THE NEXT TWO BILLION URBANITESThe Next Two Billion Urbanites: See Me Speak About Cities in Toronto
I’ll be delivering the President’s Lecture at Humber in Toronto on Oct. 30, midday. More information and tickets here.
THE NEXT TWO BILLION URBANITESThe Next Two Billion Urbanites: See Me Speak About Cities in Toronto
I’ll be delivering the President’s Lecture at Humber in Toronto on Oct. 30, midday. More information and tickets here.
10 Myths About Muslim Immigrants in the West
1. Muslims have a higher birth rate than other religions, and will take over the world by population
Two generations ago, it seemed as if Islamic countries were destined for out-of-control population growth. People spoke of an “Islamic fertility rate” — more than 5 children per family, on average — and predicted minaret spires foresting the Earth.
Today, it is readily apparent that Islam is not connected with population growth. Just look at Iran, the world’s only Islamic theocracy, where the average family had around 7 children in the 1980s — and has 1.7 today, a lower rate than France or Britain. Or look at the United Arab Emirates, with 1.9 children per family. Or Turkey, ruled by an elected party of devout Muslims for a decade, which now has 2.15 children per family. Or Lebanon, which, despite Hezbollah’s rise, has only 1.86 children per family (so that its population will soon be shrinking).
Around the world, the global average Muslim family size has fallen from 4.3 children per family in 1995 to 2.9 in 2010, and is expected to fall below the population-growth rate, and converge with Western family sizes, by mid-century. This is a crucial sign that Muslim societies are undergoing a major modernizing, secularizing wave — even if they elect Islamist parties while doing so.
2. Immigrants from Muslim countries are going to swamp us
People look at the huge families of many new Muslim immigrants and imagine them multiplying at exponential rates. But this is a bit of an illusion — as are many of the figures suggesting that Muslim immigrants have fertility rates higher than in their homelands. This is because most new immigrants have most of their children in the years immediately after their arrival. The way we calculate Total Fertility Rate — the measure of average family size — is by taking the total number of births a woman has had and extrapolating it across her fertile life. As a result, because immigrants tend to have most of their children soon after arriving, scholarly analyses of their actual family sizes show that they appear to have more children than they really do.
In reality, the family sizes of Muslim immigrant groups are converging fast with those of average Westerners — faster, it seems, than either Jewish or Catholic immigrants did in their time. Muslims in France and Germany are now having only 2.2 children per family, barely above the national average. And while Pakistani immigrants in Britain have 3.5 children each, their British-born daughters have only 2.5. Across Europe, the difference between the Muslim and non-Muslim fertility rate has fallen from 0.7 to 0.4, and is headed toward a continent-wide convergence.
3. Muslims will become a majority in European countries
In fact, we now have several large-scale projections based on population-growth trends and immigration rates which show that the Muslim populations of Europe are growing increasingly slowly and that by the middle of this century — even if immigration rates are not reduced — the proportion of Muslims in Europe will probably peak somewhere short of 10% (it is currently around 7%). By that point, Muslims will have family sizes and age profiles not that different from Europe in general.
4. Muslims will become a dominant group of cultural outsiders in the United States
Despite the hysterical rhetoric coming from Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann and their ilk, Muslims there are not only a very tiny group, but they are also one of the most integrated groups in the country — especially if you consider that 69% of American Muslims are first-generation immigrants, and 71% of those immigrants arrived after 1990.
There are only 2.6 million Muslims in the United States today. By 2030, that number is likely to rise to 6.2 million (because Muslims are young and fertile) — at which point Muslims will be 1.7% of the population, almost as numerous as Jews and Episcopalians.
Even though they’re new, American Muslims tend to be economically successful and highly educated. With 40% of them holding a college degree, they’re the second most educated group after Jews — and far more educated than Americans in general, only 29% of whom have a degree.
5. Muslim immigrants in the West hold the same backward views that Muslims do in the Middle East and Pakistan
Actually, Muslims change their cultural views dramatically when they emigrate. For example, 62% of American Muslims say that “a way can be found for the state of Israel to exist so that the rights of Palestinians are addressed” — a rate barely lower than that of average Americans (67%), and vastly ahead of the miniscule response among Middle Eastern Muslims — for whom between 20% and 40% agreed with that statement.
Similarly, 39% of American Muslims and 47% of German Muslims say they tolerate homosexuality, compared to single-figure responses in most Islamic countries — and those rates are rising with each immigrant generation. On these important questions, Muslim immigrants are converging with Western values fast.
6. Muslims in America are more loyal to their faith than their country
True, 49% of Americans from Muslim backgrounds say they consider themselves “Muslim first and American second” and 47% claim to attend a mosque on Friday. But you have to compare that to American Christians, 46% of whom say they identify themselves as “Christian first and American second” (that number rises to 70% among Evangelicals). And 45% of American Christians attend a church service every Sunday.
In other words, Muslims have adopted exactly the same rate of religious observance as the people around them in their host country. We see this just as strongly in France, where a fifth of Muslims are atheist and only 5% attend a mosque regularly – almost the same rate as French Christians.
7. Poor Muslims are flooding out of overpopulated countries into the West
In fact, the poorest most overpopulated Muslim countries are producing the least emigration — and very little of it is to the West. Immigration tends to come from the countries with the lowest population-growth rates, and it’s rarely to the closest countries.
Muslims are far from the largest immigrant group — even in countries that immediately adjoin the Islamic world. In Spain, which lies across a narrow state from poor Arab countries, only 13% of immigrants are Muslim: Most have come from Spanish-speaking countries across the Atlantic. In Britain, only 28% of immigrants are Muslim. And those numbers do not seem poised to increase.
8. Muslim immigrants are angry at the society around them
In fact, Muslim immigrants appear to be more satisfied with the world around them, and its secular institutions, than the general population. Muslim immigrants in the United States are more likely to say they are “satisfied with their lives” (84%) than average Americans are (75%) — and that number rises to 90% for American-born Muslims. Even among Muslims in neighourhoods where the community mosque has been vandalized — an increasingly frequent occurrence — fully 76% say that their community is an “excellent” or “good” place to live.
This usually extends into pride in national institutions. For example, 83% of British Muslims say they are “proud to be a British citizen,” versus only 79% of Britons in general — and only 31% of Muslims agree that “Britain’s best days are behind her,” versus 45% of Britons in general.
9. Muslims in the West cheer for terrorist violence
While it might seem chilling to learn that 8% of American Muslims feel that violence against civilian targets is “often or sometimes justified” if the cause is right, you have to compare that to the response given by non-Muslim Americans, 24% of whom said that such attacks are “often or sometimes justified.”
This is reflected in most major surveys. When a large-scale survey asked if “attacks on civilians are morally justified,” 1% of the French public, 1% of the German public and 3% of the British public answered yes; among Muslims, the responses were 2%, 0.5%, and 2%. Asked if it is “justifiable to use violence for a noble cause,” 7% of the French public agreed, along with 8% of French Muslims; 10% of the German public and fewer than 2% of German Muslims; 10% of the British public and 8% of British Muslims. This may well be because 85% of the victims of Islamic terrorism are Muslims.
10. Muslims have become so populous that the most common baby name in Britain is now Mohammed.
This is true — but it means far less than you’d think. In 2010, if you combined all 12 spelling variants of the Islamic prophet’s name, “Mohammed” was more popular than any other name given to new babies.
But that’s more a consequence of naming trends than anything else. In a great many Muslim cultures, all male babies are given “Mohammed” as an official first name. But among many Westerners — especially white Anglo-Saxons and black Christians — there has been an explosion in unorthodox baby names: as of 2011, these groups are 50% more likely than they were a generation ago to give their children uncommon baby names.
As a result, Mohammed manages to reach the Number 1 spot without being all that common — when combined, babies named after the Islamic prophet made up only 1% of British newborns in 2010.
Do the Chinese People a Favour, and Stop Calling Them ‘Western values’
If you want to identify the most harmful idea in the world, it would be hard to avoid the phrase “Western values.”
From over here, it doesn’t sound so bad. In North America and Europe, the expression is simply a commonplace bit of chauvinism, a historically naive way to suggest that various good things – equal rights, multiparty democracy, the rule of law, open economies, freedom of speech – were the product of, or are uniquely held by, European-origin cultures. However historically and geographically inaccurate, we don’t mind the phrase because it represents a set of hard-won qualities we’re rightfully eager to possess and defend.
It becomes dangerous when applied in the negative: When autocrats on the other side of the world want to deny their people basic rights and freedoms, they can then use our chauvinism to spread the notion that these universal human assets are merely “Western” imports or incursions.
This sleight of hand is now taking place on a large scale in China. In April, the country’s new President Xi Jinping issued a memo, known as Document No. 9, that has been sent to Communist Party officials throughout the country for discussion and implementation. The document lists the “seven perils” that should be eradicated from Chinese society.
Royal babies are not like other babies. They get a bit more attention, to put it mildly. And they’re pressed into service, even before birth, as metaphors for the state of their nation.
It’s too tempting to resist: The United Kingdom is increasingly a country whose babies are either royal or are royally shafted. What is more British, a number of commentators have asked, than a baby who is wealthy from birth, guaranteed a job, a house, a university placement and a future, entirely because of its surname?
In Sao Paulo, it was bus fares. People in Brazil’s largest city were infuriated that their transit fares, already more than twice the cost of New York’s, were being raised again amid massive expenditures for the Olympics and the World Cup. So they hit the streets, in crowds that increased to the millions, threatened the stability of their national government and forced their President to announce major policy changes.
In Istanbul, it was a leafy urban green space. Public outrage over the transformation of Gezi Park into a development turned into wider protest against an elected national government that had become too secure in power, too religious and too authoritarian for many Turks.
In Heshan, China, it was a downtown uranium processor. The people of the city in the thriving Pearl River region took to the streets this month when they learned of plans to build the plant in their city, and the government backed down. The project won’t be approved, Communist authorities declared last week, so as to “fully respect the opinion of the masses.” That follows similar reversals on major industrial projects following urban protests in Shanghai and Kunming.
While China’s Communist Party is no more tolerant of national democracy than before, officials are increasingly willing to give way to public protest at the city level. “Winning or losing public support,” President Xi Jinping saidlast month, “is an issue that concerns the CPC’s survival or extinction.”
Suddenly, all politics is municipal politics. While big cities have always been the sites of revolutions and coups, never before have they been the only locus of national politics in almost every country in the world, and never before have such regimes been so willing to cede to the power of their urban residents.
Why Are The United States and China Preparing for War With One Another?
Rarely have relations between China and the United States been so cordial. On Wednesday, the superpowers agreed to an impressive slate of measures to fight climate change by cutting emissions. Last month’s summit between Barack Obama and Xi Jinping saw the leaders finally agree on an approach to North Korea. China is allowing its currency to rise in value, reducing the danger of global imbalances. And while spying and dirty tricks are rife, recent revelations about U.S. Internet surveillance have placed the countries on a level playing field. It’s a period of peaceful cohabitation.
So why are the two countries’ militaries preparing to do battle with each other?
Both the Pentagon and the People’s Liberation Army are arming for an all-out war and pursuing enormously expensive master strategies that assume that such a war will occur.
“The next Pearl Harbor we confront could very well be a cyberattack.” That’s what Leon Panetta, then head of the CIA, warned two years ago. A former U.S. director of national intelligence, Michael McConnell, warned in December of “the cyber equivalent of the collapse of the World Trade Centers.” Military organizations such as NATO want to devote considerable resources to cyberwarfare, and warn governments that they should spend far more on weapons of online war.
We tend to believe them. To those of us who grew up in the early decades of the Internet, reading William Gibson and watching Tron, the idea of a distinct and tangible “cyberspace,” as Mr. Gibson coined it, seems believable. If war is hell in meatspace, then imagine what it will be like when it moves into the online world, where all our communications and private data are stored, where the machines that control our entire lives can be hacked. If the Internet is everywhere, wouldn’t a cyberwar be a total war?
Once we started believing this, the whole world seemed to confirm it. An online virus was used by Israel and the United States to disable a uranium-enrichment facility in Iran. China uses a facility to steal data from the West. France, Britain and the United States, as we’ve recently learned, are mass-harvesting the online communications and phone calls of foreigners (and possibly their own citizens), and the man who revealed this, Edward Snowden, is in the midst of a globe-trotting flight across the settings of vintage James Bond movies. If this is what cyber cold war looks like, how horrid would real cyberwars be?
We can imagine them, and make movies about them, but the reality is far more mundane and less threatening.
That’s the conclusion made by Thomas Rid, an expert on cybersecurity and intelligence at the department of war studies at London’s King’s College. His forthcoming book’s straight-up title, Cyber War Will Not Take Place, is a call for sanity: There is no distinct “online world,” and the many forms of online crime and mischief are not a threat to our existence or our civilization.
“Cyber war has never happened in the past, it does not occur in the present, and it is highly unlikely that it will disturb our future,” Mr. Rid writes.
Instead, he says, “the opposite is taking place: a computer-enabled assault on violence itself. All past and present political cyberattacks – in contrast to computer crime – are sophisticated versions of three activities that are as old as human conflict itself: sabotage, espionage and subversion … In several ways, cyberattacks are not creating more vectors of violent interaction; rather, they are making previously violent interactions less violent.”
People who understand distributed systems and networks realize this: It may be possible, if hundreds of people work on the problem for years, to damage a single centrifuge facility using a virus – but still only if there’s also a human sabotage agent placed on site. To destroy or disable an entire country’s or region’s infrastructure using lines of code or electromagnetic pulses would be impossible – or, at least, given the need for human agents at each target, it would be the same as using bombs to do so (and bombs would be quicker and easier).
This is Dr. Rid’s crucial message: There is no distinct “online” world; it is simply part of the world, as much as the telephone or the highway. Defence of vital assets remains important, but there is no distinct “cyberspace” to be defended – it is all of a piece.
The danger, Dr. Rid tells me from his office in London, is that the myth of “cyberwar” will lead us to believe that online security is a matter for the military – a notion that the military, eager for funding, is all too willing to promote.
“Hyping a cyberwar doesn’t necessarily create Chinese hackers coming in and harming citizens,” he says. “What’s more realistic is that if we couch the problem in a martial language – war and peace, offence and defence in a military context – then we think that the agencies that are traditionally in charge of that are best placed to deal with the problem, because it’s war. But if you put intelligence agencies in charge of cybersecurity, they’re more likely to apply an offensive mindset to the problem than ministries of interior.”
It is worth spending money to make our computers, and the devices that control our machinery, secure from spying and vandalism. But that’s not war, and it shouldn’t be a job for the warriors.
New Post has been published on http://dougsaunders.net/2013/06/canada-doesnt-negotiate-with-terrorists-until-it-does/
Canada Doesn’t Negotiate With Terrorists – Until It Does
“The government of Canada does not pay ransom,” Foreign Minister John Baird’s spokesman Rick Roth said Wednesday, moments after the publication of a lengthy internal leaked memo from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) which revealed that $1.1-million in ransom had been paid, at the behest of the Canadian government, to the terrorist organization for the release of captured Canadian diplomats Robert Fowler and Louis Guay.
“Canada does not negotiate with terrorists,” Mr. Roth added in a Twitter statement, echoing the frequently uttered words of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The memo, however, made clear that terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar had negotiated the price with whatever government or party was acting on Canada’s behalf.
New Post has been published on http://dougsaunders.net/2013/05/why-do-bullying-and-rape-outrage-us-our-minds-are-becoming-moral/
Why Do Bullying and Rape Outrage Us? Our Minds are Becoming Moral
A generation ago, nobody talked about schoolyard bullying as a problem to be solved. A certain level of violence and humiliation were considered a natural part of the school experience; few thought to formulate this as a moral problem.
Today, even though bullying is less prevalent than it was 20 years ago, mainstream society has realized that it is morally unacceptable. We talk seriously about eradicating it. The most egregious cases of bullying become top news stories, and we seriously consider special legislation and new policing practices to prevent it.
Two generations ago, nobody talked about rape by husbands or boyfriends as a criminal problem. Unwanted sex was considered rude at worst, and tolerated by many as a nasty but inevitable fact of life. The few women who spoke up were considered marginal.
Today, although rates of sex crimes are far lower, our culture has become morally repulsed at the still all-too-pervasive phenomenon of acquaintance rape, and widespread outrage is directed at those individuals who would tolerate or belittle it. Non-consenting sex is now understood throughout most of the justice system, the educational system and the media to be a serious crime.
We could extend this comparison to any number of moral fields. Until quite recently, civilian deaths were considered a relatively insignificant byproduct of military operations; today, although far fewer non-combatants are being killed in war (and there are fewer wars), civilian deaths are overwhelmingly the most significant issue in discussions of military action: We go to war, or avoid war, to prevent them from occurring.
There is a pattern here: Humans are, on average, acting more morally (bullying and raping and killing less frequently than before), but also thinking more morally: The fact that these former non-issues have become front-page concerns means that many people are now able to conceive of them as abstract moral wrongs. We are outraged at the continued existence of bullies and rapists and family-killing airstrikes, and most of us are now able to discuss them as problems to be solved, not as inevitable fixtures on the human landscape.
What has changed? As it happens, this rising moral consciousness has coincided with another shift: Across the world, average IQs have been rising, with astonishing rapidity, throughout the past century. We are scoring much higher on intelligence tests than our grandparents. (In 1900, the average North American had an IQ of 72 compared to today’s 100.)
That constant rise in IQ is known as the Flynn Effect, after the politics professor James R. Flynn, who made the world aware of it in the early 1980s. And Mr. Flynn now believes that increasing IQ scores are not so much measures of “smartness” as they are indicators of a distinctly moral kind of intelligence.
IQ, as most people are now aware, is not a measure of the processing power of the brain (that remains largely unchanged); rather, it tracks our ability to think about abstract problems in a socially determined, real-world context.
This is why minorities and developing countries have appeared to have lower intelligence. Those in communication-deprived settings – the rural, the marginal, the poor, the excluded – will have lower IQ scores. And it is why the fastest rises in IQ scores are among these groups (Turkey, with family sizes and urbanization approaching Western levels, saw a 30-point IQ gain). IQ is, above all, a measure of modernity.
“Do huge IQ gains mean we are more intelligent than our ancestors?” Mr. Flynn asks in his most recent book What is Intelligence: Beyond the Flynn Effect. “If the question is ‘Do we have better brain potential at conception …’the answer is no. If the question is ‘Do we live in a time that poses a wider range of cognitive problems than our ancestors encountered, and have we developed new cognitive skills and the kinds of brains that can deal with these problems?’ the answer is yes.”
The increase in abstract thought, he speculates, has “made thinking about moral and political issues more sophisticated” in much of the world: “The key is that more people take the hypothetical seriously, and taking the hypothetical seriously is a prerequisite to getting serious moral debate off the ground.” If a white racist can imagine himself being black, his worldview will be harder to sustain. If you can imagine bullying and rape as gross anomalies rather than standard features, you will speak of them differently.
That doesn’t mean we’re all better people, or less capable of doing harm, but we are at least better equipped to look at our actions through a moral lens. With that new clarity comes the potential for action.
New Post has been published on http://dougsaunders.net/2013/05/same-sex-revolution-no-the-world-isnt-divided-over-gay-rights/
Same-Sex Revolution: No, the World Isn’t Divided Over Gay Rights
The most recent World Values Survey, a massive multi-country poll, shows that those who believe homosexuality is ‘never tolerable’ fell from 59 per cent in 1993 to 34 per cent in 2006
On one side of the great divide, the past few days have been revolutionary. France became the 14th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, eight years after Canada did. Rhode Island became the 10th U.S. state to do so, in a fast-changing America where six out of 10 citizens, and more than 80 per cent of those under 30, now believe that marriage should be open to all and that gays are fully equal. As if to symbolize this change, Americans, including their president, gave warm blessings to the coming out of a major-league basketball player.
On the other side of the divide, it’s grim. In Uganda, a notorious “anti-homosexuality” law, which includes harsh sentences for “aggravated” homosexuality, is working its way through parliament along with crackdowns that have resulted in the death of a protester. Ethiopia is facing strong pressure to introduce the death penalty for homosexuality. In Russia, a law banning “homosexual propaganda” appears poised to pass in the Duma. It’s sufficiently vague, Russian activists and writers tell me, that it could (and certainly would) be used to silence, imprison or banish any dissident figures who happen to be gay or even tolerant. A similar law is in the works in Ukraine.
Viewed from this perspective, the world seems to be splitting in two. On one side, there’s been a startlingly swift and uncontroversial shift of mainstream public opinion recognizing gays as being simply another legitimate category of being human (rather than an illness, an abomination or a “lifestyle choice”). A decade ago, this was a minority opinion in most Western countries; now it’s held by strong majorities in North America and Europe – a cultural transformation even more rapid than the one that transformed mainstream opinions about women and racial minorities a generation earlier.
This has led us to jump to an easy conclusion about the other side of the divide: The less privileged countries of the global East and South are trapped in attitudes the West has escaped, and have yet to achieve enlightenment. Or, from another perspective: The notion of gay equality, along with feminism, is alien to these cultures and its appearance is a product of “Western liberalism,” and advocates of these ideas within Asia and Africa are victims of imperialism or agents of Western influence. Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Uganda’s ethics and integrity minister, Simon Lokodo, have both expressed this view and their governments have used it as a rationale to expel organizations that endorse gay rights.
It sounds plausible: After all, haven’t these countries been victims of Western meddling and outright colonialism in the past? But look again. The condemnation of homosexuals is not part of the cultural traditions of Russia, Uganda or most of the countries that have taken an anti-gay turn in recent years. Russia has had fairly robust gay-rights laws on its books in recent decades. The new anti-gay cultural movements haven’t emerged from widespread public belief – rather, they’ve largely been imported by mainly U.S.-based Western conservative and Christian groups that have made it a mission to prevent same-sex equality in the developing world now that their efforts to do so in their own countries have failed.
Anger and fear of homosexuality are products of 19th-century Western thought – this is why the harshest penalties for homosexuality are found in Commonwealth nations. The adoption of these ideas by Muslim figures in Iran, Egypt and Pakistan is a 20th-century product of cross-cultural influence.
In both Uganda and Russia, influential evangelical organizations have played the main role in spreading anti-gay ideas among politicians, churches and media figures. In Uganda, it was one American pastor, Scott Lively, who almost single-handedly created the anti-homosexuality movement in 2009.
What’s actually happening, in the wider world, is a near-simultaneous shift toward acceptance of gays. The most recent World Values Survey, a massive multi-country poll, shows that those who believe homosexuality is “never tolerable” fell from 59 per cent in 1993 to 34 per cent in 2006. By no means was this just Western: In India during those years, anti-gay sentiment fell by a quarter; in China, by a third.
The world isn’t divided over gay rights. It’s merely threatened by those who’d like us to believe it is.