did to him in 2013, it’s dismissed as irrelevant. It’s excuse-making, end of story.
The ignoring of these power dynamics is dripping with the same type of reductionist handwringing one sees among the right’s obsession with “black on black” crime. It’s an appeal to objective standards that willfully ignores that history did not begin in 1970 and Islam’s relationship with the United States isn’t limited to light panel chats with Aspen Institute-vetted token Muslims.

In general, the claim is that Dawkins, Harris & Maher are ignoring the greater context that Islamist violence happens in, and therefore unfairly judge Islam or use judgment of Islam as a quasi-racist project. What these three are supposed to do is explain shared American (and presumably Zionist) culpability in the growth of Islamist movements before placing any blame on old time religion.

What the three horsebros are to do is to order villains by privilege - start with two helpings of criticism of American support the Saudi Arabian regime, continue with an appetizer of discussion relating to open questions in Israel or AfPak, and then finish with a garnish of talk about the absurdity of religion. This template apparently applies no matter what crime Islamism commits in any particular place - despite Islam predating the creation of the United States by about a millennium, its impact in the real world apparently marginal.

What is undoubtedly true is the Harris, Maher & Dawkins claim to criticize "all religions equally" is absolutely laughable. The three do indeed disbelieve to the same degree in Christianity and Judaism, but are never actually in a position to provide criticism to an equal degree. Yet this is not the fault of strident secular curmudgeons - it is the fault of an Islam that finds itself in the headlines for very unique reasons.

There is no need for "equal time" in criticism of religion as patently ridiculous to think that all religions are the same. Religions have not been equal throughout history, and they are not equal now.

While on the subject, much is said of Dawkins' response to the "clock incident". Many "progressives" on Twitter claimed Dawkins bullied a young creator. While Dawkins did indeed invite many distasteful comparisons & arguably used the wrong tone, it's difficult to disagree with Dawkins' conclusions as the device hardly qualified as a science project and the school was not wrong in its confusion in the matter.

The strange thing about the hatred of the three horsebros is that ultimately few care to disagree on facts pertaining to any specific situations the argumentative atheists happen to bring up. It's a matter of these three men not having sufficiently comfortable footnotes to assuage the feelings of those deeply marinated in a culture of unrelenting self-reflection with an icing of undeserved respect and deference.

Perhaps most confusing is the suggestion that these men do not quite understand why a legion of secular liberals dislike them. What is true may be the opposite - it is that perhaps the horsebros know why they're disliked more than the haters care to understand why they hate.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Belgian Apartheid

A BBC article has asked, "Has Belgium created 'a system of apartheid'?:

They discussed why so many Belgian youngsters go to fight in Syria - a higher proportion, relative to the population, than from any other country in Europe. And a heated argument broke out when Suhaila, the only non-white recruit - from a Moroccan background, like many Belgian Muslims - said she could understand why young Muslims might become jihadis.
"The whole class was reacting - over-reacting," Jacobs says. "It was the first time they had talked with someone of a Moroccan background."
For a visitor to Brussels, where more than a quarter of the population is Muslim, that's a surprising thought. But Paul Jacobs is not surprised.
"I am a little bit scared to use this term," he says. "But I think we live in a system of apartheid. You really have ghettos. And what is more important, and more dangerous, is not that people aren't living together - it's the mental ghetto."
"People in Brussels live side-by-side, but don't often meet one another," she says. She thinks divisions have been reinforced because many young Belgians of Moroccan and Turkish descent have reacted against anti-Muslim feeling since 9/11 by defiantly adopting a more religious identity.
"Young people want a Muslim identity," she says, "but they haven't read the Koran, so it's become a matter of slogans - that girls should wear hijab and boys should grow beards."

A group of concerned Muslim women - some with sons already in Syria - asked Belgium's Interior Minister, Jan Jambon, to join them shortly after the Paris attacks at a meeting in Molenbeek to discuss ways of preventing radicalisation.

The article mirrors opinions shared by the author of an article titled "Molenbeek broke my heart":

The debate is paralyzed by a paternalistic discourse in which radical Muslim youths are seen, above all, as victims of social and economic exclusion. They in turn internalize this frame of reference, of course, because it arouses sympathy and frees them from taking responsibility for their actions. The former Socialist mayor Philippe Moureax, who governed Molenbeek from 1992 to 2012 as his private fiefdom, perfected this culture of denial and is to a large extent responsible for the current state of affairs in the neighborhood.
Two journalists had already reported on the presence of radical Islamists in Molenbeek and the danger they posed — and both became victims of character assassination. In 2006, Hind Fraihi, a young Flemish woman of Morrocan descent published “Undercover in Little Morocco: Behind the Closed Doors of Radical Islam.” Her community called her a traitor; progressive media called her a “spy” and a “girl with personal problems.”

I always thought as myself as a defender of human rights and human dignity, beyond left- or right-wing categories. Now suddenly I was painted as a right-wing firebrand. For some people I became an “untouchable” and I even lost a few friends, who refused to talk to me.

While on the topic of immigration, the discussion has much in common with articles that state that immigrants are generally less criminal than native-born residents. Studies have been done showing that this is true whether or not the immigrants are in the country legally or not.

However it is interesting that the pro-immigration studies are actually quite thorough in their categorization of subjects - as can be expected in science, and as such many of them are comparing migrant populations to native populations of a similar demographic. That is, a population of poor immigrants with marginal levels of education are by some basic metric "better" than a native-born population in a similar predicament. Finding this fascinating is the definition of being easily impressed.

Immigration is fortunately in most instances a self-selective process. Immigration also is not a matter of equivalent demographics - the makeup of an immigrant population will rarely neatly line up with the pre-existing social fabric. These two factors make an critical analysis of what immigration means in the context of a forced migration due to conflict or economic desperation incredibly difficult.

If there was an endless supply of highly skilled south and east asian immigrants to hand out work visas to, immigration would be an undeniable and everlasting good. Inclusion in the labour market would not be a question, especially when participating in sectors of the economy without a strictly limited demand for employment. Questions related to "culture fit" would not need to be asked, as the employers oftentimes begging for their admission have already asked that question and determined that the would-be migrant is sufficiently ready to worship the almighty dollar at the nearest water cooler.

While it's simple to see the upside of immigration, it's also not difficult to see that immigration has some meaningful limits. Especially in light of what appears to be happening when children from Belgium decide to shoot up Paris or travel to Syria to join the caliphate.

The timeline is as follows:

  1. Western nations pursue capitalist growth and progressive multiculturalism with laissez-faire approach to immigration
  2. Motivated first generation immigrants perform really well in a number of measures
  3. Despite well-meaning efforts, the children of first generation migrants join the Tumblr version of Islam while all facets of western society (both friend and foe) tell them they're different
  4. Tumblr Islam decides to take over a country
  5. Children of western nations travel to fight against western ideals
  6. Innocent citizens of that country, having a much more positive view of burger joints in a secular suburbia, flee to the west
It's a vicious cycle. In every step, western nations face "progressive" criticism even as society at large becomes more adaptive to a more conservative mindset. Progressive pundits that deride polarization and inequality fuel it with a half-baked moralistic defense of immigration while pitching non-intervention in conflicts fought by westerners and propagandized on Twitter.

Accepting starving refugees is a requirement for those that wish to have a clear conscience. But in this iteration, situation is itself in part created by a cultural acceptance of all kinds of totalitarian patriarchal religious superstition and political mythology - as long as it is imported.

For if there is indeed a Belgian apartheid, it has been created by a failure to challenge the assumptions and traditions of newcomers. Nobody is given the tools to flourish in western society, as what good would they be if immigration is to fundamentally change the western world for the better? Immigration is not viewed as an opportunity for the immigrants to learn. Instead it is an opportunity for the native-born population to become more interesting and have more depth - like having a world map tacked to the wall in one's foyer.

The west's progressive white knights think immigration is a virtuous force for good, when the reality is migrants are treated like exotic fish. They are put in a shallow tank in the far side of the room, and assumed to be good as if it were living in a miniature aquatic carbonite. Nothing happens until visitors arrive, at which time the fancy lights shine on the little happy Betta and an illuminating conversation of its diet arises. Its temperament is briefly discussed in a comfortable, non-judgmental way.

One day, things will be better. There will be a bigger, saltwater tank. The fish will have so much more room to swim. 

One day, they'll respect their benevolent progressive landlords more.