FrontPage Magazine has an excellent and thought-provoking interview with Bruce Bawer, author of While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within. Bawer, who is gay and had previously written Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity, had moved to Amsterdam in 1998, looking forward to living in a tolerant, secular country that embraced gay rights and other liberal values. Instead, he ran headlong into far more virulent form of fundamentalism:
Bawer: In 1998 I moved from New York, where I’m from, to Amsterdam. I loved the Netherlands – its tolerance, its secularism, its heritage of freedom and learning and culture. But in early 1999, living in a largely Muslim area called the Oud West, I saw another side of the Netherlands, and of Europe, that I hadn’t seen before, or even been particularly aware of. The Oud West seemed less a neighborhood than an enclave – a piece of another society that had been dropped down into the city and that lived apart from it and its values. Just to walk from downtown Amsterdam into the Oud West was to experience a staggering contrast.
I soon came to realize that Amsterdam wasn’t unique – virtually every major city in Europe had Muslim enclaves like this one. The people outside of them were living in a democracy, but the people in them were living in a theocracy, ruled by imams and elders who preached contempt for the host society and its values. They were against secular law, against pluralism, against freedom of speech and religion, against sexual equality. Husbands believed it was their sacred right to beat and rape their wives. Parents practiced honor killings and female genital mutilation. Unemployment and crime rates were through the roof.
Most remarkable of all, nobody was saying or doing anything about any of this. European politicians took a hands-off attitude. Journalists sang the praises of multicultural society. With very few exceptions, nobody in a position of authority seemed willing to stand up for basic democratic values.
Later in the interview, Bawer examines the dark side of European multiculturalism that has resulted in the emergence of fundamentalist Islamist enclaves in virtually every country on the continent. He contrasts it with the American ideal of assimilating immigrants into the larger society:
In Norway there’s a comedienne named Shabana Rehman whose parents brought her to Norway from Pakistan when she was a baby. On her website, she writes: “I speak strikingly good Norwegian. But most native Norwegians I meet wish that it was a little broken.” I’ve seen this attitude. Americans are delighted to hear immigrants speaking English. By contrast, many Norwegians are uncomfortable when they hear a Pakistani speaking Norwegian. One thing I still find remarkable in Norway is the frequency with which people use the expression “Like barn leker best.” It’s a very common expression and it means something like “Children play best with other children who are like themselves.” I’ve heard it being said a thousand times by people who think of themselves as devout multiculturalists.
The most successful immigrant group in the history of the world is American Jews. Why? Because they integrated enthusiastically into the mainstream of American society. They rejected the ghetto and embraced American pluralism. In Europe, this same eagerness to belong, to contribute, and to thrive – and not remain segregated and ghettoized – led to the Jews’ near-extermination. It seems to me that part of the reason why anti-Semitism is so widespread in Europe while Islam is often treated with kid gloves is that the European elite has a reflexive contempt for a group that blends in and a reflexive respect for a group that holds itself proudly apart and resists assimilation. That’s a formula for disaster.
Bawer's book is a compelling and disturbing read, and a wake-up call not only for Europe, but for the entire Western world.
(Hat tip: Roger L. Simon)