Affluence, Assimilation Keys to Immigrant Acceptance

30/07/2011 16:11 BST | Updated 27/09/2011 10:12 BST

Norwegian massacre suspect Anders Breivik, 32, doesn't look like a genocidal maniac. In fact, his clean and handsome appearance resembles a cross between the Nazi Aryan super hero and the blond blue eyed image of Christ that still adorn many protestant churches.

But, as often is the case, looks are deceiving. Today everyone knows, thanks to the BBC, that Christ wasn't blond or blue eyed. In any case, Breivik bores no resemblance to the Prince of Peace...underneath this Sigfried is the Angel of Death.

Yet, I fear his will not be the last such outrage Europe will experience. While much of Europe may not have access to guns as Americans do, the Continent has been home to history's greatest wars, massacres and industrialized killing...most on religious grounds.

People have been quick to brand Breivik a maniac. But, his writings,while racist and alarmist, are not maniacal. They're the thought-out ideas of a guy who hates certain people---Marxists, feminists and Muslims, whom he feels are bent on taking over Europe.

On the other hand, his murderous actions were that of a psychopath and a narcissist. Yet by Norwegian law, 21 years is the maximum prison sentence he could receive.

But Breivik could be symptomatic of the shape of things to come as Europe and the world undergoes demographic changes never before known.

For example, Europe has a completely different take on Islam and Islamic immigration than America has...that's mainly because first the European Crusaders pillaged Islam and later the Muslim Turks conquered much of eastern the Islamic threat is part of history...But that's not connected to Oslo, which was an act of a killer murdering his own people for a deluded goal of saving modern day Europe.

European Islamic wars and occupations were of an imperial nature. The vast majority of Muslims in Europe today are economic immigrants from a world where most of the wealth is located in a few nations, while a wealth of people keep growing in most other nations. We may be running out of resources, but there's no shortage of people.

And lots of these people are settling in Europe. Unlike America, which was a totally manufactured nation, where immigrants were welcomed to an underpopulated and underdeveloped country, the scenario is quite different in the EU, the fountainhead of western civilization.

Most European nations have their own national and cultural identities, almost all with strong Christian traditions. However, after the racist based horrors of WW2, the vows of many Europeans have echoed the Israeli promise: Never again. And, European nations have been welcoming to immigrants from many lands, including Islamic ones.

The major problem is one of assimilation. Using the old and apt medical analogy, an alien substance in the body politic has to either be absorbed by it, fester and infect the body or it will be expelled by the body.

One of the things that may have set Breivik on his murderous path was the visible sight of foreigners and left-wing movements in his country or in other parts of Europe.

The U.S. had more than 200 years to develop its brand of multiculturalism, one based on the formation of a mass middle-class. The main lesson to be learned is: You can't expect miracles over night. This has been realized in the U.K and some other EU nations such as Germany and France, where mass immigration only began about 40-years-ago. It has come to a point where German Chancellor Angela Merkel impatiently proclaimed recently that multiculturalism had failed in her country.

When millions of immigrants were pouring into America around 1900, they built the same style ethnic neighbourhoods that now dot Britain. It often took several generations for these disintegrate or disappear with their inhabitants assimilating into the vastness of nation. Yet, even with this, in cities such as New York, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia, these ethnic and racial communities still exist.

However, this happened at a time when nations were still great distances apart, the West had invaded but not engaged with the east and suicide bombing was unimaginable. The United Kingdom, for example, has a much tougher task in developing a just and equal multi-cultural society in the middle of a war on terrorism, a war some UK Muslim residents feel is aimed at them.

Britain has two great challenges ahead of it that will likely determine the shape of the nation. First, it must maintain itself as a wealthy nation enjoying a high living standard and second, it must ensure that all citizens are able to enjoy the fruits of the society. The best way to ensure domestic tranquility is to keep people well fed and happy with their lives. If not, what's the point of melting into it?

On my UK Talk Radio show, about 16-years-ago, I commented the best way to end the violence in Northern Ireland was to make everyone there middle-class. Affluent and educated people rarely make war on each other. Again, this is where Britain and Europe can learn from mistakes America made.

The Black experience there had been one of slavery, exploitation and second class citizenry. The riots that swept the U.S. during the late 20th Century were expressions of hostility at being denied the same middle-class lifestyle and opportunities as white Americans.

While most immigrants to the U.K., such as the Poles, eventually embrace the society, some others don't. The growing unrest among young British Muslims may be seen as similar America's Black experience, except it isn't.

A 2006 ICM opinion poll in the Daily Telegraph showed 40 percent of young British Muslim men support Sharia law in some form and even believe so called "holy wars" (jihad) are justified. And many of these young men also figure into the latest crime figures as a part of surge in racial and ethnic gang violence.

So what does this mean? Are some young British Muslims rejecting British values and the western lifestyle? If the Black experience in America is anything to judge by, it's more a matter of these youths being unable to fully partake in that lifestyle that's at the root of the problem in the UK, too.

However, here's where the American and British minority experiences have a major difference. Race, religion and colour have been the main criteria for acceptance or rejection by the American white majority. For British Muslims acceptance in society is more a matter of family and religious values. It's their families and their belief system that hold them back not contemporary British society.

A growing number of UK Muslims would like to destroy that which they've been taught they shouldn't, as good Muslims, have. And this includes everything from pepperoni pizzas to sex before marriage.

But, as I said, it took American minority groups several generations to gain equality and, for those who wanted, to begin the assimilation process. Yet, that was before the "War on Terror," earmarking Muslims as potential terrorists and spreading the paranoia of a war against Islam.

Breivik's seemingly insane killing spree can be seen as a manifestation of extremist white fear of militant Islam and left-wing politicians bent on pandering to minority groups. This, in turn, can cause panic and militancy among some minority groups. Together, they could provide a recipe for conflict.