Spotted on Right Wing News: In Norway, a teacher was told not to wear a small Star of David necklace because it might offend Muslim students.

(Inge) Telhaug teaches immigrants Norwegian language and culture at the education center. Telhaug is not Jewish.

“I see it as the oldest religious symbol we have in our culture, because without Judaism there would be no Christianity,” Telhaug.

The principal of the school, Kjell Gislefoss, feels that the Star of David can also be interpreted as a political symbol for the state of Israel, and is afraid the star can provoke and offend students, for example immigrants from the Palestinian territories.

Here’s a thought: As part of learning Norwegian culture, immigrants could learn that they can’t bring their hatreds to their new country. Tolerating the teacher’s Star of David could be a good first step.

About Joanne


  1. Alex Bensky says:

    I’m cynical, but I venture to guess that a Norwegian teacher who wrote a cross would not have the same problem. I guess it’s the sight of that Jewish symbol that inflames the Muslim kids.

  2. theAmericanist says:

    This is a STRONG argument against Bush’s guest worker notion — definitive, in fact.

    Some years ago, two Norwegian immigration officials came to see me in my office, and I gave them my usual comprehensive rap about American immigration policy as their eyes slowly glazed over, finishing (as I always did) with “Americanization” — when, to my astonishment, they both sat up and started asking questions. How do we do “Norwegianization”, they wanted to know?

    I believe my well thought out, highly articulate answer was “wha?” (But it was better than the time I talked to the oxymoronic “Japanese immigration official”.)

    The fact is, very few countries have anything like the American experience with immigrants, and Norway is not one of them. There IS an historic ethnic split in Norway (the Lapps and the Finns), but virtually the whole country is Lutheran (the church is a state agency) — by American standards the country is all but completely homogenized.

    In the early 1970s, Norway tried the German model for “immigration” that Bush wants for America — they invited about 200,000 Pakistanis to do the nation’s shit work (literally) — cleaning bathrooms and the like. The idea, as with all guest worker programs, is that they wouldn’t want to stay (people noted that Norway is cold), but the universal experience with guest workers followed: they stayed.

    So Norway has had to learn to cope with Islam, which is something of a shock, and the now voting age children of their “guest” workers are a significant voting block, especially their representatives in the Norwegian parliament — yet Norway STILL has no clue how to “Norwegianize” immigrants.

    Bush is the anti-assimilation President — and this small incident in a far away country is a very plain reason why replacing the Ellis Island model is dangerous and delusional.

  3. As part of learning Norwegian culture, immigrants could learn that they can’t bring their hatreds to their new country.

    Joanne, you would make a terrible politician! 🙂 Don’t ya know that under Capital-D “Diversity,” immigrants–especially Muslim ones–are not expected to assimilate?

    This is becoming especially a problem, now that the liberal Diversity dogma is being mugged by reality, in the form of increasing intolerance and crime by Muslims.

    In the case of crimes against women, usually the woman is blamed for “provoking” the hapless Muslim with her attire, and the poor chap couldn’t help himself.

  4. theAmericanist says:


    Get a grip. I have liberal Democratic credentials out the wazoo. It’s YOUR “conservative” President who is aping the Norwegians.

  5. the: It’s getting damned hard to tell the difference between Republicans and Democrats if you ignore their lies and look at their actions.

    It’s less of a surprise to an old man like me – because I remember Richard Nixon all too well. He was allegedly a conservative Republican – who persecuted people for their speech as a Senator, took bribes as Vice President, and imposed wage and price controls as President.

  6. Andy Freeman says:

    > It’s YOUR “conservative” President who is aping the Norwegians.

    In what universe is Bush “conservative”?

  7. Stand back everyone! He’s got liberal Democratic credentials!

    woop woop woop

  8. YogSothoth says:

    Well, a good deal of this problem is related to an inability to distinguish between what I call “macromulticulturalism” and “micromulticulturalism”.

    Few people have a problem with Muslim Americans fasting during Ramadan but far fewer still are interested in entertaining the notion that cultural practices such as: suttee, clitorectomy, honor killings, infanticide and slavery ought to be allowed within our system.

    This is principally a matter of line drawing. I think many Western Europeans are far more accepting of the notion that multiculturalism knows no bounds that most Americans are. Respecting other cultures is a noble and good idea but how can you respect another’s culture if you do not respect your own?

    America mostly succeeds at “Americanization” because the majority of Americans believe we have a culture worth defending, protecting and adopting and immigrants to this country largely don’t get a mixed message regarding this.

    Do a bit of research into the problems Denmark, France and Norway have had with rapes perpetrated by their unassimilated Muslim population. In Copenhagen Denmark, third world immigants and their decendents make up 5% of the population but represented 76% of all convicted rapists. Muslims make up 80% of that 5%, by the way.

    I live in Houston, TX. and we’ve got 300,000 Muslims here but you know what? They are decent, well-behaved citizens just like everyone else. This is no accident, just ponder for a moment how we unsophisticated cowboys would react if we were faced by the same statistics the Danes were and you’ll have your answer.

    Americanization works because we will tolerate no less. Respect for other cultures is itself, a cultural concept. This underscores the self-contradictory nature of unbridled multiculturalism – it makes no distinction between reciprocal and unrequited tolerance.

  9. theAmericanist says:

    LOL — I just meant that it’s pretty dumb, not to mention misplaced, to blame “multiculturalism”, whatever the hell that is, on “liberals”. It isn’t liberals who argue that immigration is all about economics — that’s the “conservatives”: see Friday’s Wall Street Journal with its “Conservative Statement of Principles on Immigration”.

    This has been tested — it’s what the Norwegians did: they brought in several hundred thousand guest workers “to do the jobs Norwegians won’t do”. As has happened everywhere, the ‘guests’ didn’t leave.

    But Norway, unlike the U.S., had no experience with assimilation, nor “Norwegian culture… [to] learn that they can’t being their hatreds to their new country…”, as Joanne so naively wrote. Few countries DO, ya know.

    That’s what Bush — like it or not, he’s cast for the conservative for the fall election: deal with it — is proposing for the new American model: a guest worker, anti-assimilation approach.

    The Ellis Island model worked — and blaming ‘liberals’ or ‘multiculturalism’ for scrapping it simply ain’t accurate.

  10. YogSothoth says:


    Observe that the world “liberal” appears nowhere in my post above. Note further that my post is the only one mentioning “multiculturalism” but that it makes no mention of Bush’s immigration reform proposals nor conservative thought regarding those proposals.

    If you have any cogent arguments to make in rebuttal to what I actually wrote, please present them.

  11. theAmericanist says:

    I wasn’t rebutting you, but the first guy. (d-er)

    The short answer is in the piece I did for National Review Online a few years back, “The Theology’s the Thing”. Basically, Islam is the world’s premier ‘us vs. them’ ideology these days, but that’s largely (but not exclusively) the result of the way the world was around 1000 CE.

    I interviewed Elijah Muhuammed’s son W. Deen on this point, as well as Tariq Ramadan. Most American Muslims get it — the most important and influential Americans who DON’T get it, are the ones in the White House.

  12. The Muslims who emigrated to Norway or the U.S. or anywhere have the obligation to integrate themselves into the prevailing culture in public and follow the laws of the land.

    In private they are, of course, able to follow their religious convictions short of mutilating or murdering their daughters for “religious” reasons.

    If they want a repressive society, they should stay home. If they want to be free, then embrace their opportunity.

  13. The problem is true immigrants come to stay. From day one they chose to leave their home and come to a new nation. Assimilation makes life easier in that scenerio.

    Guest workers and such come with the belief they will eventually go home again so they do not bother to assimilate. And along the way plans often change and they stay, or their children stay, and the new society is expected to adapt to their needs.

    Forget guest workers programs. Its an excuse for countries to export their problems and avoid reform. Mexico has been poor for a century because the US has provided a safety valve. Bleeding heats should look at the plight of the tens of millions left behind in a corrupt craphole that people are desperately trying to escape rather than the millions who enter illegally. It’s pure numbers. Illegal immigration harms far more people than it helps.

  14. Ironically, the Star of David as a Jewish religious symbol is of comparatively recent vintage (16th century). But I somehow doubt that a pendant with a seven-branched menorah (the oldest such symbol) or a reproduction of the Two Tablets [of the Ten Commandments] would have been better received. She might have gotten away with a “chai” pendant since people unable to read Hebrew think it looks like a stylized animal figurine (the yud being the head and the chet the body and legs) 😉

  15. Well, to paraphrase Gilbert and Sully, “I am the very model of a modern conservative” and I believe that TheAmericanist is right (no pun intended) as far as the guest worker program. I deplore the thought for exactly the succinct reasons pointed out and for one he (or she, one mustn’t assume) didn’t; the H-1 visa program.

    The H-1 visa program attracts approximately 200K researchers and scientist to the U.S. every year to work at approximately 20K companies. For more than five years I worked in private industry -no government affiliation- conducting interviews and vetting background checks (education claims, etc.) of potential H-1 visa applicants.

    What stuck me during the interview process was the unusually high numbers of applicants who said they had no intention of remaining in the U.S. any longer than it took to obtain the amount of information required in their specialty that would enable them to return to their native countries and set up their own businesses.

    While it would be an exaggeration to say that percentage approached half, It would not be an exaggeration to point out that those were the self-assured one who knew that those statements would not affect the applications. I wonder how many of the meek ones thought the same but played it safer?

    This is not an isolated or recent trend. There used to be a web site (can’t find it now but I’m looking) listing the number of (naturalized citizens) who renounce their U.S. citizenship and return to their country of origin – btw, it’s a LOT harder to renounce citizenship that you might think, the IRS always remains skeptical of your motivation.

    As a country we are – in my opinion – strong because of our inclusiveness, not by establishing another new lower class of residents.

    While the current administration’s pandering probably won’t convinced me not to vote for the current resident, I AM concerned for the future of our country if we continue down this path.

    As TA said, if you don’t “Americanize” or “Norwegianize” then you risk what is happening in Germany and France today; radicalized (fill in the blank with the fear of your choice) within your society with no chance to moderate the threat.

  16. theAmericanist says:

    My point was simply that guest worker programs don’t work, to the point that proposing one is a kind of policy fraud. Norway is proof.

    But there is a larger, neglected point: Americanization is a two-way street. THEY become US is what folks usually mean by assimilation — but it is also true that who “we” are, as in “We, the People” changes and expands to include ’em. That gets to essences. The Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address belong to the guy who naturalized yesterday as to those of us born here. I see many folks, notably the guest on Meet the Press last Sunday, who don’t seem to know that’s a civic, not an economic process.

    Islam is remarkably like Catholicism, in that sense. A good Muslim can be a good American, in precisely the way a good Catholic can be a good American — this required a significant change in our American image of ourselves, but it also required a substantial change in Catholicism, which has not yet — quite — taken place in Islam.

    Pope Pius IX stated in the Syllabus of Errors (1854) with more authority than any ayatollah or imam, that religious liberty, free speech and the separation of Church and State were morally wrong. One reason I use the webname “theAmericanist” sometimes is because I’m fond of “the Americanist heresy”, formally condemned by Pope Leo XIII, which holds that the American civic creed has a moral value in itself.

    LOL — Chesterton had a great insight, arguing that while it maybe odd, it is true that the United States is like the Inquisition, and that is is even more truly odd that this is a compliment: we are founded on a creed. An inquisitor could legitimately condemn a heretic for following heresy, but not for being Spanish or a Moor. Just so, we can condemn a terrorist or a bigot for terrorism or bigotry, but NOT for being a Muslim (or a Catholic, for that matter).

    But that requires a broader change in Islam than we have yet seen — and we ain’t never gonna see it in the U.S. with the ‘guest worker’ approach, cuz (as noted above) that imposes no obligations on the guest and is an attempt to skate on our own responsibilities — not as hosts, but as the land of “E Pluribus Unum.”

  17. Jim H:
    Regarding the H-1 workers: I am an H-1 worker. I have assimilated as much as possible over the last 4 years, and have grown to love this country, but am now considering leaving next year, for two reasons:
    1) my skills are transferable and valuable, but dealing with the INS over the last few years has given me ulcers. I don’t need the aggravation.
    2) my wife is homesick.
    Even when I do leave, I like to think that I’ll retain the best of American culture (the mindset that makes the country successful), and make the next country I live in a slightly better place because of it. So guest worker programs aren’t always 100% bad if they’re done correctly.
    Of course, I realize that my position is not the same as the position of an unskilled Mexican laborer, which is what Bush seems to want to import.

  18. The discussion so far has been focused on the political aspects of immigration. This distorts the differences in the fundamental premises that governs assimilation. For the “Ellis Island” group of immigrants, the mindset was one of independence and self-reliance. These populations made a point of becoming Americans, even as they maintained certain cultural aspects of their native society. They may have observed their own cultural rituals and traditions, but by the second and third generations, they were completely Americanized. They did not remain segregated as a group. The American virtues of independence and self-reliance gave them the key to assimilation into the American way of life. It was able to do so because it allowed the individual to pursue a life that the old traditions proscribed for most classes of people, thus allowing an opportunity for prosperity and a better way of life.

    Most immigrants began their lives in America doing the jobs that others didn’t want to do. The Irish, for instance, began life in America as servants and day laborers. The Jews in the slums of New York City worked in the crafts and many began as such work as “rag-pickers,” etc. They were free to educate their children for a better life, however. It was the second and third generation, for the most part, that prospered beyond anything that they could have attained in the old country.

    Multiculturalism, as a politically correct concept, is steeped in the idea that the old culture is somehow immutable and ought not to be abrogated in any fashion. Rather than assimilate, today’s immigrants are supposed to maintain their native country’s culture. This replaces the concept of individual independence with group identity. There are still vestiges of the old way of thinking and the best will always take advantage of our country’s freedoms, aschew such group-think and make their own way. This is getting harder to do as the subsequent generations are educated *not* to assimilate.

    These things are extremely complex and will not be explained by mere politics. The entire philosophic context must be taken into account.

  19. I’d like to throw in my two cents and make an argument against any significant immigration at all, especially from any non-European country.

    I don’t believe there can be such a thing as a truly multicultural society in the long term. A country of “many cultures” is actually a country of no particular culture. And that opens the door so that at some point a culture that is self-confident and expansionist can supplant ours, like a biker gang taking over a cocktail party while the polite party guests stand around with forced smiles. The experience of the Norwegians with their muslim “guests” illustrates this well.

    The U.S. is no longer the country it was in the 19th century when the immigration gates were wide open. We aren’t seeking to rapidly settle the entire western two thirds of the continent. (Ask the Native Americans how beneficial massive foreign immigration was for their people.) The European immigrants who came here in the 19th century were close cultural and ethnic cousins of the Americans already here. The latinos, Haitians, Somalis, Southeast Asians, and Arabs who are coming now are not.

    It’s one thing to voluntarily adopt aspects of foreign cultures because they are superior to, or enhance, our own. Choosing to enjoy foreign foods, for example. It’s another to have foreign culture forced on us because of the coming demographic tidal wave of latinos and other immigrants who reproduce at a much higher rate. I’m not interested in myself or my grandchildren having to become faux Mexicans in order to get by because the “Mexican American” demographic has someday grown so large that it controls our political system.

    I think it comes down to whether we believe that our culture, our heritage, and our people are worth defending. I think many on the left do not believe they are. I think that the people who lecture us about the moral superiority of tolerance and diversity are actually saying “hold still, you venal, tired old WASPs, while we undercut your cultural confidence and overwhelm you demographically.”

    I have to admit that my experiences over the last 25 years have changed me from an idealistic, very liberal 19 year old into a somewhat conservative, racist 44 year old. Ideally it would make no difference who lived where; but in reality, the places where foreigners settle lose their quality of life quickly. We’ve had a large influx of Hmong and latinos in Minnesota over the last two decades and the city neighborhoods and school districts have been significantly degraded because of it. That is the reality. And what did we get from it? Some (mostly squalid) new ethnic restaurants in the now-seedy, once-middle-class part of town? A great big whopping increase in “special education” costs in our educational system? Freeloaders using the county hospital as a clinic? Aggressive latino and hmong gangs spraying graffiti and mugging people? Gee, sign me up for more diversity.

    Latinos have Latin America; they can solve their problems there and stay there as far as I am concerned. The same goes for other alien cultures and peoples. I just don’t see what we gain by becoming a demographic minority in our own country.

  20. theAmericanist says:

    JJ runs an education blog: so how about somebody note the abysmal eduction reflected in THIS “The European immigrants who came here in the 19th century were close cultural and ethnic cousins of the Americans already here. The latinos, Haitians, Somalis, Southeast Asians, and Arabs who are coming now are not.”

    Hmm… guess all those Africans and Chinese were some other country in some other century.

    Ya wanna talk culture? The fact is, the MOST “American” culture and ethnicity in the land of E Pluribus Unum” is what we now call “African-American”. Think about it — blues, jazz, the evolution of the American language.

    Randolph Bourne nailed it — in 1916! — when he pointed out that the immigrant group which has proven the most insular, the least assimilated and the most prejudiced against our civic creed …. are the English and their descendants on the East Coast, to the point this cultural group confuses its idiosyncrasies and bigotries with the national ideals.

    Ya wanna talk civics? The single most important driving force in American history is the founding promise that here, we’re ALL equal, and further than anybody can come here, obeying our laws, and become one of us. The sole exception to that promise (long before numerical restrictions on immigration) was that only “free white persons” could become citizens.

    And how was did we break free from that? Through the most important event in our history, the Civil War, which led to birthright citizenship, for ALL.

    And what was the first test case of that civic liberation? The U.S. born child of …. CHINESE coolies.

    LOL — yeah, but it was all those ‘close cultural and ethnic”… whaddaload.

    JJ — this is an education blog: that fellow’s post is exhibit A in why we need better civics education.

  21. Check out the new “Under the skin” post. I think it’s healthy that students at a fantastically multi-ethnic school are thinking about what they have in common. I think assimilation is alive and well in California. Even young people with close ties to Mexico feel American too. They’re very optimistic about their futures, which I see as an American trait. They really do think this is the land of opportunity.

    Of course, I hang out with students who’ve made a commitment to go to college. The no-hopers have dropped out.

  22. Modern western immigration policy is not about assimilation, it’s about anti-assimilation, it’s about destroying the traditional notions of “the west.” It’s all about “transgression” for the ’68ers (the leaders of Europe and the leaders of the American Democratic party); it’s all about finding some new promised land by destroying all traditional notions of identity. But in keeping with their historic record of being 100% wrong about every thing they’ve ever dealt with, these leftists don’t realize that the Muslim death cult survives strong and intact in the west. This is why so many on the blogosphere count down the days until Sharia is instituted in Europe. There will never be a “Norwegianization” of Muslim immigrants, only a “Muslimfication” of Norway.

  23. There is a muslimification of Europe in general. Demographics cannot be bluffed or ignored for long. Is there enough of a european culture left in Europe to put up a fight?

    Pim Fortuyn found out the hard way that a good european does not speak up on these issues.

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