Discrimination Against Muslims

November 30, 2006

This is a combination of several very different stories. First, Jill notes a further exchange about Islam between Mark Steyn of “white women must have eight babies each” fame and Ralph Peters, that seems to be all about legitimizing the idea of a European massacre of Muslims.

While Peters says gleefully that Europeans are going to slaughter Muslims one day and Steyn laments the fact that the fascists in Europe are too old, let me take a less idealistic view of what’s going to happen. Consider this the first part of my book to go public:

The Europe of 2020 was very different from the Europe of 2003, in which most people hated the United States more than they did Al-Qaida and the two most important states, France and Germany, were shrilly anti-American. Increasing Muslim immigration produced increased anti-Muslim sentiments in many countries, especially France, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. The governments hardly even tried to promote integration, and the greater visibility of anti-immigration politicians entered a positive feedback loop with resentment and cultural separatism among immigrants. In 2005, Algerian immigrants and their descendants rioted in France, fomenting a virulent epidemic of anti-Arabism; but that riot paled in comparison to what happened six years later, when Moroccan immigrants rioted in Amsterdam over a proposed moratorium on immigration, tearing the fabric of Dutch civil society apart and then incinerating the remains. The post-2005 fears of Arabs had materialized, the European mainstream reasoned, and now was the time for decisive action that would restore tranquility in Europe.

Given that climate, it was not surprising that there emerged new restrictions on civil liberties, including broad bans on disturbance of the peace, stifling regulations of assembly and protest, stringent restrictions on immigrations and on the rights of immigrants, and increased state surveillance of potential troublemakers. At the same time pro-Americanism resurged in France and Germany, as did cultural conservatism, to a lesser degree. At the time the United States ruled Iraq and Iran, and talks of an invasion of Syria floated in neo-conservative circles; with fierce rhetoric about women’s rights and freedom of speech and freedom of religion, the United States won the support of many desperate Europeans. While Britain was still recovering from having been the last country other than the United States to withdraw from Iraq, France participated in the United States’ invasion of Syria in 2013. Now Germany and France were the two most pro-American major countries in the world, and Russia was beginning to assert itself as the third.

There’s not going to be a holocaust, not because Europeans are too morally weak to murder millions, but because the way Western European anti-Muslim racism works, the government can’t intervene on anyone’s side. Floating the idea of a holocaust in Europe is like floating the idea of a return to slavery in the US. It’s nice to dwell on, if you’re a sadistic racist, but it only goes to show how detached from reality sadistic racists are.

In 1919, Hitler noted that “Antisemitism based on purely emotional grounds will find its ultimate expression in the form of the pogrom. An antisemitism based on reason, however, must lead to systematic legal combatting and elimination of the privileges of the Jews.” Current European racism is based on (pseudo-)reason rather than emotion.

The other story is due to Gordo, as usual, and takes place in India. India is a democracy, but like the democracies more familiar to people in the West, it has its share of equal rights problems: women outside the upper class are treated like chattel, low-caste people are being discriminated against even though Gandhi formally abolished the caste system upon independence, and the language rights of the two thirds of the population whose native language isn’t Hindi are generally not fully respected.

Now a new report documents just how pervasively Muslims receive inferior education, jobs, and bank credit, and have a literacy rate six percentage points lower than the general population’s. The government wants to institute affirmative action, which already exists to prop up low-caste Indians but not Muslims. Naturally, the opposition party, which unlike the European right isn’t above encouraging pogroms, is aghast.

But one of the reactions of the left slightly bugged me, for nothing more than an irritating word use.

The latest findings have prompted fresh debate. In an editorial in The Indian Express, an English-language daily, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, the president of the Delhi-based Center for Policy Research, suggested that the government’s panel had revealed “the hollowness of our concept of republican citizenship.”

“What is at stake,” Mr. Mehta said, “is not just uplifting this or that group, but the very idea of India itself: whether it has the capacity for transcending the cant, indifference and identity traps that have brought us to this pass.”

The rhetoric about identity traps is exactly what I think, but the part about the “concept of republican citizenship” slightly irks me, simply because of the French connection. France bills itself as a country of republican citizens who are loyal only to the nation; as such, its legal system sweeps discrimination under the carpet, because to do otherwise would be to acknowledge that France’s self-perception is flawed. India is not like that; its conception of how to deal with ethnicity is more similar to this of the US and Canada, and would probably have their levels of racism if it had their amount of money and level of infrastructure.

(This is filed under race rather than religion because it has nothing to do with the practice of Islam and everything to do with racial discrimination against a very visible minority in Europe and a minority the nationalists have especial loathing for in India)

Is It a Serious Study?

November 30, 2006

Large swaths of the American left-wing blogosphere (e.g. Bora, Daily Kos) are all over a study that says mentally ill patients were likely to vote Bush in 2004, if they voted. The story everyone seems to be linking to says,

[Link] Lohse, a social work master’s student at Southern Connecticut State University, says he has proven what many progressives have probably suspected for years: a direct link between mental illness and support for President Bush.

Lohse says his study is no joke. The thesis draws on a survey of 69 psychiatric outpatients in three Connecticut locations during the 2004 presidential election. Lohse’s study, backed by SCSU Psychology professor Jaak Rakfeldt and statistician Misty Ginacola, found a correlation between the severity of a person’s psychosis and their preferences for president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush.

But before you go thinking all your conservative friends are psychotic, listen to Lohse’s explanation.

“Our study shows that psychotic patients prefer an authoritative leader,” Lohse says. “If your world is very mixed up, there’s something very comforting about someone telling you, ‘This is how it’s going to be.’”

Bora is of course trumpeting the study as evidence for his theory that conservatism is a form of mental illness born of automaton-like authoritarianism. On Daily Kos there’s a raging debate over whether conservatives are insane or evil. My excuse for not using that material as inspiration to edit another chapter of my book, whose portrayal of the blogosphere is more realistic than idealistic, is that I’m half asleep.

Fortunately, some people on Daily Kos who come off as more familiar with mental illness than most explain this. Sweet Potato comments,

[Link] Anyone who has spent time with the mentally ill knows that they have an inclination towards conspiracy theories, paranoia and collectivized emotion, especially as peddled by the media.

And Brown American explains why this study should be taken with a huge pinch of salt: its sample size is 69, and existing studies peg mental patients as better than the general population at telling when someone’s lying.

The buzzword in areas of social science that generate numerous studies is “meta-study.” It’s easy to botch these too, but when something draws enough buzz for there to be a hundred different data sets about it, a political hack will be able to use five that show the correlation is statistically significant.

In fact, usually there will be many more than five, because published studies have an existing bias in favor of data sets that show significant correlation. “There’s no link between these two things” won’t get you published unless it’s a real hot-button issue like racial IQ differences, and even that only diminishes that bias but does not eliminate it.

Of course, that didn’t prevent Bora from opening his post by snarking,

You know that Bush-apologists say crazy things. They get cited, chastized and mocked for it every day on the liberal blogs, after all. You may have also wandered, by mistake, onto comment threads on Little Green Foodballs, or The Corner, or other nasty Right-wing blogs and suspected that those people are not really ‘all there’.

There he’s completely right. Commenters on top political blogs like LGF, the Corner, Daily Kos, and Firedoglake tend to be an incredibly irrational bunch that gives regulars on Free Republic and Democratic Underground a run for the money. Blog comment threads are usually not that bad, because blogs are public enough for people to have the sense to write for the general reader rather than for the echo chamber, but the forums and the large blogs with insular comment threads are not. There’s no way someone who wasn’t obsessed with satisfying a readership thirsty for viciousness would’ve called a blue dog Democrat a whore (hat-tip to Zuzu and Piny for that gem).

Update: Coturnix has an update explaining he just wanted to alert the left-wing blogosphere to the study, without saying anything about its validity.

Roots of Unity

November 30, 2006

As I said before, a number field K with r real conjugates and s pairs of proper complex ones has r + s – 1 independent units, in the sense that if (u1^a1)(u2^a2)…(u(r+s-1)^a(r+s-1)) = 1 where the a(i)’s are integers, then all a(i)’s are zero. While this doesn’t apply to every set of r + s – 1 units, it does apply to some set of that size but not to any set of r + s units.

What I’m more concerned with in this post is the number of roots of unity in K, as a function of n = [K:Q]. First, note that every number field has at least two roots of unity, 1 and -1. Also note that R only has these two roots of unity, so if K is a subfield of R, it has no additional roots of unity. Since every K for which r > 0 can be regarded as a subfield of R, it follows that if K has more than two roots of unity, n = 2s.

Now, let L be the subfield of K generated by roots of unity. L has degree m over Q, where m < n. In fact m divides n, since K is a vector space over L, so that K is additively the same as L^l = Q^lm for some l and lm = n. If L has k roots of unity, then the multiplicative group of roots of unity can be denoted as C(k), which is just a way of writing Z/kZ in multiplicative notation.

Since C(k) has an element corresponding to 1 in Z/kZ, call it z(k), L is in fact the subfield of K generated by z(k); this is because every other root of unity in K is a power of z(k). The conjugates of z(k) are other kth roots of unity. Furthermore, z(k) is not a root of unity of any order less than k, or else there are fewer than k roots of unity in K. The name for such a root is a primitive kth root of unity. It’s not difficult to see that z(k)^c is a primitive kth root of unity iff c and k are coprime. So the number of conjugates of z(k) is at most phi(k), defined to be the number of positive integers less than k that are coprime to k, or, equivalently, the number of equivalence classes mod k that are coprime to k. In fact the two are equal, but that requires a technical field theoretic proof I don’t want to get into.

So if K has exactly k roots of unity, then phi(k) must be a divisor of [K:Q]. Also, k can never be odd, because we can always pair off roots of unity with their negatives. After all, if z^m = 1, then (-z)^2m = 1, and z = –z iff z = 0.

The converse, mind you, isn’t always true. phi(6) = 2, but Q(SQRT(n)) doesn’t have 6 roots of unity unless n = -3. In fact there are only two roots of unity in Q(SQRT(n)) unless n = -1 or -3, where it’s understood that if n = mb^2 then we only ever write Q(SQRT(m)). Moreover, in Q(SQRT(n1), SQRT(n2)) the number k must satisfy phi(k) = 1, 2, or 4.

If k1 and k2 are coprime then an equivalence class mod k1k2 is determined by its equivalence class mod k1 and its class mod k2, and is coprime iff it’s coprime to k1 and k2, so that phi(k1k2) = phi(k1)phi(k2). That implies that phi(k) is the product of phi(p^m) over all p^m dividing k such that p^(m+1) does not divide k; and phi(p^m) is just the number of positive integers less than p^m coprime to p, which is (p-1)p^(m-1).

In other words, if phi(k) divides 4, then every prime p dividing k must be one more than a divisor of 4 – i.e. be 2, 3, or 5 – and also the exponents of 2, 3, and 5 are at most 3, 1, and 1 respectively. It’s not especially hard to then compute that k has to be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, or 12, where the odd values are not possible from a previous result.

If k = 2, then the only roots of unity are -1 and 1, which is the general case. If k = 4, then K contains i = SQRT(-1) and some other square root. If k = 6, then K contains SQRT(-3) and some other square root. If k = 8, then K = Q(SQRT(-1), SQRT(2)) which is generated by primitive 8th roots of unity. If k = 12, then K = Q(SQRT(-1), SQRT(3)) which is generated by primitive 12th roots of unity. If k = 10, then K can’t be written as Q(SQRT(n1), SQRT(n2)); the only proof I can think of requires Galois theory, in which case the proof is that the field of 10th roots of unity’s Galois group is C(4) while Q(SQRT(n1), SQRT(n2))’s Galois group is always C(2) * C(2). In particular, Q(SQRT(n1), SQRT(n2)) has no roots of unity apart from 1 and -1 whenever n1 and n2 are both different from -1 and -3.

More Natalist Bullshit

November 29, 2006

I was going to gloss over Mark Steyn’s article decrying the fact that Christians aren’t breeding fast enough, because Amanda had already taken care of the angle about the obvious racism and sexism. Steyn doesn’t talk about white people, but the examples he gives of Christians who have few children are all from North America and Europe, even though Latin America and the Philippines’ high fertility cancels Europe’s low fertility.

But Echidne’s take got me thinking about the broader natalist angle. Steyn’s argument is similar to arguments conservative natalists make about fundamentalists versus secularists. When they say that conservatives are having more children than liberals (e.g. here), they brim with joy; but when they find that whites are having fewer children than non-whites, they go nuts.

In neither case is the hunch even right. Conservatives outbreed liberals in the US, but the US isn’t becoming less liberal, because conversions go conservative-to-liberal more than the other way around. The same applies to Christianity, which evangelizes throughout the world. Islam is growing faster, but religioustolerance.org quotes the US Center for World Mission as saying Christianity’s percentage of the world population is stable.

The average Christian is not like Scarlett Johansson, who Steyn deprecates for practicing birth control and not sharing his demented “understanding of sexuality as anything other than an act of transient self-expression.” Even if Scarlett Johansson gets HIV tests and makes sure she doesn’t get pregnant, the average Lucía Martinez and Mary Smith don’t.

Fear-based rhetoric about how the brown hordes are going to overrun Europe and North America is good at riling up hardcore racists and fascists, but bad at agreeing with reality. Amidst fears of a Hispanic takeover in the US, people forget that adding the percentage of self-reported Anglos in the US is 14.9%, slightly more than the percentage of Hispanics. The other non-Hispanic whites have ancestors who at various times in US history were hated for outbreeding Anglos and subverting American culture.

The same applies to misogynist rhetoric about women who shirk their duty to give birth to white babies. Sure, keeping women barefoot and pregnant will increase white birth rates; but the society it will create will look exactly like the one Steyn is complaining is outbreeding his. Steyn may like that society, since like many conservatives, he seems to have no problem with totalitarian societies that speak his language. But intellectual apologists for Western supremacism like Huntington spend a tremendous amount of time ranting about how women’s rights and freedom are fundamental Western values that non-Westerners are inferior for not adoping.

As I often say to people who insist on living the movement: becoming breeders in God’s name makes no sense. If you’re a woman who cares first and foremost about spreading Christianity, then have no kids, and donate the million dollars in lifetime earnings you’ll save to your missionary organization of choice. Considering that Christianity has never shied away from evangelizing-first arguments, there’s no question that promoting insanely high birth rates is not about promuglating the religion, but about keeping women barefoot and pregnant.

Note to Muslim-bashers: yes, Muslims have high birth rates. When they emigrate to first-world countries that don’t throw them into ghettos and then act surprised when they torch cars, their birth rates go down and they adopt Enlightenment values. If you’re worried for the future of democracy rather than for these of white hegemony and the patriarchy, you should welcome them in open arms and make sure they integrate as quickly as possible.

Wednesday Miscellany

November 29, 2006

Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society will perform a new chart at the Bowery Poetry Club on 11/30 at 10:00 PM (directions).

The accent quiz is generating a second wave of buzz (see for example Feministe, Pandagon, Majikthise, and Retrospectacle). There’s a lot of confusion about Inland Northern, which the quiz diagnoses in people who distinguish the vowels in cot and caught in all contexts (some Midlanders distinguish cot and caught but not don and dawn), but don’t distinguish Mary, marry, and merry. The most egregious feature of Inland Northern isn’t the mergers, but the vowel shifts. If this word sounds like “cot” to you, you’re probably from the Inland North; if it sounds like “cat,” you’re probably not.

Update: the Youtube link still doesn’t work for me, so you can hear the word here instead.

Amanda notes that Bush’s new appointee for head of the Office on Violence Against Women has no anti-VAW credentials; her past experience is with prosecuting people who sell bongs or write child porn fiction. Jessica, who broke the story first, also notes that the appointee said the Patriot Act supports civil liberties.

You may recognize the author of this story about the scandalous scaffold situation in New York (alliteration not intended).

Under the cover of construction, ads for some of the world’s biggest brands are taking up residence at many of New York’s most prestigious addresses, including many buildings designated as landmarks. So far, Stringer’s PR campaign seems to have had little affect on the number of illegal ads vying for public attention.

Why do these blatantly illegal ads flourish in plain sight, despite the vocal opposition?


“There are different approaches to policing sidewalk shed ads,” explains Givner. “If the OAC is labeled on the sign, we can issue a violation to the OAC. The fine is $10,000 to $25,000. If it doesn’t have a label, [we] issue the violation to the building owner for 0 to $2,500.”

As Scott Stringer notes, building owners risk these fines because it can be very profitable for them to do so. Advertising Age estimates that illegal ads, including sidewalk shed wraps can bring in $40,000 to $50,000 dollars a month, a figure also cited by the trade journal Media Buyer Planner. Moreover, the DOB has no power to remove illegal ads, even if it issues a citation.

I’m Too Scared to Do It

November 29, 2006

Hat-tip to Jessica: there’s a celebrity auction going on that offers plenty of stuff I’d probably be willing to fork over some money for. Down with the useless items; what the auction features is,

KATHA POLLITT edits your manuscript

Novelist THISBE NISSEN names a character after you

Legendary cartoonist JENNIFER CAMPER designs yr tattoo

A signed limited edition broadside from MARGARET ATWOOD

LETTA NEELY writes a poem for YOU

Original comic art by MIKHAELA REID

Performance/Public Speaking coaching w/JACLYN FRIEDMAN

That’s just a sample of the things on the list I find most interesting. Even those I’d try going for I’m too scared to do, though. Having Katha Pollitt edit my manuscript is scary like hell (it’s limited to five pages, so my book doesn’t count, but there’s other stuff I’ve written).

Royal Considered Favorite in French Election

November 29, 2006

France’s Socialist Party nominated Ségolène Royal for the Presidential election in April 2007, making her the first woman ever to win a major party’s primary. UMP, the largest conservative party, has yet to hold a primary, but now that Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy has officially thrown his hat in the ring, his primary victory is a foregone conclusion.

Now, Sarkozy has been a darling of the right ever since the riots in 2005, when he advocated an American-style law and order approach to the riots, and in particular promised to deport rioting immigrants. But most of the population is not composed of right-wing ideologues; Dominique Moisi explains at the Financial Times why he’s a polarizing candidate who will probably make Royal France’s first female President.

In the short time since Ségolène Royal’s triumphant victory in the Socialist party “primaries”, the mood in France has changed spectacularly. Previously, left and right both feared the other side would win next spring’s election; now the left is elated and the right apprehensive. The favourite topic is no longer who is going to win, but what Ms Royal’s first moves as president should be.


Ms Royal seems to have found a magic formula that reflects French society’s contradictions. Her unique strength is her ability to incarnate at the same time a radical rejection of traditional party politics, if not politics in general, with a soft interpretation of rupture – the notion of a decisive break with the past – as far as structural reforms are concerned.

In the debate about continuity and change that will be the key to the election, her formula is in direct contrast to that of her leading rightwing rival, Nicolas Sarkozy. Mr Sarkozy has been visibly at the centre of French politics for so long that it is difficult for a man who appears as the dual inheritor of François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac to present himself as a true departure from the traditional political system. The French are in a mood of rejection, if not punishment, and Mr Sarkozy is an “elephant” within the political system. By contrast, when it comes to the concept of rupture, Mr Sarkozy may sound too radical. His attempted rapprochement with George W. Bush’s US at a time when the American people were about to say “no” to the president’s Republican party in the mid-term elections was not well received by most French people.

While Britain’s first Prime Minister was a hardcore conservative, and Germany’s first Chancellor is a slightly gentle Thatcherite, France’s first President to be is more of a Blairite. She supports some planks of law and order conservatism, such as throwing delinquet youths into military-supervised reform schools. At the same time, she supports single-sex marriage, which is again similar to Blair’s approach (although he’s a religious fanatic, he’s the most pro-gay rights Prime Minister in British history). Hopefully, she’ll also share Blair’s political success, without doing something stupid like supporting a war against Iraq Iran.

Forbes is running an editorial trying to say that Royal won’t win because she’ll be seen as too short on substance. The thing is, she’s very much like (Bill) Clinton or Blair, whose policies were hailed as New Democratic/New Labour. Maybe the operative word in the “she has no substance” accusation is “she.” It won’t be the first time Forbes runs a disparagingly sexist article.

If Royal is anything like Clinton or Blair, she’ll have little difficulty retaining the support of traditional socialist interest groups, like unions, even as she advocates lengthening the workweek from 35 hours to 40. So far the social policy positions she’s explicitly right-wing on are media violence, juvenile delinquency, and Turkey’s EU bid. Support for Turkey’s EU bid in France is in the low 20s, and the only groups media censorship and abusing juvenile delinquents will piss off are the student movements everyone hates.