The Canary Is Choking

By Brenda Walker
Volume 13, Number 1 (Fall 2002)
Issue theme: "Earth policy in the making: highlighting the work of Lester Brown"

Recent electoral shakeups in Europe have unveiled a population increasingly aroused against a growing Muslim presence. Nations long noted for social liberalism and being an easy touch for welfare-minded foreigners - particularly Denmark and the Netherlands - have found their voice in voting for candidates and parties that take immigration concerns seriously. Many Dutch and Danes concurred with independent-minded politician Pim Fortuyn when he stated, "I say multicultural society doesn't work." Europe has been an extreme test case for multiculturalism with two of the world's most disparate societies living side by side. The newcomer Muslims bring an ancient social structure that is authoritarian and misogynist, where knowledge is an inherited commodity1 rather than derived through rational inquiry. Western culture, on the other hand, has built upon its Greek, Roman and Renaissance traditions to value democracy, gender equality, individual rights and rational thought. The results are in. When Westerners live in close proximity with large numbers of Muslims, neither side seems happy with the arrangement. Europeans have voted at the polls for less immigration and Muslim immigrants have shown little interest in becoming assimilated to their new communities. The philosophy of live and let live only works when newcomers reciprocate. When one people's generosity is returned with the extreme intolerance of rape, physical attacks, theft, general disrespect and refusal to learn the language, then the public realizes that multiculturalism is a philosophy based on falsehood. Dutch residents of Rotterdam began to view the Muslim population of their city -- estimated at up to 45 percent - with increasing discomfort. Not wishing to see their city turned into Morocco North, they voted in great numbers for the party of Pim Fortuyn, who had been assassinated a couple weeks prior to the national election in May. If Fortuyn had not been murdered on the eve of possible electoral triumph, the global conversation about immigration might be more advanced today. Imagine that the Prime Minister of the Netherlands were an articulate gay man speaking out against multiculturalism and incompatible immigration. "What-if" speculation is shaky business, but it is hard to believe the media could have ignored such a deliciously counter-intuitive subject - flamboyant homosexual politician, complete with chauffeur and foofy lap dogs, takes on gay-bashing, anti-woman Muslim imams. The photo opportunities and outrageous quotes would have been too irresistible for the press to pass up. Even with the assassination, the Pim Fortuyn List won a place in the new government within a conservative coalition. The Immigration Minister is Hilbrand Nawijn, a Fortuyn party member. Key planks undergoing policy change have been the requirement that asylum seekers pay a nearly 7,000 euro deposit for compulsory Dutch language and citizenship lessons, restrictions on bringing non-western family members into Holland, and a clampdown on employment of illegal aliens. Beyond Culture Clash Pim Fortuyn remarked that Muslim immigration created conflict within western civilization, not merely between the west and Islam (among others) as Samuel Huntington has argued. The liberal paradigm of tolerance has not worked but instead has invited wolves to dwell among sheep. Scholar Daniel Pipes has alerted us to the seriousness of the situation. The facts cited in his article "Something Rotten in Denmark?" should ring alarms from Detroit to Paris. Jews in particular should be outraged that a Danish Muslim group put a bounty on the heads of several prominent Jews there, and the safety of Jewish children cannot be guaranteed in at least one school. Pipes says the state prosecutor is "considering a ban" on one group that called for Muslims to "kill all Jews... wherever you find them," but isn't it illegal to solicit the murder of people in Denmark? The nonchalant European attitude toward crime elicits questions if Pim Fortuyn's accused assassin is convicted, the maximum sentence would be a mere 20 years in prison.2 "In Europe, women's rights and safety are under severe attack because fearful, politically correct leaders refuse to condemn the misogynously barbaric culture of Muslims." In Europe, women's rights and safety are under severe attack because fearful, politically correct leaders refuse to condemn the misogynously barbaric culture of Muslims. In Denmark, the majority of convicted rapists are Muslims, with Danish women being the majority of victims. According to the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet in September 2001, 65 percent of the country's rapes were committed by "non-western" immigrants, nearly all of whom are Muslims. Bruce Bawer noted in the Partisan Review3 that an Oslo professor asserted that "Norwegian women must take their share of responsibility for these rapes," evidently as the price that must be paid by women to live in the perfect multicultural society. If Muslim sexual violence were to become targeted toward tweedy university males, one wonders whether the professor would continue to be so cavalier about brutal crimes. Such affronts to human dignity are allowed to continue because of the fearful lack of response by governments and political leaders. The belief that all cultures are equal - the central tenet of multicultural society - does not bear even the most cursory examination. The intense media coverage of Muslim society in the wake of 911 has demonstrated how wretched life is for women in much of Arab world. Still, many in the west refuse to connect the obvious dots. Our society struggled for centuries to end slavery and achieve equality under the law for all citizens why import millions who despise these values and would impose Islamic law if they could? Proponents of diversity insist that immigrants should be allowed cultural autonomy, even when they break the laws of the receiving country. Much of the cowardice on the part of public officials has been due to the noisy demands of immigrant groups with their predictable accusations of racism toward any attempts to bring order to multicultural chaos. We hardly hear from the victims of this delusional ideology, e.g. the western women who have been raped or the Muslim women who are often unprotected from honor killings and forced marriages. One such voice that made an impact, however tragic, was that of Fadime Sahindal of Sweden. The daughter of traditional Kurdish immigrants, the young woman nevertheless embraced the lifestyle of an independent woman, including an education and a Swedish boyfriend. She had become known to the public when she filed suit against her family in 1998 to cease the threats of murder against her. She had spoken out against the patriarchal nature of Kurdish culture and that Sweden should encourage the assimilation of people like her family. Sadly, Ms. Sahindal's father achieved his aim of killing his daughter in January 2002, further stimulating the debate about immigration and culture in Scandinavia. Four thousand people attended her funeral, many of whom were shocked that such a crime could happen in Sweden. An uplifting message has been heard from a somewhat surprising quarter, namely contestants in the Miss World pageant to be held in Nigeria. Several young women have pledged to boycott the contest because of the death sentence given to a Nigerian woman from an Islamic court for engaging in sex outside of marriage. In doing so, the women hope to shame Nigeria into stopping the death-by-stoning execution of Amina Lawal. As of early September, those boycotting included contestants from France, Belgium, Norway and Denmark. The September 11 terrorist attacks certainly awakened many in Europe - particularly when Muslims in some communities were in the streets celebrating the death of thousands - and has allowed the discussion of immigration and multiculturalism to enter the political realm. Still, the comforting banalities of multiculturalism are hard to expunge. Daniel Pipes noted the lack of progress Denmark has made in getting a grip on crime and cultural division, describing the Danes as "mired in inertia," an observation that would fit quite a few societies. In the long struggle shaping up within the west against extremist Islam, citizens and governments alike must reaffirm the values of western civilization against the alternative. We must hope that Europe (as well as America) will slough off its illusory ideas about multiculturalism and get back to basic principles of democracy, individual rights and reason. Notes 1. "[The Arab world] is a society where knowledge is traditional; it's passed on; it's memorized. There is very little self-criticism; there's no rational thinking." - Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Hume Horan on MSNBC's Hardball, late December 2001. 2. "Fortuyn murder hearing opens" BBC Online, Aug. 9, 2002, "If convicted, [van der Graaf] faces up to 20 years in prison." http //news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/europe/2182879.stm/. 3. "Tolerating Intolerance The Challenge of Fundamentalist Islam in Western Europe" - Bruce Bawer www.bu.edu/partisanreview/archive/2002/3/bawer.html/.

About the author

Brenda Walker, a freelance writer, is editor of the website www.LimitsToGrowth.org.