Clash of generations–The actual contradictions of Islam in America

Clash of generations–The actual contradictions of Islam in America–34h.,b3a

One reason for this sorry state of  affairs is that there are so few Muslims in the United States. There are, no definitive numbers, primarily because the census is prohibited from inquiring about religious affiliation. The most authoritative estimate is about 3 million, less than 1 percent of the total population. And while Muslims are scattered across the country, most are concentrated in metropolitan areas, including Chicago, Los Angeles— Detroit, and New York.

August 2011 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute reported that almost 70 percent of Americans had seldom or never talked with a Muslim during the previous year. By contrast, a June 2015 a Pew survey found that 9 out of 10 Americans said they knew someone who is gay. Our public discourse about Muslims is reduced to simplistic dualisms: assimilated/unassimilated; moderate/immoderate; tolerant/intolerant; good/bad.

In 2007 Pew published perhaps the most thorough and authoritative survey of Muslims in America, entitled “Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream.” Despite that upbeat title. Pew reported only 40percent of U.S. Muslims saying they “believe that groups of Arabs carried out the attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.” Twenty-eight percent said they did not believe, it. The remaining 32 percent professed not to  know or simply refused to answer!

In 2011 Pew updated its survey and published the results under the reassuring title “Muslim Americans: No Signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism.” Yet disturbingly, that poll reported that in both 2007 and 2011, 8 percent of U.S. Muslims agreed that “often/sometimes …” suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets are justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies.” Even more disturbing. Pew omitted—without explanation—the revealing question asked in 2007 about who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

In contrast, Muslims in America might be regarded as  ” highly assimilated. Pew reports that as of 2011, between 83 and 93 percent speak English well or very well, and about 81 percent are citizens, including 70 percent of those who are foreign-born. And while 54 percent have only a high school diploma or less, compared with 44 percent of Americans generally, 26 percent have at least a bachelor’s degree,  compared with 28 percent of the total population. Then, too. -26 percent of Muslims are currently enrolled in college, but only 13 percent of Americans overall are.

Muslims are overrepresented at the low end of the income scale, with 64 percent reporting annual household earnings of $49,999 or less. compared with  57 percent of Americans generally.  But then 14 percent have annual household incomes of $100,000 or more, compared with 16 percent of , all Americans.

Culturally Muslims are self-evidently more at odds with mainstream American values than are Mexican immigrants and their progeny. Assimilation is regarded, almost without exception, as an unambiguous good; and the inevitable discord generated by the process gets characterized as racism, nativism, and xenophobia. The real battle ground over assimilation is often between immigrant parents and their children. born or raised in America. This is the locus of what Norman Podhoretz once called “the brutal bargain” of assimilation. and this is what most Americans, including pro-immigration conservatives, consistently overlook.      For the children of immigrants. things are different. They seldom have either the option or the desire to relocate to their parents  homelands; for them, home is here in the United States. But because this is the generation that rides the wave of assimilation, whether it wants to or not, this is also the generation that sometimes tries self-consciously to apply the brakes, even to reverse the process, in order to regain what many feel has been lost.

These concerns are shared by many nonimmigrant parents, but American youth culture is particularly threatening. even downright offensive.  Muslim immigrant parents. including those who are not particularly observant.  Akhtar also notes that Muslim immigrants come from cultures where young people, including the males, are “completely ignored” by their elders, to whom it is invariably assumed youth must defer.

Here the children have more freedom and the laws are such that you have to constantly watch how you are dealing with the kids. At home we can be more tough and everyone can discipline. We see that there are a lot of children here who don’t respect their parents and teachers and who don’t seem to care about anything.”

Family honor, both here and among family members back home, still depends on the probity and chastity of daughters. Sons are typically afforded surprising latitude to sow their wild oats—though one would not want to underestimate the final reckoning even for young males in such families.

Most do not attend mosque weekly (one of the basic tenets of Islam, certainly for men). Yet many Muslims report being more observant here than in their home countries. I do not pray regularly or fast and I am not inclined to go to the mosque except as a social occasion. But when you are raising children in this country you have to do it.’

Thus, about 4% of all Muslim children in America attend approximately 250 full-time Islamic schools.  Yet even this turn may lead to a genuine religious commitment. For restless and conflicted adolescents, hypocrisy—especially parental hypocrisy—lurks everywhere. Disgruntled youth, widely  by social scientists, is  noted  criticize intrusive, controlling parents as mired in a corrupted version of Islam inflected with the ethnic culture of a home village, tribe, or nation; and to lay claim to a “pure culture-free Islam.

The college campus is often where such youth begin seriously to identify themselves as “Muslim Americans.’  lslamism affords youth the opportunity to challenge what they typically view as the political timidity of their parents with regard to American policy in the Middle East and in the Muslim world generally. Finally, some version of an Islamist identity, as opposed to their parents’ ethnically inflected, traditionalist Islam, allows Muslim youth to stake a positive claim to a negative characterization imputed to them by non-Muslims. And their efforts continue to be protected by the First Amendment.        Imams do not escape this ethos. Lacking any unique sacramental or ceremonial powers, they can be relegated all too easily to the status of hired hands chosen by the board to lead prayers and perhaps give marital advice. Since most imams come from overseas, where mosques are subsidized and to varying degrees controlled by the state, they are unaccustomed to the day-to-day operation and management of self-sustaining voluntary institutions.

Second, sweeping, intemperate attacks on Muslims and Islam are not only unfair, they are counterproductive—though not necessarily in the way our political elites invariably claim. The primary objective of Muslim leaders in America is to mobilize and unify a diverse and fragmented agglomeration of coreligionists  from all over the world.  Second-generation Muslim Americans, especially those who have gone to university, are leading the way And the more they are unfairly and intemperately characterized in public discourse and the media, the more they will perceive the imperative to mobilize politically as Muslim Americans.

Finally, the social and psychological turmoil associated with the assimilation of Muslim youth suggests that defining Islam as “a religion of peace” is almost certainly counterproductive. Young people who are already disaffected with their elders, whom they are inclined to dismiss as religious hypocrites, are likely to be highly sensitive to perceived wrongs committed against their fellow Muslims, here and especially overseas. And they are inclined, rightly or wrongly, to interpret these wrongs as the result of American foreign policy and ultimately as the responsibility of the American people.

source–weekly standard (12/28/2015), peter skerry, michael piore, mohammad skhtar, nazli kibria,


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