Bruce Bawer on the ‘Anti-Jihad’ Meltdown

Opinion • Views: 7,734

Bruce Bawer, author of While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within and Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom, has issued an unequivocal denunciation of the so-called “anti-jihad” bloggers and writers who are advocating alliances with European fascist parties such as Belgium’s Vlaams Belang. With Bruce’s permission, I’m reprinting his whole post here:

Thursday, May 6, 2009, 9:28 P.M. CET: �Recently, Andrew Sullivan posted a link to an article about Charles Johnson, the celebrated blogger who has distanced himself from many other anti-jihadists and called them “a bunch of kooks.”� Though it grieves me to say so, and though I’ve hoped that things would somehow turn around, Charles is, alas, not whistling Dixie: I can testify that in the last couple of years some significant, and lamentable, shifts have taken place on the anti-jihad front.� Writers and bloggers whom, not very long ago, I would unhesitatingly have described as staunch defenders of liberal values against Islamofascist intolerance have more recently said and done things that have dismayed me, and that, in many cases, have compelled me to re-examine my view of them.

Once upon a time, these people made a point of distancing themselves from far-right European parties such as Belgium’s Vlaams Belang – whose most prominent Internet voice, Paul Belien, has declared himself to be fighting for “Judeo-Christian morality” not only against jihadist Islam but also against “secular humanism.”� Belien has made no secret of his contempt for gay people and for the idea that they deserve human rights as much as anyone else.� Now, however, many of the anti-jihadist writers who once firmly rejected Vlaams Belang have come to embrace it wholeheartedly.� In fact, for reasons unknown to me, this regional party in one of Europe’s smallest countries appears to have become, for a number of anti-jihadist writers on both sides of the Atlantic, nothing short of a litmus test: in their eyes, it seems, if you’re not willing to genuflect to VB, you’re not a real anti-jihadist.

I happen to be aware of this new state of affairs because during the last year or so I’ve been scolded by a number of respected and accomplished writers for refusing to make nice with Vlaams Belang.� Some of them have done this gently, pleadingly; others, who once addressed me with civility and respect as a fellow independent writer, have taken a harsh and hectoring, and in two or three cases even a condescending and bullying tone with me, as if they’re the bosses of some political machine and I’m an irksome underling who’s deviating from the party line.� The shift is, frankly, breathtaking.� Some of these writers have admitted privately that VB is bad news but argue that the party is nonetheless a valuable ally in the struggle against the Islamization of Europe, just as Stalin was a useful partner in the war on Hitler; others insist vehemently that Belien & co. are terrific folks, and claim that their checkered reputation is entirely the work of Charles Johnson.� Never mind that other right-wing European parties, such as Norway’s Progress Party, have explicitly distanced themselves from VB; never mind that in 2006 Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a far more well informed student of Benelux politics than any of VB’s eager new boosters, called VB “a racist, anti-Semitic, extremist party that is unkind to women” and earlier today, while acknowledging that “the party has adjusted its rhetoric and seems to have dropped its anti-Semitic stance,” told me in an e-mail that “it’s very difficult to know whether this [adjustment] is genuine or political pragmatism.”

The other day, in the wake of my City Journal piece “Heirs to Fortuyn?”, a couple of anti-jihad writers who had not yet rebuked me for my stance on Vlaams Belang finally got around to doing so.� Not only did they send me e-mails taking me to task for criticizing VB in that article; one of them also took it upon himself to chew me out for, in his view, admiring Pim Fortuyn too much and Geert Wilders too little.� (Never mind that I’ve defended Wilders frequently and that Wilders has blurbed my new book, Surrender.)� Wilders, this individual felt compelled to lecture me, is a far greater figure than Fortuyn ever was.� Why?� Because, he explained, Wilders stands for “Western values,” while Fortuyn stood only for – get ready for this – “Dutch libertinism.”

Yes, “Dutch libertinism.” The words took my breath away. During the last few days (while, as it happened, I was visiting Amsterdam) I haven’t been able to get them out of my mind. For a self-styled anti-jihadist – who, by the way, I first met three years ago at the Pim Fortuyn Memorial Conference in The Hague – to refer in this way to a man who sacrificed his life for human liberty is, in my view, not only incomprehensible but profoundly despicable. This is, after all, precisely the sort of language that Dutch Muslim leaders hurled at Fortuyn during his lifetime. And in the present case the words were plainly aimed not only at Fortuyn but at me – a writer who, like Fortuyn, that great martyr for freedom, is gay.

What the hell, one is entitled to wonder, is going on here? Why has Vlaams Belang, of all things, become a veritable sacred cow for so many anti-jihadist writers? And why does at least one of them now take such a staggeringly contemptuous view of Pim Fortuyn? I can’t honestly say that I understand any of it. But I do know this: when writers who represent themselves as champions of liberty start cozying up to distinctly illiberal parties like Vlaams Belang – and when one of those supposed champions of liberty starts to sound uncomfortably like the Islamist enemies of freedom whom he purports to despise – then there’s something terribly wrong, and genuinely evil, afoot.

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