March 23, 2007

"If you protest, your husband will hit you, and if you call the police, he’s going to divorce you, and the whole community will scorn you."

Polygamy in New York City.
Don’t-ask-don’t-know policies prevail in many agencies that deal with immigrant families in New York, perhaps because there is no framework for addressing polygamy in a city that prides itself on tolerance of religious, cultural and sexual differences — and on support for human rights and equality....

[T]ypical, many immigrants said, are cramped apartments in the Bronx with many children underfoot, clashes between jealous co-wives and domestic violence. And if the household breaks up, the wives’ legal status is murky at best, with little case law to guide decisions on marital property or benefits.
ADDED: Meanwhile, in Germany:
A 26-year-old mother of two wanted to free herself from what had become a miserable and abusive marriage. The police had even been called to their apartment to separate the two -- both of Moroccan origin -- after her husband got violent in May 2006. The husband was forced to move out, but the terror continued: Even after they separated, the spurned husband threatened to kill his wife....

The judge rejected the application for a speedy divorce by referring to a passage in the Koran that some have controversially interpreted to mean that a husband can beat his wife. It's a supposed right which is the subject of intense debate among Muslim scholars and clerics alike."The exercise of the right to castigate does not fulfill the hardship criteria as defined by Paragraph 1565 (of German federal law)," the daily Frankfurter Rundschau quoted the judge's letter as saying. It must be taken into account, the judge argued, that both man and wife have Moroccan backgrounds.
Women's rights or multiculturalism: pick one. Either there is equal justice under the law or there is not.

93 comments:

Cat said...

I didn't realize physical assault was only something women disliked and therefore is a feminist issue.

This is multi-culteralism at its worst. If they were German, he would have ruled differently? What will they allow next, stoning of "fallen" women and gays?

I can't stand the condecension.

Bruce Hayden said...

Cat,

I think that it becomes women's rights because in Islamic cultures, men apparently have the right to beat their wives. Yes, here, we know that women beat their husbands too, but my guess is that under Islamic law, that would be considered much worse than the contrary - except that few self-respecting Moslem men would likely make such a complaint.

But so far in this thread, I think that we are all in favor of a rule of law, where everyone, regardless of race, religion (here), etc. is subject to the same interpretation of the same laws.

And maybe this is where I (presume that I) agree with Cat, this isn't really about women's rights, but rather, about human rights.

MadisonMan said...

I read these kind of articles and ask myself: Would I be comfortable if my daughter married a muslim from overseas? I suppose I'd really have to judge the individual on his own merits, but in the abstract, the answer is not very.

The Drill SGT said...

I'm glad you picked up the German story. I called it out to my lawyer (more) liberal wife last night as an example of the slippery slope toward Sharia that the Europeans are experimenting with. They seem to be gutting western legal thought on things like:

1. family law
2. freedom of speech
3. freedom of religion
4. gay hate crimes

The problem can be summed up by saying that "Europe isn't experiencing Islamic immigration, but rather Islamic colonization"

Ann Althouse said...

Domestic violence is a feminist issue. The fact that men oppose it too or that men can be victimized by it too does not change the fact that feminists have worked hard and succeeded at getting the problem taken seriously, that it has had a disparate impact on women, and that it is intertwined -- as these two news stories today illustrate -- with the subordination of women.

The Drill SGT said...

MM,

why the "overseas" part. From what I have heard in the UK, 2nd and 3rd generation UK Muslims seem less willing to assimilate than their parents who came seeking the good life. It seems the children have a different set of expectations, fueled by an overly tolerant multiculturalist agenda propagated by the Western politico-media elites Eastern clerics

Positroll said...

While I don't agree with the judge, the decision was not as bad as it is portrayed in the media.
When discussing it, one should consider some additional facts:
(1) After the violence happened, the (female) judge had already ordered the husband to leave the apartment and forbade him any contact with the victim.
(2) German law requires as a rule a separation period of one year before a divirce can take place. This rule implements the constitutional protection of marriage. The idea is that this will allow the parties to try to reconsider and eventually come together again without the leagl hassle of a renewed wedding - especially if there are (as in the case at hand) children to be taken care of. This includes cases of domestic violence, where the cooling down period can be used for psychological treatment etc.
(3) The issue in the proceeding at hand was wether the circumstances of the case allowed for an exception to the rule. The question thus was not whether the the wife should take anymore beatings based on the Koran. the question was whether the case at hand was bad enough to require the immediate dissolution of the marriage.
(4) The judges - badly phrased, I admit - answer to this question was basically "well, when marrying a Muslim from Marocco you know that due to his upbringing there is an increased risc that domestic violence might happen. When you take that risc we will still protect you, but it weights against your case being so special that you can demand immediate resolution of the marriage.
(5) The wife's claim that the husband will pose less of a danger after the legal termination of the marriage to me does not seem conclusive.
(6) What still makes this a hardship case was that the husband had uttered death threats that the public prosecutor took seriously enough to start criminal proceedings. However, according to the judge, when she made her decision, she didn't know of the decision of the prosecutor.
(7) While not relevant for the legal reasoning, one should also take into account the following: It seems that the judge had been shot and badly wounded 10 years ago in the court when she pronounced another divorce in a domestic violence case. Small onder she prefers a cooling of period ...
(8) I won't go into the conflicts questions involved, since there is real work to do ...

MadisonMan said...

why the "overseas" part

In the abstract, a US Citizen to me just seems less a threat to be some wacko ultraconservative cleric-follower than someone from over there (which includes the UK). It's not a well-thought out prejudice.

I've heard, of course, that all women marry their fathers. I can only conclude that if my daughter did marry an ultraconservative cleric-follower, then that's what I am too.

Positroll said...

"Small onder she prefers a cooling of period ..."
Ikes. Read:
Small wonder she prefers a cooling - off period ...
I'll refrain from correcting my other typos, but that one was too bad ...

Cat said...

Bruce, that's what I am saying. It's about human rights, not women's rights.

Ann - I realize that domestic violence was not (and still not by some) taken as a serious issue. That beating your wife (or your kids) was seen as a family matter outside the law. But what I was trying to say was that when people put the "domestic abuse," label on something versus a charge of assault and battery, I think people still don't take it as seriously.

I apologize if I am particularly inarticulate this morning and not making my point well.

Cat said...

positroll - that sounds very German - you should have known that marrying a moroccan that this is what you get. I say it sounds German because my German friends are just as harsh, "she got hit by a car? Well what was she doing crossing the street?"

If the judge was traumatized by being shot (who wouldn't be) and it influences her decisions, she shouldn't be presiding over these cases.

Positroll said...

Cat,

(1) I was simply reporting what the judge was trying to say (as she explained in a latter interview) - this does not mean I agree with her ... (considering e.g. that she might have been more or less forced to marry him by her family)

(2) Maybe I should have highlighted this part:
The question thus was not whether the the wife should take anymore beatings based on the Koran. the question was whether the case at hand was bad enough to require the immediate dissolution of the marriage.
So, imho, NO, it was not really about human rights, even though the phrasing ("Zuechtigungsrecht" i.e. right to beat their wifes) of the decision (for which the judge has already apologized) might make one think so.

(3) Is it illegitimate to think that in general it is better to let the emotions cool down by seperating conflicting parties? I would not consider her unfit for the job for holding such a position ...

smokeandashes said...

I would like to recommend Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book Infidel to everyone. It is an effective smackdown of silly notion of multiculturalism and a powerful condemnation of treatment of women in islamic society. I highly recommend it.

Simon said...

To smokeandashes' recommendation, I would add (as always) Phylis Chesler's recent books.

Ann Althouse said...
"Domestic violence is a feminist issue ... it has had a disparate impact on women, and ... it is intertwined ... with the subordination of women."

As is polygamy generally, being all-but inherently misogynist.

The MinuteMan said...

Very interesting points by positroll.

Since the German judge was addressing the question of whether she should grant an expedited divorce (in addition to the protective order already in force), I suppose the real "equal justice" question would be, how do German courts normally treat this sort of domestic violence situation when the man and woman are both ethnic, cultural Germans?

And I have no idea as to the answer, but - here is the Times coverage of that story, and they don't even ask the question.

OK, a bonus question - suppose the common practice in Germany is to order the one year cooling off period in cases of domestic violence, based on the German experience that loutish men may beat their wives but rarely escalate to murder.

A Moroccan woman then argues that, given her husband's association with fundamentalist Islam, he is more likely to engage in an honor killing, and therefore she needs the expedited divorce.

1. Would *she* be allowed to cite the Koran as evidence of her husband's cultural background and possible future behavior?

2. Would *he* be able to demand that he be treated like any other loutish German who (we assume) maintains a clear line between beating and killing?

BTW, question (1) *may* have been the subtext for the comments reported by the wife's lawyer in the Times:

Terrified, the woman filed for divorce in October and requested that it be granted without the usual year of separation because her husband’s threats and beatings constituted an “unreasonable hardship.”

“We worried that he might think he had the right to kill her because she is still his wife,” Ms. Becker-Rojczyk said.


Do typical Germans really think they have the right to murder their wives? I did not know that.

Tom Maguire

Galvanized said...

The laws in a democratic country apply to all regardless of culture/religious beliefs. Laws reflect society's secular values, including protection of citizens' rights and safety. If a culture interferes with the aims of law as set by the majority in a democracy,regardless of where its citizens originated, then culture is irrelevant. That should always hold true. Law of the people can be amended as cultures reach majority, as democracy is dynamic. That is not to say, of course, that if democratic governments were indeed established in all corners of the world that laws would not permit this (mis)behavior because cultures indeed differ.
But democracy shapes culture itself, as it should eventually cause society to evolve toward being egalitarian, fostering some cultural/religious practices while prohibiting others according to valuing human rights, even over religious beliefs. This is why law and religion must be kept separate; otherwise, democracy cannot effectively spread to other cultures.

So now the question is -- how far-reaching should this influence of law go? Does it also extend to children's rights in the household, which is a problem among all cultures. Couldn't corporal punishment (spanking) also be considered castigation in some sense? Even Western culture permits that to some degree. It's just that some cultures equate women with children, some women and children as property. An evolved democracy would hopefully not do this.

Galvanized said...

And, smokeandashes, yes, I saw Ayaan Hirsi Ali (raised Muslim, now atheist) interviewed on Colbert Report, and she was really compelling in her argument against any religion shaping public policy. Infidel does sound like a great book. I was interested in reading it, too!

dave™© said...

Women's rights or multiculturalism: pick one.

Spoken like a true moronic brownshirt fuck.

You're slip's showing, lady. And its color is "wingnut misogynist."

Simon said...

Galvanized said...
"The laws in a democratic country apply to all regardless of culture/religious beliefs."

You'd think so, but when the Supreme Court so ruled, Congress virtually unanimously passed a law trying to overturn it (fortunately, the Court subsequently struck that law down, I'm glad to say). And we're not talking ancient history here, this is within the last twenty years.

As Lincoln warned us, "if [threats to the Republic] ever reach us it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher." That three Supreme Court justices, a President, and every member of Congress but three Senators were so anxious to be that author is astonishing to me.

Beth said...

Ann, thanks, you beat me to a response of what makes domestic violence a feminist issue. And Simon, I agree, too, that polygamy is largely a feminist issue as well. That doesn't exclude other interests, it just means feminists need to be involved.

I saw the German story on Broadsheet (a feminist blog) last night. IIRC, the German judge was female. How can she lose sight of the principle that people come to other countries seeking change, better opportunities, and greater freedom? The notion that one brings the shackles of one's medieval culture along and those supercede the law of the country you land in, is just abhorrent. I want to see how German women, immigrant and native, respond to this decision.

Hey said...

On non-muslim women marrying muslim men: it's a very, very, very bad idea. The major threat is that wives in muslim countries have no rights and are under constant threat of murder for "honor".

Not Without My Daughter is but one case of a frequent occurrence of muslim men using the rules of their home country to steal their children in case of marital breakup. The Hawach case that was just resolved had a Canadian woman whose ex husband took her children from a holiday in Australia to Lebanon. With assistance of several men (who were jailed and are now being released) she got her children back and was able to escape to Canada several weeks ago after months in hiding.

Heretic sects like the Ismailis are not a risk for both theological and geographic reasons. Ismailis are mainly Indian, with most immigrants in the West having been refugees from Uganda. Most Ismailis have no other country to go to, have roots in India several generations ago, and are cosmopolitan traders and business people (I have a number of Ismaili friends).

Positroll said...

"The laws in a democratic country apply to all regardless of culture/religious beliefs."
But not regardless of nationality. That why there is the whole legal field of conflicts of law. In our case, 2 Moroccans were concerned (at least at the time of marriage). I'm not sure how the court got to apply German substantive law (maybe under Art. 17 (1)-2 EGBGB after throwing out Moroccan law for not allowing divorce by court, but that is mere speculation). Anyway, the traditional rule in many civil law countries is that with respect to family law matters, common nationality trumps residence (with ordre public reservations, of course ...). But that is another can of worms.

Simon said...

Beth said...
"Ann, thanks, you beat me to a response of what makes domestic violence a feminist issue. And Simon, I agree, too, that polygamy is largely a feminist issue as well. That doesn't exclude other interests, it just means feminists need to be involved."

Exactly. I would phrase it like this, although you - being, it seems, more sympathetic to the third wave than I - may disagree, Beth, but I'll run it past you for you to comment on anyway: Any issue that disproportionately affects women qua women is a feminist issue. So even though I disagree with most feminists' position on abortion, for example, I must concede it's legitimately a feminist issue.

If there's any one issue which puts a wedge between other conservatives and me, it's that I'm far more sympathetic towards feminist ideas than many (although not all, and I reject the idea that one cannot be both a conservative and a feminist, although I wouldn't so classify myself) on the right seem to be.

Mortimer Brezny said...

As is polygamy generally, being all-but inherently misogynist.

And this is the problem. People talk about equality as a cure to subordination, but they ironically seem intent on colonizing others and forcing everyone to conform to their belief system. Not every man with multiple wives hates women; not every woman with multiple husbands hates men; indeed, that's rather absurd. The reason to have many spouses is you really, really like the opposite sex.

PatCA said...

"Women's rights or multiculturalism: pick one."

Multiculturalists are losing favor because they won't acknowledge there are universal standards of behavior. I suspect it's because that may tacitly echo a religious (shudder) ethic, as in "we are endowed by our Creator..."

In this case, the woman's 'culture' should have no bearing whatsoever on the judge's decision. We are not separate but equal, IMO.

Dewave said...

well, when marrying a Muslim from Marocco you know that due to his upbringing there is an increased risc that domestic violence might happen.

Really? I'm surprised someone would come out and say this. And if the statemetn is true, this situation considered acceptable?

It seems to me that if there is a group out there with known proclivities towards domestic violence, including the killing of women who have 'dishonored' them, that steps need to be taken to make it clear that such behavior is not going to be tolerated in a civilized society.

Unfortunately, that judge seems more concerned with showing her tolerance and multiculturalism than with protecting a woman in danger. I guess women in Islamic households just don't get the same rights as women in western households?

Mortimer Brezny said...

Any issue that disproportionately affects women qua women is a feminist issue.

Only if you consider valid the claim that feminists speak for all women. I highly doubt that controversial claim. Most women do not identify as feminists, and some even say they hate feminists, and yet value equality and the social changes of the last several decades. There is clearly a difference between your ordinary woman and an activist who works for NOW. And the ordinary woman doesn't think of the activist at NOW as her representative. Certainly the tens of millions who voted for Bush don't. Feminism is political and rooted in incoherent belief. It is not a coherently-formulated empirical project to improve the material status of all women. Though it is true that some feminist academics try to pretend that's what it is to justify its politicization of the family.

Jeff said...

Europe is rapidly sliding into dhimmi status as it promotes internal colonization by Islamic immigrants. A woman needn't be married to a barbarian in order to be raped by one. Indeed, the women are being left to fend for themselves.

ron st.amant said...

There are similar problems here in Toronto as well.
Undocumented aliens are not reporting domestic violence for fear of being arrested and deported.
The far left here is launching the idea of a 'no illegal status' protest. The reaction on the right (in some quarters) is largely like it is in the business community in the US...a sort of 'don't ask, don't tell', attemptin to limit immigration status from the things police can ask someone who reports domestic violence.

As a legal immigrant to Canada, someone who moved through the slow process of legal status I understand 'frustration' with bureaucracy. However difficult it was, I played by the rules and I think everyone should abide by the law.

There is a larger debate though: the idea of individual sovreignty versus state sovereignty.

And in that debate there are complex (and often paradoxical) issues.

For instance, for the 'one-worlder' sort of leftist, how can they legitimately argue that the invasion of Iraqwas illegal when they themselves offer that the idea of a national border is irrelevant?

For the right, how can they argue that an invasion of Iraq to 'bring democracy' to individuals, yet then argue that our own borders are somehow inviolable?

These are not easy questions to answer, I contend. But ones we should address.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Multiculturalists are losing favor because they won't acknowledge there are universal standards of behavior.

That's a very broad statement. I think a non-caricatured version of the position you are misrepresenting would probably focus on the fact that no society or culture is perfect and, given its imperfection, ours is in no position to impose our values on others. If Culture A were to become exactly like ours, it would give up its imperfections for ours, so it would still be imperfect. But it would lose its homegrown, authentic values for artifically imposed values, which may cause dislocations and resentment that lead to civil war, terrorism, or other social unrest.

I would like to know where these universal standards of behavior are located. They seem to reside in your brain. Or perhaps they reside in an abstract plane where the Ideal Chair and the Ideal Bed are located. Furthermore, I would think that if it is a standard, it by definition is not universal, because it is flexible and capable of diverse interpretation depending on the context.

Positroll said...

Really? I'm surprised someone would come out and say this.
Just to be clear (I said it above already but still): I was transcribing the reasoning of the judge, that does not mean that I agree with it. I would have to check some statistics before I making such a broad claim. My gut feeling tells me that it is probably true, but that could just be bias. And while the divorce judge in question should have ample knowledge in this respect, her judgment might me statistically clouded by the fact that mostly poor, uneducated Morrocons come to Europe ... O.k., I'm off ...

Positroll said...

Moroccans. Sorry ...and strike one "I" ...

The MinuteMan said...

Unfortunately, that judge seems more concerned with showing her tolerance and multiculturalism than with protecting a woman in danger. I guess women in Islamic households just don't get the same rights as women in western households?

I am repeating my earlier point, but - the woman in question had been granted a separation and a restraining order.

Normal German law would then call for a one year cooling off period; the woman wanted an expedited divorce for fear of her life.

Absent any evidence that a judge would have expedited a divorce for ethnic Germans in a similar domestic violence scenario, one might well argue that the judge was making an extra effort to treat the Morrocan just as she would treat a "regular" German.

One might further argue (speculatively, given the limited reporting) that it was the *woman* who first raised the prospect of an honor killing as being part of Muslim, but not German, practice, and that the judge rejected this argument as inappropriate.

What is missing from the reporting is any sense of how this case would have been handled in both parties were ethnically and culturally mainstream Germans.

Tom Maguire

madawaskan said...

Tom Maguire-

I'm sure I'm not getting your point.

But-you find that there is an inequity here?

When you select the following:

“We worried that he might think he had the right to kill her because she is still his wife,” Ms. Becker-Rojczyk said.

And then add your question-

Do typical Germans really think they have the right to murder their wives? I did not know that.

Basically I would think you could offer proof of the accused abuser's mind set by illustrating the cultural norms of the society that he was acculturalized to.

That is not an excuse for the Judge to use Islamic law in her reasoning-

It's not the woman getting to have her cake and eat it to in reference to Islamic law.

They are just using it to describe his state of mind and values.

That doesn't justify the judge doing the same in order to rationalize her not offering her all the same protections she would a German under German law.

I think we have Re-Weimared the Germans-it just took longer this time.

In other words they are scared stupid when tackling "religious issues" and err not on the side of caution about protecting the basic human rights of their citizens but instead err on the side of not looking tolerant of religion.

Simon said...

Mort, you concede too much ground, I think. In arguing that feminists don't speak for all women, you seem to suggest that NOW speaks for all feminists -- at least, that seems to be the implication when you support the statement that "[m]ost women do not identify as feminists" with the observation that "[t]here is clearly a difference between your ordinary woman and an activist who works for NOW": well of course that's so; there is a difference between your ordinary feminist and an activist who works for NOW. But if that's your claim (that NOW-style feminism = feminism, or that 3d wavers in the academy = feminism), I reject that: not all feminists are liberal feminists, and one doesn't have to self-identify as a feminist to be one by any objective standard.

Even if you don't agree with me, as a purely practical matter, you should see why your claim is not only a concession but a problematic concession. If that's what you're arguing (intentionally or not), you are in fact reinforcing the position of the very kind of feminists you dislike, because they would love people to believe that one can only be a liberal feminist to be a feminist at all. That kind of groupthink nonsense - that buying into feminism necessarily entails buying into liberal dogma - is precisely what I would think that a fan of this blog's author would want to reject. After all, that seems one of the more likely reasons why Marcotte, Valenti et al attack Ann so savagely: because she represents a total and visible repudiation of their worldview in which feminist must = liberal.

The MinuteMan said...

But-you find that there is an inequity here?

An injustice? Yes.

An inequity at law? Since I don't know German law, I can't say.

Suppose we recast the situation slightly - the woman wants an expedited divorce (not just a separation), acknowledges that such an outcome is very rare in cases of ethnic German domestic violence, but insists that she be judged differently since her husband is an Islamic fundamentalist who believes in honor killings.

Would the court be "guilty" of religious/ethnic profiling if it granted her request?

Or is this a case where separation of state and religion makes no sense, since the court is being asked to speculate on the man's likely future conduct, which may well be guided by his religious beliefs?

Simply, should the court be thinking about the man's religion when it rules?

As to how ethnic Germans might be treated in a separation/violence scenario, I have no doubt all my questions are answered here. Or would be, if I could read German.

Kirk said...

"I saw Ayaan Hirsi Ali ... interviewed on Colbert Report"

I saw this, too, and was very impressed with her ability to get something coherent across in that despicable venue.

madawaskan said...

Tom Maguire-

How about we subtract religion from the equation and just say that the woman is describing "cultural norms" from her old culture not religious values?

A culture she might have rightly believed she left behind. Evidence of that? The fact she is looking for relief from the German court system.

I don't know if that "solves" the equation, but the ethnic or racial profiling aspect you bring up is interesting.

I would hope courts would err on the side of caution and be more worried about preventing physical abuse.

madawaskan said...

Actually I've got that wrong.

She is using religious values to describe his mind set-and it's pretty hard to separate religious from social values particularly when referencing Morocco.

Hell we have a hard enough time doing it here.

Beth said...

Simon, I was going to reply to Mortimer, but I can't add anything to what you wrote. Nice work, especially noting that one doesn't have to self-identify as a feminist to hold feminist viewpoints, and that those viewpoints vary. I may have a hard time understanding or agreeing with some positions held by conservative feminists, but I don't deny there are conservative feminists. And as with any movement, as time goes on, what we call liberal and conservative will shift over time, and seemingly opposing categories will overlap. I'd call radical feminists' position on porn and free speech conservative, or perhaps more accurately, fundamentalist.

Beth said...

I followed up on the links in this story and the one at Broadsheet and am happy to find that the judge has been removed from the case, and members of parliament are calling for disciplinary action. But it still looks as though the wife's case won't come before a new judge anytime soon, so she's still in danger.

Galvanized said...

An equation for those of a foreign culture whose practices differ from the laws of the land that they inhabit (often, ironically, for higher education or increased opportunity):

multiculturalism = anarchy

Therefore, multiculturalism reaches wayyyy beyond cultural sensitivity and into legal dissent.

That's essentially it, isn't it? I believe in cultural sensitivity, but if multiculturalism is a "get-out-of-jail-free card," I'm siding with conformity.

Dewave said...

Normal German law would then call for a one year cooling off period; the woman wanted an expedited divorce for fear of her life.

I understand that. And then the judge basically said "Well, you married a Muslim, so you asked for having to live in fear of your life because of their practice of honor killings"

Cedarford said...

Hey - On non-muslim women marrying muslim men: it's a very, very, very bad idea. The major threat is that wives in muslim countries have no rights and are under constant threat of murder for "honor".

Left unsaid is that no Muslim women are permitted to date, let alone marry infidels. To do so would be the equivalent offense to a Western family of their daughter getting caught driving drunk after running a train on the football team. In hard Islamic families in Europe, it means a beating or even death (honor killing).

All the conversation about Western women and their Muslim lovers omits why the reverse gender relationship does not exist. It is so because Islam is a conquering religion that has always permitted Muslim men to take war booty or chase "booty" in peacetime courting...because it helps Islamic conquest and consolidation of conquered lands to reach "purity" - being all Muslim over time except for small neumbers of Dhimmmi Christians and Jews kept to do unclean jobs - to remove fertile females from the enemy's ranks and by ensuring the children are raised Muslim, to grow the Ummah as the infidel camp loses numbers of possible fighters over time. Inside the Ummah, all but Syria and Lebanon are over 95% pure Muslim. All started with conquering Arabs in the minority.

Think of Muslims as the Borg.

Under multiculti, we are supposed to welcome this....

Richard Dolan said...

This is an interesting thread but I don't want to repeat what's been said before.

These stories suggest that there are two very different concepts of "immiigration" and what it means in play here. There was a time when an immigrant expected to, indeed, wanted to, become a citizen of his adopted country: the "old country" and its legal regime were left behind as the immigrant embraced the rules that governed in his adopted country. The paradigm in play in both the German and NYC stories is the opposite idea that the adopted country instead becomes a collection of enclaves where the immigrants get to recreate their "old country" with the tacit of implicit approval of the host country.

To put it gently, the concept of "immigration" and all that it implies is radically different in the two models.

The MinuteMan said...

And then the judge basically said "Well, you married a Muslim, so you asked for having to live in fear of your life because of their practice of honor killings"

It is worth keeping in mind that it was the woman's attorney that went public with this, so we may be getting spun a bit. For all I know, the woman's attorney submitted some Koran verse about honor killings and the judge replied with her own passage with the implication that beatings (but not murder) would be the norm.

More likely, the judge is daft. But it would be nice to know more.

Anyway, when I am King, I have no doubt that as part of my enlightened and beneficient rule I will treat people differently based on their religious/cultural values - if a man comes from a society that tolerates or encourages honor killings, I will keep that in mind during a divorce proceeding.

But is that equal treatment under the law? The very first commenter asked the right question, and I don't think any of us have the answer - "If they were [ethnically / culturally] German, would he have ruled differently?".

If we are outraged because this man was treated like an ordinary German rather than as the Muslim he is, well, hmm.

Steven said...

I think a non-caricatured version of the position you are misrepresenting would probably focus on the fact that no society or culture is perfect and, given its imperfection, ours is in no position to impose our values on others.

If there are no universal standards of morality, you can't show that any culture is imperfect, because you run into a "by what standard is it imperfect" question. The multicultural argument thus falls to a mere personal preference. Only if there is a universal standard of morality can multiculturalism be anything more than a personal preference -- and if there is a universal standard of morality, then cultures can be judged by their adherence to it.

Similarly, you say

But it would lose its homegrown, authentic values for artifically imposed values, which may cause dislocations and resentment that lead to civil war, terrorism, or other social unrest.

By what standard is homegrown good? By what standard is authentic good? By what standard is social unrest not good?

Multiculturalists are completely dependent on the existence of a culture-independent standards for their arguments. But the existence of such a standard contradicts the entire basis of multiculturalism. It is self-refuting nonsense.

Simon said...

Re equal treatment, if I'm remembering right, Louis Michael Seidman suggested at the FedSoc symposium earlier this year that equal protection requires government to treat people the same to the extent that they're the same, but may also require government to treat them differently to the extent they're different. I'm not sure that I buy that as a way of interpreting the equal protection clause, but of course, we aren't talking about the equal protection clause here, but conceptually about the platonic ideal of equal protection and Seidman's premise is an interesting lens through which to view the platonic ideal of equal protection. A woman in a marriage where her spouse doesn't believe in honor killings is not similarly-situated to a woman in a marriage where her spouse does believe in honor killings; at a minimum, the state may treat two such husbands differently, and indeed, it may arguably be obligated to do so.

Personally, I'm not much interested in demonstrating "cultural sensitivity towards a culture that I think is shot through with hostility to women's rights[,] rotten to the core, thoroughly and pervasively misogynist, ... [and] I don't have any objection to the state using its authority to break the back of invidious practises (segregation, abortion, gender apartheid, etc.)." "[T]o the extent that the culture and practices of Islam include, inter alia, polygamy, domestic violence, rape and sexual assault in the home, female genital mutilation, honor killings, gender apartheid, mutilation as punishment for petty crimes and capital punishment for heresy and apostasy, as [Phyllis] Chesler asseverates, we should desire to change that culture and those practices," and the courts should focus on protecting women, not coddling femicide.

AlaskaJack said...

Mortimer B asks "where those universal standards of behavior are located". His assumption is that such standards must have spacial characteristics like beds and chairs. If they do not, his question makes little sense.

Similarly, one might ask where perfect triangles or perfect circles are "located". If we are unable to locate them anywhere in the same space that we find occupied by material objects, do we conclude they do not exist?

If universal moral standards do not exist, then, by definition, any moral principle is merely the expression of a subjective preference or desire, no different, really, from a preference for vanilla ice cream over chocolate.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Similarly, one might ask where perfect triangles or perfect circles are "located". If we are unable to locate them anywhere in the same space that we find occupied by material objects, do we conclude they do not exist?

Actually, perfect triangles are stipulative definitions. They exist as concepts in human minds that accept them. So you are correct that if moral standards are like triangles then even if moral standards are "objectively" configured are really just personal preferences. The only problem I see in your argument is that standards of behavior, unlike triangles, necessarily influence behavior. To be universal, a rule of behavior (I think rule instead of standard was meant) would have to be accepted and followed by everyone. If different cultures have different rules with regard to x, then that is proof that there is no universal rule of behavior with regard to x. It is conceptually possible that there could be such a universal rule, just as human minds can conceive of perfect triangles, but there is no such rule running across actual cultures that in exist in time and space.

Mortimer Brezny said...

If there are no universal standards of morality, you can't show that any culture is imperfect, because you run into a "by what standard is it imperfect" question.

Not really. Any culture is imperfect to the extent that anyone person within it or without it can conceive of it being better.

Revenant said...

Societies can be multicultural. Laws and governments cannot be. It is essential to democracy that the same rules apply to everybody.

Mortimer Brezny said...

By what standard is homegrown good? By what standard is authentic good? By what standard is social unrest not good?

This is one of the silliest sorites I have ever read. If you would like to live inauthentically according to externally imposed rules that cause social unrest all around you, then by all means move to a totalitarian state in the midst of civil war. Short of doing that, shut up.

Galvanized said...
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Galvanized said...

Right, moral/cultural relativism, the widespread belief nowadays that there is no clear boundary between right and wrong. But it is wrong when one physically suffers at another's hands, at another's whim, and is considered inferior due to race, sex, or social status. It's about a clash of modern civilized society with antiquated cultural beliefs. Enlightenment is not just an alternate viewpoint -- it is about protecting human rights in places, on lands where such have already been established. To again allow maltreatment in any context is to regress as a society. How is that reasonable? It's just that simple.

Mortimer Brezny said...

you seem to suggest that NOW speaks for all feminists --

No, that was just an example of feminists who don't speak for all women. The rest of your comment is premised on this misunderstanding of my post. I didn't get into varieties of feminism because making such distinctions is irrelevant to my actual argument.

Mortimer Brezny said...
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Mortimer Brezny said...

To again allow maltreatment in any context is to regress as a society. How is that reasonable?

It depends on what maltreatment is and depends on what the boundaries of reasonableness are. It may be reasonable to stamp out prostitution because it spreads disease or reasonable to tolerate prostitution because mandating disease testing of prostitutes is not so costly. Then again, if you think prostitution offends human dignity, you might try to stamp it out even if it wrecks your budget and requires tax raises that stifle the economy without offsetting gains. The question isn't whether it's reasonable to have a culture that as an accident of history is configured in a certain way; it's whether it is reasonable to take steps XYZ to change it given the costs and benefits of the change and the comparative costs and benefits of doing nothing. You can include moral costs and benefits in there, too, e.g., the costs of dominating other people by insisting they adopt Enlightenment values despite that fact that your enlightened economy prevents them from capturing the market on goat hair, which is the only resource they've left that your nation or its allies didn't steal.

Dewave said...

What is your actual argument, mortimer? It appears to be the infantile claim that there are no absolute standards of good and evil, and thus no culture can be judged inferior to another culture, but I trust I have misread what you are saying.

There was a time when an immigrant expected to, indeed, wanted to, become a citizen of his adopted country: the "old country" and its legal regime were left behind as the immigrant embraced the rules that governed in his adopted country.

This also raises an excellent point.

Immigrants, by definition, wish to assimilate into the culture they are moving to. They adopt it's rules and laws and speech and culture as their own. However, at the same time, some of their culture gets disseminated into the melting pot of their new host culture and everyone is enriched by it.

The correct word for incoming groups that wish to live in isolated enclaves, despise the culture of their new country, and wish to set up their own laws, is not 'immigrants'. It is 'invaders'.

Mortimer Brezny said...

It appears to be the infantile claim that there are no absolute standards of good and evil, and thus no culture can be judged inferior to another culture, but I trust I have misread what you are saying.

1. I'm not a multiculturalist, but I find enlightenment fundamentalism to be morally repugnant, because its adherents do not believe in the freedom and liberty that they espouse. They want to dominate everyone and believe in oppressive conformity cloaked in the shibboleth of "Reason".
2. I don't think we should invade every country where there are incidents of domestic violence.

But I'm sure you think both points are infantile.

PatCA said...

"...which may cause dislocations and resentment that lead to civil war, terrorism, or other social unrest."

Right out of Sociology 101!

Cultural relativists always bring up the threats of civil war, etc. (with a big careful "may") as a consequence of "imposing" our standards on others. No one has ever proven a causal connection-- but even if they did, I want our standards enforced in our country.

I am not arguing for a Platonic ideal but ideals as expressed in our founding documents. I'm not willing to let more women or men be beaten because we refuse to "impose" our imperfect standards of behavior on others.

Personally, I think you just like the multiple-wife deal. :)

Harkonnendog said...

That's a very broad statement. I think a non-caricatured version of the position you are misrepresenting would probably focus on the fact that no society or culture is perfect and, given its imperfection, ours is in no position to impose our values on others.

The is the "You should never say should or never" argument, which is always good for a laugh.

A culture certainly is in a position to impose values on people who immigrate to a country with that culture. And while no culture is perfect, that does NOT mean that some cultures aren't better than others. And a culture that enslaves women, or normalizes beating them, IS inferior to one that does not. That is an absolute statement and it is completely true. It is right next to the Plato's Ideal Table, sitting on top of Plato's Ideal Footstool, being warmed by the Plato's Ideal Fire with Plato's Ideal Heat through Plato's Ideal Radiation and Convection, and if one can't accept that, if one demands some sort of proof, they're Plato's Ideal Fugtard.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Nice work, especially noting that one doesn't have to self-identify as a feminist to hold feminist viewpoints, and that those viewpoints vary.

My point was simply that women who self-identify as feminists are more politically active and likelier to be Kool-Aid drinkers than those who don't. I was not making the point that any woman who fails to tell a pollster she is a feminist must not be one. I quite clearly say "Most women do not identify as feminists, and some even say they hate feminists, and yet value equality and the social changes of the last several decades." I'm not sure what work you think the "and yet" is doing in there, but you interpretation suggests you just ignored it.

Mortimer Brezny said...

And a culture that enslaves women, or normalizes beating them, IS inferior to one that does not. That is an absolute statement and it is completely true. It is right next to the Plato's Ideal Table, sitting on top of Plato's Ideal Footstool, being warmed by the Plato's Ideal Fire with Plato's Ideal Heat through Plato's Ideal Radiation and Convection, and if one can't accept that, if one demands some sort of proof, they're Plato's Ideal Fugtard.

At least you concede to the argument you've actually made, and I commend you for it. The problem, of course, is that Plato was an absolutist idiot who couldn't get past the "inconsistency" of 5 being both smaller than 7 and larger than 3. Oh my goodness, it's large and small at the same time! What a paradox! Or maybe Platonic thought simply has inherent limits. Yes, it simply has limits. That is why we shouldn't apply it to everything and shouldn't distort our understanding of reality based on it. I find problematic your statement "That is an absolute statement and it is completely true." I'm not sure how you are sure that your statement is true if the proof that it is true exists only in an Ideal plane that you cannot access. You have no idea whether it is true because you can't access the proof because it is in an Ideal plane. So your statement is completely incredible and without justification. I certainly wouldn't vote for military action, or domestic immigration laws, on the basis of unjustifiable and incredible beliefs. And neither would Plato.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Cultural relativists always bring up the threats of civil war, etc. (with a big careful "may") as a consequence of "imposing" our standards on others. No one has ever proven a causal connection-- but even if they did, I want our standards enforced in our country.

The may was not an indication of spurious speculation. Look to Iraq. Look to any country that was colonized and developed a resistance. Read the newspaper or take a basic course on history. Sure, there is no causal connection between an armed resistance to Armed Force X and the fact that Armed Force X invdaded and is occupying the country. And no, there is no relationship between a country's foreign policy goal of imposing its values on others and the cultural isolation of its immigrant population that left such countries. None at all. I mean, it's not like anyone went around beating Arabs after we invaded Iraq.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I'm not willing to let more women or men be beaten

And I don't think run-of-the-mill assault and battery is a constitutional crisis.

Harkonnendog said...

I'm not sure how you are sure that your statement is true if the proof that it is true exists only in an Ideal plane that you cannot access.
I CAN access it, though. Anybody can. Some people choose to pretend, even to themselves, that they cannot.
We don't have limitless access, but that doesn't mean we have NO access. (The very contention that we have NO access would require access, if that contention were true, which it is not. So people who claim we have no true access depend on false access to make their claim.)

(Btw I didn't make the original argument. I jumped in later.)

I certainly wouldn't vote for military action, or domestic immigration laws, on the basis of unjustifiable and incredible beliefs.
Acknowledging that a culture is inferior doesn't require one to change it, though. Anyway, considering the implications of believing something is a horrible way to figure out whether you believe it or not.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Women's rights or multiculturalism: pick one. Either there is equal justice under the law or there is not.

What I think a lot of people refuse to acknowledge is the racial issue here. I'm sure I can dig something out of the Old Testament where I can justify giving the old lady a belt or two but as a white male Christian, such things are verboten in polite society. However, in secular Germany, somehow a Muslim Morrocan can convince a judge that the Koran says its ok and she says Sicher! (sure).

Its never been an issue of religion. Make the Da Vinci Code into a movie and its considered art. Publish some cartoons of Mohammed and you're 'culturally insensitive'.

Multiculturalism is fine and dandy up to the point that it's tenents conflict with the values and mores of the host country.

PatCA said...

That's really weak, Brezny. Let me know when you have compiled a list of all the wars in history and their purported causes and effects, and we can add up whether or not it's a good idea to change the culture of radical Islam today--in the West, and in the countries who torment their own populace while we refuse to interfere out of respect for their "culture," sovereignty, etc.

I'd like to know what your definition of culture is, too.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I CAN access it, though. Anybody can. Some people choose to pretend, even to themselves, that they cannot.

That's nice. But what you're really saying is you believe it, therefore it is true. That is entirely different than saying, if it is hypothetically true, then certain consequences logically follow (which was the point of me bringing up stipulative definitions). You're essentially arguing that positing a hypothetical proves its antecedent, which is false.

We don't have limitless access, but that doesn't mean we have NO access. (The very contention that we have NO access would require access, if that contention were true, which it is not. So people who claim we have no true access depend on false access to make their claim.)

Not really. I can tell you it isn't snowing without having a Doppler radar. But you can't tell me the Doppler radar proves it isn't snowing without a Doppler radar.

Anyway, considering the implications of believing something is a horrible way to figure out whether you believe it or not.

Not really. I wouldn't entertain a belief if it required me to kill innocent children. I don't see how that is more horrible than entertaining the belief and then killing several innocent children. Anyway, we aren't talking about beliefs -- we're talking about taking actions and justifying them with beliefs. It is a fine response to argue that the particular beliefs justifying an action, or a call to action, are unjustifiable.

Mortimer Brezny said...

That's really weak, Brezny. Let me know when you have compiled a list of all the wars in history and their purported causes and effects, and we can add up whether or not it's a good idea to change the culture of radical Islam today

Actually, the burden is on you. You're the one arguing we should impose our beliefs and values on others, so you're the one who needs to justify it. I haven't advocated doing anything. I'm waiting to see your compliation of "a list of all the wars in history and their purported causes and effects, [so] we can add up whether or not it's a good idea to change the culture of radical Islam today". But I doubt you have one. That's the point.

Mortimer Brezny said...

and in the countries who torment their own populace while we refuse to interfere out of respect for their "culture," sovereignty, etc.

Oh, so you advocate invading all of them?

Harkonnendog said...

Really, Brezny. Really. If you can know something I can know something, and if I can't know something you can't know I can't know it.

Not really. I wouldn't entertain a belief if it required me to kill innocent children. Of course you wouldn't, because you believe all beliefs (accept the belief that beliefs aren't all equally true) are equally true, which is to say they are all equally untrue, or neither or neither or whatever (it is ridiculous and belongs down the rabbit hole). But all beliefs aren't equally true, which is why you shouldn't believe that.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I acknowledge there is a distinction between belief and knowledge, which you fail to recognize, despite your appeals to Plato. The nonsensicality of your position is illustrated by your latest riff of gibberish.

Harkonnendog said...

Hehehe. Acknowledging a distinction between belief and knowledge has nothing to do with your inability to perceive when a given statement is truth rather than belief.

In this context, the very idea that the antonym of belief is knowledge evidences nihilism so profound I doubt you're aware of the philosophical axioms you follow.

And there was no gibberish in what I wrote. Only wisdom. Really. Only wisdom.

PatCA said...

No, Brezny, you are the one who says we cannot impose our culture on others, even co-citizens.

But you keep changing your terminology to veer off on faux philosophical tangents, so there's no point in this discussion any more.

Hooray for the purity of anarchy and nihilism!

Beth said...

A woman in a marriage where her spouse doesn't believe in honor killings is not similarly-situated to a woman in a marriage where her spouse does believe in honor killings; at a minimum, the state may treat two such husbands differently, and indeed, it may arguably be obligated to do so.


And I hope that different treatment includes issuing a restraining order against the second husband.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Hooray for the purity of anarchy and nihilism!

Yes, I am an anarchist and a nihilist because I demand valid reasons before committing our troops to invade other countries.

At least I don't march for totalitarianism under the banner of equality.

Mortimer Brezny said...

In this context, the very idea that the antonym of belief is knowledge evidences nihilism so profound I doubt you're aware of the philosophical axioms you follow.

A distinction is not necessarily an antonym. You might try not reading your own flawed biases into what I write. The nihilism you speak of is your own.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Not to mention solipsism.

Mortimer Brezny said...

No, Brezny, you are the one who says we cannot impose our culture on others, even co-citizens.

I don't think citizenship entitles you to tyrannize other citizens. I tend not to support re-education camps. Oh no. The anarchy.

Daryl Herbert said...

My favorite question is, are the Islamic advocacy groups going to angrily denounce the idea that wife beating is supported by the Koran, or angrily denounce anyone who questions the wisdom of the Koran?

This judge is putting the Muslim extremists in a difficult spot. They don't like either option. One means they have to give up wife beating, the other means they have to publicly defend it.

In a way, I think the judge is creating an Althouse-type vortex with her quirky decision.

Simon said...

Beth said...
"And I hope that different treatment includes issuing a restraining order against the second husband."

At a minimum, yes, I would think.

AlaskaJack said...

Well, slowly but surely, we are finding out how Mortimer B. thinks things realy are. So far we know this:
1) Mortimer believes all moral principles are expressions of subjective taste or preference.
2) Since Mortimer believes 1) is true, he must also believe that no moral principle is either true or false.
3) Motrimer believes some moral principles are "morally repugnant".
4) But since he believes 2) is true, Mortimer must admit that he can produce no rational argument showing that the moral principle he finds to be "repugnant" is false.
"De gustibus non est disputandum."
5) Finally, whether Mortimer's preferred moral principle prevails over his opponent's "repugnant" moral principle depends on who is the strongest.

When all is said and done, it turns out that Mortimer is really just a modern day Thrasymachus. No wonder he finds Plato to be an "idiot".

Mortimer Brezny said...
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Mortimer Brezny said...

One means they have to give up wife beating, the other means they have to publicly defend it.

You don't have to actually defend wife-beating. You can simply argue that it should be tolerated so long as it isn't too egregious and egregious cases are treated criminally. That's the same attitude many states take toward drug use and possession, another crime that generally occurs within the home.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I never argued that no moral principle can be true or false, just that I saw no proof in the arguments presented of the existence of universal moral standards of behavior (and the proper term here is rules). Something need not be universal to be true, which is part of why Plato is an absolutist idiot. If you think only in categoricals (or insist on quoting others out of context), you aren't very smart.

As for my use of morally repugnant, I made quite clear that it was the hypocrisy and bad faith of enlightenment fundamentalism that bothered me. I do not need a rational argument against hypocrisy and bad faith as moral principles because neither acts of hypocrisy nor acts of bad faith are moral principles. My argument against liars who seek to dominate others is that I might be one of those others. That argument surely is rational if I value my liberty.

I do not see how opposing tyranny puts me on par with Thrasymachus, but I will note that Plato is widely considered by classics scholars to have misrepresented Thrasymachus's arguments. You do the same. Nowhere did I say that all moral principles are matters of taste -- indeed, we have not been discussing principles, we have been discussing "standards" and I have consistently noted the proper term in this context is rules.

I do not think rules, standards, and principles are identical. Each is different from the rest. And no, that doesn't necessarily make any of them antonyms of the others; they are all species of the same genus.

Paco Wové said...

"You can simply argue that it should be tolerated so long as it isn't too egregious..."

What does non-egregious wife-beating look like?

AlaskaJack said...

In spite of his subjectivism, Mortimer B. still insists that moral principles (or "rules" as he call them) can be "true" or "false". But if any given moral "rule" is simply an expression of a subjective preference, it is difficult to see how this could be.

For example, suppose I say "I believe this moral principle (or rule) is true: It is always morally wrong to torture a small child for the purpose of giving pleasure to the torturer." Mortimer understands this this proposition to be merely a statement of my subjective preferece. Now it may be true or not true as to whether I actually believe this moral rule is "true", but the moral rule itself can be neither true nor false. According to Mortimer, it is nothing more than a purely subjective report on how I "feel" about the wanton torture of children. This is why he objects to universal moral rules.

A depraved sadist may believe the opposite moral rule: "It is always morally right to torture a small child if doing so gives pleasure to the torturer." Now Mortimer may argue with the sadist that he (the sadist) does not really believe this, but given Mortimer's belief that all moral rules are subjective, he cannot argue that the sadist's rule is false anymore than he could argue that one's preference for vanilla ice cream is false.

Mortimer's ethical subjectivism has led him into this box canyon. If he is unhappy and has a problem with this, then he is in need of a new ethical theory. A serious study of Plato and Joseph Butler may be just the medicine that he requires.

Mortimer Brezny said...

For example, suppose I say "I believe this moral principle (or rule) is true: It is always morally wrong to torture a small child for the purpose of giving pleasure to the torturer." Mortimer understands this this proposition to be merely a statement of my subjective preferece.

Actually, I made no such comment and that is not my position. My position is that when you say "I believe" you are expressing what you believe. It is also my position that one can make a distinction between beliefs and knowledge, a distinction that Plato himself made and which features prominently in Plato's Republic.

Mortimer Brezny said...

In spite of his subjectivism, Mortimer B. still insists that moral principles (or "rules" as he call them) can be "true" or "false".

I never made this claim.

Mortimer Brezny said...

What does non-egregious wife-beating look like?

On a particular level, it occurs infrequently, no bruises or blood result, the wife may have provoked it by hurling objects at the guy, both parties were drunk, and the wife doesn't care to press charges, because she got in a few good hits.

But I wasn't talking about that. I was talking about the overall incidence of the behavior. If 2% of households have the kind of domestic violence described in the first paragraph of this post, perhaps the police could better spend their time dealing with more serious crime, like the multiple checks the "battered wife" in my hypo has bounced.

Again, no one is defending wife-beating. Just pointing out that privacy-piercing regulation perhaps isn't the most cost effective solution.

Jeff said...

Polygamy in the UK:

http://tinyurl.com/2bna3r