April 24, 2009

An Ambiguous Message

My interest was piqued by an article headed Heirs to Fortuyn? -- Europe's turn to the right by Bruce Bawer at wsj.com at first because of the following:
... from the start, Social Democrats in Germany, whom Ms. Merkel's slim margin of victory forced her to accept as coalition partners, have limited her ability to implement serious economic reforms.
Does Bawer seriously think that the Sacré-Cœur Socialists of Merkel's party would do anything (but ANYTHING) different were they not coupled to the Social Democrats in a coalition? It is not so much the fact that Americans seem not to be able to grasp that which angers me, it is that they still feel entitled to write about it. (And yes, I am aware of the contradiction. I am just trying to achieve maximum unpleasantness.)

However, this neat little bit of pigheadedness becomes downright befuddling when one reads the rest of the article, which offers some rare and amazing insight regarding the complex European circumstances.
... some Western Europeans have reacted to the mindless multiculturalism of their socialist leaders by embracing alternatives that seem uncomfortably close to fascism. Consider Austria's recently deceased Jörg Haider, who belittled the Holocaust, honored Waffen-SS veterans, and found things to praise about Nazism. In 2000, his Freedom Party became part of a coalition government, leading the rest of the EU to isolate Austria diplomatically for a time, and last September his new party, the Alliance for the Future of Austria, won 11% of the vote in parliamentary elections. Or take Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has called the Holocaust "a detail in the history of World War II" and advocated the forced quarantining of people who test HIV-positive—and whose far-right National Front came out on top in the first round of voting for the French presidency in 2002. The British National Party (BNP), which has a whites-only membership policy and has flatly denied the Holocaust, won more than 5% of the vote in London's last mayoral election. Then there's Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest), formerly Vlaams Bloc, whose leaders have a regrettable tendency to be caught on film singing Nazi songs and buying Nazi books. In 2007, it won 5 out of 40 seats in the Belgian Senate.

For establishment politicians, journalists and academics, these parties serve an exceedingly useful purpose: Their existence makes it easy to tar any nonsocialist party with the fascist brush—labeling it racist and xenophobic, equating its leaders with the likes of Mr. Le Pen and Haider, and stigmatizing its supporters. No party in Europe has been subjected to more unfair attacks than Norway's Progress Party, whose extraordinary electoral successes have outraged that country's socialist elite. Like other parties on what we may call Europe's respectable right, the Progress Party has expressly distanced itself from parties like the National Front and Vlaams Belang. Yet despite these disavowals, American media have routinely echoed the leftist establishment's unjust calumnies.

A seminal example was a March 2002 New York Times article by Marlise Simons about Pim Fortuyn, the Dutch politician who, according to the article's headline, was "Proudly Gay, and Marching the Dutch to the Right." Though Ms. Simons acknowledged that Fortuyn criticized Islam because it offered "no equality for men and women and because . . . the imams here preach in offensive terms about gays," she nonetheless echoed the Dutch establishment's characterization of him as a menace to Dutch values, making sure to mention that he had been widely compared with Mussolini and Haider. A few weeks later, Fortuyn was murdered by an environmental fanatic taken in by similar claptrap.

The same kind of incendiary rhetoric that Dutch journalists used against Fortuyn can now be seen in American left-wing coverage of any nonsocialist European party or politician. Typical was Gary Younge's 2007 piece in The Nation: "In Europe, It's the Old Right That's Full of Hate." According to Younge, "the primary threat to democracy in Europe is not 'Islamofascism' . . . but plain old fascism. The kind whereby mostly white Europeans take to the streets to terrorize minorities." This was nonsense on a breathtaking scale: Though the rise of parties like the BNP is indeed distressing, the truth remains that for every act of anti-Muslim violence in Europe, there are—to make an exceedingly conservative guess—100 acts of Muslim-on-infidel violence.
I do not agree with every detail of Bawer's analysis, for my taste he uses the epithet "fascist" a bit too liberally (pun not intended), yet his is a refreshingly realistic view of the European status quo after all the chafing I did to myself writing about those shady appearances among European "Islam critics" (for example here, here and here) who are getting a free "God bless, he was a patriot" thrown after them on their way to hell by unsuspecting Americans. I haven't come across Bawer before and call me a bigot, but as soon as a writer thematizes his own sexuality (which will be INVARIABLY homosexuality) all alarm bells start ringing. I have a strong feeling that, if I dig deeper into the matter, he will emerge as just an upmarket version of pain-in-the-proverbial extraordinaire Irshad Manji and her ilk, who first and foremost see Islam as something that is raining on their homosexual love parade, as is Christianity, which they therefore hold in similar contempt, and who refuse to see that liberalism and secularism, both as "tolerant" towards Muslims and Muslim immigration as towards gays, are part of and not the solution to their problem.