On VFR, Lawrence Auster raises questions about Robert Spencer's earlier proposal in May that we should give asylum to a woman fleeing probable forced marriage in Mali. She had already suffered genital mutilation as a child and feared the additional suffering of forced marriage in a Muslim country. Spencer's rationale explicitly was that such asylum would help to make clear America's absolute opposition to the practice of female genital mutilation. The problem is just this: Suppose that we try to get some sort of principle out of that case for granting asylum, and suppose that the principle that comes out of it is that asylum should be granted to women fleeing genital mutilation in Muslim countries or reasonably fearing forced marriage after they have already suffered genital mutilation. If Muslim immigration is itself dangerous, and the women in question continue to be Muslims, to what extent is such asylum a problem even though they are (obviously) fleeing from certain aspects of Muslim culture?
I see this as a genuinely difficult question. On the one hand, I am on board with the statement that Muslim immigration, per se, is a major problem. I'm not just going to talk about "radical" Muslim immigration, or "Islamist" immigration, or anything of the sort. Sharia is bad. Good Muslims are supposed to seek sharia. Muslim culture is incompatible with American culture as I want it to be. I could say more and more. We need to get a grip on ourselves, as Americans, about Muslim immigration. We shouldn't keep kidding ourselves. (Not that anyone in any position of power is going to listen to me or to any conservative on this issue. It was a Republican President who insisted that Islam is the "religion of peace," and anyone who thinks an Obama administration will institute a crackdown on Muslim immigration is living in an alternate reality. But what's the conservative blogosphere for if not to say what you favor even if it isn't going to happen?)
On the other hand, whenever we grant asylum to someone, we know that we are taking a certain risk, and we take that risk both for humanitarian reasons and (to put it bluntly) for reasons of propaganda. When women fleeing forced abortion in China seek asylum in the U.S., we don't ask them to sign a statement avowing their rejection of Communism. (Not that such a statement would be worth much even if we did.) We realize that such women may not even entirely reject the one-child policy. They may reject only its more "extreme" manifestations. But a) we want to save them and their children from this horrific fate, and b) we want to publicize and express our complete opposition to the Communist Chinese policy. Giving asylum to the women in question does both of these. Also, there is at least some reason to think that someone fleeing the horrors of a particular regime will have no great love of it and will not want to reinstate it in this country. And something similar is true, on all of these points, regarding asylum for Muslim women fleeing mutilation in their own countries.
In a sanely run country, we would be able to admit a certain number of such women, with explicit quotas, and draw a line. No extended family. No cousins, aunts, uncles, male relatives, with God-knows-what dangerous plans and ideas. And only so many in any given year. Period. Given a government with a clear sense of the Muslim threat and a clear sense of the incompatibility of Muslim culture with American culture, such women could be helped both for humanitarian reasons and as further opportunity to publicize the horrors against which we stand.
But unfortunately, we don't live in a sanely run country. And when a man is an alcoholic, it's probably not a good idea to tell him, "One drink won't kill you." So we face a dilemma. What we need to be talking about is the dangers of Muslim immigration. But we certainly also need to be talking about the horrors of FGM, because (for one thing) that helps us to understand one of the dangers of Muslim immigration: We really do not want all our child protective services and police departments in Midwestville, USA, to be dealing with the problem of imported child mutilaters brought into their community to do horrible surgeries in secret, or "summer visits back to the old country" for ostensibly American children. And properly and carefully handled, asylum for women and girls threatened with FGM or with forced marriage following FGM (an additional horror in itself) could be a very useful thing for Western countries. If all other Muslim immigration ceased and this were the only Muslim immigration going on, we'd be doing very well. It would be interesting to see if some compromise could be reached whereby women in such situations were permitted to stay in the U.S. for a limited time and returned to their own country later in a roundabout fashion that would put their relatives "off their trail." But this might not be possible.
And that's all. There are points to be made on both sides of the question, if "the question" is some absolute principle regarding asylum for women in that particular woman's situation. But perhaps that is just the problem. Perhaps this is an illustration of the need to deal with asylum issues slowly, carefully, and on a case-by-case basis.