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retread| Theory #776: Britain vs. the Rebels 11 March 2006

Posted by EDITOR in Culture, GUESTS, Politics.
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Retreads are quality posts from yesterweeks that are given a second run on Saturdays. This one was originally published on 8 Dec 2005.

Muslim Americans of Arab and South Asian descent are on average wealthier, better-educated, less ghettoized, more assimilated into Western society, and less likely to undergo arranged marriages with mates from “back home” than are Muslim Britons of South Asian descent (who often have been “British” for three or four generations).Why? On the “source” side, Muslim immigrants to Britain were mostly labor-class, plucked straight from South Asian villages to work in British industry. Those who came to the U.S., on the other hand, tended to be from better-educated segments of society. On the “destination” side, America’s immigrant mentality, preexisting diversity, economic structure, and can-do culture have facilitated a degree of assimilation that is less feasible in Britain.

Interestingly enough, the House of Lords and the House of Commons have [had] several Muslims each, while the American Congress lacks similar representation from the ranks of the righteous.

Why? Muslims in Britain feel that they do not have to assimilate to the extent that they lose their “Muslim identity” in the process. They have in a sense embraced their British identity while acknowledging their South Asian roots. It is at this point where society has accepted them such that they can participate in such public high fora as the House of Lords/Commons. However, in the U.S. in order to make it into any such fora, one must forsake one’s own identity for a national [ideological] one. Put simply, if a Muslim of immigrant stock wants to participate as a member of Congress in America, he or she must have reached a point at which assimilation is so tremendous that he or she is willing to let a national identity overcome an Arab or South Asian/Muslim identity. Indeed, Muslim political participation is arguably easiest, culture-wise,
for African-Americans.

In short, the “assimilation” fad is much stronger in the U.S. than in the U.K., but it is also one reason practicing Muslims don’t make it into the government all that often. How many such Muslims are willing to let their “American-ness” overshadow their “Muslim-ness”? This is also perhaps a reason Hindu Americans have made it in greater numbers in the U.S. government than Muslim Americans.

Academic students of Western Muslim culture, such as Y. Haddad, J. Smith, and others have written at length on this topic, essentially confirming these conclusions.

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Comments»

1. talib - 11 March 2006

There are a vast number of south asians and arabs for that matter that are willing to overshadow their muslim-ness with an acquired american-ness. in fact, as we enter the second and even third generations in america, many of these individuals are simply americans with no conneciton to any such muslim-ness.

yet we still don’t see that many arabs or south asians in congress. methinks this is not a religious issue but an ethnic/race one.

of course, how many south asians/arabs do you know whose parents encourage them to go become politicians?

2. Serafino Raimondo - 19 September 2007

that’s why it will never wor. Serafino Raimondo.


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