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More on Mistrust

August 30, 2010

Never mind the stabbing of a New York taxi driver last Tuesday. Never mind the guy who walked into a mosque in Queens on Wednesday and urinated on the prayer rug. Never mind the Nashville man who set fire to the construction site of a mosque on Saturday. The anti-Islamic fervor of late will somehow encourage Muslim communities to adopt American values over the long run. Or, at least, that is what Ross Douthat would have us believe.

Douthat, to recap, says he harbors “mistrust” toward Feisal Abdul Rauf, and insists that there is a “real wisdom” to nativism — though he nowhere condones violence.

Perhaps Douthat is right in suggesting that nativism will foster assimilation in the long run. Perhaps. But none of us will be around to reap the benefits since, as Keynes once quipped, “in the long run, we are all dead.” In the here-and-now, mistrust of Islam has sometimes led to acts of violence that can only inflame existing tensions. As Conor Frieserdorf explains:

Just as small, chance interactions can increase the empathy people in a diverse country have for one another, these kinds of bigoted transgressions engender mistrust: despite them, the vast majority of affected Muslims will go on being peaceful citizens and kindly neighbors, but insofar as any of them are being recruited into radicalism, hate crimes against their community can only hurt their ability to resist, and wind up abetting the jihadist cause.

There’s that word again: mistrust. Mistrust engenders mistrust engenders mistrust — even when it doesn’t engender violence.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. catullus permalink
    September 1, 2010 8:44 am

    Between Douthat’s sleight-of-hand and Ahmed Tharwat’s, published in today’s Strib, it’s hard to find a reason to be reasonable.

  2. innocentsmithjournal permalink*
    September 1, 2010 8:55 am

    All the more reason to be reasonable!

  3. catullus permalink
    September 1, 2010 11:48 am

    Here, here.

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