Saturday, March 11, 2006

"While Europe Slept"

Because of a logjam at the post office, I received all at once five books I had ordered on current Islamic issues. I instinctively chose “While Europe Slept” (Doubleday) by Bruce Bawer first.

Bawer provides a meticulous, well-documented account of the recent events involving from the Muslim diaspora in Europe. He also analyzes what amounts to a cover-up on the part of opinion makers there, accompanied by craven efforts on the part of multiculturalists to ingratiate themselves with the Islamists. Part analysis and part autobiography, the book is a gripping, though sometimes horrifying read. A decade ago Bawer moved to Amsterdam, then eventually to Oslo, where he now resides. He has been able to observe first-hand the rapid demographic and social transformation in the two nations where he has lived, supplementing this experiential data with other information gleaned from the press throughout Western Europe.

Before reading this book I was already convinced that the clash between Islam and Europe was well underway, posing a grave danger for Western Civilization. At first, Bawer reports, it was hard to assemble the information. Politically correct European politicians and journalists censor themselves, and seek to frame the Muslim incursions as enriching rather than threatening. Keeping doggedly to a task that is as ungrateful as it is necessary, Bawer has courageously assembled the information.

Three things stand out. First is the Muslim resort to violence. This ranges from gruesome murders, like the one suffered by Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, to everyday muggings and threats. It is no consolation to learn that the worst violence is practiced by Muslims against other Muslims. This is particularly true for women. After a woman has been raped, she is sometimes killed, as having “brought this fate on herself.” Such cases are rarely prosecuted. Some countries have laws against female genital mutilation, but they are not enforced. Second is the cynical way in which Muslim leaders rationalize exploitation of Europe’s generous welfare provisions, rationalizing such abuse as simply collecting a tax, the jizya, that Infidels are required to pay. Well, one might say, this obligation only incurs on Infidels who reside in the Abode of Islam. Europe is still outside that sphere. It lies in the Abode of Warfare—lands to be conquered. That brings us to the third aspect, the insistence of Muslim intellectuals that Europe must be made to obey their norms, rather than the other way around. There are already disturbing signs of this process of incipient shariaization. Because population ratios are changing, the process may soon proceed beyond the point of no return.

What is to be done? The easy option is to fall back on fatalism: what will be will be. “Old Europe” may be beyond saving. Still, I don’t think that any cultivated person can view the looming dismantling of Western Civilization with any equanimity. So some solutions must be canvassed. Let me first briefly review Bawer’s proposals, as I understand them, and then offer a more radical perspective.

The book argues that Europe has been asleep. By definition it can awaken. The first thing to do is to gather the facts, as Bawer has done, in order to make people aware of what has been happening. European politicians and pundits have shown a shameful record of neglect and rationalization with regard to the changes taking place in their own societies. More honest and balanced discussion must take place. Then, it is argued, we need a reassertion of traditional European values, including defending the free speech even of those with whom we disagree. A liberal solution, in short. But will this work? Europeans have already seen their commitment to tolerance turned against them.

What is the alternative to the liberal approach? Bawer notes that Le Pen, Haider and other far-right politicians have their own antiimmigrant answers. While these far-right parties are likely to make some electoral gains, it doesn’t seem that they can prevail.

Let me offer my own suggestion, a radical solution. Yet it is perhaps worth considering for a moment as a thought experiment. Here it is. Without confronting the demographic juggernaut, other measures can only serve to buy time. As things stand, the Muslims living in Europe will win via the “revenge of the cradle.” Native Europeans are not reproducing themselves, while the newcomers are prolific. To reverse the demographic slide two things must be done. 1) an absolute ban on new Muslim immigration, even for “family reunification.”; 2) vigorous promotion of immigration from friendly areas which have longstanding cultural affinities with Western Europe. This last means drawing extensively on two regions: impoverished East European countries such Romania, Moldova, and Bulgaria; and Latin America, much of it impoverished as well.. Can’t many of those Mexicans who want to come to the US be diverted to Spain, where they speak the language? Once acclimated, they could move on to other European countries, strengthening their demographic balance.

These immigration preferences can be justified on the basis of the need to reinforce Europe’s fundamental civilization, to which Eastern Europeans and Latin Americans essentially belong, while Muslims do not. As such the latter must be made aware that they are guests in the host country, where their continued residence depends on good behavior. This shift will involve some fundamental revision of norms of citizenship, an agonizing reappraisal that must be undertaken in any case. Europe must reaffirm its “leitkultur,” a heritage of principles whereby it lives, and these principles must prevail, not sharia.

A dweller on two continents, Bawer finds himself constantly assessing the differences and similarities between America and Europe. He thinks that Europeans should emulate America in two ways. First, by embarking a more forthright discussion of ethnicity. Secondly, by demonstrating resolve, leading to a more stallwart response to the Islamic incursions. Here I somewhat disagree. We in the United States are not in such good shape either. The colossal folly of Iraq will hamper other efforts that may become necessary. Isn’t it time now to concede that the European public (if not many of its leaders) were right about the unwisdom of invading Iraq? Afghanistan is another matter, and without the distraction of Iraq we might have made that country a model democracy. Of course, as the Hamas victory in Palestine shows, our government only wants democracy implemented when the results come out our way. The failed attempt to undermine the legally constituted Hugo Chávez regime in Venezuela is another instance of our government’s hypocrisy. Amending Henry Ford’s dictum slightly, foreign democrats can have any color they want, as long as it’s red, white, and blue.

America’s Bush has had his own episodes of self-censorship. We are not locked in a battle with “Terror,” some grand metaphysical entity, but with I s l a m i c terror. However vicious they may be, the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka and Basque ETA activists in Spain do not directly impinge on our interests. They pose local, not global threats. Our resources, which are not limitless, must be carefully, relentlessly marshaled to deal decisively with Islamic terrorism and imperialism.

In our own societies freedom of speech must be defended across the board. If the Danish cartoonists and Oriana Fallaci must be defended from reprisals, as they must, so too must the Holocaust-denying David Irving. His ideas are odious and he has abused his training as a historian, but he should not be jailed for his views. Irving’s trial in Austria has been closely followed in the Islamic media. How do we answer Muslims who say that we act when the Jewish ox is being gored, but not to protect theirs? There must be one standard, and that is complete freedom of inquiry and expression.

In short, we must regroup our forces, gearing up for a maximum effort when that has a chance of yielding good results. Invading and occupying Iraq never offered that promise. It has been a monumental waste of resources and personnel. In the light of that failed endeavor we must also stop trying to go it alone. We must forge solid alliances, following the principles of strict realpolitik.

In the current struggle the Europeans probably cannot do much for us, as they may not even be able to save themselves. But the three greatest powers of Eurasia—Russia, China, and India—all have long-standing Muslim problems.

We have (possibly) made a good start in linking up with India, ever seeking to cope with Kashmir. Yet we seem to have dropped the ball with the other two countries. China is dealing with the Muslim problem of the Uighurs in Xinjiang by flooding the province with Han Chinese residents, as I have seen with my own eyes. Europe could do the same by securing East European and Latin American immigrants. But does it have the will to do so?



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