Many years ago I read a thought-provoking science-fiction short story about a sociologist who specialized in the important field of bureaucratic expansionism. I can’t recall the story’s title, and I haven’t found the story on the Web, but a colleague better schooled in sci-fi can probably identify it.
Through my hazy memories, however, it goes something like this. The sociologist is excited because he thinks he has gone farther than anyone else in discovering the sociological laws of organizational success. But how can he be sure? Inspired by a blend of scientific curiosity and a sense of fun, he makes friends with his mother’s sewing circle and persuades its members to reorganize it along his scientific lines.
Which brings me not to Donald Trump but to the New Year’s riots in Cologne and two other German cities, in which one woman was raped, about 90 others grossly assaulted sexually, and New Year revelers of both sexes jostled, attacked, robbed, and threatened by an estimated 1,000 men of North African and Middle Eastern appearance in “organized” criminal gangs.
Whatever Mohammed’s virtues or defects as a prophet, he was one helluva practical sociologist.
If we exclude divine favor as an explanation of this long advance, as Christians and post-Christian secularists presumably should, the rules that explain it include capital punishment for leaving Islam (a.k.a. apostasy), which is presumably a disincentive to doing so; strict rules for regular public prayer, which strengthen group solidarity; a privileged position for men over women, amounting in practice to ownership of them as either wives or concubines; a hierarchical structure within Islamic society that places Muslims in a position above non-Muslims in law, government, and social life; and a religious orthodoxy that endows Muslims with a general superiority (and sense of superiority) over others in non-Islamic societies.
Taken together, these rules help to shape a Muslim community that is cohesive, conscious of its separation from the rest of society, resistant to influences likely to undermine its cohesion, self-policing through its male members, and — because its sense of superiority is not reflected in its actual status either locally or globally — prey to resentment and hostility toward those whom it blames for its unjust subordination.
To be sure, a hundred qualifications should be added to this picture. Other religions also have rules to keep their adherents from drifting away or being corrupted into apostasy, but in recent centuries none so brutally — or so effectively. In practice, Muslim-majority societies of the past have sometimes shown tolerance to minorities and even allowed non-Muslims to hold high military and political positions, as under the Ottomans. And the majority of ordinary, decent Muslims, especially in non-Muslim Western societies, are far more interested in getting good jobs, raising happy families, and getting on with their neighbors than in martyrdom or advancing the interests of the umma or the local mosque. And much else.
That said, the minority that supports aggressive jihadism (or is simply contemptuous of non-Muslim society) is not just larger but, as opinion polls show, far larger than similar tendencies in other religions and ideologies. That minority seeks to impose its rules both on fellow Muslims and on the wider society. And it has had remarkable success in areas where Muslims predominate locally, making U.K. state schools conform to Islamic teaching and practices, including the separation of the sexes; establishing “no-go areas” of European cities where police go only by agreement and where in their absence Muslim rules on alcohol and modest female dress are enforced by violence; and turning local governments into reliable Muslim fiefdoms through levels of voter fraud not known in England since the mid-19th century.
But the most disturbing effects occur when the Muslim sense of superiority over non-Muslims combines with the Muslim males’ sense of superiority over women. Last year that combination produced the scandal in Rotherham, in which no fewer than 1,400 young women, most of them white, working-class “Christian” girls, were raped, tortured, beaten, abused, prostituted, passed from hand to hand, and abused in almost every conceivable way by gangs of Muslim men of Pakistani background who despised their victims as sluts and “worthless.” Their story, which is heart-rending, is told here. But the same basic narrative, varying only in the details, was replayed in Oxford, Birmingham, Oldham, and about 20 more medium-size English provincial towns in the last decade.
As for the perpetrators, they were driven not solely by lust but also by communal politics and a particular contempt for non-Muslim girls. It was not derived from Islamic doctrines, which they were too uneducated to know. As the distinguished Welsh sociologist Christie Davies has pointed out, however:
What they did know is that under Islam women are inferior beings who should be denied autonomy — particularly over their own bodies — sexual property, the property of their male relatives. If Muslim women step out of line, they are liable to be the victims of an honour killing. If they suffer a sexual assault, they are forced to say nothing, lest disgrace fall on their families, even when they themselves are entirely innocent.
For Muslims, non-Muslims are in every way inferior and the freedom enjoyed by their womenfolk is the worst aspect of that inferiority. In consequence non-Muslim women may be attacked and exploited without compunction. There is a direct link between the insistence on the wearing of a hijab for those within the fold and the raping of those outside, between an obsession with modesty for those women who are family property and the utter disregard for the rights of those women who are free.
What happened this week to the women in Cologne differs in important ways from the abuse of the young girls in Rotherham. But it proceeds from the same Muslim group loyalty and sense of superiorities inherent in Islam. What the rioters in Cologne demonstrated in the crudest possible way was that among the things they wanted to take were “our” women. Our own society finds such logic hard to follow: In what sense are modern independent women anyone else’s property? But by the logic of the societies and religion from which the rioters and most migrants come, women are either behind the veil, and thus the property of the family, or on the street, and thus the property of anyone. And the rioters were imposing their logic, values, and identity on us on the significant date of New Year’s Day.
Nor did the initial reaction of the German authorities differ very much from that of various Rotherham officials. The police did little at the time; no one was arrested. Indeed, they announced that the night had been a peaceful one. The media made no mention of the event. All told, the story was suppressed for three days by the media, the police, the Cologne authorities, and the federal government until it began to seep out through social media. When it could no longer be denied, the local (female) mayor warned women to travel in groups in future, and federal ministers were concerned mainly to warn that these crimes should not be linked to the “welcome policy” that Chancellor Merkel had extended to migrants. It would be, said one minister, an abuse of debate to do so.
I don’t think German officials have quite thought this one through. Either the misogynistic rioters included a significant number of recently arrived migrants or they did not. If they did, then the migration fed directly into the riots; if they did not, then the rioters were people of “North African and Arab appearance” who had previously been law-abiding but who now felt able and entitled to assault local women in public without much fear of the consequences. What changed them? What gave them that confidence? The obvious answer is that those rioters who had been living in Germany for some years, maybe even having been born there, have been emboldened by the arrival of many others of similar origin, faith, or “appearance,” and the potential arrival of many more. They sense that the German authorities are restrained from halting immigration or imposing Western values on the migrants, or even preventing them from imposing their values on the locals. And as the feminists say, they feel “empowered” as a result.Policy in Germany, the U.K., France, and the U.S. since the late 20th century has been one of killing the Muslim sense of superiority with kindness and expecting Muslim migrants to gradually surrender to the lures of Western liberal-democratic capitalism. It’s not an unreasonable policy; it was adopted in part from sympathy for ordinary, respectable Muslim families, some of whom did adapt; and I can understand why governments pursued it. But it simply hasn’t worked. And it will fail more and more as more and more migrants arrive to strengthen Muslim solidarity and to weaken pressures for assimilation. Germany is today in a state of shock; France on the verge of serious communal conflict, even perhaps a low-level civil war; the European Union dithering, with no idea of how to cope with the expected future levels of mass migration; the Brits wondering how they can regain control of their border whether they are in or out of the EU.
Which brings me finally to Donald Trump. His policy of simply halting Muslim immigration has been denounced all around. It is, of course, discriminatory and thus a mortal sin in today’s politics. Fine. Let’s rule it out. But if his critics don’t want a blanket moratorium on all immigration — which I assume they don’t — and if they don’t want to repeat the experiences of France and Germany in 30 years’ time — which I also assume they don’t — shouldn’t they tell us what they will do?
And, for once, that’s not a rhetorical question.
— John O’Sullivan is an editor-at-large of National Review and a senior fellow of the National Review Institute.
[P.S. My thanks to Fred Schwarz for tracking down the title of the sci-fi story. It’s “The Snowball Effect,” by Katherine MacLean, published in 1952. And I'm going to go back and read it.]