[To order Bruce Bawer’s new book, Islam: The Essays: CLICK HERE.]
Years ago as I was awakening from my long Democrat slumber and educating myself about Islam, one of the most eye-opening books that I read was a 2006 page-turner titled While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West From Within, by a gay American living in Western Europe. Not only was it enlightening, but it made me an instant fan of Bawer’s compelling storytelling. In addition to following his subsequent books such as Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom, The Victims’ Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind, and even a thriller about Islamic terrorism called The Alhambra, I was fortunate and honored to become friends with Bruce through our mutual work for the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
Now Bawer has released a new volume with a stark black cover titled Islam: The Essays, a massive collection of well over three hundred of his articles on this crucial subject dating from the fall of 2002 through the summer of 2018. Though he suggests that the reader undertake the book chronologically in order to understand the evolution of his understanding of the topic (“Early on, for instance, I refer to ‘fundamentalist Islam’; soon enough, I drop the word ‘fundamentalist,’ having realized that Islam itself, properly understood, is fundamentalist.”), Bawer is such an engaging, perceptive writer that one can open the book at random to literally any page and find it impossible to stop reading. A chilling chronicle of the Islamization of multicultural Europe over the last 17 years, Islam: The Essays is a must-have for FrontPage Mag readers and for others in need, like I once was, of awareness and insight into the Religion of Peace™.
Bruce Bawer was able to find time to answer a few of my questions about the book and about the Islamization of Europe today.
Mark Tapson: Bruce, you note in your opening essay that it wasn’t until you moved from your native New York to Western Europe in ’98 that what you then called “fundamentalist” Islam became a daily reality for you. How was that daily reality different, and how long did it take you to fully grasp what the Islamization around you meant for Europe and the West? Was there any particular incident that showed you the writing on the wall?
Bruce Bawer: I moved from New York to Amsterdam in September 1998. First I rented a one-room flat in a beautiful part of central Amsterdam, not far from the Rijksmuseum. I spent much of my time wandering around the city and glorying in it, and saw nothing that dampened my enthusiasm. A day or two after New Year’s 1999 I traded up to a charming walk-up in a classic old townhouse on the Oude Schans canal a few blocks east of Dam Square. The view through the high windows was spectacular; again, everything seemed hunky-dory.
I’d been in that flat only a couple of weeks, however, when the landlord, claiming that the guy who had sublet it to me had no legal right to do so, sued both of us, forcing me to relocate pronto to less felicitous quarters in a neighborhood called the Oud West, just west of downtown. From my first day there, every time I looked out the window I’d see one or more women in hijab, each pushing a stroller or baby carriage, and each accompanied by one or more small children. A few doors down from my new place was a storefront establishment with a sign over it reading “neighborhood association” and with a Turkish flag flying over the door. When I walked up and looked inside – I wrote about this in While Europe Slept (2006) – a bunch of nasty-looking non-Dutch faces glared back at me.
Obviously there was something major happening on the outskirts of Amsterdam – something that wasn’t reflected in the newspapers I read and the news programs I watched on Dutch TV. And if this was happening in Amsterdam, I surmised, it was probably happening in other major European cities. Eager to find out more, I hightailed it to the library, where I found a book by some English guy outlining – and celebrating – the recent rise of Islam in Europe, his argument being that Europe, having grown too secular, needed a spiritual component. I already knew enough about Islam – although within the next few weeks and months I learned a lot more – to realize that introducing Islam to Europe on a mass scale would not enhance the native’s spiritual lives but would present them with a host of challenges, some of them potentially insuperable.
MT: You write often about the scourge of multiculturalism and how it aids and abets Islam while inculcating Westerners with a loathing of their own culture. What is the antidote to multiculturalism? What will it take to reverse this indoctrination?
BB: I’ll get back to you on that one after I finish curing cancer. Seriously, it’s tough. What to do when kids across the Western world are being indoctrinated with multiculturalism from the moment they first enter a classroom? Multiculturalism has captured the schools and universities and mainstream media. Kids are fed a Howard Zinn version of history that, if you were brainwashed with it and never exposed to any other version, would make you hate your country, too. I do see a glimmer of hope in the fact that multiculturalists have gone so far that more and more young people are starting to see through it. I would like to think that writers like you and me can sway a lot of uncertain young minds, but the people who are succeeding at that task on a big scale are people closer to their own generation who give talks at campuses (if allowed) and post videos online (if not deplatformed) that debunk the multicultural narrative. For a lot of young people, moreover, personal exposure to the ugly realities of Islam, which are so utterly at odds with the propaganda they’ve been fed, can help them snap out of their multicultural reveries.
MT: You mention that this collection of essays “reflects certain lamentable developments in the mainstream media” – meaning, of course, its reflexive defense of Islam. Do you see any hopeful sign that either the American or European mainstream media are waking up to the Islam Problem, or are they even more stubbornly entrenched than ever in their denial?
BB: The latter. The New York Times gets worse and worse. Even Fox News punished Jeanine Pirro recently for daring to suggest that Ilhan Omar, hijab and all, might actually be a devout follower of her own religion’s dictates. Part of the problem is that the old-fashioned type of journalist, the street-smart working-class guy who had a healthy suspicion of all elites and a well-developed BS detector and used to be played in movies by guys like Spencer Tracy, has long since died off and been replaced by privileged kids from fancy colleges and journalism schools who have been marinated for years in identity-group ideology and who are often clueless about the real world. In the last couple of years websites that were receptive to articles critical of Islam have seemed to back off from the topic. Why? Cowed by advertisers? Afraid to offend the GOP establishment? Who knows?
MT: Through their immigration policies and willful blindness about Islam, the political and media elites have betrayed the citizens of Europe. Do you think the recent rise of European populism can stem the tide of the continent’s Islamization, or is it “too little, too late”?
BB: The so-called “populists” are winning big scare headlines in the leftist mainstream media, but not enough votes to make a difference. In this year’s European elections, Germans, apparently having forgotten the mass rapes on New Year’s Eve 2015-16, went for the Greens. In France, the weekly street protests bv gilets jaunes seem barely connected to concerns about rapid Islamization. Belgium? Forget it. Sweden? Lost. In Denmark’s 2019 elections, support for the Islam-critical Danish People’s Party dropped like a rock. In the UK, the success of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party was a step forward, but if Brits want to save their country they’ll need to overcome Farage’s silence on Islam. In the Netherlands, Thierry Baudet’s Islam-critical party, founded three years ago, is doing OK, but largely because it’s taking voters from Geert Wilders. And in Norway the once-promising Progress Party, now in government for six years, has long since gone mainstream, leaving critics of Islam without a real home.
The brightest glimmer of hope in Western Europe is in Italy, where Matteo Salvini’s victory last year, like Trump’s in 2016, encouraged serious people across the continent who want their own countries to take such steps. Many also look with admiration to the governments in Hungary, Poland, and other Eastern European countries that have withstood EU demands that they take in Muslim migrants. But is there any real hope for Western Europe? I have to admit to being baffled and frustrated by the continued refusal of these countries’ voters to stand up for their children’s futures, but I have to add that other informed observers are more optimistic than I am.