Bruce Bawer has long been a hero of mine. A gay American writer who shipped off to Europe to shake off the long strangling shadow of the virulently anti-gay American religious right, he soon found himself in even deeper and more dire straits overseas in countries that should have been and had once been, meccas of sexual and social freedom and gay rights. And, I don’t intend to pun with “mecca”, heh.
His boyfriend and he lived in Amsterdam for a time and were initially overwhelmed by the acceptance they felt as gay men. However, in time, they saw another side to the city. Meandering nearly by accident into neighborhoods filled with veiled Muslim women and Muslim men who were openly hostile and sometimes violent to them, his partner and he had to reevaluate their surroundings. Coming to a slow realization that their gay paradise in Amsterdam was punctured by a rise of violence against gays and a growing encroachment on the freedom of women by unassimilated Muslim immigrants, Bawer began to reassess his surroundings and take a deeper, closer look at the situation of Islamic immigrants in European countries. His book, While Europe Slept, was the first one I would read about this situation and I was shocked and upset through nearly the entire book. I had no idea at the time, around 2006, that this was happening overseas, in places I had always considered nearly perfect, and the effect was world shattering. Since then, I have read other books and viewed films, and spoken with people and watched the news attempting to understand the threat the west faces from a growing Islamic population that is hostile to western values.
One of the things that many Americans do not fully appreciate about their country now is our first amendment. Because of our freedom of speech we can criticize and debate the merits of religions, public figures, and ideas without fear of governmental reprisal. I’m not saying that there have not been lapses, or that everything has always been perfect in this regard. We’ve had our censorship trials, when authors had to fight hard to have their books published here – these works would include masterpieces like the bawdy Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller and the surreal decaying landscape of Burrough’s Naked Lunch. These books endured long obscenity trials before finally being released to the American public. Even so, our first amendment protecting speech from government censorship has helped to keep ideas free and debate alive.
In Europe and Canada, this is not the case. While European countries are free in most respects, their lack of protection for speech and even more ominously their hate speech laws have inflicted severe strictures upon debate and the free exchange of ideas. People can be jailed for “racist – hate speech”, speech which may amount to no more than a honest criticism of a religion. Speaking out against FGM (female genital mutilation) or honor killings, or forced marriage may land you in handcuffs, in other words.
Here, in a recent article, Bruce Bawer speculates that he could be under threat of arrest, he writes:
“When it comes to the right to speak one’s mind about Islam, the record of the last few years makes it clear which direction the West is moving in. In France and Italy, Oriana Fallaci is put on trial for disparaging Islam. In Canada, Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant are hauled before “human rights commission” tribunals for criticizing Islam in print. In Australia, an Islamic organization sues two pastors for “vilification of Muslims.” In Britain, a Daily Telegraph columnist is arrested on charges of hate speech for having written negatively about Islam, and the Archbishop of Canterbury proposes that Parliament pass stronger laws against such speech acts. And in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders, the head of the Freedom Party, which performed so well in the June 9 general elections that Wilders may end up in the governing coalition, still faces trial for having made a film about the Koranic foundations of terrorism.
Then there’s Norway, where I live, and where the last few days have seen yet another dark development. By way of background, permit me to begin by quoting myself. On pages 230-31 of my bookSurrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom I sum up the more alarming aspects of Norway’s Discrimination Law, passed in 2005:
It forbids “harassment on the grounds of ethnicity, national origin, ancestry, skin color, language, religion, or beliefs,” and, in turn, defines harassment as “actions, omissions, or utterances [my emphasis] that have the effect or are intended to have the effect of being insulting, intimidating, hostile, degrading, or humiliating.”
In other words, it’s illegal just to say certain things.”
From this recent article by Bawer
I’ve Become an Enemy of the People for Speaking the Truth About Islam
I’ve now been singled out, in a report commissioned and funded by the government of Norway, as a perpetrator of Islamophobia. Am I about to be hauled into court?
And, here, a radio show the Shire Network News, Tom Paine’s show featuring Bruce Bawer speaking on just these issues, here Part One (Tom Paine is a psuedonym):
And, Part Two, where Bruce discusses an Islamic Professor in the UK who believes “adultresses” should be stoned and speaks about this publicly, and a prominent “moderate” Muslim in Norway who believes gays should be executed. Bawer believes that this “moderate” fellow is being “groomed” to be a future leader of Norway. These two are hailed by the academic establishment and media in Europe as “model” Muslims. It is also particularly upsetting to hear about the two Norwegian women who are fighting so hard for women’s rights, Islamic women’s rights to not live under horrific patriarchal norms in their new European homes — and how these women’s heroic efforts are met with resistance and sabotage from the left. There is more! Listen and be astonished: