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by Bruce Bawer


In my 2006 book While Europe Slept,[1] I expressed concern about the will of Europeans to defend their freedoms in the face of the continent's Islamization. I contrasted them in this regard with Americans, for whom, I argued, freedom is a living reality for which they are willing to fight and to sacrifice.

My book came out in the midst of the Danish cartoon crisis. And during that crisis I saw things in Europe that — quite frankly — surprised and impressed me. I saw the editors of a Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, stand up for freedom of expression in the face of worldwide rioting, vandalism, and murder by Muslims and contempt on the part of foolish Westerners. I saw a Danish prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in defiance of the UN, the EU, and most of the "international community," stand by that newspaper and refuse to meet with Muslim ambassadors who were out to intimidate his country and to force Sharia-like restrictions on Western liberties. I saw the people of Denmark, in overwhelming numbers, stand behind their prime minister in his refusal to yield to jihad. And I saw major newspapers across Europe reprinting the Jyllands-Posten cartoons in acts of free-speech solidarity.[2]

I don't mean to paint too rosy a picture. The Danish response wasn't perfect. Not a single newspaper in Britain reprinted the cartoons. And both the Swedish and Norwegian governments provided textbook cases of cowering dhimmitude. But none of that was really a surprise. What did surprise, and disappoint, me was the American political and media establishment. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush condemned the Jyllands-Posten cartoons out of hand. The State Department denounced them too, and only reversed itself after getting an earful from the Danish government, one of its few allies in Iraq. In the entire United States of America, exactly one major newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, reprinted the cartoons. And while the major broadcast networks, as well as CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, reported extensively on the cartoon riots, none of them ever showed the cartoons at all.

A big part of the reason for this dismaying American response to the cartoon affair is, of course, that Islamization hasn't progressed as far in America as in Europe, and there's consequently an incredible level of ignorance in America both about what's really going on in Europe and about the very nature of Islam. In the current presidential campaign, only a small portion of the electorate seems to think that the war with jihadist Islam is a major issue. The one candidate who understood best what we're up against, and who took it most seriously, Rudy Giuliani, was ridiculed across the political spectrum for being obsessed with 9/11 — as if the events of that day had been some kind of fluke or accident that has virtually no meaning for us today.

In depressing numbers, in short, Americans seem not to grasp the lessons of 9/11 — which should hardly be a surprise, considering how many journalists and politicians keep repeating that the terrorists are betraying a great and peaceful religion, that jihad means doing good works, and so on. A while back, in response to rumors that Barack Obama is a closet Muslim, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof argued that it would be a matter of utter indifference[3] if the president of the United States were a Muslim. Of the hundreds of people who commented on this article on the Times website, the overwhelming majority applauded Kristof for his extraordinary courage in standing up to Islamophobia. Only a tiny handful of readers noted that there are, in fact, good reasons for free people to be concerned about the possibility of a U.S. president with a devout commitment to Islamic theology and law. The American media that do report honestly on the less attractive truths about Islam, moreover, tend to be media that people are encouraged to look down upon. Make no mistake: if Europeans are, on average, more aware than Americans of the realities of Islam, it's no thanks to their media but rather because they can see with their own eyes what's going on around them. Yet many of them feel cowed — not only by Muslims but by politically correct politicians and media — into keeping their opinions to themselves, and feel powerless to prevent what now seems to many of them, in any event, inevitable. In other words, fatalism has taken hold.

In While Europe Slept I also contrasted European and American approaches to immigration. Ever since the Muslim influx began some decades ago, European countries have encouraged the newcomers to retain their cultural identity, to live apart from mainstream society, and to become clients of the welfare state. America, by contrast, has traditionally expected immigrants to learn English, to get a job, and to obey the law, and if they do so they're every bit as American as anyone else. I didn't argue in While Europe Slept that America was invulnerable to Islamization, but I did suggest that — thanks to this very dramatic difference both in the general public's attitudes toward immigrants and in government immigration policy — America stood a far better chance than Europe did of seeing Muslim newcomers turn into loyal citizens rather than enemies within. I think I had a valid point there, though if I were writing the book today I'd probably be somewhat less sanguine about America's ability to integrate absolutely everyone into its melting pot. I might also be less sanguine, I'm afraid, about the endurance of Americans' love of freedom in an age of poisonous multicultural relativism.

I do feel, however, that there's one very important difference between America and Europe when it comes to resisting cultural jihad, and that is this: that in America, a large proportion of the people who recognize the threat of Islam and who are determined to resist it are consciously fighting for freedom — for, that is, the principles articulated in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. In many parts of Western Europe, this kind of certainty and unanimity about freedom — simple freedom — as a first principle can be discouragingly hard to come by. The blogger Frank Martin has written about a teenage tour guide at a World War II battlefield in the Netherlands who told him that the Allied soldiers who fell there had been "fighting for bridges, how silly that they would all fight for something like that." Somebody like that boy, who didn't grasp that those soldiers had died for the very freedom that he had taken for granted his whole life, is incapable of standing up for freedom against Islamofascism. Yes, there are Europeans who realize that the opposite of Islam is indeed human freedom. But in Europe, with its checkered history of fascism and socialism, there are also all too many people on the right who are mounting the barricades in the name not of freedom but of ethnic identity, cultural tradition, or religion, and all too many on the left whose cri de coeur is not individual liberty but the welfare state.

Meanwhile Europe's cultural elites are dominated by people who seem likely to continue to smile upon Islamization right up till the moment they're stoned to death. At a recent Norwegian conference on integration, the Swedish government representative was asked: "Is Swedish culture worth preserving?" "Well," she replied dismissively, "what is Swedish culture?" To people like that, European culture is a void waiting to be filled with something, and that something might as well be Islam. Granted, things aren't quite that bad in the U.S. — not even at the New York Times. Yet to an extraordinary extent, the political and cultural elites on both sides of the Atlantic are in sync in their denial of the reality we're up against.

This was driven home to me a few months ago when I took part in a day-long conference in Washington, D.C., about the America/Europe relationship. Nearly all the participants and audience members, I gathered, were Americans or Europeans who worked in the diplomatic corps. The day was crammed with panel discussions, and from early morning until late in the afternoon we talked about nothing but America and Europe. Yet aside from me, only one other person even mentioned Islam. And he did so in the most indirect way, as if he were bringing up something indelicate. Everybody present seemed to share an unspoken understanding that this subject was off limits. Indeed, pretty much everybody seemed to agree that Europe is doing great — that it's moving from strength to strength — and that America should be more like it in every way.

How I even got invited to such a conference I have no idea. In any case, everything I said was dismissed out of hand. One genial fellow who seemed desperate to correct my folly and bring me into the tent came up to me after my talk and said, almost pleadingly, "But don't you think that the real problem is not Islam but Islamophobia?" And on the panel that followed my talk, a retired diplomat with decades of experience (and a masterly command of the art of condescension) mentioned in a tone of both wonder and whimsy that I wasn't alone in my peculiar affliction; even Walter Laqueur — the distinguished octogenarian historian of Europe whom the retired diplomat, as his tone made clear, had once, but no longer, held in high esteem — had written a book making the same bizarre arguments I was making! But neither this retired diplomat nor anyone else was willing to entertain the possibility that if both Laqueur and I, and many others, had made certain arguments, there might actually be something in them; no, it was as if, in their eyes, we had all simply been bitten by some exotic bug or contracted some mysterious new infection or had giant alien pods placed under our beds while we were sleeping.

Among those who are considered experts on Europe, or on transatlantic relations, that patrician diplomat's attitude is ubiquitous. Tony Judt, in Postwar,[4] his acclaimed 2005 book on Europe since 1945, pronounced the continent in magnificent health and all but ignored Islam. Timothy Garton Ash, in his 2004 book Free World,[5] did the same, only pausing briefly on pages 197 and 198 to admit parenthetically that addressing Europe's Islamization is "the single most urgent task of European domestic politics in the next decade" — after which he amazingly returned to pretending, as he had on the preceding 196 pages, that Europe's most urgent tasks lie elsewhere. Meanwhile one book after another on the America-Europe relationship has contended that it's America that's the problem — that America is out of step with the world and needs to get back into line, pronto. In the title of Clyde Prestowitz's 2005 book, America is a rogue nation[6] because it refuses to go along and get along with the rest of the planet under the wise auspices of the UN. I don't know exactly how to characterize or understand this mass self-deception, this determination to cling to an illusion of the West in which the ongoing Islamization of Europe simply is not a factor; it would appear to be rooted partly in confusion, partly in cowardice, partly in careerism — and partly, I think, in a perhaps not entirely conscious conviction that some truths are just too sensational to speak without sounding hysterical, too repulsive to be honest about without sounding (to some ears) vulgar and bigoted, and too challenging to face without being utterly overwhelmed by the scale and the horror of it all.

What happens to the West will depend, in large part, on what happens to this pervasive self-denial and to those men and women of power and influence who cling to it as if to a life raft in a raging sea. Will Europeans who have faced the facts manage to gain power and turn things around before Europe passes the point of no return in its gradual surrender to Sharia? Will the European elites collaborate to realize Nicolas Sarkozy's dark dream of a Mediterranean Union and develop it in the same ominous way in which the EU itself was developed, steadily compromising individual freedom and representative democracy — and leaving America increasingly out in the cold? Or will the next president of the U.S. be someone who is every bit as eager to appease Islam as the archbishop of Canterbury, resulting in a strong transatlantic alliance devoted not to the joint preservation of freedom but to the joint pursuit of dhimmitude? I'm sorry to say that a year or so ago, when it looked as if the major-party presidential candidates would be Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton — the former of whom obviously gets it, and the latter of whom, I suspect, does so as well — I was considerably more hopeful on this score than I am now.



[2] View the Cartoon collection here.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: These comments by readers of the original article amplified Mr. Bawer's talking points.

1. geokstr:

Excellent article, and spot on.

The only person of any prominence sounding the alarm here is Canadian ex-pat Mark Steyn, author of "America Alone". While it was a best seller among conservatives, he was essentially preaching to the choir. He has been dismissed and derided as (what else?) Islamophobic by the cultural illuminati here in the US. In his native Canada, Muslims brought complaints for "being offended" to their kangararoo quasi-judicial system of "Human Rights Commissions". His offense? Accurately quoting imams and ayatollahs about their plans to take over the West from the inside by outbreeding us and the vile viciousness that spews forth from the mosques on a daily basis. It has cost Steyn and others many hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight these specious charges, while all the Muslim complainants costs are covered by the commission, and the case is not yet over.

The West is in a war not of its making with a 7th Century religion that creates legions of fanatics willing to commit suicide to drag us back into the 7th century with them. Negotiations and appeasement only convince these zealots of the weakness of its opponents and the righteousness of their cause and embolden them even more.

By refusing to develop our own oil resources here in the US, we continue to finance the engine of our own destruction. OPEC has extorted tens of trillions of dollars from us for oil resources that the West developed for them in the last century, with the willing participation of the extreme left and a compliant supportive media. Without this transfer of wealth, Muslims would still be herding camels for a living. Instead they have the ability to purchase the weapons they are using against us and are moving towards acquiring the technological means to force armageddon in the near future unless we acquiesce.

This is a far more dangerous situation than that faced by the West when the Soviet Union was the enemy, even though they had tens of thousands of nuclear missiles. Their leaders understood that we could and would retaliate against them in the event of an attack, and they had no wish to die for Communism. However, this is far from the case with Islam, whose followers are actually encouraged to die by their own holy scriptures.

In the meantime, the West has seen the pussification of its commitment to fight for freedom caused by political correctness, the left's ability to mask criticism of its agenda as "intolerance", and the apathy of a spoiled public.

I for one think a new Dark Ages is inevitable unless we wake up and grow a pair very soon.
Sep 30, 2008 - 3:33 am

3. ApplePie:

It is not the elite who make the policies, etc. that could make the changes needed to thwart the Islamization of Europe — it is the people who have to live, day by day, with the consequences of those decisions.

The UK (especially England) is a simmering pot whose lid is kept from blowing off by waterboarding the population with political correctness policed particularly by the media — such as the BBC. PC has infected not just UK politicians but also the police service — who rush to arrest someone for a golly doll but drag their heels investigating Muslim gangs harassing, spitting upon and bullying disabled elders. The British judicial system consistently gives out light sentences to Muslim criminals. Even the head of the Church of England embraces dhimmitude and Sharia law. This leaves the average indigenous Brit feeling frustrated and betrayed.

As space on this finite Island gets tighter and the population continues to explode (primarily through government abetted rampant immigration particularly from Muslim countries) there WILL be a day of reckoning.

What will cause the pot to boil over is still unclear — but it will happen.
Sep 30, 2008 - 4:40 am

7. Lynn:

the problem with the West is everything can be worked out by diplomacy, dialogue and oil. None of which is true.
Sep 30, 2008 - 7:40 am

14. david levavi:

Fine piece. There is an historical precedent for the condition of contemporary Western Civilization described. The last days of the Roman Empire.

The populace in the cities were hostile to Caesar and the Legions. Contemptuous of the sturdy values that made Rome great. Sanguine about the continual but distant warring with Barbarians pressing in on the borders. Covertly in sympathy with the Rome's enemies.

Followers of competing politico-gangster bishops who ruled in the cities were continually at each other's throats. Only the presence of Roman troops kept the peace. Whenever the troops were called away, bloody rioting would break out among competing Christian groups.

Matters deteriorated to a point where Caesar could no longer rally his full force against the Barbarians. As they massed, troops desperately needed on the front were diverted by provincial governors for emergency peacekeeping in the cities.

The inevitable final collapse of the legions was greeted with celebrations and prayers of thanks in the cities. Not long thereafter, the power vacuum left by the fall of Rome was filled by the followers of the brigand Prophet. And to this day, the Levant where St. Paul preached and Gentile Christianity was born and saw its greatest intellectual ferment remains Muslim.
Sep 30, 2008 - 9:04 am

16. tanstaafl:

...courage in standing up to Islamophobia

Standing up to Islamophobia is one of the idiotic tenets in the politically correct Liberal playbook.

Limousine and latté liberals love to sit around and congratulate themselves on their own state of enlightenment, vis à vis "the masses", while patrician diplomats don't encounter reality often enough to have to think in realistic terms. Plus, they're cowards.

An appeaser feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last. ~Winston Churchill

It seems to me that in Europe, stealth or "cultural" jihad might well win on the basis of sheer numbers alone, as Italians and French (especially) aren't even procreating in sufficient numbers to reproduce themselves, while Muslims, interested in covering Europe with the Ummah, are encouraging families to birth as many followers of the Wild Child (Mohammed, PBUH) as possible.
Sep 30, 2008 - 9:47 am

20. Jay kactuz:

The question is why are our leaders so blind? It is clearly obvious that Islam is a problem and Muslims have different values. They do not believe in freedom of speech, equality or separation of church/mosque and state. They do not want to integrate These things are clear, all one has to do is look around and ask them hard questions about their religion, their beliefs, their culture and their dear prophet.

Of course, the standard answer (by Muslims) is that anything bad is done by people who are not really Muslims or that Westerners don't understand or any the subject is "out of context." Our leaders accept this and blame the West for any problem. We are not "tolerant enough." They demand high standards for us but no standards for Muslims.

Our leaders (political, media, academia) are not only afraid of offending Muslims but believe that their tolerance is a virtue (even as they refuse to examine what they are tolerating). In summary, it makes them feel good about themselves, and that is more important than anything, including our liberties and 500 years of Western culture.

These leaders will willingly thrown the enlightenment, renaissance, reformation, counter reformation, the french and american revolutions, emancipation, abolition of slavery and all we have worked to achieve in the trash for the silly pleasure of being uncritically tolerant and feeling good about themselves. The pain and suffering of others does not bother them.

I have had quite a bit of experience with Muslims. I can assure that all of them are either ignorant or in denial (best case scenario) or deceitful (usual situation). The Quran and Hadith are very clear about the preferred status of non-Muslims (subjugated or dead). The situation of Non-Muslim minorities in Islamic societies is another indication of the "real Islam" and what it teaches. Do our leaders consider this? no. Do they care? No.

As stated, we are rotting. We are fools. Maybe we deserve our fate.

Bad times are coming.

J. Kactuz aka kactuzkid
Sep 30, 2008 - 10:54 am

22. fred:

"L" is exactly right. Anyone who has read the Qur'an, some English translations of parts of the most authoritative ahadith (Bukhari and Muslim), and impressive scholarly works of Bat Ye'or, Andrew Bostom, and Robert Spencer will know that Islam is the problem.

"Allah" was Muhammad's sock puppet deity. The rationalization for a narcissistic personality disordered murderer and pedophile. Whenever Muhammad wanted something, the timely, convenient "revelation" from the sock puppet would arrive. His followers approved because, drawn from the dispossessed younger sons of Arab families and the criminal class of Yathrib (Medina) liked the idea of divinely sanctioned thievery, murder, and lecherousness.

And so this pestilence — the Devil's most perfected ideology for destroying humanity — was let loose upon the world. Fourteen centuries of murder, slavery, and rapine unloosed upon the world. Conservatively estimated by Bill Warner, Islam has murdered over 270 million human beings over the course of fourteen centuries of jihad.
Sep 30, 2008 - 11:25 am

29. daveinboca:

I was a US diplomat who learned Arabic to a high level of proficiency in reading & speaking and was posted to two Arab countries where I served as a political officer. One of them is no longer a country [Lebanon, which was a member of the Arab League until it was hijacked by Hezbollah, an Iranian Shi'ite group of militias with no real "Arab" ties] and might serve as an object lesson of what happens when a political system breaks down—the majority becomes a slave to a violent reactionary militant minority. [As a footnote, when western travellers reached remote parts of the Sanjuk of Al Quds in the late 18th c., the use of the wheel had been abandoned/forgotten & natives used the native American travois to haul their produce to whatever markets existed, this 5000 yrs after their forebears had invented the wheel!]

The other, Saudi Arabia, has a family whose profession was robbing caravans on pilgrimages to Mecca before a religious zealot made a pact with them to be Koran & sword to a land totally asleep for centuries. They haven't changed a bit between the ears, though they profess otherwise, and are basically a rentier economy. And instead of pilgrimage caravans, they hold up EU-nuchland and the US for trillions in oil money derived from technology we virtually handed them while saying sorry for the invasion of your privacy.

As Donald Trump noted yesterday, the only silver lining in the US meltdown is that oil prices are slumping and will continue to slump until we wring out the bloated inflammation that infests the US economic GI tract.
Sep 30, 2008 - 1:28 pm

95. Rockmelon:

Too few Americans realize that there truly is an Islamization of Europe.

I read Mr.Bawers' book shortly after it was published and even then "I got it." Having been to Europe about 25 times during the past 15 years, I was finally able to put into context what I had seen and what I actually was not seeing. I took it very seriously and began educating myself on Islam through books and the internet. What I learned was a real eye opener.

Although I often talked to friends and family about the threat that Islam imposes on America I didn't get any reaction. Finally, I sent the web links for viewing "Obsession" and "The Third Jihad" (30 min free version) as well as some statistics on the number of mosques in the US (around 2000) and news clips from Europe relating the constant demands made by Muslims who are offended by everything from dogs to crosses and demand that changes be made to stop the offenses. I finally reached them and they finally "got it".

Also, in another post it was said that 95% of the women in Egypt wear head coverings. This is accurate but not indicative of Islam. I too wear a head scarf while in Egypt to prevent the stares, sexual overtures and just to walk about without waving the American flag and causing unwanted attention.

If America doesn't wake up soon it will be too late. There will be no one to blame except our government and the media for their constant cover-ups and the insistence of being politically correct at all cost.
Oct 27, 2008 - 6:51 am


Bruce Bawer is an American living in Europe. He is author of "While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within" and "Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom."

This article appeared September 30, 2008 in Pajama Media %E2%80%94-europe-or-america/2/


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