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08/06/2005

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Marcin Tustin

I remain curious about the basis for your claim that US society is more accepting of immigrants than British society.

Amy Allen

Very trenchant commentary, sir. Of course, those who immigrate illegally(as some terrorists may) would be omitted from unemployment figures and would probably, because of their status as illegal immigrants, be regaled to low wage employment.

Amy Allen

Also, sir, some potential terroists may be transients or may have arrived in the nation in which the act of terrorism occurs only a brief time prior, and would not seek employment, or would not be counted in unemployment figures.

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Dennis Claessens

The comments of Becker and Posner concerning why terrorism may be greater in Europe than in the U. S. do not seem to explain completely why there have been no significant attacks in the U. S. since 9/11. One would think that the outrage in the Islamic world at the invasion of Iraq would be a strong incentive to find a way to launch attacks here. Our borders are porous; entry into this country, while more difficult now, does not appear to be impossible.

From a political standpoint, the failure to attack here, for which we are grateful, appears to lend credence to the claims of some political leaders that we are fighting in Iraq to avoid fighting terrorists here---a statement which many U. S. citizens seem to believe. It would appear to be in the political interest of the terrorists to undermine such apparently outlandish claims. Yet, we have been relatively safe. What is the explanation?

Ken Zimmerman

Dr. Becker,

How can one man be so misguided and willing to misguide others about so many things?

You say, "To be sure, there have been non-Muslim terrorists in Japan, Germany, Italy, and even the United States, but they have been less coordinated across countries, of shorter duration, and much less lethal."

Who do you think the Muslim fighters learned from? They learned from the IRA -- all modern revolutionary movements are based on the IRA model (but not necessarily the ideology behind it). The IRA was never "faith" based in the sense of wanting to destroy all non-Catholics. But, in the words of Michael Collins, the IRA's desire was to get the English out so the Irish could decide their own future. The Muslims want this. And we are reacting like the English did when the Irish asked for the same thing. Add to this the fundamentalist nature of the Muslim religious base, and I think you get a pretty good picture of the factors that make the current Muslim revolutionary movement.

You say, "I do not believe that the main explanation for the more extensive Muslim terrorism in Europe is that the less ambitious Muslim immigrants go to Europe. That may be true on average, but I believe their ambition is more likely to be sapped by high unemployment rates, high welfare payments, and greater discrimination." First, I agree with your first conclusion. Second, however, your "ambition sapping" hypothesis has absolutely no empirical support. Unemployment or more accurately employment at the lowest level characterized the US immigrant experience through WWII and beyond. And high welfare payments have no comparison to the payments extracted from US immigrants at "company" stores and companies charging the immigrants 200% or 300% more for goods in crowded city ghettos. And discrimination against immigrants in the US, particularly the western US, had no parallel in the world, as immigrants groups were forced to fight each other for the basics of life.

You say, "Surely, fertility should be one of the most sensitive indicators of family values, and also sensitive to the amount of leisure, yet fertility rates are generally much lower in all European nations than in the US." This is correct and its the result of years of work to control population growth. I assume you have heard of the problems associated with over-population.

You say, "The data still indicate that America is generally the first choice of immigrants, Muslim as well as others, although perhaps by a smaller margin than in the past." You are correct. But as interviews with immigrants today and in the past indicate, they generally do not like life in the US after having been here for a while. Why? Because while money is important its not the most important part of life, not even the 9th or 10th most important. While the immigrants had a chance for greater wealth in the US, it was all the missing parts of life in the US that led to the dislike. Its also one of the reasons that immirgrant enclaves in the US are so strong and long lasting. Plus it explains why some immigrants never really integrated into the US "way of life." First, many perceived that as acting in accordance with a maket ideology totally "foreign" to their fundamental beliefs. Second, many saw this as giving up the community in which they were based. The US is not yet a "melting pot" as some assert. It remains a collection of communities that retain individual identities. If the "neo-cons" have their way, however, the pressure for these communities to adopt market ideology will increase, threatening a break down of these communal identities and creating the energy for an entirely new revolutionary movement in the US.

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