I generally try to think the best of people, with varying success. People whom others might find offensive, I try to see as simply people who have had different experiences from my own, and so I forgive them. Then I forgive myself for my clearly patronising view of everyone in the world – here but for the grace of God wank I.
One of my naive fantasies is that New Zealanders are a pretty decent lot, and that while its trans-Tasman cousin may be the international home of racism, New Zealand is bit more mature than all that. Oh, sure, we’ve got fringe nuts like the National Front, but they’re exceptions that prove the rule. And we do have a certain undercurrent of racial prejudice about the natives – but it’s that nice, normal, acceptable level, like the background radiation of cellphone towers. Can’t do much about it, not ideal, but we all seem to have agreed somewhere along the line not to talk about it.
A few days ago, David Farrar posted on Kiwiblog about a Victoria University study showing that New Zealand rates well in comparison to Europe when it comes to integration of Muslim immigrants. Farrar’s intention was to express a kind of patriotic pride, and had no idea of the kind of comments that would ensue. I try to think the best of people.
The comments progressed from the kind of stereotypes one would expect to a sort of bizarre paranoid hysteria. A repeated idea was that Muslim immigrants are part of a conspiracy to outbreed “us” in a generation-spanning ploy to overthrow democracy and implement theocracy in its place.
There are NO “moderate” muslims … only “sleeping” ones … they are merely waiting their time until their numbers are sufficient to make an impact … their birth-rate rising while all others are falling.
Another commenter expressed his agreement:
Muslims are the greatest problem the world has at present!
Just being honest, the momentum they are gaining globally is down right scary… What will the Muslim population be in Europe alone come 2020??????????
As evidence, we were informed that Mohammed is now the most popular name for newborn boys in several European countries, including the UK. Now, putting aside the fact that Muslim immigrants generally just want to raise their kids and work their jobs like everyone else – ie., not breed a generation of bloodthirsty revolutionaries – take a moment to consider the maths.
Mohammed – along with a few others, like Ali and Ahmed – is a very common Muslim name. It’s not common like the first name “John” is in English-speaking countries. It’s not even common like the surname “Smith” is in English-speaking countries. Those names don’t know what common means, when compared to “Mohammed”. Variations of “Mohammed” and names of other early Islamic figures are basically defaults for newborn boys in Islamic families. In no other culture, religion or ethnic group is one name more popular than Mohammed is to Muslims. Perhaps “Jesus” in Latin America comes close, I don’t have the stats on that.
Non-Muslim Britons, on the other hand, have tens of thousands of names to choose from, with nothing coming close to a default. There are perhaps a thousand names you could pick for a European boy in England without raising any eyebrows, and no particular reason to pick one or another. Presumably names of kings and Biblical figures are slightly more common, but nothing like the way it is for Muslims.
Let’s assume that, on average, there are 2000 names spread throughout the UK, and imagine that there were an equal number of each. So one in 2000 are named John, one in 2000 are named Michael, one in 2000 are named Antonio, etc. All it would take is for 0.05% of the population to all name their sons “Xenophobe” to make that equally popular to any other name. If 0.1% of the population all named their sons “Xenophobe”, that would be twice as popular as any other name. There are 15 times as many Muslims in the UK as 0.1% of the population.
So even though names aren’t distributed evenly, and names like John and Harry are far more popular in the UK than Hadleigh and Raymond, they’re still pretty damned evenly distributed compared to the distribution of names in Muslim populations.
And that is why it’s no surprise that Mohammed is a popular baby name being any indication of “out-breeding”. Maths is the reason.
Of course, I’m probably overreacting myself. These comments on Kiwiblog are not reflective of the population of New Zealand, even if you include the 30-odd readers who were giving “thumbs up” to the statements without making any themselves. Kiwiblog attracts a particular demographic who are far more likely to believe such conspiracy theories than the usual Kiwi.
Still, that such views existed anywhere in our cute little country did surprise me.