Sunday, April 22, 2007

While Europe Slept

While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within was one of the most eye-opening books I've ever read. I would highly recommend it to anybody. Bruce Bawer put so much in this book, I had a hard time limiting myself to a handful of excerpts to share. From European liberalism that makes the far-left of the Democratic party look like the Ann Coulter fan club, to political correctness gone wild, to incredibly inept law enforcement, to self-segregation by Muslim immigrants in an attempt to institute sharia law, this book contains information - both "scientific" and anecdotal - that will make your head spin, and, to borrow a phrase from Glenn Beck, will make blood shoot out of your eyes.

Here are the excerpts I chose: June 2004, the German economy was no longer the powerhouse it had seemed to be a few years earlier. Despite high productivity, both France and Germany were plagued by low growth and rising unemployment, a direct consequence of welfare-state policies. Those policies desperately needed reform, but voters wouldn't hear of it. For decades, they'd been conditioned to view their social-democratic system as the consummation of human history and American liberal democracy as a primitive holdover from the Industrial Revolution. They've been fed a zero-sum understanding of economics—the idea being that there's only so much wealth to go around, so that the poverty of poor nations is the direct result of the "accumulation" of wealth by rich nations (with America, of course, the worst offender). Hence the perceived obligation of the West to pour aid money into the coffers of Third World governments. That wealth in fact creates wealth—and that the rich can best help the poor through trade, not aid—is a virtually alien concept in Western Europe.

I've mentioned the catchphrase "American conditions." Economically, it connotes robber barons and wage slaves—unbridled capitalism and a total absence of employee rights and protections. In Western Europe, it's generally believed that most Americans have no health insurance, that the uninsured sick are routinely denied medical care, that America has no free public schools, that retired people don't receive government checks, and so forth. In 2004, however, a German author, Olaf Gersemann, published a book entitled, of all things, Amerikanische Verhältnisse (American Conditions), in which he turned the phrase around, suggesting not only that German fears of American capitalism are unfounded, but that a shift to a more American-style economy would provide Germans with greater prosperity, financial security, and economic justice.

Gersemann disproved one flattering myth after another: that living standards are higher in Europe (nope), that the rich pay lower taxes in America than in Europe (in the States, the richest 10 percent account for 65 percent of federal tax revenue; in Germany, they account for 4 percent), that people in the States must take second jobs to make ends meet (only 1.5 percent have two full-time jobs), and so on. In no meaningful category, he found, did Europe's overregulated, high-tax social democracies enjoy an economic advantage over American liberal democracy. (p. 126-127)

Bawer spoke of the fallout of the March 11, 2004 train bombings in Madrid, Spain:

In the weeks after Madrid, the air in Western Europe was full of calls for an "alternative" to Bush's war on terror. But nobody actually had one. And nobody really meant it when they demanded one. Like the urgent entreaties for "more dialogue," the call for an "alternative" was simply a way of dodging the need to take action. If you keep on talking—and keep insisting on "nuance" and demanding an "alternative" and accusing others of "simplisme"—you don't need to decide or do anything. What seemed lost in these calls for "nuance," moreover, was the fact that for Islamists, there are no nuances. In a war between people who had rock-solid beliefs and people who are capable of nuancing away even pure evil, who has the advantage?

Three months after 3/11, an Al Qaeda internal document surfaced. For those who still had any doubts, it established definitively that the terrorists' motive had indeed been to induce Spain to withdraw from Iraq. Written in Arabic, the fifty-four-page document included the following overly generous estimation of Spain's resolve: "We consider that the Spanish government cannot suffer more than two to three strikes before pulling out under pressure from its own people." Shortly thereafter, in a Le Monde interview marking his hundredth day in office, [Spain's Socialist leader, José Luis Rodriguez] Zapatero declared, "I never talk about Islamic terrorism, but international terrorism." As John Vinocur commented in the International Herald Tribune, Zapatero's refusal to name the fundamentalist Muslim enemy was "a bit like newspapers that avoid the word 'cancer' in obituaries with the explanation that they are sparing sensitive readers." (p. 161-162)

Bawer quoted the following prediction from Guy Millière, "a professor of cultural history and legal philosophy at the Sorbonne who began to address the growth and self-segregation of France's Muslim population:"

France will become a Muslim country. French leaders know it. They will never [m]ake a decision that could make young radical Muslims angry. It's one of the reasons why they could not support the United States during the war in Iraq. The result would have been riots in the suburbs, and the French police is ill equipped to face riots. French leaders have no choice except to be the leaders of the Arab-Muslim world. They accepted too many things to go backward now. The rift between France and the United States will become bigger and bigger. France is already the main enemy of western civilization. The most dangerous enemy is always the enemy within, and France is the enemy within. (p. 174)

Bawer speaks about a study of Denmark's immigration policy performed by cultural Sociologist Eyvind Vesselbo:

Vesselbo began by selecting a cohort of 145 Turkish men who, emigrating to Denmark as guest workers in 1969 and 1970, settled in the town of Ishøj, which has since become heavily Muslim. By the year 2000, when Vesselbo's study was completed, the importation of spouses and other family members, combined with a high fertility rate, had turned this group of 145 into a community of 2,813. Those who had married had all married Turkish women whom they brought over to Denmark under "family reunification." Some of these men were later divorce or widowed and then remarried, again to Turkish women. Three married yet a third time—and again, in each case, the wife was a Turkish import. The rate of "fetching marriages" among this group, then, was over 100 percent, while the average number of children per family was 6.4—several times the overall Danish average.

Until recently, European authorities took it for granted that immigrants' children would be more likely to marry natives than their parents were. Of the ninety-eight married sons and daughters of Vesselbo's original 145 immigrants, eighty-nine wed spouses imported from Turkey, seven married Turks already living in Denmark, and one married a Turk who lived in Sweden. Only one married a Dane with no Turkish background. There were ten second marriages—all to Turks. ... If rates persisted, ethnic Danes would be a minority in their own country within sixty years. (p. 181-182)

And some of Bawer's conclusions from the last several pages of the book:

In the end, Europe's enemy is not Islam, or even radical Islam. Europe's enemy is itself—its self-destructive passivity, its softness toward tyranny, its reflexive inclination to appease, and its uncomprehending distaste for America's pride, courage, and resolve in the face of a deadly foe. (p. 233)

I’ve long felt that the best thing that could be done to strengthen the unity and democracy of the West would be to radically expand secondary-school exchange programs between America and Europe. Jean-François Revel has written vividly about how his negative attitude toward America, shaped by decades of exposure to the systematic falsehoods of the European media, was flipped 180 degrees by a visit. If every young European could spend a year living with an American family and attending an American school, all the journalists and politicians in the world wouldn’t be able to twist their awareness of the reality of America—and of American liberal democracy—into an ugly cartoon. And the more America-friendly Europeans are, the more inclined they’ll be to behave like Americans in the ways that count—that is, to eschew appeasement and stand up for freedom. But it may already be too late for such remedies. Europe is steadily committing suicide, and perhaps all we can do is look on in horror.

For in the end, Europe’s future lies in Europe’s hands. To read Churchill’s wartime speeches is to experience an attitude and a rhetoric that, in today’s Europe, seem alien or antique. All that talk of fighting—how uncivilized! Reading Churchill’s speeches, one can imagine Johan Galtung’s reaction to such language—one can see him sneer and hear him speak in smooth, soothing tones about peace, understanding, accommodation, and the need to refrain from demonizing one’s opponent. In the contrast between these two stout, white-haired, well-tailored men—Churchill then, Galtung now—is encapsulated the stark difference between the unwavering moral conviction that led to Allied victory in World War II and the unprincipled spirit of compromise and capitulation that is guiding today’s Europe, step by step, to the gallows. (p. 235-236)

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