Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept

While Europe SleptAs I write this, France mourns the 84 victims of a terrorist attack in Nice, who died while celebrating Bastille Day, the French equivalent of the Fourth of July. Whether the attack was intended as an assault on the French national identity or whether the attacker merely seized the opportunity to cause the most damage, the end result is the same: French citizens no longer feel safe in their own country. In response to this atrocity, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls voiced the spirit of capitulation that has been the default reaction of politicians across Europe, in one form or another: “Times have changed,” he said, “and France is going to have to live with terrorism.” How did we get to this point, and what can be done about it? Bruce Bawer, an American poet and gay rights activist, who immigrated to Norway in 1998, was one of the first to sound the alarm about the high rates of Muslim immigration, and Europe’s alarming unwillingness to make assimilation a priority – let alone a contingency – of their residency. While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying The West From Within is a devastating chronicle of European arrogance, bureaucratic malfunction and the ease with which liberal societies will exchange cherished values for peace and tranquility – however transitory.

Bawer begins by establishing his American bona fides, recounting his upbringing in America and his opinions, positive and negative, about his home country. For many an American, Europe is a fabled place of tolerance and enlightenment, a bastion of liberalism and secular sanity and, with any luck, the lode star for American progress. Europeans, it turns out, share this opinion of their continent, and Bawer relays the smug condescension with which they speak of American society: its “unfettered capitalism” and naive optimism, its perverse obsession with individual rights – manifested, especially, in its “gun culture” – contrasted with its seeming unwillingness to think and act as a collective, at least with regards to social welfare policies. The more time he spends in Europe, however, the more he begins to appreciate America’s cultural differences, particularly with regards to immigration. According to Bawer, American immigration policy insists on two things: work and assimilation; Europe, by contrast, insists on neither. Generous social benefits packages are available from the moment of entry, and the bien pensants of European society have come to look on assimilation as a crude, even barbaric demand. America might be a melting pot, but Europe, out of respect for cultural differences, would become a mosaic, a truly multicultural society. In other words, America does not have a monopoly on naive optimism.

Perhaps the most insidious difference Bawer elucidates between America and Europe has to do with the freedom of the press. In America, Bawer argues, there are a plurality of news outlets, with different, competing biases; Europe, by contrast, has left and far-left newspapers. The result has been a veritable black out on coverage that might undermine the government’s agenda, or the paradigm accepted by the social and intellectual elites. Nowhere is this more clear than on the subject of Muslim immigration. In country after country that Bawer visits, the same pattern is visible: cities, particularly in the well-to-do areas that tourists are most likely to visit, remain largely native, but the surrounding suburbs are increasingly foreign-born, and these little enclaves operate as separate fiefdoms, with their own language, culture and, in many cases, laws. Immigration policies across Europe seem designed to encourage this cultural divide: social welfare is so generous that work, a great facilitator of assimilation, is unnecessary; so-called “family reunification” policies, designed to prevent fracturing families, have been taken advantage of, to such an extent that they are often used to bring together the husband and wife of an arranged marriage. Bawer is writing before the migrant crisis that swept Europe, but he specifically names Europe’s asylum policy, ill-defined and poorly enforced, as another avenue of entry that has been much abused by Muslim immigrants. Here is Bawer, on the usefulness of European laxity in preserving the Muslim identity:

To be sure, most Muslim children in Europe attend regular public schools, where even the most sheltered girl will be influenced to some degree by Western culture – inevitably picking up ideas about her right to date, have a career, select her own husband, and make her own decisions. This is why importing spouses is so crucial. By compelling his daughter to wed an illiterate villager for whom the very idea of female independence is anathema, who believes it’s a husband’s God-given right and duty to beat such ideas out of her (or, for that matter, to beat her for any reason whatsoever), and who will restrict her movements outside the home as fully as possible, a father can fight off the influence of the West and ensure that his daughter, though living in Europe, will have a life very much like that of a peasant woman in a Pakistani village.

Bawer follows this with a chilling account of the many honor killings that have taken place in Europe, and suggests that the true number is even higher, as many “suspicious deaths” of Muslim women are never fully investigated.

Another cultural clash comes over the issue of homosexuality. Bawer is a gay man, and was shocked to experience more vitriol, more anger and far more threats against his life for being openly gay in formerly tolerant Europe than he has ever experienced in America. He quotes from Danish cultural psychologist Kirsten Damgaard: “After more than twenty-five years in the immigration field, the Muslim immigrants I have personally met who find homosexuality acceptable can be counted on one hand.” A poll recently conducted by ICM in Britain confirms her anecdotal experience: of the thousand Muslims polled, fully half believed homosexuality should be made illegal in Britain, and not a single one considered homosexuality an “acceptable” lifestyle.

In the coming decade, Europe will face this crisis head on. A massive decline in the working population, created by the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation, will reduce revenue and raise expenses in governments across Europe, just as the growing Muslim populations begin to assert their political agency. The European Union, which long ago proved unable and unwilling to address the concerns of native Europeans, will almost inevitably collapse. Will the far right, represented by parties like France’s National Front or Greece’s Golden Dawn, once again rise to power in Europe? This much is certain: Europe’s fate in the coming years will be shaped, one way or another, by its Muslim population.