Madrid and Islam in Europe

by Henry Farrell on March 14, 2004

It’s now almost certain that I was wrong when I suggested a couple of days ago that Al Qaeda was unlikely to be responsible for the horrible bombings in Madrid. This is worrying, not only because of what it means directly, but also because it may spur a very unpleasant cross-European backlash against immigrants. Even if US perceptions of rampant anti-Semitism in Europe are overblown, support for the far right is growing in many European countries on the back of anti-immigrant – and often, specifically anti-Muslim – sentiments. It’s not only the far right either; ‘mainstream’ European conservatives too are muttering dire imprecations about the enemy within. Witness, for example, Niall Ferguson “channeling Oswald Spengler”:,filter.foreign/news_detail.asp two weeks ago, in his sub-Huntingtonian ruminations about European cultural decadence and the minarets being raised amid the dreaming spires of Oxford.

Europe’s relationship with its non-European immigrants is an open sore, and it has been for decades. My worry is that the bombings are going to give succor to the far right, and make anti-immigrant arguments more respectable in mainstream political debate. We’re also likely to see more policy measures that purport to combat terrorism, but are really aimed at making life tougher for illegal immigrants. Europe already has a bad record on many civil liberties; I fear that it’s going to get substantially worse over the next couple of years. Even if the left wins today in Spain, as seems likely, there may be a pronounced general shift towards the nastier aspects of right-populism over the longer term.

Science in Action

by Kieran Healy on March 14, 2004

People inclined to make “sweeping judgments”: about the nature of the natural and social sciences based on a glancing acquaintance with the idea of falsification and a collection of popular books about quantum mechanics should read “‘Electron Band Structure in Germanium, My Ass'”: (Via “Electrolite”:

Moria, I’m lost in a mine named Moria

by Kieran Healy on March 14, 2004

News today that “a musical version”: of _The Lord of the Rings_ is in the works. Suggest songs and plot-points here. Potential titles include: “‘I’m gonna wash that orc right out of my hair'”: (Legolas), “‘You’re the One Ring that I want'”: (Sauron in Act I, then Gollum in Act II, and Frodo, Gollum and Sauron in Act III), “‘People will say we’re in love'”: (Frodo/Sam duet, Act II, theme echoed by Gimli and Legolas during Battle of Pelennor Fields), “‘City with the Tree on Top'”: (Gandalf’s arrival at Minas Tirith), “‘How do I solve this problem, my dear Grima?'”: (Theoden introduction), and Gollum’s Act III showstopper, “‘Memorieses'”:

Update: I’m way behind. “John Holbo”: has had the “libretto”: up for ages — including not only “Moria” but also “These are a few of my favorite Rings.”

ETA / Al Qaeda – who did it?

by Maria on March 14, 2004

The first answer is; no one can be sure until the evidence is in. The second one; no one can be told until the votes are in.

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Norman Geras conference

by Chris Bertram on March 14, 2004

I’m just back from a trip which included a visit to Manchester for “a conference to honour the academic career of Norman Geras”: . Chris Brooke of The Virtual Stoa “asks”: how it went. Very well indeed, I think. I gave a paper in the morning on the relationship between Marx and Rousseau, Ian Kershaw gave a most interesting paper on the singularity of the Holocaust, Shane O’Neill spoke about Richard Rorty and Simon Caney about the concept of a crime against humanity. The discussion was all very friendly and civilised and I got the impression that “Norm”: enjoyed the event (though he hasn’t blogged about it yet). Anyway, thanks to Norm and Hillel and the other folks in Manchester for inviting me: it was an honour and a pleasure.

Using reasons you don’t believe

by Micah on March 14, 2004

“Nate Oman”: thinks there’s something wrong with using religious reasons that one doesn’t believe to convince people who do believe them to change their political views. Here’s what Oman says:

bq. Consider, for example gay marriage activists who quote the New Testament at opponents of same sex marriage. In other parts of the world, Christians are frequently aligned with left-wing causes, and secular conservatives will quote passages about rendering unto Ceasar what is Caesar’s and getting out of politics. For that matter, consider the attempts of westerners to persuade Muslims that Islam, properly understood, is not really inconsistent with modern liberal democracy.

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