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Tolerant to a Fault

Western Europe faces another Weimar moment.

By 3.2.06

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While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West From Within
By Bruce Bawer
(Doubleday, 247 pages, $23.95)

Eight years ago the gay conservative culture critic Bruce Bawer mailed off the final chapter of his book Stealing Jesus -- a no-holds-barred attack on intolerant fundamentalist Christians -- and boarded a plane for the Netherlands. There, in the land of legalized pot, prostitution and pickpockets, Bawer expected to find an enlightened people more to his liking, i.e., more open-minded, more tolerant.

Tolerant to a fault. The Dutch, like nearly all northern Europeans, turned out to be overly tolerant of its Muslim minority. Every Islamic transgression was ignored: homophobia, forced marriage, marital rape, polygamy, the refusal to educate girls, the terrorizing of outspoken critics of Islam, the blatant anti-Semitism, the abhorrence of democracy, the hate-filled preaching in the state-funded mosques -- a see-no-evil attitude was adopted toward all of these abuses, so as not to offend the sensibilities of the ragged multiculturalists and the hollow diversifiers.

The conduct of the native Dutch and Norwegians wasn't much better. Everywhere a goose-stepping political correctness prevailed. To fit in, one must constantly spout empty anti-Americanisms; more importantly, one must never criticize Islam in any of its variations (though criticism of Judeo-Christianity was tolerated, if not encouraged). To Bawer's great surprise, northern Europeans came across as more bigoted than even Bawer's fellow Americans. Most were completely unable to accept dark-skinned Muslims becoming real Danes or Norwegians or Germans. Despite themselves, the notion of ethnic purity survives, even if it is unarticulated.

To further conceal the problem, France banned outright identifying or even acknowledging ethnic or religious differences. That 70 percent of the inmates in French prisons were Muslim was ignored. Overlooked was the fact that four of five battered residents in Oslo's women's shelters were Muslim. Muslims made up five percent of the Dutch population, yet received 40 percent of Dutch welfare payments. Doubtless native Europeans pitied the poor Muslim immigrants, but not so much that they would welcome them into their neighborhoods and workplaces. That's where Europe's famed cradle-to-the-grave welfare and subsidized housing (or segregated housing) came into play. The author puts it this way: "millions in aid, but not a penny in salary." In an attitude of condescension worthy of Marie Antoinette, smug Europeans continue to treat their Muslim minorities not as real people with real problems adapting to Western society, but as exotic and colorful reminders of European tolerance and diversity.

As Bawer soon discovered, Northern Europe was a place where radical clerics had completely cowed, not just the Muslim community, but native Europeans too. Muslim critics either censored themselves or they'd gone into hiding in order to avoid the fates of Dutch Prime Minister Pim Fortuyn and filmmaker Theo van Gogh, both brutally butchered by "offended" jihadists. (Bawer's book was written well before the Danish khartoon kerfuffle, but that episode was to be predicted. Europeans were well aware that no criticism of Islam or its blood-thirsty prophet would be tolerated. When a few brave Danish newspaper editors dared put this theory to the test, they were immediately proven right. Today they too have retreated to their hidden sanctuaries.)

DAME ROSE MACAULAY once remarked that "it is a common delusion that you make things better by talking about them." She may have been speaking of the relations between men and women, but the same standard applies to Europeans and Muslims. The former-still shell-shocked from two world wars -- have deluded themselves into believing that all problems can be solved peaceably through dialogue. In one of the more chilling passages in his book, Bawer notes that van Gogh's last words -- as his Muslim assassin prepared to slit his throat -- were, "Mercy! Mercy! Surely we can talk about this!"

"[A]t the end, it seemed, even he had grasped at the Western European elite's most unshakable article of faith-the belief in peace and reconciliation through dialogue."

It is Bawer's contention that many Muslim immigrants have no desire to integrate into the infidel Western culture. Many believe they can come to the West and therein establish Islamic mini-states where the laws and culture of the kaffir do not apply. And increasingly European governments are giving in to this power play. Bawer has noted elsewhere how during the recent Paris riots, French officials refused to enter the Muslim suburban enclaves without permission, as if they were seeking to enter a sovereign state. Meanwhile as European Muslim numbers increase, so does their arrogance and vehemence in denouncing their host's decadent culture. "Family honor depends on 'not being seen as Norwegian -- as integrated,'" one Muslim tells Bawer.

Bawer's title While Europe Slept gets to the heart of the matter. Europe seems determined to sleepwalk through its current crisis and maintain its naive belief that fundamentalist Muslims want the same things middle class Europeans want: freedom, democracy, decent jobs, a nice home. Europeans will continue to believe they can "preserve their nations' cultural homogeneity while letting in millions of foreigners and smiling on their preservations and perpetuations of values drastically different from their own." They will persist in stopping their ears to the hate being preached from the mosque next door. And they (the media included) will continue to hand over their freedoms whenever it conflicts with Sharia Law. Muslim bullies now view the khartoon flap as a great victory for fundamentalist Islam. Perhaps next they will demand European governments allow polygamy. Should the government resist the fundamentalists will be on the march, flambeaux in hand, illuminating Downing Street.

Bawer calls this a Weimar moment, when the West either capitulates and appeases the Islamofascists, or puts up a bold resistance. (One way to resist would be for European and U.S. governments to select new citizens based on their ability to adapt to a secular, democratic society, and weed out would-be immigrants opposed to integration.) Bawer's feeling is that Europe will continue to deny that there is a problem. That's fine. Edmund Burke once noted, "The people never give up their liberty but under some delusion." Guilt-ridden Europeans (and some Americans) suffer the delusion that appeasing radical Muslims will end the current clash of civilizations. Today's Europe is flush with Chamberlains. Where will it find its next Churchill?

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About the Author
Christopher Orlet writes from St. Louis.