Today the New York Times has an article about the many Muslim Pakistani-Americans in Lodi, California who are schooling their daughters at home. At least in the case of 17-year-old Hajra Bibi, her parents had an excellent reason:
Her family wanted her to clean and cook for her male relatives, and had also worried that other American children would mock both her Muslim religion and her traditional clothes.
Substituting hard labor for teasing isn’t a parental approach you’re likely to find on Dr. Phil. However, there is something distinctly American about this phenomenon. In Pakistan there is very little room left to fantasize about the benefits of Koranic society. Failed government, non-existent security, and dilapidated infrastructure have made such preoccupations significantly less appealing. But in the exurbs of San Francisco, where goods and services abound, Pakistani-Americans are as free as other spacey Californians to go after their eccentric sociopolitical dreams .
But this is not as quaint as, say, a communally worked vineyard. The kind of isolationism these families are instituting is exactly what’s brought about the Islamist problem in England. When these communities cut off their children from larger American society, they raise a generation of domestic extremists at odds with their host country. Which, as far as I can tell, is fine with the parents interviewed by the New York Times. As the article points out, “[T]he intent is also to isolate their adolescent and teenage daughters from the corrupting influences that they see in much of American life.”
This cannot stand. America has had an advantage over places such as England, Denmark, and France in that our Muslim immigrants flow, for the most part, into the larger cultural mainstream, whereas theirs recreate their homelands in microcosm. If our liberal attitudes toward other cultures begin to facilitate the fostering of extremists within our own borders, we’re sunk.
The first thing Lodi’s local councils need to do is get some child-advocacy groups involved and investigate the lives of these American girls who cook, clean, and serve their male relatives in the name of Allah. After that, they might want to look into their kitchen table curriculum. After all, al-Qaeda’s own Adam Gadahn was home-schooled in the suburbs of the Golden state.