Panel Transcript: The French Riots and U.S. Immigration Policy

By Mark Krikorian, Frank Gaffney, and Steven A. Camarota on November 14, 2005

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Monday, November 14, 2005
Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C.


Mark Krikorian, Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies
Frank Gaffney, Center for Security Policy
Steven Steinlight, Fellow, Center for Immigration Studies

MARK KRIKORIAN: Good morning. My name is Mark Krikorian. I'm executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank here in Washington that examines and critiques the impact of impact of immigration in the United States. I wanted to start with the old joke -- old newspaper joke about how various newspapers report on the end of the world. The New York Times headline would be "World to End Tomorrow -- Women and Minorities Hardest Hit." The Wall Street Journal headline would be "Armageddon Approaching -- Markets Close Early." Well, the reaction to the French riots was very much along these lines with The Wall Street Journal not unexpectedly saying that the riots in France happened because tax rates were too high in France. The New York Times, again not unexpectedly, said that white racism was the reason for the riots. At the risk of following in these illustrious footsteps, we've convened this discussion to examine what lessons on immigration policy the United States can learn with regard to the riots in France. And I expect I may have my own "Armageddon Approaching -- Markets Close Early" moments in my comments. But there are a lot of wrinkles here to discuss that need exploring, some of them with maybe obvious lessons and some of them with maybe some less obvious lessons.

After I explore my share of the wrinkles, we have two distinguished panelists that will . . . from different backgrounds, that will look at different aspects of what we can learn from the French riots with regard to U.S. immigration policy. First, Frank Gaffney will speak. He's president of the Center for Security Policy here in Washington, former assistant secretary of defense for international security policy in the Reagan administration, and before that was the deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear forces and arms control policy. Before that, he was a staffer here on Capitol Hill on security issues. Our other speaker is Stephen Steinlight, a fellow at the Center for Immigration studies. After a 20-year academic career, Dr. Steinlight went into the non-profit field and was director of education at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, vice president of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and then director of national affairs at the American Jewish Committee. Frank will look at some of the security lessons of the riots relating to immigration, such as the visa waiver program that we offer to western European countries and some other aspects, while Steve may examine some of the cultural issues of Islamic immigration to the West. But first I wanted to offer some of my own thoughts.

As I see it, there are two important issues -- two important lessons related to immigration that we learn from the riots. First, there's nothing as permanent as a temporary worker. And second, and probably most importantly, the real challenge in immigration facing receiving societies is assimilating the children of immigrants and integrating them into the new society as opposed to the immigrants themselves. The immigrants compare their lot to the old country, and anything is better than where they came from, whereas the children aren't comparing their lot to the old country. They're looking at their lives in comparison to the rest of the new society that they belong to. If we look at the issue in that respect, I think there's both good news and bad news to be drawn from the riots for the United States. The good news is that there's little immediate prospect of the kind of almost universal alienation of the immigrant communities and the subsequent unrest that we've seen in France. The bad news is that a continuation of the current policy of mass, almost-uncontrolled immigration -- and even more, the so-called reforms currently before Congress -- are actually moving us in the direction of the unrest that we saw in France.

First the good news, and that comes in two parts the way I see it. To begin with, our dominant immigrant group, Mexicans, or more broadly speaking, Hispanic Latin Americans, are culturally far closer to the mainstream in our country than is the case in Europe. Speaking concretely, they're mainly Christians coming to an overwhelmingly Christian country. There are enormous problems with regard to immigration from Latin America, and this is something the Center for Immigration Studies examines in some depth, and all of our publications are at our website. But the fact remains that our biggest immigrant group has a smaller distance to travel to join the mainstream than do, for instance, the Turks in Germany or the North Africans in France or South Asians in Britain. This is why, despite the enormous mismatch between poorly educated peasantry and the modern high-tech society, we still have seen significant numbers of immigrants from south of the border and their children assimilate thoroughly into our society and become patriotic Americans.

The second part of the good news is related to our Muslim immigrant population, which is at the present time in my estimation much less likely to succumb to the kind of alienation and radicalism that we've seen in France. Although it's growing very rapidly, our total Muslim population is maybe 1 percent or so of our total population, compared to 10 percent in France. And even numerically it's smaller than the French Muslim population. As you can see from one of the reports enclosed in your packets on the characteristics of immigrants from the Middle East, immigrants from the greater Middle East are very well educated, nearly half of them having college degrees, bachelors degrees, and are more or less relatively prosperous, although there are, of course, pockets of poverty. Also the Muslim immigrant population in this country is ethnically very diverse with no one nationality or even region dominating the immigrant population as we see in some European countries. Our immigrant -- our Muslim immigrants -- come from Pakistan, from Bangladesh, from the whole spectrum of Arab countries, from Iran, from Turkey, and elsewhere. And finally, Muslim immigrants and their families in this country are less likely to be ghettoized than they are in Europe. They're more geographically scattered, again, which is to be expected given their levels of education and income and their ethnic diversity.

Now, none of this is to say that there are no security related concerns regarding Muslim immigrant communities. It's just that -- as Robert Leiken of the Nixon Center has written in one of the other papers in your packets -- those Muslim immigrants in our country who are drawn to radicalism -- and they exist -- have tended to fund or otherwise support terrorism, while the actual violence is either committed overseas or is committed here by operatives who came from abroad after manipulating our immigration system. This is a serious issue, and as far as terrorist operatives coming here from Europe, it's relevant to this discussion, and Frank will probably touch on it. But the fact remains, in the short term, we are very unlikely to see the children of Muslim immigrants in Fairfax county for instance burning cars in the night. That's the good news.

Now here's the bad news, and let me start by reading you two quotes from the news recently. The first is from last week -- a story last week in The Washington Post on the riots in France. Quote, "their parents' generation was invited to France as laborers who were expected to return home but didn't," unquote. Now here's President George W. Bush describing his immigration proposal early last year: quote, "this program expects temporary workers to return permanently to their home countries after a period of work in the United States is expired," unquote. Much of the debate so far on the various immigration proposals that are being considered by Congress has focused on the amnesty portion of those bills, in other words, the provisions that would legalize the illegal aliens already here. The proponents come up with all kinds of euphemisms for amnesty because they realize people hate the word, but that's really what it amounts to.

As important as that issue is, the under-reported part of these various proposals is a provision in different forms that would result in massive increases in future immigration; in other words, not dealing with the illegals here, but hugely increasing immigration in the future. And I have to say . . . the president's proposal takes the cake in this department. He would allow -- and this hasn't been changed or disavowed since he laid out his proposals last year, the president's proposal would allow unlimited immigration of any worker from any country to do any job anywhere in the United States at any wage above the legal minimum wage. It's easily the most radical immigration proposal ever offered by a major public figure in this country. Even the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill, which in this specific respect is less radical, would still perhaps triple legal immigration if it were implemented. And to get even more concrete, the Senate just recently voted a one-third increase in legal immigration in the budget bill. They voted an increase in -- a one-third increase in legal immigration. And even without any immigration bill, "legal immigration" -- and I put that in quotes because it's increasingly an inappropriate adjective for our immigration flow -- legal immigration is running at about a million a year with nearly the same number of people settling here illegally.

Now the reason this is bad news is that it -- the process could move us in the direction of Clichy-sous-Bois and the other French suburbs that we've been reading about in the news . . . also two-fold; again, first part relating to Mexicans, the second to Muslim immigrants. Regarding Mexican immigration, if you think we have a lot of Mexican immigration now, just wait until the president's immigration plan gets passed. The Mexican immigrant population has been growing very rapidly even under current policy, and all the worker importation proposals -- the president's, John McCain's and Senator Kennedy's and others' -- would supercharge this growth in the Mexican immigrant population, both through the legal entry mechanisms as well as through the additional illegal immigration that these bills would inevitably stimulate.

Total number of Mexicans -- just to give you a few numbers, the total number in the United States of Mexican-born people -- legal, illegal, citizens, immigrants, everything -- has grown from less than 800,000 in 1970 and more than doubled to 2.2 million in 1980, again almost doubled to over 4 million in 1990, almost doubled again in 2000 to almost 8 million . . . and is now earlier this year estimated at 10.8 million. That's a 37-percent growth in just five years, just since 2000. And despite laughable claims by administration operatives -- there was a op-ed by Matt Dowd in The New York Times for instance -- that Mexican immigration is somehow going to disappear on its own, Mexico's own census bureau estimates that even under current policy, in other words, without the changes that Congress is proposing, even under current policy that Mexican immigration to the United States would continue at between 3.5 (million) and 5 million people per decade, depending on the economic scenario, for at least the next generation. Passage of the president's plan or the McCain-Kennedy bill or even the Kyl-Cornyn bill, which is considerably less irresponsible than the others, would still result in rapid increases in Mexican immigration, perhaps doubling it again within the decade.

And this isn't just my idle imaginings or sort of invented fears. A Pew Hispanic Center survey from earlier this year found that 40 percent of Mexico's population would move here if they had the chance -- more than 40 percent. Even if only half that many moved here once the president or Senator McCain effectively opened our borders, that would still amount to 20 million more people, additional people.

Now this is relevant for a number of reasons. Let me start first with the fact that there is already an enormous social gap between the Mexican immigrants who are already here and the mainstream of society. Mexican immigrants -- almost two-thirds of them -- are high school dropouts, compared to 9 percent of natives. Families headed by Mexican immigrants are more than twice as likely to be in poverty, three times as likely to be uninsured. And even after 20 years in the United States, the majority of Mexican immigrant families are in or near poverty and have doubled the rate of welfare use of native-born Americans.

And then just looking at the numbers overall as opposed to the characteristics, a Mexican immigrant population of 20 (million) or 30 million people is different in kind -- it's qualitatively different from the already huge 11 million. It would create more of a constituency, however small the percentage is, for the kind of Aztlan irredentism, loony as it sounds, that is already becoming a normal part of the political discourse of the left in California. And more immediately it would facilitate the Mexican government's anti-assimilation initiatives, which are described quite ably by Heather MacDonald in the current issue of City Journal, which are designed to create a regime of shared Mexico-U.S. sovereignty over much of the population, with Mexico City serving in effect as a kind of second federal government for local and state -- U.S. local and state officials. This isn't fantasy or a conspiracy dream. This is really quite open and explicit.

Now the reason this is relevant to the riots in France or that we can learn a lesson from it is that when, if and when -- I think when -- we rouse ourselves to reassert our exclusive sovereignty over those local institutions that we are now allowing the Mexican government to participate directly in governing -- schools, criminal justice systems, what have you -- and this is essentially what the French state tried to do in the "no-go" zones of the immigrant suburbs -- we may well see a pushback that could be as intense as what we saw in France. Of course, Mexico wouldn't be the only source of imported workers. The old Bracero program, which was the guest worker program from Mexico -- it was ended in the 1960s and sparked the illegal immigration wave that we're seeing now -- it was limited to Mexicans, Mexican men in fact. But today's anti-discrimination ethos makes such restrictions impossible.

In fact when President Bush first floated his idea for an amnesty and a guest worker program in July of '01, he specifically addressed Mexico, but the first reaction of the Democratic party was to ask why all other countries shouldn't be included. So given the future worker importation scheme, whatever form it ends up taking, will not be limited to Mexico, what happens when American workers either run out of Mexicans to import, which is not impossible, or eventually realize -- and I think this would also happen -- that there are workers abroad willing to accept wages even lower than Mexicans will accept? You will start seeing discussions of "jobs that Mexicans won't do." After all, Mexico is an upper-middle income country by world standards. It has a per capita GDP in purchasing power parity terms of almost $10,000 a year. If you want huge amounts of really cheap labor, go to Egypt with 77 million people and a GDP less than half of Mexico's, or Indonesia, with almost a quarter billion people and a GDP a third of Mexico's, Pakistan with 160 million people and a GDP a quarter of Mexico's, or finally Bangladesh with 144 million people and a GDP one-fifth of Mexico's. There's effectively unlimited demand for immigration to the United States, and modern communications and transportation technology makes it possible to satisfy that demand once policy is changed to permit it, which is what the president and Senator McCain and others are proposing.

Again, this is relevant for the discussion today because what any foreign worker program would do over a reasonable period of time is undo the benefits that we currently enjoy with regard to our Muslim immigrant population. We would import large numbers of poor, uneducated, ghettoized Muslim peasants who will be expected to go back, as the President said, but who won't, as all human experience shows, essentially recreating here the kind of alienated ghettos that we're seeing in Europe but have so far not seen here. Instead of risking our security with huge and unmanageable foreign-worker programs -- and this is where I come to the "Apocalypse Approaching -- Markets Close Early" part of my talk -- the Senate and the president would be wise to take heed of the lessons of the riot and adopt the House Republicans' approach of avoiding new guest worker programs, so-called guest worker programs, and promoting instead a policy of attrition of the existing illegal population through across-the-board law enforcement, permitting the assimilation of the legal immigrants and their children already here, which we have mechanisms in place to do and the history and sort of the social mechanisms to allow so that we can continue on a different path from Europe. Neither George Bush, nor John McCain, nor even Ted Kennedy want immigrant uprisings in American cities, but their immigration proposals would clearly move us in that direction.

Let me now turn to Frank Gaffney, who will give us some of his comments, followed by Steve Steinlight, and then we'll take some Q and A. Frank?

FRANK GAFFNEY: Mark, thank you. Thank you very much for being here early on I guess what is a holiday weekend still technically. It seems to be appropriate, as we're celebrating a holiday dedicated to those who have fought the nation's wars, that we're talking about the possibility of future conflicts even here on our own soil. I will really be building on some of the points that Mark has made, I think, very eloquently to grow from the experience of France and to a lesser extent so far others in what Don Rumsfield calls "Old Europe" that are beginning to experience the phenomenon of radicalized populations in their midst, at least some of whom have begun to exhibit qualities and tendencies that I think we have reason to be very concerned about here as well.

Mark has made the point that we're looking in France at a disaffected immigrant community, largely unassimilated, cueing to its own language and culture of traditions of egregiously unburdened employees, largely unemployed, and angry, indeed aggrieved, especially, as Mark has said . . . those who have no experience of what it was like where their forefathers came from and the grievances they might have felt being there. These are communities that are highly susceptible to radicalization, to recruitment by people who have a political agenda. It is true, and it is potentially true here.

In particular in France of course, we have the phenomenon of a large Muslim underclass. Mark has described the kinds of places they come from, the kinds of circumstances in which they find themselves. I believe there, as elsewhere around the world, the vast majority of Muslims in France want no part of the political agenda of the radicals that I think is at work there. And we can discuss whether it has been a cause of the riots or is simply seeking to exploit them now to advance its political purpose. But there is little doubt that in France, as in a great many other places around the world including the United States of America, this political dynamic has been fostered and is at work, I believe, principally thanks to the government and various entities of Saudi Arabia. It is promoting a political ideology, I think, much more than a religion. This has everything to do with power and, I think, little to do with faith, and it is seeking to secure in communities like this in France and elsewhere around the Muslim world the recruits, the footprint, the organizational structure, and those that they can control -- physical control of territory that will advance inexorably a agenda that they make no bones about -- developing, establishing, fostering ultimately a global caliphate, a religious order that dominates both the political and the religious, both the Islamic community and the non-Islamic world as well.

The Saudis acknowledge having spent on the order of $80 billion in the past 30-odd years since the last great oil spike developing relationships specifically with the religious communities around the world. They have done so, I think, with great deliberation and considerable effect. And again we can argue whether these youths who are out burning cars and government buildings and nursery schools and the like have been directed by Islamo-fascist organizations or whether we simply are seeing, as The Wall Street Journal reported on the front page early last week, these organizations with connections to Wahhabism and other extremists -- Islamo-fascist sects -- are now simply seeking to parlay the unrest into an opportunity to achieve those objectives I mentioned a moment ago, specifically, to translate what have been de fact "no-go" zones all over France, and perhaps elsewhere, into places that are de jour legally theirs to run, to control, to subordinate to a Taliban-style religious code known as Sharia.

We're seeing similar sorts of recruitment and indoctrination and footprint-building operations here in America, funded largely by Saudi Arabia. We see them taking over mosques in this country. Some 80 percent of the mosques now have their financing arranged for and sustained by the Saudis. Along with that of course comes the ability to discern and determine who is going to be the imam, what is going to be distributed in terms of materials. Just last week there was a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in which Freedom House reported on its findings in a study earlier this year about Saudi propaganda, Saudi government-generated and distributed propaganda being distributed in America's mosques -- that it's as jihadist and as anti-American and as intolerant as anything you see on an al Qaeda website.

You similarly are seeing Saudi efforts being mounted on college campuses in this country. Hundreds, by some counts, of Muslim student association organizations exist that are funded by the Saudi government, in whole or in part -- radical recruitment and operations in many cases. You are seeing, in our prisons, Saudi-financed organizations selecting, crediting, imams to go in, and guess what, in Folsom State Prison -- new Folsom State Prison in California earlier this year, a plot was discerned in which 13 individuals, who had not gone into that prison as Muslims, were apparently preparing to blow up three National Guard facilities, the Israeli consulate, and several synagogues in the Los Angeles area, having been brought to jihadism by their recruiting imam. Similar practices, I'm sorry to say, evidently [infiltrate] our military. If there is a community that could be even more worrying than felons, convicted felons, it is probably people who have experience with blowing things up and killing people on a large scale. These are not the sorts of people you want subjected to Wahhabi-backed recruiting, and this is happening in America, not just overseas.

We've seen in recent days, of course, attacks mounted or plots uncovered in Jordan, in Australia. We hear of them frequently being broken up in places like Pakistan or occurring elsewhere, like in Indonesia. But this problem is particularly acute, I think, or susceptible to becoming even more acute, in Europe, in part for reasons that Mark has mentioned, but I'd like to just emphasize some additional points that one of my colleagues, Alex Alexiev, and I wrote about in The Washington Times last Thursday, that we should be allowed to hear as well. Europe's socialist economic system -- old Europe particularly -- has become unhinged. It is no longer able to provide the kind of support for the myriad claimants that it has promised. This is being compounded by the imploding demographics of Europe. Even more so than here in the United States we see Europe unable to reproduce the younger populations needed to sustain this increasingly aging and welfare-state-dependent population.

Europe has, as Mark indicated, sought relief from immigration to prop this system up, to keep the numbers high, and but for the fact that it has had legal and illegal immigration on such a large scale, we would have seen this thing coming unraveled even more dramatically than we have so far, certainly in terms of population numbers. This involves both, as I said, legal and illegal immigration, chain migration being the principal vehicle on the legal side, whereby marriages are arranged or forced upon one of the parties. Not only does the bride or groom come, but the entire family is then admitted. And then of course there are huge numbers of illegal immigration -- immigrants coming across Europe's southern border most especially.

The fact that, as, again, Mark indicated, this system has not been able to, for many of these people -- even in the first generation but certainly in the second generation, to find economic opportunities, especially as the economies have contracted, has made these communities, these principally Muslim communities, I believe right for the sort of jihadist recruitment that we have so much to worry about.

Let me just mention one organization that is particularly worth paying attention to, though typically we do not. It was mentioned in The Wall Street Journal article the other day and characterized in much the same way that it always is. Its name is Tablighi Jamaat. It is a fast organization. It has, on an annual basis, a million or so people convening for its conclaves. It is almost always described as a peaceful missionary organization, and yet it is the case that the vast majority of terrorists who have been identified and in some cases incarcerated have some association with Tablighi Jamaat. They've been recruited by them, they've been trained by them, they've been adherents or in other ways associated with them.

I mention this because it is Tablighi Jamaat that is currently coming to the fore and saying to the French government, you need peace; we can make it happen; all you have to do is give us the territory, the "no-go" zones. You want to stay out from hereafter and we will administer it under Sharia. Mark has correctly said there are many differences between our communities -- Hispanic and Muslim -- and those of other illegal immigration-dominated communities around the world -- not dominated but by largely impacted, shall we say. I think, however, there is enough here in common or at least enough in prospect that we ought to be very concerned about the operations in this country of particularly Saudi operations that are looking to develop in communities that may or may not be today as susceptible to the activities as are those in France and those who are in Europe, but they could become so.

And while it is not an issue vis-a-vis the Saudis and the Muslims, I do think Mark is right to point out that we could see, if we are not alive to the danger, this other community, far larger community in this country today that is potentially not going to assimilate either, but is potentially going to adhere to its own cultures and traditions and language, namely the Hispanics pouring across our southern border principally, becoming a problem as well. This can be a problem from the legal side. As he mentioned, the visa waiver program, allowing people to come here legally who may be problematic in their own right, particularly from Europe where they will not need visas under this arrangement. Also, the lotteries. We have played Russian roulette with our lottery system, and admittedly it could be part of this sort of phenomenon.

I'd like to close with two points, if I may. One is that Theodore Roosevelt, widely regarded as a model of presidents and a great American leader, had this to say about immigration. In 1907 he said, quote, "In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such men because of creed or birthplace or origin. But this is predicated on a man's becoming, in very fact, an American and nothing but an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American but something else also isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization just as much as it excludes any foreign flag in a nation to which we are hostile. We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, and we have room for but one sole loyalty, and that is a loyalty to the American people."

This is a matter of sufficient concern, and I think it should be to all of us. I and a number of my friends have put together a book, which should be out this week on Amazon, called War Footing: Ten Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World. And we call it the war for the free world because I think as this litany of places where these phenomena are emerging makes clear, it is not just in America, it is not just in Europe, it is around the world and it has at its heart, at the moment at least, Islamo-fascism as its principal driving force.

So I'd be delighted to entertain questions when we get to that point. Thank you very much for having me.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, Frank. Now Steve.

STEPHEN STEINLIGHT: Good morning, everyone, and, again, thank you for coming. I want to focus on some of the constructs that have created the current situation in France and that threatens, I think, the remainder of Western Europe and this country as well.

If you think of the apparent failure of the French state to comprehend or acknowledge that the ongoing Jacquerie in the lawless wastelands of the abandoned, alienated, hated and, yes, hateful others that surround the cities is symptomatic of the danger of a nation that is so profound as to be existential -- let alone provide the minimum conditions for which governments are constituted: the maintenance of public safety, law and order. This is a failure that, among things, I think is a prototypically Gallic intellectual failure. Of course, the writhing and the burning that have stupefied and promoted a lackadaisical response in the French government reflects a dysfunctional and perhaps terminally ill civil society. I think we may be looking at the first failed state in Western Europe.

A void in political leadership, domestic pandering, and international groveling, core structure of economic weakness, as well as cowardice and avarice, a bit less obvious but equally important, reflects to a very considerable degree and is grounded in the cognitive failure, which is, I think, a French peculiarity. The cognitive failure is the besetting sin of what Richard Weisberg and his superb book Vichy Law and the Holocaust in France calls "desiccated Cartesianism." Its essence is taking an abstract principle to its purely abstract, logical conclusion, convincing oneself that a chimera actually exists while ignoring all the gritty real-life realities that had eaten away at that perfect abstraction, reducing it to nothingness. If only the "naked emperor" Chirac or feckless and pathetic Villepin were students of Edmund Burke, who reminded us that, quote, "Only fiends and angels construct their lives according to abstract principles," to which I would add that fools and heads of state evidently do so, too.

What has happened in the realm of ideas is that blind faith in the set of disembodied abstract notions, rather than any understanding of or even interest in actual conditions on the ground such as inconvenient political, social, and cultural truths, dictates a world view and policies that flow from it. It is also prototypically French in its arrogance. One asserts an abstract principle such as the myth that the granting of French citizenship automatically transforms a person into a Frenchman and then one turns a blind eye to realities that reveal this absolute faith to be a dangerous nonsense.

By turning North African colonies in the first instance into departments of France and then making imaginary Frenchmen out of former colonial populations, the overwhelming majority of whom are Arab or African Muslim whose loyalty is not to France but to the Ummah, the global community of Islamic faithful, in this age where Islam and jihadism are so close together that they are almost inseparable -- and having blind faith that the platonic essence of French citizenship and all that's asserted to accompanying it magically will follow, of its own accord -- belief in secularism, the banishment of religion from politics, an embrace of liberty, equality and paternity, the equality of the sexes, that's the underlying cognitive failure in the present situation. It's important as a major cause and should not be de-emphasized. This magical thinking, this childlike Cartesianism has played a key role in bringing France to the edge of abyss.

The French penchant for embracing abstractions rather than admitting to and struggling with discordant realities helps explain that curious piece of information that we are perennially hearing from French authorities. We do not maintain data on immigrants and know nothing of their origins, their religions, their cultural or political backgrounds. They say the same thing about Frenchmen.

While I believe this assertion to be a lie, it was a lie necessary to an un-deconstructed Enlightenment notion of universalism, of the fundamental commonality and love of reason that is supposedly inherent in all peoples, which the clash of civilizations has relegated to the dustbin of outworn, patently absurd notions. It was a lovely ideal, and it was a myth that embodied many important values, as myths always do. But myths are not facts. I would say that those values have been most fully realized in America, but it is a myth all the same.

This disembodied thinking leads to the conviction that citizenship and national loyalty are purely propositional constructs. According to this Enlightenment faith -- because it is a religion in its own way and we need to understand it -- differing norms, customs, cultural attitudes and histories, even difference in religion play no part. If only that were true. It is, in fact, the clash of different, and I would say antithetical, cultural patterns, norms, customs, religious beliefs. It has exposed the vaunted ideal of French citizenship for the empty vessel that it's turned out to be.

And if we think of the citizenship bestowed so hastily and so thoughtlessly on millions of Arab and African Muslims, who not only reject the ideals the French republic purports to represent but who maintain adherence to an antithetical culture and civilization that expresses a wholly different set of historical experiences. And my colleagues have already touched on the underlying causes.

We all understand the devil's bargain that the French and so many other Europeans have made -- and I shudder to think we are of course making it, too -- that is unmaking European culture country by country and turning much of Western Europe into an actual rather than merely metaphorical battleground in the clash of civilizations. We are seeing an aging, shrinking, white-elapsed Christian population accustomed to a very comfortable welfare that they can no longer afford as a result of negative population growth, rapidly dwindling labor force, economic growth rates that in some places are approaching third-world standards -- import their former colonial subjects en mass, first as guest workers of course who you have heard about -- who never go home -- or else they endowed them with citizenship to sweeten the bargain as well as glued themselves, all to maintain their own easy lifestyles.

But the French deal was a fraud from the outset. Posturing as good 18th century enlightenment universalists, the French asserted a belief that -- Cartesian kind of; one that is not a lived belief -- in total integration -- this is what is really wonderful here -- not multiculturalism, by the way. Those people who attack France for being multicultural miss the point entirely. No, the French rejected multiculturalism outright. No, one has to become a Frenchman completely but one [also] has to become a Frenchman magically.

Now, multiculturalism I would argue might have provided a reasonable half-way house, a kind of weigh station on the road to gradually move into assimilation, shifting the balance steadily away from tribal loyalty to a sense of national belonging and patriotism. The French wouldn't have anything to do with that. Belief in the transformational power of universalism is a species of magic realism. And the French -- and Africans were expected to turn into Frenchmen par excellence at once: "poof."

Now, all the while, needless to say, the French, despite their many virtues, were unable to escape the original atom that lurks in all of us, and they despised and exploited their former subjects, demonstrated the kind of xenophobia and racism that they love to ascribe to others, especially to we Americans, and did nothing whatever to promote patriotic assimilation, not I would argue that it would have worked out with Islamists in any case -- more of which momentarily.

Of course the last laugh was on them. Instead of being the saviors of their six-week-paid holidays and general pensions, the new arrivals, mostly uneducated, impoverished, lacking technical skill, or even French, evolved into a permanent underclass that is now dependent on and bankrupting the very welfare system they were brought into salvage.

Back briefly to patriotic assimilation -- tragically this ideal is on the wane in America, this so-called nation of immigrants. The multiculturalists and politicians pandering to ethnic blocks have demanded and overseen its demise. Americanization actually of course worked brilliantly for the great waves of immigration in the late 19th to middle-20th centuries, but there was never a European parallel.

The ideal of a nationhood in Europe remains a paradoxical and complicated business. On the one hand, in some places the ideal the idea Blut and Boden, "the blood and soil," has not altogether vanished. Albeit watered down, it still persists in Germany, while in other places, such as France, the notion has persisted that Frenchness is so utterly attractive, to be part of la mission civilatrice so powerful, that transformation can be safely relied upon to a prayer of its own accord without proactive, conscious effort at acculturation or assimilation.

Perhaps that expectation seemed realistic because of the European refugees who came to France and desperately wished to find a place where they could be accepted or others who were culturally closer. This was certainly the case with Jews who survived the Holocaust and the hundreds of thousands who were ethnically cleansed from the Arab world after the birth of Israel, Eastern Europeans seeking escape from communism like the Hungarians in '56; we could back to the White Russians in the 1920s.

But the vast majority of immigrants was and is Muslim. And one could argue that the group of Muslim immigrants that France has represents the ultimate "unmeltable" minority. Again, this is a group that rejects French cultural values out of hand, and not only rejects them but wishes to subvert them.

So despite the sort of analysis . . . that one hears on NPR or reads in The New York Times, I would argue that it is possible to simultaneously accept that the "unmeltable" minorities do have legitimate grievances about racism and exploitation and that the -- why it's in some respects the response to economic [conditions] -- but also recognize that the standard progressive solutions are simply irrelevant in terms of removing the deepest cause of the conflict.

The fact is that there is a movement sweeping the Muslim world that has its own project, and the project of that -- the project is, as Frank has mentioned before, to conquer Europe as well as the entirety of the non-Muslim world for Islam, to make Islamic law universal. While violence and terror can weaken Western resolve, demographic change is the best weapon at hand.

It is also not the case, as some have argued, that the project is only a matter of reconquista. It is not only that such Muslims believe that only lands once held by the Western caliphate or the Ottoman Empire must be turned to the Islamic patrimony. Even France -- spared Islamic rule thanks to the Frankish shield wall at the Battle Tours -- is meant to be brought into the fold.

The French are not only profoundly unlucky to have their immigrant underclass comprised almost entirely of Muslims in the jihadist age, but they also have an underclass that is primarily young and that is not only sociopathic on the basis of religious/cultural fanaticism, but also of downward socialization in the urban sewers in which they live. They are also deeply influenced by the most vile ugliness to be found in American popular culture stemming from the blighted inner city.

So Islamic militancy and gangster rap come together in France to form a toxic brew that glories in pure destruction, misogamy, violence, and posturing machismo. What results is a combination of the Intifada and the Watts Riot: both these elements are not equally balanced. The Muslim thugs who have set fire to hundreds of cars, nursery schools, business, synagogues, assault innocent bystanders, white Frenchmen who happen in their path, and pepper policemen and firemen with buckshot as well as stones are chanting Allahu Akbar.

This is not merely the expression of a youthful nihilism of alienated, unemployed young men; they have a solution to the problems that they are complaining about. The solution is Islam. Now, that is not saying that they understand very well or are necessarily good Muslims, but they believe they have the solution and that it is Islam.

How spontaneous all of this is is another matter and it's something that we perhaps can discuss. We are reading more and more news stories about warehouses in which hundreds and hundreds of Molotov cocktails have been discovered. As I said, we'll have to leave that to discussion.

While it may seem the case that the lauded, dry foundations were merely waiting for a spark to set off the current of conflagration, the fact is that the destruction of property, the burning of cars, assault gang rape, in particular, attacks on police, and probably most notorious, attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions, have been going on in France for a very long time.

The Nazi-like attitudes of the Islamist thugs and their assaults on Jews have become in fact so recurrent and widely known that major newspapers and press agencies have lost interest in the story, or if they do report it, they underplay it. In a recent New York Times piece on the current riots, it was asserted that on average Muslim thugs attack two Jews in Paris a day. All the more reliable sources put the figure at something closer to 12 assaults a day, putting the figures somewhere closer to the numbers, say, on the street during the days of the Weimar Republic.

We can also discern -- and Frank was touching on this, and I just want to say a little bit more about this -- how the campaign of Islamization is meant to proceed in France. In Friday's New York Post, Amir Taheri tells us that there are some in the Muslim religious consistories as well as individuals in Paris holding for the introduction of the "millet" system of the Ottoman Empire. This system permitted separate religious communities and cultures to organize their own communal life, including law, education, culture, on the basis of the religious belief of the majority of its inhabitants.

Given the fact that most of these nightmare neighborhoods tend to be something like 80 percent Muslim, this would lead to the creation of hundreds upon hundreds of autonomous Muslim Bantustans in France where Islamic law will rule. And what is -- what has got me as very troubling was that I came up with something Gilles Capelle, a writer whom I think normally writes very intelligently on jihadism that seems to be somehow seeking to accommodate this repulsive atavistic idea, clothing it in language about the glories of the coming Convenencia in Al Andalus. The fact that someone like Gilles Capelle is willing to embrace this concept suggests that the capacity for self-deception has gone very far, or maybe this is just raw panic speaking.

Daniel Pipes has written that these riots may be, quote, unquote, "a turning point in European history." This strong language does not strike me as an overstatement that the riots are only one particularly shocking moment on a continuum -- a steady pile downward. He termed his piece "Reflections on the Revolution" in France. Revolution also strikes me as the right word rather than, say, rebellion.

If whole sections of France had in the days beginning on October 27th declared their effective independence from the French nation, whose laws, customs, tradition, language, social and political arrangements they would get in toto -- and their de facto succession appears to be succeeding given the almost incredibly flaccid reaction of the French state, which took 11 days of rioting in its own capital to impose curfews, and which, along with The New York Times editorial page, sees the solution to this insurrection as being increased diversity training, then France is truly lost.

Now, of course, the government has belatedly imposed curfews. It has even resuscitated the law of 1955 from the period of the Algerian revolution. But whether the riots continue and in fact grow, it will be interesting to see if the state has the resolve to carry out these enactments. Also it's going to be interesting to see whether there will be a violent nationalist backlash of the dominant cultural group, whether a figure will emerge out of the political establishment because that is where a figure is going to have to emerge. Someone like Le Pen is too ridiculous to play such an important role.

But whether someone will emerge in France as Enoch Powell did in Britain, given the great warning that one day blood will run in the streets because of the immigration policy -- will Sarkozy be that figure? I don't know. I wouldn't hold my breath. My guess is that what we were seeing in France is what my old professor at Columbia, Fritz Stern, called the politics of cultural despair. I think the French at this point are willing to put up with almost anything.

Again, if there were a violent nationalist reaction with crowds of gun or perhaps baguette-wielding, barrette-wearing, pate-eating, chain-smoking Frenchmen, it may succeed in a time for offering some degree of satisfaction in the face of cultural losses, but we would be witnessing nothing more or less than a choice between nightmares.

A fascist, racist movement offers no solution -- the French have gone down that road before with Vichy. The choice between Islamic fascism and French fascism is a choiceless choice. The cure is no better than the disease. It was likely the case -- and this where I am going to end -- that the French state and its ideology have bred a monster that it can no longer contain or defeat, and the future portends only increased violence and anarchy. We have grown accustomed to speaking of failed states in the Third World; we may be witnessing the first dramatic death throes of a failed state in the heart of Europe.

On May 13, 1940, the Germany Army crossed the Meuse. On June 18, Churchill addressed parliament and announced, quote, "The battle of France is over. The battle of Britain is about to begin." The battle of France may well be over once more in a new undeclared war of global conquest. Whether the battle of Britain can be won once more -- as well as that for the rest of Western Europe -- remains to be seen. Thanks.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, Steve. We'll take questions. If anybody has any Q and A, raise your hand speak up. We have to have provoked somebody to something. Yes. If you could speak up when you asked your question.

Q: I am directing my question to Mr. Gaffney. Could expound a time in telling us of tension to the Tablighi Janaat?

MR. GAFFNEY: The Tablighi Jannaat.

Q: Thank you for the pronunciation -- gone to the French government saying we will give you the area -- (off mike) -- could you expound?

MR. GAFFNEY: Yes, the question was to sort of further elaborate the point that I made about the Tablighi Jannaat in France parlaying with the government in much the way I think Steve was just talking about -- have the French government cede control, not just effective control but legal control over what I think Steve called Bantustans of sort of Islamic self-ruled communities.

This is a phenomenon that is at work around the world. In this book War Footing that I mentioned earlier, we talk about it in places like Africa where you see Islamist groups insisting that their communities be ruled by Sharia. When, as has been indicated, there is some pushback, they then translate themselves or trying to transform themselves into the protectors of all Muslims and thereby help endear themselves or at least legitimate themselves within their communities, not as fringe, not as zealots, not as ideologues but as the protectors of the faith.

You know, it's interesting, Steve mentioned -- I think both you mentioned how difficult it is to find any of this out from the press. I was listening the other day to National Public Radio describing the outbreak of polio that has recently been heavily contained after I think two years of trying to put that horrible genie back in the box.

Nowhere in the report was it mentioned that the only reason, the only reason there was an outbreak that not only afflicted Nigeria, where it began, but then disseminated widely in Africa and then elsewhere around the world was because Islamist Imams in Nigeria trying to dominate their community and their country -- they have prohibited their followers from taking American vaccines for polio on the pretense that it was an American conspiracy to sterilize their women and to inseminate their children with AIDS.

So this sort of thing, which is again now moving in parallel with efforts to impose Sharia on not only those parts of Nigeria but other parts as well, that makes this truly a global problem. I would argue that Tablighi Jannaat is an organization that is operating worldwide is an engine -- hardly the only one, but certainly one. And what we have seen develop -- and I think Steve articulated it brilliantly -- in France to this point is but one manifestation of what we could find elsewhere if we look for it as this effort to impose Sharia is advanced, and to a greater degree then probably we will prepare to acknowledge it is happening within the United States.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Anyone else? I actually have a couple of questions myself. Let me start with you, Steve. We often talk about -- and this is relevant to our immigration policy assessments as well -- we often talked about Islamism, Islamo-fascism -- whatever the word is that we use for it; in other words, the modern political ideology that uses -- sort of has grown out of Islam's conflict with modernity.

But to what degree is Islamism, really Islamic radicalism, really a distinct phenomenon, or is it, to some extent, really just an organic part of Islam itself? In other words, are we really talking about something different from Islam or is mainstream sort of normal Islam also part of the problem?

MR. STEINLIGHT: You've asked the most difficult question one I think can pose, and one around which everybody likes to differ, or prevaricate.

I'm not sure I know the answer but I know that the question is -- the very fact that you're asking the question represents a serious matter. There are those -- there are many scholars of Islam -- and by the way, I would include among them friends of mine who are lapsed Muslims or who regard themselves as Muslim free-thinkers, who belong to organizations like the Ibn Khaldun Society, who would say that there is no distinction, that in fact this kind of fundamentalist literalism has [long] been in control, and that stateism, power, and Islam always go hand in hand, and that the notion of conquest, of fundamental disrespect for the other, is something which is an historical reality right through Islam, whether it was the ethnic cleansing of Jews out of the Arabian Peninsula in the 8th century, whether it was the slaughter of millions of Hindus in the so-called Hindu Kush, the Hindu slaughter in India under the Mongols. We can go on and on and on with this kind of history.

There are aspects within the system which seem endemically authoritarian, misogynistic, problematic to others. I have friends, again, who abandoned Islam because their argument was there is no way to reconcile Islam -- classical Islam -- with human rights, as we understand them in the West -- no way to reconcile it. Now, there are others, who are also very well read and scholarly who would argue that political Islamism is really a development mostly of the -- coming out of the 1920s with people like Katub, modeled very closely on European fascism, which took, as it were, the most aggressive aspects of Islam, the most aggressive suras of the Koran, made jihadism the center of the religion rather than the supposed Five Pillars of Faith, and that as a reaction to European colonialism -- which I would describe, by the way, as a reaction to the Islamic attempt to conquer Europe -- Bernard Lewis always gets a good joke out of that one when people say, what about European colonialism? He says, well, what about Islamic? Who crossed the Straits of Gibraltar in 711 and conquered Spain? -- that there is a modern version which may be something different and something new.

But there is plenty in classical Islam which is problematic. I do think that jihadism represents a ratcheting up of all of those elements quantitatively that it becomes, after a point, qualitatively something different.

I would also make the case -- and I'd be interested to hear, particularly from anyone in the audience who is Muslim -- the many people who recommend that what the Islamic world needs is an enlightenment and a reformation, and of course if one were to read -- I mean, the difference -- a very fundamental difference, as I'm sure everyone in the audience knows -- between say holy scripture in the three great monotheist religions is that while Christians and Jews have come to believe over time that their scripture is divinely inspired, they do not believe it is the literal word of God.

So for a believing Muslim, the Koran is really more like the Eucharist is for a believing Christian. It is in fact the body of God, and so it cannot be meddled with. In other words, you can change those things that say stone adulterers or stone homosexuals, and yet we know of course -- and I have many Muslim friends who would never think of doing such a thing, and who accept the equal rights of women and who do not despise Jews or Christians. I think what has happened, in the case of millions upon millions upon millions of Muslims across the world is that they have performed an internal private act of reformation. They have written off those things themselves the way Jews no longer -- Jews don't practice Leviticus down the line. If we did, we would be no different. We would still be stoning homosexuals and adulterers. We haven't done it for a very long time.

My guess is that this reformation has been occurring on a private basis. Why has it not occurred on a public basis? It has not occurred on a public basis because those people who advocate it are killed, but my guess is one day it will occur on a public basis. I pray that day comes soon.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Frank, did you --

MR. GAFFNEY: I don't hold myself up to be a Koranic expert by any means, but I do think this is a central question for our times. There are clearly messages in the Koran that, Steve has indicated, enable Islamo-fascists, as I prefer to call them, to justify their conduct, just as Wahhab back in the middle of the 8th century justified his conduct with reference to the Koran. It is clearly, however, the case -- whether it's as the result of private acts of reformation, as has been suggested, or whether it's a function of the sects -- that many Muslims around the world, including almost all of them in the Far East, have, until very recently -- and that is of course the largest Muslim population in the world -- adhered to. They have nothing to do with this sort of tradition of jihadism and intolerance and violence against the other.

And this is why I think it is so critically important to understand that the first target of these Islamo-fascists is in fact non-Islamist Muslims. Why Zarqawi was delighted to take credit for killing dozens of them in Jordan this past couple of days is because they were clearly unbelievers to his eyes, or at least sufficiently compromised by their association with an American hotel or simply a convenient way to kill people to make his point -- his political point.

I do want to say one other thing about the holy nature of the Koran. It is relevant that the Saudi version of the Koran, published and disseminated by them to places like, as I mentioned earlier, mosques in this country, actually changes the word of God, if you believe that it is indeed the word of God. It introduces, for example, in the first section of the Koran, the concept that certain blessings should not apply to Christians and Jews -- something that is not said in the original text.

So I think it is important to understand that at least today there are a great many Muslims who do not adhere to this what I call political ideology. The danger is that if we are not careful, if we fail to take lessons from what's happening in France today and elsewhere around the world, as I've indicated, then we may well find this political ideology performing as other totalitarian ideologies have before it, namely by dominating their community, often through violence against it, certainly through intimidation or other forms of coercion, and then mounting a further assault on other communities beyond. That is the critically important point, I think. It behooves us, I believe, to take advantage of this window of opportunity to try to work with non-Islamist Muslims to defeat our common foe, these Islamo-fascists.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Is there another question?

Q: (Off mike.)

MR. KRIKORIAN: Please speak louder. I'm sorry.

Q: In the Netherlands they had a -- (off mike).

MR.. STEINLIGHT: I'm sorry; your point was that in Holland there has been recently a --

Q: (Off mike) -- because of the fear of reprisal. Politicians are afraid of being assassinated.

MR. STEINLIGHT: Well, we all know the situation of someone like Ali Hirsi, who was a collaborator with Theo Van Gogh, who is a former Muslim member of the Dutch parliament. Clearly, the danger represented to any democracy by having violent minorities having their will ceded to represents the end of democracy. It's monstrous such discourse should be allowed, obviously everywhere, and the more it's threatened the more it should be uttered.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you. We've going to have to wrap it up now, I think. I want to thank Frank Gaffney and Steve Steinlight. I at least will be here to be accosted afterwards if anybody has further questions they want to ask.

The transcript will be up in a few days at our website,, which is home to all of our other publications as well, and I'd like to thank all of you for coming. Thanks.