The first question, and the easier of the two, was:
What about the muslims in Europe and other places of the western world, making a minimal effort to respect and to adapt themselves to the norms existing in the hosting countries?
It's a pretty common talking point in the United States as well, and it applies not only to Muslims, but spills over into the broader immigration issue as well. (Applied to Mexican migrant who don't speak english, for example.) The word most commonly used in the American Right Wing talking point is "assimilation." IOW: "Why should we accomodate people who aren't making an effort to assimilate?"
In the first place, personally, I don’t see any INHERENT good in assimilation. Don’t get me wrong, when I go to a foreign country, I try to learn some of the language, eat the local food, participate in the customs, etc… I mean, yeah, that’s the whole POINT. But I DO NOT believe that anyone should have to forego something as important to them as their religious practice, or for that matter be forced to participate in another’s religious practice (a sin in most religions) because of it. If you were to visit Iran, for exmple, just I as I feel it would be bullshit for you to be REQUIRED to wear the head covering (etc...) and participate in their prayers and rituals, I think it is equally bullshit to expect them to leave all that behind when they leave their country. Even though most DO... usually as soon as the airplane is outside of their country's airspace and the laws no longer apply. But if they don’t wish to? They shouldn’t HAVE to. That's just how I feel about it. “Assimilation” is just another word for “conformity.” And I’ve never seen any inherent good in conformity. Learn the language. Fine. Try the food. (Unless it is specifically taboo.) But ALWAYS be true to yourself.
And the other side of this is that "American" culture formed by assimilatring aspects of cultures from all over the world. Primarily Europe, yes, as we are a majority of European descent. But there is no longer any denying the influence of Asian, African, Latin American and increasingly Middle Eastern cultures as more immigrants for those regions come here. Is that GOOD? Is that BAD? It's neither, really. Or rather it depends on your point of view. The fact is that NO immigrant group completely left their culture behind when they came here. At one point in this country's history, violence between the Irish and the Italians was far worse that any anti-muslim or muslim instigated violence is today. (Putting aside 9/11, I'm talking day-to-day here.) My point is that America will absorb some of any new culture. And in doing so it will only grow stronger.
What stops something like radical islam from comign in ataking over? Simple: FREEDOM. Our Constitution. OUR culture of TOLERANCE. And the guarenteed Freedom of Religion that comes from the seperation of the church and the state. In time any group will "assimilate" here, because that which is different becomes part of what "America" means. That happens becuase America is an entire country of immigrants. Ironically it is the native American culture that arguably has the least infuence of American culture. In European countries it is harder to adapt like this, because the idigineous population is homogenius and has a more singularly established culture. Likewise, those elements in America who fear change, and fear anything that's different, and fear anything they don't immediately understand also have a hard time accepting this. But the greatest law of nature is that a species that can't adapt will die off. The world around us is constantly changing, and no amount of conservatism will ever change that. America thus has an advantage that Europe doesn't have: Since nothing "American" (other than Jazz and Rock & Roll) doesn't come from somewhere else, adaptation is what we do best. So we'll take the best easpect of middle eastern culutre, and the worst aspects of it will, as in many other cases, be addressed and will eventually die off. Their "assimilation" will involved both their own felxibility as well as ours. And, just as in many other cases, it can take a few generations to accomplish this. But it can happen. My parent's marriage (Irish to an Italian) would have been unheard of in their parent's youth. The growth in inter-racial marriage that we're seeing now was unheard off in their day, and actually still ILLEGAL in many states. In another generation or two? You won't see the muslims as all that different. Well... YOU will... but your kids or grandkids won't. That's just how it goes.
The other point you made, the one I thougt was more prfound, though which I might end up haveing less to say about was:
You claim you're not religious and yet you seem very reigious about certain words such as Freedom.Interesting. So, I'm forced to ask myself if I have a “religious” belief in freedom. It’s an interesting use of the word, "belief.". The problem is that “belief” can have tow different meanings, both of which can be applied to both religion and freedom. But I tend to mean one with Religion and the other with Freedom.
When I say that I DON’T “believe in Religion” this means two things. First of all there is the value judgment: I don’t believe in the inherent goodness of religion. Second, there is an existential question. To me, “Being religious” means that you believe that by participating in certain rituals (mass, prayer, fasting, worship, drum circles, etc…) you bring about a change that you can’t percieve or meausre, in an object (your soul) that you can’t percieve, measuire or even prove exists, brought about by the will of a being… that you can’t percieve, measure, adequately define, or prove exists. Well… as I don’t believe in God or Souls (or Heaven and Hell,) as you’d likely define them, in the existential sense. So I REALLY don’t believe that I’m invoking any magical change in the universe by participating in these rituals. If YOU DO? And YOU get something that you feel is tangible out of it? Fine, go right ahead. Not only will I not try to stop you, I’ll fight for your right to do so. Because…
I believe in FREEDOM.
Now, the funny thing is, I don’t believe in freedom in the existential sense either! Actually, I’m positive that the kind of freedom I talk about, as I define it, doesn’t exist ANYWHERE. So when I say that I “believe” in it (religiously, as you put) it is only form the pointof view of a value judgment. I DO believe in the inherent goodness of the freedom of all mankind. I believe, as I’ve defined in the doctrine of choice, that pretty much all moral issues can be resolved almost trivially by respecting individual freedom (choice.) If religion make you happy? Practice it. If you, as I do, believe that THIS LIFE is all you get? Better enjoy it. Better make the most of it. Better do whatever you can to pursue the most happiness you possibly can! And there is only one limitation that I think should ever be put on that: Your happiness is not more important than anyone else’s. So you cannot pursue your happiness at the expense of another’s. As I said before: If religion make you happy? Practice it. But respect the fact that not everyone feels as you do. And if not everyone feels as I do? Fine. You don’t HAVE to be free. You can voluntarily give up as much of your own freedom as you wish. (Like I said: Practice Religion, for example.) But I will stop short of allowing anyone to compel other to do the same. To me the inherent goodness of this is self evident. And I haven’t really be challenged in a way that has ever shaken my belief in this.
My faith in the Bible, OTOH, was shaken when I was FIVE YEARS OLD. That’s how long it took. Two weeks in Sunday school when the Nun couldn’t reconcile the existence of Dinosaurs with the “true” story of Genesis in a manner that was satisfactory to a five-year-old. From that point on I pretty much knew it was almost all bullshit. And the more I learned about OTHER religions as I matured? The more I learned that every claim to fame of Christianity (virgin birth, resurrection of the dead, divined incarnates, miracle, eternal life, etc…) had been made just about every OTHER religion on earth – IOW every Religion I had either already rejected or was being encouraged by Christianity to reject? I realized that there was not reason NOT to reject the claims of Christianity (or ANY religion) as well.
And what's more, there is nothing of inherent value in any religion that isn’t already part of the secular humanist philosophy or my own doctrine of choice. You don't need religion to tell you that we shouldn’t killing each other, or lying to each other, or stealing from each other or having wars. And considering how many wars have been fought and killing has been done BECAUSE OF religion… I am forced to see it as no more than unnecessary at it’s best, and a destructive force at it’s most common.
But the more I learn about freedom, the more I THINK about freedom, and the more times I’ve seen that philosophical doctrine WORK when it comes to resolving societal problems… the more I come to believe it. Because it has failed me in only ONE instance: abortion. That’s the only issue it can’t resolve, and then only because it hinges upon when we consider life beginning, when the rights of one entity finally overide the rigths of another. Outside of that one issue, I've seen no issues that this doesn't satisfactorally resolve.
At least... In my humble opinion.
And BTW... "Freedom" is NOT "the jungle." Freedom, "as [I] see it" is NOT found in the jungle. Not at ALL. In "the jungle" might makes right. "The jungle" only the strongest have their rights protected, and the weak get exploited. What I advocate for is practically the opposite of the jungle: It is a society that guarentess the protection of the rights and liberty of ALL it's citizens, limiting them only enough to prevent demonstrable harm (the taking of a choice) from another. Protecting an unpopular minority is as far from the jungle as you can get. So you're just flat out WRONG there, though the failure may have been a lack of clarity lately on my part,