“Smart Growth” and Radical Islam


Away up north, Jeff Jacoby uses his Boston Globe column to offer some explanation for “Why there are Muslim ghettos in Belgium, but not in the US“:

At a time when populist demagogues are doing so much damage to our social fabric, it is well to remember why Molenbeek is a European phenomenon, and not an American one. At the core of the American experience is a conviction that immigrants who come to America can and should become Americans. Patriotic assimilation turns profoundly dissimilar foreigners into proud and happy Americans. “Muslims in the United States,” Pew found, “reject extremism by much larger margins than most Muslim publics” around the world.

That aspect can’t be disputed, although it’s a little too easy to stop there.  Another factor one would have to cite would be that the United States is not reachable by land from all-Muslim countries, so the poor immigrants we draw here for work tend to be Central and South American Hispanics, who tend to be Christians.

I suspect, as well, that the sheer vastness of the United States helps, as well.  In fact, I wonder if that bane of progressives, sprawl, doesn’t have some benefits.  The thought occurred to me while reading about Grow Smart Rhode Island’s objections to Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s helping Citizens Financial move its operations to an area currently covered with trees:

“We object … to the decision by the Raimondo Administration to commit public resources to help facilitate the type of move that undermines Rhode Island’s progress in incentivizing the revitalization of its cities and town centers while protecting and preserving its remaining farmland and forestland,” Grow Smart said in a news release.

Cities and dense, “walkable” town centers would seem much more conducive to the development of ethnic enclaves.  Part of assimilation is interacting with people who are different.  It’s one thing to hear radical messages from a religious figure and then go live and shop among the people you’re supposed to hate.  It’s another to hear those messages and then go about your life among a community that explicitly or tacitly shares your worldview.

As Jacoby admits, as well, that isn’t to say that one can’t become radicalized in just about any setting, but one suspects that when it comes to being willing and able to develop terror networks, the immersion has an exponential effect.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    I think there is some accuracy in both Justin’s and Jeff’s take on the situation. However “ethnic enclaves” seem to be a phenomenon of self selection, not geography or philosophy. For a century or more, “Federal Hill” and the “North End” of Boston were “Italian”. Boston’s “South End” was Irish. The “Upper East Side’ of Manhattan was German, 86th St. was “Germantown”. Americanization ended this but was slow, certainly not quick enough to prevent radicalization. Consider the amount of financial and material support the IRA got from Boston. The Nazi favoring German/American Bund of the 1930’s drew on ethnic Germans who had been here for 100 years., On the other hand, television has all but removed the “Southern Accent”.