The Return of Fear

Peter Frost, UNZ Review, January 17, 2015

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack–or rather mass execution–the typical reaction seems to be that the killers were “madmen” and “extremists.” The brother of the slain policeman, himself Muslim, protested: “My brother was Muslim. He was shot down by false Muslims. . . . Islam is really a religion of peace, of love. We had nothing to do with that.”

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The facts speak for themselves. In France, Muslims make up 60% of all prison inmates, while being only 12% of the total population (Leclerc, 2014). Similarly, 7 out of 10 burglaries, assaults, and violent thefts are committed by first- or second-generation immigrants (Chevrier and Raufer, 2014). Most of these perps seem to be Muslim, although a third of them may be West Indians,Africans, and Roma of nominally Christian background. Muslims seem to be especially overrepresented in serious violent crimes that lead to prison sentences.

Similar trends are developing elsewhere. Muslims make up 70% all prison inmates in Spain and 45% in Belgium (WikiIslam, 2013 see Note 1; Sudinfo.be, 2013). In England and Wales, the figure is only 14%, versus 4.7% of the total population, apparently because certain other communities are likewise overrepresented (Morris, 2014, see Note 2).

A Danish researcher has studied the relationship between criminality and immigrant origin inDenmark, Norway, and Finland (Kirkegaard, 2014aKirkegaard, 2014bKirkegaard, 2014c;Kirkegaard and Fuerst, 2014). He found that the prevalence of Islam in the immigrants’ home country was the single best predictor of criminality both for “all crime” and for “violent crime,” being better than the home country’s mean IQ or GDP per capita and much better than its murder rate.

There are interesting exceptions. Crime rates are very low among East and Southeast Asians, even those from largely Muslim Indonesia:

What causes the low Asian crime rate? Of the bottom 5 countries of origin for crime rates, 4 of them are Asian. It must be a strong force. Consider Indonesia with a crime rate of 1.19. It has an IQ of 85.8 (similar to Algeria, crime rate 5.16), a GDP of 4923.00$ (similar to Morocco, crime rate 5.7), and an Islam% of 88.1% (similar to Egypt, crime rate 5.57) and still immigrants from Indonesia have about half the crime rate of Danishcitizens (2.45). Whatever cause it is, it is counteracting these other forces and overpowering them. (Kirkegaard, 2014b)

The effect of Islam: direct or indirect?

There are two ways of explaining why Muslim immigrants are more crime-prone. One is that Islam heightens the sense of difference between the in-group (fellow Muslims) and the out-group (the host society). Non-Muslims are outsiders and thus legitimate targets for acts that would be considered wrong if done against Muslims. This may explain why violent crime by Muslim immigrants correlates so weakly with the murder rate in their home countries. Murder is more serious when committed against a fellow Muslim.

The second explanation posits a less direct relationship with Islam. Most Muslim immigrants come from societies where the State has pacified social relations only in recent times and where men still see violence as a legitimate and even necessary means to advance personal interests, to defend themselves and their families, and to acquire land, goods, and even women. Violence is constrained not by the State but by a balance of terror–the threat of retaliation by the victim or his kinsmen.

Male combativeness is especially strong in highland pastoral societies beyond the reach of State control. It’s not for nothing that they have provided some of the best fighting men, like the Gurkhas in the British army, the Moroccans in the French army, and the Albanians in the Ottoman imperial army, their main drawback being a tendency to treat enemy civilians like enemy combatants. This was particularly so with the Moroccans during the Italian campaign: “Anyone who finds himself in their path is attacked by force of arms […] They seize everything […] and if in the group there are women, their clothing is taken off violently in cases of resistance. If, for example, they overrun some farms that are still inhabited, they go on a real rampage, following which, with firearms in their hands, they chase the men from the homes and rape the women without any respect for either the young or the elderly” (Tommaso, 2007)

If highland pastoral societies represent one end of this behavioral continuum, the other end seems to be the low-lying farming societies of east and southeast Asia, where State formation, rice farming, and sedentary life favored collectivism over individualism and a general pacification of social relations. Rice farming seems to have been a pivotal factor: water use and maintenance of irrigation networks requires peaceful and orderly cooperation among all community members. Even when neighboring districts are compared in China, individualism seems to be much weaker where rice is grown than where wheat is grown (Talhelm et al., 2014).

Kirkegaard and Fuerst (2014) consider this indirect causation but reject it because Islam still predicts criminality even among immigrants solely from Europe. Non-Muslim Europeans are much less crime-prone than Muslim Europeans. The latter, however, are largely Albanians and Bosniaks, who were subject peoples of the Ottoman Empire until the late 19th and early 20th century. Their cultural evolution was bound up with that of a Muslim state whose “government was unable to assure the basic conditions of civil peace in its lands. Not only were the local governors unrestrained, but bandits, groups of soldiers, and local warlords with armed retainers made life impossible for the peasant population, Christian and Muslim alike, in many areas” (Jelavich and Jelavich, 1977, pp. 326-327).

This seems to have been a general problem of Muslim states. Why have they been less able to pacify social relations? One reason is ideological. There has long been a tendency in Islam to romanticize the free-spirited Arab who answers to no one but himself. Advanced urban societies have indeed existed in the Muslim world, but they have been perceived as being less authentically Muslim, a perception facilitated by the presence of large Christian and Jewish minorities. Moreover, like the earlier Roman Empire, urban Muslim societies came to depend on barbarian soldiers who eventually realized they could do more than just serve under someone else’s command. This was notably the case with the Turkish mamluks in Egypt, the Banu Hilal in North Africa, and the Almoravids in Muslim Spain.

As a result, Islamic civilization has gone through cycles of de-barbarization and re-barbarization. {snip}

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Conclusion

Genes have co-evolved with culture along a trajectory that begins with clan societies, where every man can and does use violence to advance his interests, and ends with State societies, where the State monopolizes the legitimate use of violence, except for narrowly defined cases of self-defense. Western societies are among the ones that have moved very far along this trajectory. At a terrible price–high rates of capital punishment, stigmatization and social exclusion of violent males–we have won the right to live in a social environment where nonviolence is the norm and where violence usually occurs under exceptional conditions, like jealousy, intoxication, and extreme stress.

Today, in this same social environment, Muslims are overrepresented among violent criminals. This is because their societies of origin have done less to pacify social relations and have thus maintained patterns of male behavior that are no longer common elsewhere. {snip}

Anyway, neither culture nor genetics gets much air time in commentary on the latest events. The general opinion seems to be that radical Islam is responsible. One reason is that the role of Muslims in violent crime is acknowledged only in high-profile cases that involve radical Islamists. Almost all other cases involve “youths.”

A second reason is that Europeans have a long history of viewing human conflicts in ideological terms, from the Crusades to the Cold War. To be sure, even those conflicts had other motives, and the developing one in Western Europe seems to be a classic struggle over territory, with one side gradually displacing the other. The real ideological conflict is between those who see what is happening and those who don’t.

Finally, people focus on radical Islam to explain the degradation of their social environment because discussion of cultural and genetic causes is taboo. They are afraid of seeming “racist”–a word that began as a synonym for “Nazi” and that still evokes memories of the last world war. Although they may be unhappy with Third World immigration, which will soon make them strangers in their own lands, they prefer to oppose it on ideological grounds, i.e., the threat of radical Islam. They may not actually believe this analysis of the situation, but it’s the only one that has some legitimacy and that might bring immigration to a halt.

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