by Bruce Bawer
The MSM's endless, wily contortions on Islam.
“Why are Jews, gays, and other minorities in Europe increasingly voting far-right?” So read the headline of a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor by Sara Miller Llana and Tamara Micner. I'm going to take a quick stroll through their article – not because there was anything special about it, but precisely because it provided a near-perfect example of the way in which the mainstream media handle anything related to Islam. The headline alone contained two familiar elements: (1) the reflexive grouping of all European counter-jihadist parties under the thoroughly mendacious rubric “far-right” and (2) the feigned puzzlement over declining gay and Jewish support for the European political establishment.
What's worth noting about Llana and Micner's article is that it made the answer to the question in their headline crystal clear: quite simply, European Jews and gays are voting for counter-jihadist parties because they know that Islam represents an existential threat to their own lives, and that the political establishment has increasingly aligned itself with their would-be executioners. Llana and Micner admitted, for example, that Jewish schools and synagogues in the Netherlands are now under police guard owing to “anti-Semitism...in pockets of Muslim communities.” (There's no need, of course, for those words “pockets of.”) They cited a Dutch Jewish leader's charge that the “openness, tolerance, and diversity” preached by “liberal elites” are “hard to defend” when “radical Muslim[s]” are “so highly intolerant.” (Again, “radical” isn't really required there.) And without criticism or snark, they quoted a Dutch Jewish novelist's statement that Geert Wilders's strong anti-Islam posture makes him “a necessity in today’s political landscape” and a gay Frenchman's explanation that he supports the National Front because it calls for “reducing immigration, taking back control from the European Union, and promoting a tough stance against Islamic fundamentalism.”
Now, any honest reporter faced with all of the above data would be obliged to acknowledge that, yes, Islam preaches the murder of gays and Jews and that members of those groups in Europe are aware of this fact and are acting out of sheer self-preservation. Period.
But the mainstream media can't allow itself to admit these facts and leave it at that. So it muddies the waters. Llana and Micner did so in a familiar way. The “far-right” parties, they charged, don't really believe in freedom and human rights, and don't really care about gays' or Jews' well-being, but are, on the contrary, nests of bigotry – including homophobia and anti-Semitism. Why, then, are these parties welcoming Jews and gays into their ranks? According to Llana and Micner, it all came down to two words: window dressing. They're taking in Jewish and gay members, you see, only because those groups' support for them allows the parties to pose as non-bigoted “[e]ven as they feed on” – wait for it – “the fear of the 'other.'”
Ah yes, that useful concept: “fear of the 'other.'” Llana and Micner, as we've seen, had already made it perfectly clear that Jews and gays have a very good reason for fearing Islam. But by bringing in the postmodern concept of “fear of the 'other,'” they deftly swept all sense away and turned the whole thing around. For the entire concept of “the other” is tied up, in contemporary academic discourse, with what is meant to be regarded by all and sundry as the thoroughly ugly history of Western imperialism – the colonization of various non-Western corners of the earth, and the cruel subordination of the almost invariably dark-skinned natives of those places to their white European conquerors. Let it be understood, moreover, that for one of today's academics to reduce a social or political situation to a distrustful encounter between “self” and “other” is to suggest that the former view themselves as civilized and view the “other” as a bunch of savages.
By introducing the notion of “fear of the 'other'” into their article, then, Llana and Micner were pulling a swift one, implying that these “far-right” parties' counter-jihadist positions are based not on a legitimate concern about Islamic prejudices but – presto change-o! – on Western prejudices against Muslims that are rooted in nothing other than Islam's alienness and unfamiliarity. Never mind that Llana and Micner had already established that Islam has long since ceased to be an alien or unfamiliar phenomenon in most of western Europe; that native Europeans have, in point of fact, been exposed to it for more than a generation now; that the overwhelming majority of them have had close encounters with a great number of Muslims; and that they have witnessed, with growing alarm, the dire impact of Islamization on almost every aspect of their lives, their communities, their cities, and their countries. Never mind, in sum, that their concerns are rooted in cold, harsh reality.
So it went. Having smoothly shifted the topic from the genuine perils posed by Islam to Europeans' purported “fear of the 'other,'” Llana and Micner persisted with the pile-on. They quoted a Dutch Jewish leader who claimed that Wilders's Freedom Party has “fascist overtones” – an absurd charge indeed to level against a party whose entire raison d'être is to resist something that the late Christopher Hitchens quite rightly labeled Islamofascism. They also quoted Eric Frey, managing editor of the Austrian daily newspaper Der Standard, who said he would never vote for the counter-jihadist Freedom Party of Austria because “they could stab me in the back the next day.” With all due respect to Frey, it's not the members of anti-Islam parties who are stabbing Jews all over Europe: it's Muslims who are doing so – and with real, not metaphorical, knives.
For good measure, Llana and Micner also made the silly observation that Le Pen, while winning the approval of many gay voters, is not “an advocate for the gay community.” But in Europe today, savvy gays don't want or need an “advocate” – whatever that's supposed to mean. What they want – all they want, and all they need – is leaders who will keep their countries from being taken over by adherents of a religion that would put them to death.
Unsurprisingly, a few key facts were missing from Llana and Micner's piece. First, during the last decade or so, many gays in Europe have been fleeing the big cities – and Islam – for smaller towns (although, given the speed with which Islam is becoming a significant presence in even some of the remotest villages and hamlets, this is only a very temporary solution). Second, over the same period, many Jews with deep, centuries-old European roots have been emigrating to Israel, the U.S., Canada, or Australia, in order to avoid perishing in a second – this time Islamic – Holocaust.
As it happens, Llana and Micner did mention the recent trial at which Wilders was found guilty of having spoken critically about Islam. In a truly free country, needless to say, such actions would never be prosecuted. Yet the Monitor article mentioned his trial and conviction as if they were thoroughly reasonable developments. What Llana and Micner didn't mention is that European courts, while readily punishing critical statements about Islam, are increasingly making rulings like the one handed down in January by a German judge who – in a case involving several Muslims who'd torched a synagogue – ruled their act of arson a lawful expression of opinion about Israel.
As that grotesque verdict makes plain, western Europe has reached a point of through-the-looking-glass madness when it comes to addressing the dark facts about Islam. And the mainstream media, as Llana and Micner demonstrate so splendidly, have managed to work out a perverse way of staring directly into those facts – and sometimes even, to a considerably extent, reporting them faithfully – while ultimately, in the name of salvaging Islam and vilifying its critics, turning those facts on their head.
Bruce Bawer is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center and the author of “While Europe Slept” and “Surrender.” His book "The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind" is just out from Broadside / Harper Collins.
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