Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Someone is an Idiot

…and that someone is (drum-roll please!) Adrian Michaels of the Telegraph.co.uk! The Telegraph, at least the online edition since I can’t read the print edition from across the pond, I think reflects poorly on British newspapers, and this sort of article is precisely why. Adrian Michaels seems to think Muslims* are zerging** the EU. Putting aside for the moment the various cryptic and xenophobic statements and lets look at some of the “facts”, shall we?

According to Adrian Michaels (these are direct quotations):

  1. “Only 3.2 per cent of Spain's population was foreign-born in 1998. In 2007 it was 13.4 per cent.”
  2. “Europe's Muslim population has more than doubled in the past 30 years and will have doubled again by 2015.”
  3. “In Brussels, the top seven baby boys' names recently were Mohamed, Adam, Rayan, Ayoub, Mehdi, Amine and Hamza.”
  4. “Another forecast holds that Muslims could outnumber non-Muslims in France and perhaps in all of western Europe by mid-century.”
  5. “Austria was 90 per cent Catholic in the 20th century but Islam could be the majority religion among Austrians aged under 15 by 2050…”

Oh so shocking! Except it isn’t really true. I know, journalists are too busy to fact check these days, so I had to get off my lazy ass and do some snooping (You know, the kind I don’t have to go much further than Wikipedia for). The numbers below correspond to the claims above:

  1. The vast majority of Spain’s immigrants are from other EU countries. (The top source of immigrants being Romania increasing at a whopping 1,187% over seven years.) Morocco is second (at 141% increase over seven years), but you have to go pretty far down the list to get to another Muslim-majority country. While the statistic regarding Spain’s foreign born population may or may not be right, I fail to see how it supports the argument for a dramatic invasion of Muslims considering the proportions of immigrants.
  2. I’m having a great deal of difficulty verifying the claim that the Muslim population of Europe (find me the population of Muslims in Europe in 1979- harder than you’d think, huh?) has doubled in the past thirty years, but the claim that this can be dependably extrapolated into a doubling of Muslims in the next fifteen years is moronic. Moreover, those claims I can source seem to come from conservative think-tanks. (More on that in a second)
  3. While these Muslim names do in fact top the list of popular baby names in Brussels- here is an article that makes the point that native Belgians are choosing less traditional and more unique names for their children, making it hard to attain the critical mass necessary to make the top of the list for any given “Belgian” name. I find it interesting that baby names are cited while actual population statistics are not.
  4. France doesn’t collect statistics by religion, making the same kind of extrapolation in (2) suspect since any census of a Muslim population or birthrate there is done by people interested in such information for various reasons. What little information there is does not inquire as to religious beliefs or practices and the term “Muslim” in France remains imprecise and reflects a certain attribution to ethnicity.
  5. Sure it could be. Pigs could fly as well, given wings and adequate propulsion systems.

This article brought to mind something I was reading from the BBC the other day (evidence that the BBC is a much better source of information) which discussed the imprecise nature of demographic predictions and basically featured European statisticians imploring people to calm the fuck down. This is why claims that the Muslim population in Europe will double in fifteen years is so ludicrous. Populations are fluid, and tend to cap for various reasons. My father is one of eight kids, I’m one of four. Chances are I won’t have more than two (not because I’m extrapolating, but because I’m sane.) Unhindered exponential growth is for bacteria, and I’m sure Michaels would like that comparison with Muslims. As would the readers who swallow this offal whole.

It’s scare tactics for a European population that has become increasingly less tolerant of diversity. I get harassed at US airports enough, but the frequency has been decreasing considerably over the years. I don’t find myself in the melanin room at immigration as often as I used to. Meanwhile I’ve found that airports in Europe are truly hostile to someone with a name and birthplace such as mine, even with American citizenship. So much so that I have no desire to visit Europe for any reason. When stopping in Europe I prefer flights where I do not have to leave the plane. There is absolutely nothing I want to do in Europe.

I am convinced that conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims in Europe will rise and part of it will be due to the short-sighted stupidity of Europeans who decided that speech laws were ever a good idea, both the sense of entitlement and oppression immigrants will feel because of such laws, the ghettoization and subsequent concentration of Muslim communities stemming from distrust, and finally the wage disparity and class disparity that have immigrants at the bottom rung. By contrast, most Muslims in the US are not nearly as insulated, speech and religious practices of all kinds have been liberally tolerated, and upward mobility remains relatively more attainable for legal immigrants to this country. I only hope that this xenophobic nonsense doesn’t get spread out here, not that some people aren’t trying.

*Ones who aren’t even seekrit, like Obama!

**YES. I am using the word way too much for one week. I haven’t used that word in a while and I’m suddenly quite taken with it.

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