by Bruce Bawer
Norway is still treating Peder “Fjordman” Jensen as a criminal.
Since 9/11, thousands of deadly jihadist atrocities, big and small, have taken place around the world. Almost uniformly, the Western media totally ignore the small ones, and also ignore the big ones that take place in Israel, the Muslim world, and non-Western locations generally. As for the large-scale terrorist acts that occur from time to time in major Western cities – that is to say, the attacks that are too massive and too close to home for the media to get away with ignoring – the mainstream journalists who cover them devote a good deal of their time to tiptoeing around, or openly and vociferously denying, the connection between these actions and the religion of Islam. Indeed, it is by now an indelible part of the media narrative in these instances that the real victims – or the first victims, or the ultimate victims – of jihadist terror are the members of Western Muslim communities who, we are repeatedly told, have been unfairly stigmatized ever since September 11, 2001, and who, in the wake of every new act of Islamic terror in the West, experience, or at least tremble in fear of, a fresh, powerful, and unjustified anti-Muslim backlash. Virtually never does any mainstream Western journalist ever acknowledge that jihadists, when they massacre infidel men, women, and children, are following explicit instructions set down in the Koran – the book that every believing Muslim on earth considers holy. Even now, going on eighteen years after 9/11, some journalists honestly don’t know that jihad comes right out the Koran; others do know, but would never publicly connect these dots. Neither would most politicians or media commentators or supposed “experts” in Islam. For to do so would be to violate the most important unwritten commandment of the post-9/11 Western world: namely, thou shalt not admit that those who commit murder in the name of Allah, far from being traitors to their faith, are, on the contrary, the most obedient of its adherents.
The media have done a remarkable job of keeping the lid on this truth. One of the few times in recent years when someone let it out of the box in a big way was on June 20, 2017, when Tommy Robinson, appearing as a guest on Good Morning, Britain, suddenly held up a copy of the Koran, sending the show’s host, Piers Morgan, into an instant, and palpable, panic: “Show some respect!” Piers insisted. “There are,” Tommy replied, “a hundred verses in this book inciting violence and murder against us.” Piers repeated, with a rare urgency, plainly rooted in trepidation: “Show some damn respect for people’s religious beliefs!” Tommy asked why he should be expected to “respect a book that incites murder against me.” “Put it down!” Piers again demanded, unwilling to answer a question that, in fact, answered itself. Tommy, refusing to put the book down, proceeded to quote critical remarks about Islam by prime ministers William Gladstone and Winston Churchill. Meanwhile Piers tried desperately to talk over him, calling him “a bigoted lunatic” and an “Islamophobe” and accusing him of “doing something deliberately inflammatory and poisonous” and “stirring up hatred.” Forcefully, Tommy countered: “This book is the reason we’re in such a mess!” Piers rejected this plain fact, feebly asserting that “terrorists abuse the nature of Islam” – a statement that made no sense whatsoever – and as Tommy began to read aloud a Koranic verse calling on believers to murder infidels, the segment was brought to an abrupt end. One can only imagine the sheer panic in the control room.
It’s verboten, then, to recognize the link – the direct link, the explicit cause-and-effect link – between Koranic dictates and the jihadist butchery that has been a recurring reality ever since the founding of Islam and that has taken place around the world on an immense scale in the years since 9/11. On the exceedingly rare occasion, however, when some lone Western infidel decides, insanely, that the proper response to jihad, and to the Islamization of the West generally, is to shoot up a mosque or two, as occurred on March 15 in Christchurch, New Zealand, the reflexive response of everyone from government leaders and college professors to reporters and talking heads is to attribute responsibility for this individual’s vile actions to everyone who has ever dared to write or speak an honest word about Islam – about, that is, the fact that Islam is, at its core, a religion of brutal and pitiless conquest. Never mind if absolutely none of these truth-tellers has ever suggested that the proper response to Islamic violence is to slaughter families praying in mosques; for public officials and other prominent figures who want to be seen as virtuous and Muslim-friendly, it’s only natural to spread the blame for mass murder to entirely innocent people.
Before March 15, 2019, there was July 22, 2011, when Anders Behring Breivik exploded a truck bomb outside a government office building in Oslo and then shot up dozens of teenagers at a Labor Party youth camp on the nearby island of Utøya – his professed motive being to punish the politicians whom he considered responsible for the Islamization of Norway as well as the future politicians who would inherit the philosophies, policies, privileges, and powers of today’s Labor leaders. Before Breivik headed out that day to commit mass murder, he posted online a lengthy “manifesto” that was part history, part political commentary, and part instruction manual for those whom he imagined would join him in his crusade. Much of this document, it turned out, consisted of texts by other people that Breivik had lifted without permission. The person whose writings Breivik made the most extensive use of was a young Norwegian named Peder Jensen, who had written many sober and learned essays about Islam under the name “Fjordman.” Peder had attended the universities of Bergen and Oslo and the American University in Cairo, learned Arabic, earned a master’s degree with a thesis on Internet censorship in Iran, and was part of a civilian observer mission on the West Bank in 2002-3. He planned a diplomatic career, only to discover that his frankness about Islam was not welcome at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He then became a prolific writer on the subject. Unlike the Koran, however, Peder’s oeuvre contained not a single word calling for action of the sort of which Breivik was guilty. But that didn’t matter to the apologists for Islam in the Norwegian establishment. Immediately Peder was lumped in with Breivik and, to a very large extent, held responsible for his crimes. Other critics of Islam, myself included, were tarred with the same brush, but Peder got the worst of it by far.
Now, let me pause here to explain something about Norway. In this country, it is possible for extreme leftists to get hired for the most respectable kinds of jobs. In fact, the record suggests that, if you’re in the market for high-level employment in the Norwegian cultural, political, academic, or media sector, being a card-carrying Communist actually helps. In recent years, active and outspoken Communists, some of whom have held top positions in Maoist or Stalinist political parties, have served as the director of the Norwegian National Library, as head of NRK (Norway’s state broadcaster), as president of Cappelen (one of Norway’s two or three largest publishers), as editor-in-chief of Aftenposten (Norway’s supposedly conservative newspaper of record), as Norway’s first professor of journalism, as editor of.Journalisten (the periodical of record for Norwegian journalists), and as coach of Norway’s national soccer team. At least two veteran Norwegian politicians who are now in charge of important international organizations have been credibly accused of having been KGB agents. At least one Communist Party politician – who, as it happens, also cheered the terrorist attacks of 9/11 – has been decorated by King Harald V.
But Peder Jensen? Since returning to Norway, he’s applied for hundreds of jobs. He got exactly two bites, both for factory jobs – one of them an assembly-line job in a furniture factory, the other a job watching a machine turn out pizzas and sprinkling cheese on them. The jobs were simple – so simple, he says, that an illiterate could do them. In both cases, however, Peder’s would-be employers figured out who he was and then changed their minds – even though the work for which he had been hired had absolutely no political content whatsoever. When he was kicked out of the second job, for which he had signed a contract agreeing to a six-month trial period, he brought in a lawyer, went before a judge, and received a small settlement. But what he needs is work. “I am turning forty-four this summer,” he told me the other day. “If I am going to marry and have kids I shouldn’t be too old when I do it.” He suggests that he may have to leave the country again and try to build a new life abroad, in some place where his name is not universally equated with hatred and slaughter. This is, note well, an eminently polite and peaceable man who has never in his life been charged with or found guilty of a crime. He’s never even gotten a speeding ticket. His sole transgression is that he’s been remarkably forthright and brave about a subject on which his country’s leaders have, almost without exception, been pathetically mendacious and cowardly. The strength with which he’s endured half a nation’s unearned opprobrium in the years since July 22, 2011, is beyond impressive. Under any other circumstances he would be an ideal candidate for any number of positions in lucrative fields: he’s deeply knowledgeable about history, politics, and much else; he writes excellent English; and his work ethic, to judge by his output, is exemplary. But in Norway in 2019, he is effectively barred from even the lowliest of jobs.
Over the last few years, I’ve been in intermittent touch with Peder. I knew he’d been living abroad, but until Friday, when he posted two long items on Facebook about his professional frustrations, I didn’t know exactly where he’d been and what he’d been up to. I immediately contacted him directly. Soon after the first of his two Facebook posts went up, a news website called Nettavisen ran an item about them by Morten Ø. Karlsen. Karlsen solicited a comment from Erik Kursetgjerde, who in 2011, at age eighteen, survived Breivik’s massacre at Utøya, and who is now a Labor Party politician. Kursetgjerde’s take: yes, everybody in Norway deserves a job, but Peder’s attitude toward factory work is so condescending that it’s no wonder he can’t find one. My own take: that’s easy to say when you yourself have glided straight from the Labor Party’s youth wing into a party sinecure. Kursetgjerde went on to parrot the disgusting charge that the Norwegian left has leveled at Peder ever since July 2011 – that however hard he tries, Peder can’t distance himself from Breivik, because he helped radicalize Breivik, and should own up to it instead of “leaning back and acquitting himself of responsibility.” Such is the current official line in Norway toward critics of Islam: after Utøya, and after Christchurch, all of us who have told the truth about that evil ideology have blood on our hands. (Meanwhile, in both Norway and Sweden, the elite consensus on citizens of these countries who went off to fight for ISIS is that they should be allowed to return “home,” and, instead of being punished, should be given help finding homes and jobs so that they can “re-integrate” as quickly as possible.) It isn’t just Norway, of course, that treats critics of Islam in this manner: as Peder told me on Friday, people all over the Western world who are critical of Islam or of reckless immigration policies “are being stigmatized and frozen out of the labor market,” a development he quite rightly called “totalitarian.” If only Norway’s political parties were gutsier and more honest about Islam, more responsive to and respectful of voter attitudes, and more concerned about defending individual liberty and human rights, they’d be made up of heroes like Peder Jensen, rather than simpering little party-line hacks like Erik Kursetgjerde. And Norwegian freedom might actually have a future.
Bruce Bawer is the author of “While Europe Slept,” “Surrender,” "The Victims' Revolution," and "The Alhambra." "Islam," a collection of his essays on Islam, has just been published.
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