Diatribes of Jay

This is a blog of essays on public policy. It shuns ideology and applies facts, logic and math to economic, social and political problems. It has a subject-matter index, a list of recent posts, and permalinks at the ends of posts. Comments are moderated and may take time to appear. Note: Profile updated 4/7/12

05 May 2014

How the House of Saud Kills Sunnis

No, that’s not a typo. Nor is it an over-fifty moment. I’m hardly confusing Sunnis with Shiites.

For several decades now, the Saudi Princes have been systematically exterminating their own people. Not only that. They have been systematically exterminating young Sunni men, and occasionally a young Sunni woman, in the flower of their youth.

In the twenty-first century, it’s hard to know which is the greater crime: genocide, or exterminating your own people. The Nazis did both, but for a relatively short period of time. The House of Saud has been doing the latter for decades.

Of course it would deny all this. If you asked a Saudi Prince, he would say the untimely deaths are unfortunate unintended consequences, what we Yanks call “collateral damage.”

But as our great Yankee jurist Oliver Wendell Homes once said, people are presumed to intend the natural consequences of their acts. And one natural consequence of the House of Saud’s longstanding acts and policies is killing Sunnis, lots of them.

In fact, the House of Saud has developed a whole system of institutions, policies and practices that turn innocent Sunni youth into instruments of death, others’ and their own. Here’s how it works.

It all begins with Saudi Arabia’s anachronistic system of government. Although it appears to be a “soft” tyranny, the House of Saud has built one of the most successful totalitarian states in the twentieth century, a tyranny to rival North Korea’s.

If you were to rank it on a scale of modernity, self-determination and compassion for its people, it would rank far below China. Even were you to grade it generously, it would barely outrank North Korea and Zimbabwe.

It would do so only because Saudi Arabia has a pseudo-modern economy and a much higher standard of living than these political basket cases. It manages to maintain its people’s relative wealth with oil money: the money that our species pays to drive its cars has become the Sauds’ principal instrument of oppression.

Saudi Arabia also has a few more noticeable deficiencies. It relegates most everyone not of royal blood to second-class citizenship. It forces its masses of hard-working immigrants (including Filipinos and Indians) into conditions of indentured servitude that often resemble slavery. And it relegates women—one half our human species—to a status not much higher than we Yanks and our European counterparts reserve for dogs and cats.

How does the House of Saud get away with all this in the twenty-first century?

Three ways. First, it has the largest oil reserves of any single nation, regardless of size. It was those reserves, and little else, that led Dubya to walk literally hand in hand with the late King Abdullah. Oil is getting scarcer, and the world is looking hard for alternatives, but oil still makes the world go ’round. And, by a fluke of geography and a cruel joke of Nature, one of the most backward regimes on the planet still controls more oil than any other single nation.

Second, after some flirtation with oil politics in the seventies, the House of Saud follows our Yankee gospel of free oil trade, reducing the incentive for major powers to wage war over scarce natural resources, as they did in the last century. Third—and most important to our theme here—it doesn’t permit terrorism or even dissent within its borders. It exports them.

The killing of Sunnis flows from this third point. For decades now, the House of Saud has made a Faustian bargain with Sunni extremists. Preach only mildly within our borders, it told them, and support our absolute royal rule, and you can preach whatever you want elsewhere. You can proselytize and even kill whomever you want, as long as you do it elsewhere. And we will support and finance you as you do.

So the House of Saud has used its oil money to found, build, finance, and operate a widespread system of madrassas, all outside of Saudi Arabia. These so-called “schools” teach Sunni boys (seldom girls!) the Qur’an, extremism, and hate, but no useful skills.

Not only do these schools turn young, innocent minds into jihadis and terrorists. They give them no alternative. What else can you do if you don’t know math, science, engineering or history, or even how to read anything other than religious tracts in Arabic? Extremists flow naturally from this gigantic system of schools that teach bellicose propaganda more effectively, and more relentlessly, than ever the Nazis or Soviets did.

And so the massacre of innocents began. From the very first airline hijacking in the 1970s, through the bombing of our barracks in Lebanon during the Reagan Era, through the embassy bombings and 9/11, and including virtually every act of terrorism against Israel, Sunni extremists, encouraged and sometimes funded by the House of Saud, have wreaked terror worldwide for four decades. It is absolutely no coincidence that majority of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis.

Not only does the House of Saud permit and (indirectly) encourage all this. It finances it. The system is not quite global: there aren’t many Saudi-financed madrassas, for example, in the US, the EU or Latin America. But go where the carnage is—for example, in South Asia or the Middle East—and you will find them dotting the landscape like pustules on a smallpox victim.

Occasionally, when it can avoid getting its fingerprints on the carnage, the House of Saud finances the actual terrorism, or the organizations that perpetrate or finance it. It calls this “Islamic charity.”

What is the natural consequence of these acts? Well, look around the Islamic world. Where are Sunnis dying, and in large numbers, and why? For the last decade, they have been dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, which we Yanks invaded (misguidedly) solely because of 9/11. More recently, after we Yanks elected a better leader, they have been dying at retail, not wholesale, at the hands of our drones and ninjas. Now they are dying in droves in Syria at Assad’s hands, with the aid of Russian and Iranian weapons.

So let’s review the chain of causation. The Saudi Princes stamp out any chance for change or social progress in their medieval monarchy by exporting terrorism abroad. They cultivate, grow and finance extremists and terrorists as farmers grow vegetables, but only outside their monarchy.

The terrorists are virtually all Sunnis—the very people the House of Saud so disingenuously claims to protect and defend. They mostly kill innocent Shiites and Westerners. Then the Shiites and Westerners, who don’t like their compatriots and loved ones being killed for what strikes them as no good reason, kill Sunnis in return.

And so the Saudis preserve their anachronistic tyranny by causing Sunnis to kill and be killed. It is the most effective, insidious and persistent sui-genocide since the Nazi death camps, albeit more subtle and working at a lower rate.

We Yanks are far from the only ones caught up in this unfortunate chain of causation. Nor is Western Europe.

Think of Syria. Assad and his minority Alawites are busy slaughtering, displacing and oppressing majority Sunnis with advanced Russian weapons. Why is Russia supplying the weapons? Does Putin really admire Assad?

Russia provides those weapons for two reasons. First, it has become a long-time friend of Iran, ever since we Yanks overthrew Iran’s duly elected prime minister and later incited Saddam to wage an eight-year devastating war with Iran. Second, and more important lately, Russia remembers Chechnya, Beslan and the Nord-Ost Theater in Moscow—all examples of Sunni terrorism against Russia itself.

Virtually all Islamic terrorism directed against Russia has been perpetrated by Sunnis, as it has against us and Europe. Shiite Iran supports and arms Sunni terrorists against Israel, primarily, in my view, to have a safe place to test its weapons development at others’ suffering and expense. But, to my knowledge, there has not been a single notable instance of terrorism perpetrated against the West, Russia or Israel by Shiites. And Iran is far too smart to sponsor or perpetrate terrorism against so powerful and friendly a neighbor as Russia.

So Russia not only picked up our once Cold-War friend Iran after we jilted it for Saudi oil and incited Saddam to attack it. Russia supports Iran in Syria because Iran is the great Shiite power and a millennial enemy of Sunnis, and because (according to Middle Eastern logic) the enemy of Russia’s enemy is its friend.

Lately, the cooperation between Russia and Iran has become even more diabolical, from a Sunni point of view. Why are Russia and Iran helping Assad reduce his own country to rubble, to bomb and shell it back to the Stone Age? Why haven’t they been forcing Assad to the bargaining table to make peace?

The answer appears after only a moment’s reflection. Syria has become a killing field for Sunni terrorists in general, and for Al Qaeda in particular. Assad’s secular tyranny and unequal slaughter attracts jihadis from all over the world. So do Saudi propaganda and money. Once they get to Syria, Assad’s forces slaughter them, using advanced Russian weapons.

The House of Saud of course would claim that it is using the jihadis it sponsors to fight Assad. But the Saudi Princes are not stupid men. They have controlled the global oil economy with intelligence and subtlety for four decades, ever since they stopped using oil for religious politics and started using it to maintain their medieval monarchy and get rich. Think they don’t know full well what is really going on in Syria today?

With one exception, no band of Sunni terrorists manufactured by the House of Saud has ever succeeded in overthrowing a single real government, let alone establishing the elusive and anachronistic “Islamic Caliphate” that extremist imams claim to promise. The sole exception is in Afghanistan, where the Taliban ruled briefly, and then only because they allied themselves with more secular and cynical warlords.

The reason is obvious now, in Egypt, among other places. Even devout Islamic majorities don’t want the extremism that the Saudi Princes have exported to save their skins and their Yanukovych-like luxury.

All the Saudi-manufactured terrorists have done so far is kill a lot of innocent people and wreak a lot of havoc. The House of Saud knows this. Apparently it is content, if not happy, that none of the havoc it has created has touched it, at least not yet.

And so we may have the “final solution” to the problem of Sunni terrorism. The Saudi death machine, having manufactured jihadis and terrorists in its network of madrassas, is sponsoring and encouraging sending them to Syria, where Assad systematically exterminates them, with advanced weapons supplied by Russia and Iran that they can never hope to match.

Russia and Iran supply the means to dispose of the House of Saud’s most dangerous enemies in an effective but utterly cynical way. And it all started with the House of Saud exporting terror to preserve its twisted monarchy in a medieval time warp.

And who’s to say the Saudi Princes are not, in private, laughing over their un-Islamic booze, as they watch the good money they spend on supporting jihad in Syria create this “final solution,” after all the bad money they wasted on exporting terrorism to Russia and their best customers, the West.

The late bin Laden knew the score. He knew that the House of Saud was and is Sunni Islam’s worst enemy. He wanted to overthrow it, but he thought he had to beat us Yanks first. He believed that only our might as a superpower sustained the Saudi regime.

But bin Laden was wrong on two counts. First, as the leader of a ragtag band of fanatics, he was in no position to bring down the world’s greatest superpower, although he did succeed in bringing down the Twin Towers and making us Yanks very, very angry. Now bin Laden has paid the ultimate price, but the Saudi Princes still live, laugh and prosper.

Second, bin Laden was wrong about the source of Sunni misery and weakness. It wasn’t us Yanks. It was Saudi duplicity, guile, selfishness and stupidity. We Yanks just went along for the oil.

With friends like the Saudis, who needs enemies? We Yanks certainly don’t, not with shale oil getting us closer and closer to true energy independence. Nor do Sunnis.

Some day the parts of the world that the Saudi Princes now manipulate so successfully—and so tragically—will come to appreciate the depths of their duplicity, and the House of Saud will vanish from this Earth. If Saudi Arabia didn’t hold Islam’s holiest shrines—Mecca, Medina and the Kaaba—it would have happened a long time ago. But even geography can’t restrain common sense, or righteous vengeance, forever.

[In my next essay on this general theme, I’ll explore whether Iran might make a better friend than Saudi Arabia, and the chances for our ending our Little Cold War with Iran and making it so.]

Footnote: For a more complete explanation of this rationale, click here. An alternative explanation of Iran’s support for terrorism against Israel is Iran’s desire to maintain its Islamic credentials in the Arab “street,” and thereby to tamp down the impetus for a Shiite/Sunni Armageddon. But as Sunni extremists come into armed conflict with Shiites in Syria and Lebanon, and with secularists in Egypt, the notion of appeasing them by financing and aiding Palestinian terrorism becomes increasingly quixotic. Sooner or later, Iranian leaders, who are among the smartest and subtlest in the Middle East, will figure this out.



  • At Sat May 10, 05:48:00 AM EDT, Blogger George Carty said…

    Although the hate-madrassas funded by the House of Saud are probably a major factor in fuelling the Taliban and other Sunni terrorist groups in the Muslim world, I think their significance is overrated when it comes to terrorists who attack Westerners.

    Most anti-Western Islamist terrorists were radicalized while living in the West (9/11's Hamburg Cell being a prime example).

  • At Sun May 11, 01:14:00 PM EDT, Blogger Jay Dratler, Jr., Ph.D., J.D. said…

    That’s a fair surmise, but it neglects that longevity of the problem.

    The notion that killing innocent people at random is a good way to wage politics, or to establish an “Islamic Caliphate,” is at least forty years old. The first aim started with the Palestinian terrorists; the second appears to have arisen somewhere in the eighties.

    I haven't researched the point in any detail. But if you traced these developments back to their sources, I think you would find Saudi-funded madrassas at their core.

    Anyway, who radicalized Muslims in the US and Europe? It certainly wasn't local natives. Rather, it was imams and preachers who came from elsewhere.

    And where did they get their own training? Most probably from the madrassas or from foreign imams who got it from that source. The Internet has lately made the process of cross-border radicalization much easier.

    Saudi exports of extremism are hardly a new phenomenon. They started around half a century ago, when the House of Saud made its bargain with the West (nationalization of oil in exchange for its free flow, without politics). The other side of that bargain was continuing what the House of Saud had done ever since it decided to reach for modernity: appeasing Muslims by exporting extremism in exchange for peace at home.

    Most immigrants in the US assimilate completely after two generations. What has kept some Muslim immigrants apart is the propaganda that comes from abroad and infiltrates mosques and other Islamic institutions here.

    So although many are radicalized here, you have to look for the source of their radicalization, which is by no means indigenous to the US (and probably not to Britain, either). It's standard operating procedure to complete the process of radicalization, as well as terrorist training, abroad. To my knowledge, there are no terrorist training camps in the US or Britain.



  • At Tue May 13, 02:17:00 AM EDT, Blogger George Carty said…

    The PLO's "international terrorist" phase of the 1970s no doubt did more harm than good to the Palestinian cause. What did they think there were achieving -- Maybe they were trying to impress their Soviet sponsors?

    And Muslims seem to be far more prone to radicalization in Europe than in the United States (perhaps because native ethnic nationalism is stronger in Europe, or perhaps because European Muslims have a similar economic position to American Hispanics).

    AIUI it mostly took place in universities rather than mosques, or individuals self-radicalized by reading hate propaganda on the internet.

    By the way, isn't there are good argument that full assimilation of Muslims never happens because Muslim women are forbidden by their religion from marrying non-Muslim men? Of course, Jews (at least Orthodox Jews) have the same issue though...

  • At Sat May 17, 10:38:00 PM EDT, Blogger Jay Dratler, Jr., Ph.D., J.D. said…

    Dear George,

    Your comment is interesting, and there’s some truth in it.

    But it focuses almost exclusively on culture, not politics. My own view is that politics is equally, if not more, important in the Middle East, in part because people there seems to bear political grudges for inordinate lengths of time.

    A case in point is the millennial Sunni/Shiite divide. As far as I can tell, it's not a doctrinal dispute. From the very beginning, it was a dispute about people, power and politics.

    It's gone on now for well over a millennium and shows no sign of abating. It's responsible, for example, for the unceasing enmity between the House of Saud and Iran. How else can you explain the mayhem in Iraq, where almost everyone is an Arab and there is no Persian/Arab divide?

    You can trace the fuzzy thinking about terrorism as a tactic and a strategy from the 70s Palestinians, through the late bin Laden, to the Chechen and Sunni fighters in Iraq and Syria today.

    Even though grossly ineffective (except in killing one's own), as you point out, the mayhem continues. Maybe extreme and ineffective tactics go hand in hand with extreme and poorly thought through politics.

    But the marvel is their longevity: well over a millennium in the Sunni/Shiite dispute, and six decades and counting in Palestine.

    What I’ve tried to add to the discussion is the observation that the vast majority of terrorism, especially against non-Muslims, has been perpetrated by Sunnis, not Shiites.

    I don't pretend to explain this fact; I haven't a clue. But the phenomenon is real and, in my view, something Western pols should take into account, especially in assessing the relative value of Saudi Arabia and Iran as friends.

    As for your rather light-hearted comparison between orthodox Jews and devout Muslims, I disagree. Although I'm no expert, my consistent impression has been that love conquers all, even in Orthodox Jewish families.

    It may in devout Muslim families, too. But then there are “honor killings,” which have no counterpart in Jewish tradition, no matter how orthodox or devout. The worst that happens in the most orthodox Jewish families when a member strays is disinheriting or disowning, not murder.



  • At Tue May 20, 02:17:00 AM EDT, Blogger George Carty said…

    Dear Jay,

    I'm wondering if the inordinate longevity of political feuds in the Muslim world has anything to do with the prevalence of cousin marriage there (especially that of the father's brother's daughter variety), which creates largely self-contained clans spanning the generations? Western cultures don't have the same issue because cousin marriage was outlawed in the Middle Ages by the Roman Catholic Church.

    The Muslim world seems to me to be cursed by a clan-centric mentality and a crippling lack of trust within its societies -- I'm not sure what the order of causation is though (did a pre-existing lack of trust cause people to cluster together in clans bound by blood, or did clan warfare create the lack of trust?)

    Honor killings are also no doubt a product of the clan mentality too -- this is made clear by Turkey, where the vast majority of honor killings involve Kurds, who are a traditionally nomadic people. Nomadic people rely on clans and "honor" to keep the internal peace because their lifestyle precludes the police, courts and jails that are a prerequisite for a rule of law society.

    The role of Islam itself is probably minimals -- as shown by the fact that at least two honor-killing victims were murdered for converting TO Islam (one was the daughter of Jordanian Christians, while the other was the daughter of Iraqi Yazidis).

    I wonder why Mizrahi Jews never had an honor-killing problem, in spite of having a sexual morality and proscription of out-marriage similar to that of Muslims? Perhaps it's because most Jews in the Middle East moved to Israel, where the high population density and Western-minded Ashkenazi population helped eradicate the old Middle Eastern mentalities?

    As for the "no terrorist training camps in the US" in your previous post -- wasn't Abu Hamza al-Masri just convicted of attempting to establish such a camp in Oregon?

  • At Thu May 29, 01:01:00 AM EDT, Blogger Jay Dratler, Jr., Ph.D., J.D. said…

    Dear George,

    Sorry for posting your comment so late; I've been traveling.

    Your speculation on the cultural origins of clannishness and honor killings is interesting and may well be right. I am nowhere near enough of an expert on Middle Eastern tribal customs to know how right.

    All I can do is add two points to your speculation. First, “cousin marriage,” as you describe it, has a nasty genetic component. As inbreeding, it weakens the genetic line. It can lead, in several generations, to such things as mental deficiencies and hereditary diseases.

    Inbred hereditary monarchies provided good examples of this phenomenon, in France and ancient Rome (although lead poisoning from lead pipes also helped there). So there are biological, as well as cultural, reasons why most human societies have precluded “cousin marriage” by law or custom.

    Incidentally, this biological fact reveals the irony and scientific inaccuracy of racial purity theories of any kind, including those of the Nazis and our native Yankee white supremacists. The smaller and more “pure” the group, and the more inbred, the more likely the group is to be or become an evolutionary dead end. Evolution developed two-gender reproduction precisely to avoid such dead ends, increase genetic diversity, and speed evolutionary development of complex organisms like us.

    As for your speculation about Mizrahi Jews, I would ascribe the lack of an honor-killing system among them to greater respect for law generally. There are very few crimes in Jewish history that were punishable by death. Ostracism was (and is) much more common, especially for social and religious crimes like marrying outside the clan. Today, for example, about half of US Jews who marry do so outside their faith.

    If you want to speculate even further, you might say that Jews have had more confidence in their culture. They rely more on the perceived desirability of group identification and peer pressure than on threats of death to maintain cultural cohesion. This basic facet of Jewish law goes back a long way.

    As for your last paragraph, I would stress the word “attempt.” Terrorist training camps don’t last long in the US, or in Europe, because they are quickly discovered and dismantled, by whatever spying and force the authorities deem necessary. It is absolutely no coincidence that terrorist camps survive and thrive where states and law are weak, as on the Af/Pak border, in Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, and in northeast Nigeria.



  • At Wed Jul 23, 09:21:00 AM EDT, Blogger George Carty said…

    Good point about how loss of social cohesion isn't the only negative consequence of cousin marriage! Even here in Britain, children of Pakistani descent are about 5 times more likely to have learning disabilities than the general population, largely because of that culture's tradition of cousin marriage.

    I thought the Habsburgs were the most commonly-cited example of inbred royalty. And the Roman Empire was more a military dictatorship than a hereditary monarchy (although we now use the word "emperor" in English to mean a type of hereditary monarch, the Latin "imperator" from which it derives literally means "commander" in the military sense). The biggest weakness of the Roman Empire was that its rule was based solely on force (rather on legitimacy conferred by heredity or elections), which was an invitation to coups and civil wars.

    On terrorist training camps, it strikes me that what you describe may be one (minor) positive result of the Bush Doctrine -- that terrorists now have to train in locales where there is a lack of effective government, rather than ones where there is a supportive government?

  • At Fri Jul 25, 02:09:00 AM EDT, Blogger Jay Dratler, Jr., Ph.D., J.D. said…

    Yes, inbreeding has been a big problem in our species’ history. First there were inbred monarchies. Then there were theories of racial purity, of which the Nazis’ was the most extreme.

    Both are biologically incorrect and counterproductive, sometimes to the point of societal suicide. Diversity is not just a "feel-good" issue; genetic diversity is a biological imperative for survival. You can’t have survival of the fittest—because you can’t procreate the fittest—without genetic diversity. That’s why all higher life forms have sexual reproduction and don’t reproduce by dividing, like paramecia or amoebae. (Dividing is simpler and more efficient but doesn’t improve the line.)

    When you write of the Roman Empire, I assume you are excluding the times (some relatively long) when ancient Rome was a Republic. Those times inspired our Western Enlightenment (and the US Constitution) far more than any emperor. And I don't think your interpretation of "emperor" as a heredity monarch is correct. Even in more modern times, Napoleon and many English kings (the precise ones you will know better than I) acquired power through battle, not heredity.

    On your last paragraph, I disagree. If by the “Bush Doctrine” you mean the assertion that any nation that harbors terrorists (willfully or not) is the US’ enemy, then I can’t see any good that ever has come of it.

    Organized states can turn on terrorists when: (1) they recognize that the terrorists are a threat to their own survival, as in Pakistan today; or (2) when their national interests change, as may be happening with Iran and Sunni terrorists today. When there is no effective government to stamp terrorists out, target nations (like yours and mine) have only four options, all of them bad: (1) let the terrorists seize power and hope they grow up; (2) send in the troops; (3) arm tyrants or other terrorists agains them (as in Syria); or (4) wait until the terrorists perpetrate acts of terror in the homeland and then choose belatedly among options (1) through (3).

    Anyway, I'm not aware of any real state that has supported terrorism on its own territory. Some misguided ones, like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Iran, sponsor and support it on others' land. But I think Iran is reconsidering that policy, as Hezbollah becomes more like a state and Hamas degenerates into a pathetic but lethal killing machine, a catastrophically blundering troublemaker.



  • At Fri Jul 25, 03:13:00 PM EDT, Blogger George Carty said…

    I think Germany's "Aryan" population was comfortably large enough to avoid inbreeding, and anyway the Nazis (being the ruthless eugenicists that they were) would not have been substantially impaired in their power by inbreeding-caused deformities. The real problem with radical racialist ideologies is that they are highly likely to make mortal enemies of everyone outside their favored racial group.

    You made a good argument in favor of racial diversity there, but there is also a downside. Welfare provision is usually less generous in multi-racial societies because inter-ethnic wealth redistribution is political poison (think Reagan's "welfare queens in Cadillacs" speech). Note that the Scandinavian countries (very homogenous until recently) are fare more egalitarian than the ethnically-diverse United States.

    In extremis racial diversity can destroy democracy itself as political parties degenerate into factions defined by ethnicity.

    Since the context in which you originally mentioned ancient Rome was that of inbred hereditary monarchies, I assumed you were talking about the Empire not the Republic. However, even the modern American republic has had its political dynasties (such as the Kennedys and the Bushes) and I assume this was more so in ancient Rome -- wasn't the Roman Senate largely hereditary?

    On state sponsorship of terrorists -- while the Saudis (for example) only funded terrorist training camps on foreign soil, some rogue states (Gaddafi's Libya and Taliban Afghanistan being the two most-cited examples) built terrorist training facilities within their own territory. The Pakistanis probably also have training facilities on their own soil for anti-Indian terrorist groups.

  • At Tue Jul 29, 04:04:00 PM EDT, Blogger Jay Dratler, Jr., Ph.D., J.D. said…

    I take your point on inbreeding, at least for short time periods, such as during World War II and its immediate aftermath. Biological devolution, which is what inbreeding causes, takes generations, not decades.

    But there’s also a more insidious—and much quicker!—form of inbreeding, among a ruling elite. That’s what happened in many of the royal families of Europe and Britain in the last millennium. And you might imagine the same thing happening among the Nazi elite had they won. Do you think the joint progeny of Hitler, Goebbels, and their ilk could run a modern high-tech nation rationally and well?

    On your second point, I disagree fundamentally. Once racial and ethnic integration has reached a tipping point, as I think it nearly has in America, it becomes unstoppable.

    In my view, the “welfare queen” ploy has had its day, as (nearly) has had the adamant opposition to everything Obama does, often emotionally motivated (if not lacking policy pretext) by his race. In no more than two or three generations, i.e., a single person’s lifetime, I think you will see a largely race- and ethnicity-blind society here.

    Whether the same is true in Europe and Britain, I can't say. But I suspect they are not far behind. Just this month, The Economist wrote seriously [subscription required] about an MP of Nigerian origin as a possible future prime minister. And despite popular resistance to immigration, Britain may be ahead of us Yanks culturally, for lack of anything like our Civil War.

    Tribalism in all its forms, including racism and ethnic and sectarian conflict, is a disease of our species’ youth. The sooner we jettison it, the better off we all will be.

    So attest the vast differences between such places as the English-speaking democracies, Europe, and even Russia, on the one hand, and Syria, Israel/Palestine and Ukraine on the other. The alleged “blessings” of homogeneity are vastly overblown. In biology, at least in the long term, they are nonexistent. (I hope you aren’t using the reality of ethnic intolerance as a purported self-justication. Wouldn’t that be tautologous?)

    On your last paragraph, there may be terrorist training camps inside some countries that sponsor them. If so, they are like indigenous weapons-development laboratories. But being animate, and rather cantankerous to boot, terrorists can come back to bite the hands that feed and train them.

    Perhaps Pakistan can control its fanatics by selecting, if not ”breeding,“ them to hate India. I’m skeptical of that outcome, but I’m deeply dubious that the House of Saud will long survive the Faustian bargain it has made with what has become a regional, if not global, culture of death. Sooner or later, poetic justice will catch up with the oily Princes.



  • At Thu Jul 31, 08:36:00 AM EDT, Blogger George Carty said…

    Had the Nazi regime lasted for many decades, it is certainly possible that it could have become a largely hereditary aristocracy (most likely made of Waffen-SS veterans and their descendants, rather than the descendants of the traditional German aristocracy). However it was exceedingly unlikely that the regime would have lasted that long anyway. If by some miracle the Nazis had managed to defeat the USSR, I expect that the Third Reich would have perished beneath a hail of American atomic bombs in the late 1940s -- their anti-intellectualism and disdain for nuclear science as "Jewish physics" would mean they'd never be able to get a bomb of their own in time to avoid this fate.

    Perhaps racial diversity in the narrow sense is much less problematic than cultural diversity (I'd expect Europeans will have more difficulty integrating Muslims than Americans do integrating Hispanics, as the cultural gap is greater) or linguistic diversity (even in countries as well-off as Canada and Belgium). Diversity also tends to be especially problematic in economic hard times -- note how Greece an openly neo-Nazi political party (Golden Dawn) has gained mass support due to the devastating impact of ECB-imposed austerity policies there.

  • At Wed Aug 06, 01:09:00 AM EDT, Blogger Jay Dratler, Jr., Ph.D., J.D. said…

    Dear George,

    You need to brush up your WWII history. The Germans were working on an atomic bomb, in much the same way that we Yanks were. They were just behind, and time ran out on their scientists. (Reference: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/military/nazis-and-the-bomb.html)

    While the Nazi’s inept leaders may have scorned “Jewish science,” their best physicists did not. They were well aware of all developments worldwide. The greatest advantage we Yanks had was that the best of the world’s physicists, including Einstein, Fermi, Segre and others, had fled Fascist-controlled Europe and were working in the United States.

    That state of affairs—and not any intrinsic Yankee superiority—made our basic physics supreme for two generations. Now it's migrating back toward Europe, where it began. You might see both effects as examples of bright, creative people, who are welcome anywhere, seeking the most receptive and peaceful political environment in which to work. (Hence my hope that the UK sticks with Europe.)

    As for diversity, I think you misunderstand what is happening here. Hispanics are rapidly becoming integrated. They are already our largest ethnic minority and likely will pick our next president. The more serious prejudice against them will likely die with the Baby Boomers, i.e., in about twenty years. Younger people love Hispanic food and music and are learning Spanish rapidly (if they don’t already speak it). It's by far the most popular foreign language in school.

    Language does indeed cause problems for some people, but Hispanics are easier to integrate than many Muslims because: (1) many more are white or indistinguishable from whites, (2) they wear nothing like beards or head scarves to identify themselves, and (3) their dominant religion (Catholicism) is a mainstream and enormously popular religion here in the US.

    In addition, educated Hispanics derive their culture from a European tradition which, although partly pre-Enlightenment, shares a lot of history, literature, philosophy, and political development with Europe and the US. (When I was growing up, virtually every college student read Cervantes’ Don Quixote, albeit in English.) Finally, Spanish is a lot easier to learn than Arabic, if only because it uses the Roman alphabet. At the age of 69, I'm taking a course to improve my Spanish right now.



  • At Wed Aug 20, 11:09:00 AM EDT, Blogger George Carty said…

    You misunderstand what I wrote on the subject of integration -- I wrote that Hispanics in the United States would be easier to integrate than Muslims in Europe, for the reasons you mention. Don't forget though that many European Muslims though are not Arabs -- most British Muslims are Desis (note that "Asian" in British ethnic parlance always refers to Desis, never to East Asians), while Muslims in Germany are mostly Turks and Kurds. Also, did you know also that Islamic-style beards have become fashionable among black Philadelphians?

    I don't think the Arabic alphabet is especially difficult -- the main reasons why the Arabic language is so fiendishly difficult compared to Spanish are:

    1) Arabic is not Indo-European and thus has almost no cognates with English. By contrast, Spanish being a Romance language has thousands of common Latin roots with English -- some two-thirds of English words (despite the Germanic superstructure of English) are derived from Latin. You can also translate a lot of words just by switching suffixes (-tion --> -ción, -nce --> -ncia, -ity --> -idad).
    2) Arabic contains consonants not found in any European language, including the infamous ayn (I believe you reach that sound by starting with a French R, then forcing it even further back in the throat until the "rasping" sound stops.)
    3) Arabic (like other Semitic languages) is exceptionally gendered (could that be one factor in Middle Eastern sexism, incidentally?) While nouns, adjectives and third-person pronouns are gendered in Spanish, Arabic also genders its second-person pronouns, its second- and third-person verb conjugations and both its cardinal and ordinal numbers. Arabic also has a dual form in addition to singular and plural, along with lots of irregular "broken plurals" that need to be memorized, while Spanish nouns plural with -s or -es in much the same way as English ones.

    (Incidentally, the early Zionists heavily simplified the revived Hebrew language to make it easier to learn, to the point that some Israeli linguists do not regard modern Israeli Hebrew as a true Semitic language.)

    and 4) FusHa (standard Arabic) is used in writing and in official communications (such as news broadcasts), but everyday speech is in dialects which vary from region to region to the point of being mutually unintelligible. FusHa is only used in everyday life by a tiny minority of ultra-pious individuals, or by non-Arab Muslims who learned Arabic in madrassa (here meaning the Islamic version of Sunday school, not a jihadist brainwashing center).

    One can think of the dialects as being the Romance languages to fusHa's Latin -- the Maghrebi dialects are the most radically divergent due to massive Berber (and some French) influence. I'm shocked that no Arab government ever pursued an aggressive "fusHa-ization" policy of forcing people to speak standard Arabic instead of dialect (much like the 19th-century French campaign against Occitan, Catalan and Breton), especially since the opposite alternative (abandoning fusHa and making the dialects into "official" national languages) would probably meet strong opposition due to the religious significance of fusHa as the language of the Qur'an.

    Incidentally, given you mention Spanish and Arabic -- one of my favorite songs is in both those languages.

    ¡Buena suerte con sus estudios de español!

  • At Sat Aug 30, 10:05:00 AM EDT, Blogger Jay Dratler, Jr., Ph.D., J.D. said…

    Dear George,

    Thanks for your exhaustive review of the Arabic language, about which I know next to nothing. And yes, you were right. I did misread your comment on racism (“I’d expect Europeans will have more difficulty integrating Muslims than Americans do integrating Hispanics, as the cultural gap is greater.”) My bad.

    Due to ignorance, I can't comment on your analysis of Arabic, except to disagree with your take on the alphabet. Arabic letters all look alike to me, much more so than in any other alphabet I have encountered.

    They all seem to be characterized by (1) a general vertical sweep, (2) subtle curves, and (3) only occasional dots, diacritical marks and other non-vertical features to aid in making visual distinctions. Their general similarity makes for beautiful calligraphy but difficult reading.

    Perhaps they become easy to distinguish from each other with practice. But I find them a far cry from the letters of the Roman or Korean alphabets, which have simple and strikingly different geometric shapes, easy both for non-artists to reproduce and for learners to distinguish from one another.

    Mis estudies españoles van bien, gracias, quizás porque nací en California, donde español es en el aire y en el nombre de cualquier lugar.



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home