BILL MOYERS: What are those things that you most love about Europe?
BRUCE BAWER:It was the freedom. It was simply the freedom. I as a gay person, coming from a country where we're still caught up in these arguments with the religious right about whether gay people should have the same rights as anybody else, that sort of thing, to go to Europe and find myself in places where this simply didn't matter. And everybody realized that as a gay person I wasn't a threat to anything that they held dear. The idea that men and women should be treated differently, or gay and straight people should be treated differently, seemed to have been decided and moved past. And it just seemed so civilized.
BILL MOYERS: Is it the attitude-- is it-- wasn't the prevailing attitude when you moved to Amsterdam the philosophy that, well, you do your thing and I'll do mine, just leave each other alone?
BRUCE BAWER:Yeah, that's really the Dutch formula. And that's worked for them for centuries. And this is why the Netherlands was a center of liberty for hundreds of years.
Bruce did not live in Europe for long before he realized that his mental impression of life in Europe does not reflect reality. A blogger, GayPatriot, asked Bruce
GayPatriot:Which do you think is more threatening to gays — Islamists or the American Christian Right?
BRUCE BAWER:Islamists. I wrote a book (Stealing Jesus) about the American Christian Right and have no illusions about its malevolence toward gay people. But it pales alongside fundamentalist Islam.
While writing and then promoting Stealing Jesus, I came into contact with many fundamentalist Christians, who knew I was gay; they argued with me stridently, but never did I see in their eyes what I’ve seen blazing out of the eyes of many young European Muslim men at the sight of a gay person. Contempt is too feeble a word for it. In their eyes, gays are lower than pigs and dogs (and they despise pigs and dogs). We do merit death in their eyes. If they don’t kill us on sight, it’s because they don’t want to deal with the hassle.
GayPatriot: Why does the gay community not speak out more about the threat from Islamic fundamentalism? Are they clouded in their judgement by their hatred of President Bush?
BRUCE BAWER:Well, if we’re talking about so-called gay “leaders,” many of them see the world entirely through the prism of multicultural ideology. When looking at fire-breathing Islamists, all they can see is (a) people of color who (b) come from another culture (which of course is “rich” and “fascinating” and “vibrant”) and who are (c) oppressed victims of the imperialist West. All of which, of course, points to the conclusion that gays, as members of a fellow “oppressed group,” should be in solidarity with them against our common oppressors.
For such people, the fact that Islamists despise gays – and, if they gained power in the West, would be quick to teach us all just what oppression really means – just doesn’t compute. Their minds can’t process it. Confront them with such facts, and they’ll respond by demonizing you.
Many leftists, including some gay “leaders,” actually admire Islam for the same reason they once admired Soviet Communism – because it’s the only big-time ideology that won’t knuckle under to American capitalism, which, in their eyes, is the world’s great evil. For such people, Islam’s disdain for gays is an inconsequential detail. (Many gay leftists’ love of Castro, after all, is not dimmed by the knowledge that he throws gays in prison.)
In America, I suspect that the gay population as a whole is silent on these matters mainly because most gays don’t yet fully realize how anti-gay Islam is. In Europe, the situation is more sinister: many European gays have firsthand experience of Islamic homophobia, but have been cowed into silence by the political, media, and intellectual elite: they dare not even make simple factual statements about certain things for fear of being called “racist” or “Islamophobic.”
Bruce recently wrote an article at Pajamas Media about a Norwegian lesbian, Hege Storhaug, describing her as Norway's own Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ms Storhaug wrote a book, Covered. Uncovered, on the hijab. He describes the media assault on Ms Storhaug
marked not by honest engagement with Storhaug’s arguments but by lies, more lies, and sheer personal abuse. Norway’s Dagbladet alone has published pieces by Amin Asskali of the Arabic Student Association, who accused the “woman-hating” Storhaug of “creating intolerance”; by Iffit Qureshi, who labeled her a “totalitarian…out to crush religious freedom”; and by Dagbladet opinion editor (and, ahem, former head of the Communist group Red Youth) Marte Michelet, whose litany of charges against Storhaug included “burkaphobia,” an “irrational fear of Islam,” “paranoid delusions,” and “hateful contempt” for Muslim girls.
The character assassinations of the advocates of freedom has grown more sophisticated. Nowadays when someone like Ayaan Hirsi Ali assails Islamic fundamentalism, the clever thing to do is call her a fundamentalist – because she’s so uncompromising in her insistence on liberty, get it? In this spirit, a hijab-clad Dagbladet staffer compared Storhaug’s call for Muslim women to “take the hijab off and embrace freedom” to “the rhetoric of the bearded fundamentalists” – thus equating an advocate for the victims of forced marriage and honor killing with the perpetrators of these barbarities.
It is truly Orwellian with the newspeak language used to suppress freedom, but perhaps there is still hope the brainwashing is not working. Some Norwegian readers comments in the newspaper give me some hope. Some of those comments read like something from RedState. Bruce gives these examples of the readers comments, and I boldfaced my favorite
Such, in 2007, is the cultural elite’s line on Islam. But who’s buying it? To scroll down on newspaper websites from the anti-Storhaug screeds by reporters, bureaucrats, professors, etc., to readers’ comments – which number in the thousands – is to turn from multicultural mendacity and vile ad hominem invective to commonsensical comebacks by sane citizens who prize liberty.
Responding, for example, to Qureshi’s insistence that we shouldn’t allow “the fear of the unknown [i.e., Islam] to control us,” one reader noted dryly that at this point Islam is hardly an “unknown.” Another answered Asskali’s description of Islam as woman-friendly: “Yes, we can see this…in practice in Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.” Yet another directly addressed Michelet and social geographer Kirsten Øvregaard (who, in assaulting Storhaug, had compared hijab favorably to Western girls’ “sexualized attire”): “What will you do on the day your daughters are forced to wear hijab? Why do you hate your own culture and embrace one that degrades and oppresses women? I just don’t get it.”
“Do you think we’re entirely brainwashed?” one indignant reader asked Asskali. But that’s precisely the goal of Asskali and his bien pensant accomplices: to convince the public that the problem here isn’t him, or his religion, but people like Hege Storhaug. As Dagbladet reader Hans-Christian Holm cogently put it, Norway’s media are engaged in “a sick tolerance competition, in which whoever tolerates the most intolerance wins, and the one who suggests that we perhaps should not tolerate so much intolerance is automatically branded as the most intolerant of all.” Storhaug’s own concern, as expressed in an email the other day, is that the relentless demonizing of persons like herself by those who are determined to suppress open liberal debate about these vital issues can only strengthen the hands of both right-wing nativists and Islamists.
And it’s not just happening in Norway, of course. The question is: how much longer can the tension continue to intensify between the plain, unvarnished truth and the outrageous flimflam churned out by a cowardly and conscienceless elite?
I am not sure his cure for moonbattiness would work on everyone. There probably are some who would be cowed into silence.
On 9/11, the free world was powerfully reminded of its freedom. In Europe, alas, that day’s spirit has been steamrollered by an establishment that – apparently having already accepted the inevitability of Europe’s Islamization – routinely turn the truth on its head, representing aggressors as victims and self-defense as inflammatory. That upside-down picture needs to be set aright, and the spirit of 9/11 resurrected. For the bottom line is simple: if we don’t cherish our liberties with the fervor that the jihadists treasure their faith, we’ll lose.
This conservative says AMEN to that bottom line.