What to do? Late last Sunday night, a 23-year-old woman in Oscarshamn, a town of 17,000 people that's about halfway between Mecca and Medina – sorry, I mean Stockholm and Malmö – was on her way home when she was stopped by three young men of foreign origin. “Are you Swedish?” they asked her. When she said yes, they hit her so hard that she fell to the ground. Then, looking down at her, lying there at their feet, they said: “Welcome to Sweden. It's our country now, not yours.”
The brief account I read of this incident closes with the information that the police have labeled this a “hate crime.” Gee, ya think? Presumably there's no place on their checklists for “soft jihad.” (Although I'm sure there was nothing soft about the punch that knocked that young woman to the pavement.)
One thing these “soft” jihadists have going for them is that what they're engaged in is, quite simply, so audacious that – unless you're prepared to open your mind up to the immense and terrible reality of it – it can seem almost farcical. “It's our country now, not yours”? It has the absurd ring of a pathetic claim made by some schoolyard punk. Except that those three punks in Oscarshamn aren't alone. They're certainly far from the first of their kind in Europe to make such an arrogant pronouncement. And as the years go by, that bold assertion, echoed increasingly in the streets of a growing number of European towns and cities, comes ever closer to being the plain and simple truth.
It may be that that 23-year-old woman would've known better than to walk home alone late at night if she were living in certain parts of Stockholm or Malmö, but that she assumed it was still safe in Oscarshamn. Perhaps she figured: well, it won't be safe here in five or ten years, but for now...?
This is the current European calculus. I'm reminded of a gay guy I met in a West Hollywood bar one night in the mid 1980s. He had, he told me, recently moved to L.A. from New York. “Why?” I asked. I was stunned by the fatuity, the deadly self-deception, of his reply. He had left New York, he said, to get away from AIDS: “It's not so bad here yet.”
I'm also brought to mind of the Australian writer Nevil Shute's haunting 1957 novel On the Beach, which became a 1959 film starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner. Fallout from a nuclear war has killed almost everybody on earth, leaving alive just a few million people in the southern hemisphere – in Australia, New Zealand, and at the southern tips of South America and Africa – who can do nothing but wait for the air currents to do the inevitable job of bringing the radiation their way, too. Over the course of the novel, one by one, from north to south, the cities of Australia die out. The film is splendid, but the novel paints an even more haunting portrait of the human race helplessly facing its own extinction.
Of course, the difference between Shute's characters and real-life Europeans today is that the latter aren't helpless. They could act. But they feel helpless. They hear the cry ring out, in one place after another: “It's our country, not yours.” And how do they respond?
Last week three news stories neatly summed up the ways in which all too many Europeans are responding. From Brussels came the report that the European Parliament is expected to act in a few days to lift the immunity from prosecution that Marine Le Pen enjoys as a member of that body. Why? So that she may be put on trial for criticizing Islam. A British Tory member of the European Parliament, Sajjad Karim, spoke out in favor of the measure, explaining that there's “a red line between freedom of speech and inciting racial hatred.”
What exactly did Le Pen, head of the French National Front, say to bring on this effort? In a December 2010 speech, she observed that the sight of masses of Muslims spontaneously taking over streets and blocking traffic in order to pray together – a spectacle that is increasingly familiar in Paris and other French cities, and that is destined to become an everyday event in other European cities before very long – recalled the Nazi occupation of France. “There are no armoured vehicles, no soldiers, but it is an occupation all the same and it weighs on people,” Le Pen declared. It is for this bit of truth-telling that she now faces the prospect of a trial.
That's one way, then, to respond to the jihadists' victory cry – to haul their opponents into court. Another approach is to keep the critics of jihad from entering your country in the first place. On Friday the BBC reported that British officials – who for years have refused to deport any number of high-profile advocates of Islamic terrorism, and on multiple occasions have allowed the most atrocious of foreign-based jihad apologists (such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi) to sully their shores – were appalled at the news that Islam critics Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer planned to come to Britain to speak at a June 29 event in memory of jihad victim Drummer Lee Rigby. Home Secretary Theresa May, the BBC noted, was considering denying Geller and Spencer entry into the U.K.; Home Affairs Committee Chairman Keith Vaz, describing them as “incendiary speakers,” made the usual fraudulent, fainthearted noises about the “incitement of hatred.”
In such ways do the leaders of today's Europe strive to be perfect dhimmis, smoothing the way for their successors. Yet for many of them dhimmitude is insufficient, for they're all too aware that, in the eyes of those whom they've labored so mightily to appease, they'll always remain, in the last analysis, infidels. And there's only one way to overcome that lamentable condition and thereby rescue oneself from (at best) an inevitable second-class status in the ever-advancing caliphate.
Meet Dutch politician Arnoud van Doorn – a longtime member of Geert Wilders's Freedom Party and producer of Wilder's anti-Islam film Fitna. Last week came the news that he had converted to Islam. Van Doorn announced it on his Twitter account by tweeting the simple official formula: “There is no god but Allah and Muhammed is his prophet.” In answer to questions from the media, he replied that no, his Twitter account had not been hacked and he had not been making a joke; he had genuinely embraced Islam, and wanted to leave it at that.
Van Doorn's act struck many like a bolt from the blue. It probably shouldn't have: there have already been several other high-level conversions of this sort in Europe. The RTL Nieuws article that reported van Doorn's conversion (or “reversion,” as they say, because those of us who aren't Muslims are considered to have fallen away from our true Islamic identity) noted that every day no fewer than five Dutchmen become Muslims. It's a continent-wide trend, and as Europe becomes more and more Islamic, the trend will surely accelerate. Soon enough, I suppose, these things won't seem at all surprising to any of us.
It's a matter of simple practicality – of taking the easiest route. You could sum it up by saying “if you can't beat 'em, join 'em,” but we're talking here about people who don't even want to make the attempt to beat 'em – people who have never learned to prize their freedom; people who were brought up to believe that the lesson of World War II is to exalt peaceful coexistence above all else and to reject the idea of fighting for anything; people who were raised with thoroughly secular identities and who consequently don't care very much what they put on the dotted line above the word “religion”; people who just want to be left alone (but who don't yet quite grasp, alas, that Islam is the religion that never leaves you alone). We're talking, in short, of the triumph of pragmatism (tragically misguided though it may be) over principle.
And even as I write these words, the title of another chilling film comes to mind: the original 1956 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. If you've never seen it, check it out. Like what's happening in Europe today, it's terrifying. Its story of a town whose residents, when they fall asleep, are replaced, one by one, by alien creatures that resemble them externally but are nothing like them on the inside might, indeed, have been intended as a parable of what's going on in Europe right now. The difference is that if the film – unlike the reality of Islam in the West – gets to be too much for you, you can always switch off the DVD and watch a Seinfeld rerun.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.