News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Friday, March 28, 2008

A looming immigration conflict in the Netherlands

The United States, Europe, and other developed nations face a new and thorny challenge: the brewing clash of cultures created by the massive surge of immigration from less developed countries over the last decade. Nowhere is the potential for conflict more acute today than in the Netherlands.

Long a bastion of progressive thought, the Netherlands is in danger of becoming a battleground between extremist forces who are feeding off each other’s hatred. The latest volley in the war of words between Islamic fundamentalists and their far right adversaries is the film “Fitna,” a 15-minute agit-prop screed produced by Geert Wilders of the Party for Freedom. The film pulls some of the most violent passages from the Koran and combines them with gruesome footage of terrorist attacks and executions in an attempt to paint all Moslems as blood-lusting thugs bent on domination. Were they so inclined, Moslems could extract equally violent passages from the Bible along with clips of lynchings by the Ku Klux Klan, stacks of corpses from Hitler’s death camps, the maimed bodies of children from the Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma city, and countless other atrocities committed by Christians. The point here should be clear. The violent acts of extremists do not speak for the majority.

Although the U.S. faces a similar immigration culture clash, thankfully we have not reached anything as volatile as the situation in the Netherlands – yet. However, we have the same kind of extremists just waiting to launch their divisive agendas. The number of extremist groups in the U.S. has grown by 48% since 2000. This not only represent far-right supremacist organizations like the KKK and the Aryan Nation but also includes separatist groups like MeCHA and the Mexica Movement that openly advocate a homeland within current U.S. territory.

Unless we turn down the temperature in the heated rhetoric against Hispanics and find a reasonable solution to the presence of over 12 million undocumented immigrants, there are extremists within the United States eager to ignite a conflict that will be much worse than any of the problems we face today.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez

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