FOR MORE THAN forty years, large numbers of Islamists, mainly from Morocco and Turkey, have immigrated to the Netherlands, perhaps the most liberal of Western European democracies. Rather than encouraging its Islamist population to assimilate, the Dutch government tolerated and even supported the Islamist lifestyle. Islamist children were never required to learn the Dutch language, culturally distinct Islamist schools were funded with public money, and illiberal practices within the Islamist community, such as the subordination of women, were permitted even though they were very much at odds with the mainstream culture. The Dutch attitude of extreme tolerance changed after the murder, in 2004, of the prominent filmmaker Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam by a Dutch-born Islamist named Mohammed Bouyeri. A young Islamist extremist, Bouyeri was enraged by a film van Gogh had made with the Somali-born feminist politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The film, titled Submission, portrays the subjugation of women under Islam. Ali herself had received numerous threats on her life due to her public criticism of the treatment of women under Islam. In the aftermath of van Gogh's murder, the Dutch have become less tolerant of cultural differences. Before foreigners are allowed to immigrate to the Netherlands, they are now required to view a film produced by the Dutch government that depicts various aspects of the Dutch culture. The film emphasizes the openness of Dutch society and, as if to drive home the point, shows nude swimmers frolicking on public beaches. The message is clear: if you can't tolerate this, then you can't live here. What the government now seeks is less difference and more assimilation, in other words, a society of shared values, a culture that is more homogeneous.1
Traditionalists, more than other civil rights theorists, see danger in a society that celebrates or even recognizes racial differences over racial similarities. While acknowledging that the cultural divide between blacks and the white mainstream in America is not as large as it is between the Islamist and Dutch cultures or between minority and majority groups in other countries, traditionalists nonetheless desire racial symmetry over racial conflict in mainstream society. Every group is entitled to “equal treatment.” No group is entitled to “special treatment.” What this means, then, is that our government must remain neutral as to matters of race. It should not favor some races and disfavor other races.