Bad Chemistry

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by Robert Lewis (May 2022)

Giorgi Saakadze defending Georgia from Enemies, Niko Pirosmani

 

God does not forbid you to be kind and equitable to those who have neither fought against your faith nor driven you out of your homes.—Qur’an:60:8

 

We all know what it’s like to be in a good or bad relationship. We also know the difference between good and bad chemistry. There are people with whom we easily and effortlessly share a common space, and those with whom we cannot. And when we cannot, it is not necessarily the fault of one or the other, but—with all due respect to Shakespeare—the fault may indeed lie in the stars. So when common sense prevails and it is not going well, despite both persons or parties willing that it does, one or the other will take the initiative and vacate the shared space, allowing the respective parties to regain their former peace of mind. Without recrimination or self-accusation, each in his own manner will face the hard—often unflattering—facts, acknowledge the chemistry has broken bad, and that decoupling is the best solution.

Based on observation and the 6 o’clock news, we note that the individual is significantly better constituted to make wiser decisions as it concerns incompatibility than government. This is so because in especially the West, at the institutional level, it is not politically correct to speak the truth to bad chemistry as it concerns immigration policy, religion and culture. But in private, among family and friends, the individual, despite his country’s official position, will speak his mind regarding an imagined or perceived threat to his country’s way of life, and predictably blame the immigrant (usually Muslims), most of whom are blameless other than for being here instead of where they came from. The source of the mistrust and negative chemistry arises from mutual incompatibility. What gives one the last word over the other—and it’s non-negotiable—is home field advantage; the onus is on the guest to abide by house rules. If it’s customary to remove shoes before entering your home, I either abide or respectfully decline the invitation.

Devout Muslims believe in praying five times a day facing Mecca. It is only natural they regard us, some of whom manage to attend Church once a week, as heathens. And it is only natural that we regard them as fanatics. Since none of us is privy to God’s position on His worship, it is impossible to prove that one religion or the other is doing God’s will. Which suggests that bad chemistry is not so much the fault of one or the other, but a condition that requires a minimum of two unlike, contiguous elements inhabiting the same space. And since lived and reported experience offers overwhelming evidence that mutual incompatibility is indeed a fact of life, we quite naturally expect our elected representatives to make decisions that, without distinction and prejudice, will lessen the likelihood of bad chemistry arising in respect to the mixing of demonstratively incompatible cultures and religions. Tashfeen Malik, one of the San Bernardino terrorists (2015), wore a burqa in the house; she never showed her face to her husband’s brothers. Every time she turned on the television, walked the dog, went shopping, she was forced to confront a value system diametrically opposed to her own. Eventually her loathing and alienation indices went off the charts, something died inside, and she went out (with a little help from her friends) with a bang.

Given the easy trade between petrodollars and arms dealers, an unstable or failed state is no longer an isolated problem that will neatly take care of itself. Symptomatic of the failed state is the chaos within its borders, and destabilizing effects on its neighbours and beyond. So you would think it would be the height of folly for a successful state to introduce policies that would leave it vulnerable to becoming unstable or outright dysfunctional. This is precisely what happened in France, beginning in 1962 with Algerian Independence. At the encouragement of Jean-Paul Sartre and others, France, in a fit of post colonial guilt, decided to open its doors to massive immigration from Algeria. Operating under a misguided compassion mandate, they turned a blind eye to the incompatibility factor between Islam and Judeo-Christian values, resulting in a France that has been beset with problems of its own making ever since: from spiking crime rates to homegrown terrorism.

There is much to be learned from this example, but despite self-evident truths that have brought France to its knees, and at a very minimum destabilized most of Europe’s once rock-solid nations, western countries continue to open their saloon doors to peoples and cultures with whom they have virtually zero chemistry—a sure formula for widespread malaise and every other social ill you care to mention. It beggars belief that the West would not only rather remain miserable and wretched in relationships that are not working, but has convinced itself that good will and best intentions are enough to turn water into wine, a negative into a positive. Arthur Koestler observes that a snob is someone who when reading Dostoyevsky is moved not by what he reads but by himself reading Dostoyevsky. By that measure, our policy makers are plainly ‘moved’ by what they have enacted into law, and are self-evidently ‘unmoved’ by what they wrought (spelled rot).

Is Islam Wiser than the West?

So how do we account for this collective akrasia (from the Greek, kratos = power; a = without), weakness of will, or kraziness, which just happens to be embedded in the word? In our century, democracy has evolved into a theater of seduction and promise where speaking the truth to a voting public is never in the interest of any party vying for power. The voter doesn’t want to know that he is biologically inclined to be positively disposed towards his own at the expense of the other, that in respect to culture and religion he is merely a placeholder in the relationship that predicts for every increase in difference between two groups there will be a comparable increase in mutual hostility. And no politician is foolish enough to hold up a mirror to human nature tooth and claw. Instead he positions himself to best reflect the voters favourite delusions: that he is tolerant, colour blind, compassionate and benignly disposed towards all peoples and cultures. So, the West opens up its heart to Muslims from around the world, some of whom refuse or cannot adapt to their new home, resulting in the sad spectacle of two largely incompatible cultures trying to negotiate insurmountable differences; and billions of dollars that would otherwise be used to address hunger, poverty and our sickening skies are spent bolstering security and combating terrorism.

There is no such foolery and flouting of reality (human nature) in Muslim countries that have shown themselves to be incontestably wiser than their western counterparts. Be as it may they are mostly ruled by oligarchs, plutocrats and kleptocrats, there is no pandering to the masses who are never allowed to forget their place at the bottom rung of hierarchies set in stone—excepting those precious stones reserved for “crime and punishment.” And when it comes to receiving non-Muslim immigrants or temporary workers, they don’t want to know about them—aside from their expertise and labour. Bad chemistry has a smell unlike any other; even the dullest nose can pick it up. In the 1950s, in the Empty Quarter (Arabian desert), the presence of one Christian (Wilfred Thesiger) was enough to upset a region the size of France.

Islam, dispassionately observing what has gone wrong in France and what is happening inside other Western nations, without apology, has prioritized social cohesion and stability without which no nation can indefinitely survive. Islam grasps that there is an innate (blameless) incompatibility factor between itself and Christianity (western values), and in order to keep its precious institutions and way of life intact, it understands that it must rid itself of all potentially seditious influences. If not in official policy but practice, and mindful of the example of Europe, it takes the position that “the other” is persona non grata to the effect that Muslim countries, especially since the turn of the century, have been persecuting/expelling at an alarming rate Christian, Copt, Jew and Buddhist. Islam is waging a war not on one but two fronts: against ‘the other’ from within, and the influence of the West from without.

In respect to minorities who refuse to read the writs on their wailing walls, they risk persecution and worse—such is the fear and anxiety spreading throughout all Muslim countries as western culture (western stealth jihad) penetrates the East. It is beside the point that there is no defense against the invasive presence of the Internet. Islam rightfully feels that its entire belief system is under siege, and like a mouse pinned in the corner, it is fighting for its very existence. If from the 9th to the 19th century minorities were tolerated in Muslim countries, it was because they didn’t pose an existential threat. With the advent of fiber optic and satellite communication, those halcyon days are over.

That fundamentalist Islam is manifestly intolerant of the other is simply beside the point since it is savvy enough not to allow itself to become dysfunctional as a result of bad chemistry. Meanwhile the West, convinced of its moral authority, continues to follow the example of the blind leading the blind down a blind alley with a trip wire at the end of the rainbow.

The hard truth of the matter—and never has it mattered so much—is that ‘like seeks like.’ It is demonstratively easier to dwell in agreement than disagreement. The alcoholic understands that it is smarter (more prudent) to seek out his own kind, his fellow drinkers, because he recognizes in himself the tendency to regard the other’s refusal to join him as a criticism or rebuff, that he will invariably come to resent the latter for being able to cope with life without a crutch. Both the drinker and non-drinker understand the necessity that underlies their decision to dwell in separate universes — cherishing the peace that arises from staying apart.

In Saudi Arabia, the powers-that-be wisely assign foreign workers to special compounds where they are free to manifest their western values without fear of insulting the host population or exciting resentment. With an eye on Europe’s failed immigration policy, the Saudi’s correctly understand that allowing western values to mix with their own is a recipe for disaster.

Western nations, such as my country of Canada, can learn much from the examples of France and other European countries, where idealism trumps pragmatism and human nature is given the short stick. Immigration should be a win-win affair, and in respect to and respectful of peoples that are vastly different than ourselves, our biologically determined low tolerance indices should dictate a moderate (conservative) immigration policy.

However, zero intolerance as policy is also unhealthy, as well as unnatural. If in certain Muslim countries it results from confusing the mere presence of ‘the other’ with the more nefarious threat of western culture seeping in through borderless bandwidth gateways, getting rid of the former will not prevent the latter. Nature blesses exogamy (mixing); genetic diversity is the best response to adversity. So the expulsion of all others is also bad policy.

As it concerns the world’s current migrant and refugee crises, there must be no mistaking of bad chemistry for misplaced sympathy, from which neither host nor guest benefits. There is a delicate balance to be had, and finding it requires that human nature be given a seat at the table, and that we pay it heed without capitulating to its unworkable imperatives.

Let us recall that not so long ago, when immigration was a win-win affair, it took only a couple of hundred years for 13 colonies to become the greatest nation in the world. We refuse to engage and learn from that example at our own peril.

Note: Sprawling over parts of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates, the Empty Quarter—or Rub’ al Khali—is the world’s largest sand sea. Roughly the size of France, the Empty Quarter holds about half as much sand as the entire Sahara Desert.

 

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Robert Lewis was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. He has been published in The Spectator. He is also a guitarist who composes in the Alt-Classical style. You can listen here.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast

3 Responses

  1. Hi Robert, an extremely well written and thoughtful, even fair I think, look at the chemistry between opposing religions. Which I suspect also could be extrapolated to our current political malaise. There is much diversity between ‘modern’ and ‘traditional’ Muslim culture and states. Some are more flexible and tolerant; others less so.
    btw: I am an ‘alt-classical’ architect and also play guitar. Your musicality is very very nice.

  2. I guess this is a place to comment on the essay but — after reading, clicked on the soundtrack link — and loved what I heard. Thanks!

  3. A well-argued essay. Here in the States we have a larger urban/ small town chemistry chasm. And I find living in a small town a hundred or so miles from a large urban area quite agreeable. Seattle was not so much.

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