Today I was listening to an excellent interview podcast from the Leonard Lopate Show with Reza Aslan, author of the recent book How to Win a Cosmic War. If you have the time, I definitely recommend you listen to it in its entirety.
Mr. Aslan’s fundamental argument mirrors something that I have been repeating over and over again recently — mainly that the language and actions of the “War on Terror” have essentially created a fanatic religious and ideological war by the Christian West that mimics that of the so-called Islamist terrorists.
Later in explaining why Muslims have greater difficulty integrating into European society than in American society, Mr. Aslan argues, as I have in the past, that Europeans do not distinguish ethnicity from nationality. Thus, the only way to truly integrate into most European nations is by abandoning one’s previous culture and fully adopting the local one. In other words, one must become indistinct in Europe in order to belong.
On the other hand, American identity was founded on a political ideology (as articulated in The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution), not prefaced on an ethnicity or culture. Thus, one becomes “American”, not by assuming a language, religion, or way of life, but by buying into the American Dream, no matter how illusive that may be.
The immediate result is that there is a greater sense of alienation and disenfranchisement amongst Muslims in Europe, thus making Europe a more likely breeding ground for those so-called terror threats.