Bruce Bawer and the Situation in Norway After Breivik
I have previously published a brief review of Bruce Bawer’s book The New Quislings: How the International Left Used the Oslo Massacre to Silence Debate About Islam. This time, I will take a more in-depth look at some of the major issues involved in this case and at how the mass media have often mishandled the Breivik case.
Prior to the 2011 terror attacks, Bawer had received little attention from the Norwegian mass media, despite living in that country as a noted author for years. Knut Olav Åmås of Aftenposten was attacked by other journalists merely for mentioning his international bestseller While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying The West from within in modestly positive terms. That book was otherwise largely ignored by the Norwegian press.
The Marxist activist Marte Michelet commented in the newspaper Dagbladet that Bawer had been little-known in Norway since his books were not widely translated or discussed there. She thought this was a good thing. People like him should be ignored because their writings represent ridiculous “racist fantasies.” Bruce Bawer retorted that he couldn’t possibly be a racist since he voted for Barack Hussein Obama as US President in 2008.
Bawer describes reading Breivik’s manifesto. The first half of it seemed surprisingly thoughtful and coherent for a mass murderer. That’s because he hadn’t actually written this part of it himself: it consisted of quotations from a large number of different writers whose works could be found publicly available on the Internet.
The second half of it “was thoroughly, and stunningly, different from everything that had preceded it. It was, quite explicitly, the work of a madman. There was no smooth transition, either. One minute Breivik was writing seriously — or cobbling together the work of other people who had written seriously — about various strains of modern Western thought and their consequences for liberal democracy and individual freedom. The next minute he was talking about killing people. Yes, that was what the second half was about. Killing people. Where to get weapons and ammo. Where to acquire body armor. How to commit acts of terrorism. How many people to kill.”
The incoherent manifesto talks a great deal about bomb-making and lists potential targets, including nuclear reactors in different European countries. In Bawer’s view, “The second half of his book was an utter betrayal of the first — a leap from civilized reason into the depths of barbarism, from logical sanity into pure madness.”
Breivik’s text was a “veritable phone book of names” of people that are mentioned or cited, including Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Twain, George Orwell and John Locke. Bawer was mentioned there indirectly in some of my own essays, for instance when describing the shameful appeasement displayed by Stoltenberg’s government during the Mohammed cartoons riots in 2006, or the noted Marxist author Dag Solstad’s open disdain for free speech.
What caused Bawer to write his book was the reaction of the ruling Multicultural elites to the 2011 attacks. Breivik’s unspeakable atrocities in a single day gave them a chance to reestablish their authority, which had been slowly eroding for years, and suppress annoying dissidents. Far too often, they eagerly grasped this opportunity with both hands. In the weeks and months after the terror attacks, the only possible choice for individuals who had been critical of Islam or mass immigration was to repent, now, or face public ostracism.
Simen Ekern in Dagbladet quickly warned that we should not ignore the “ideological mudbath” from which Breivik allegedly emerged, but must focus on his “role models” who are spreading unfounded fear of Islam. In the same newspaper, journalists Astrid Meland and Gunnar Thorenfeldt wrote an article entitled “They were Breivik’s heroes,” illustrated by photos of Robert Spencer, Serge Trifkovic, Aayan Hirsi Ali and Bat Ye’or.
Others mentioned in this article were Bruce Bawer, Walid Shoebat, Pamela Geller, Paul Belien, Diana West, and myself. Not one of these individuals has ever met Breivik. Spencer was accused of being “an extreme Islamophobe” spreading hatred against specific ethnic groups and religions. Trifkovic pointed out that being quoted in this confused manifesto, along with Bernard Lewis, Rudyard Kipling, Friedrich von Hayek, Roger Scruton and many others is an unpleasant oddity, but also noted that plenty of things can affect a confused mind.
On July 28, 2011, less than a week after the attacks, the novelist Jostein Gaarder along with Professor Thomas Hylland Eriksen published an op-ed in The New York Times entitled “A Blogosphere of Bigots,” warning that “racism and bigotry that have simmered for years on anti-Islamic and anti-immigration” blogs and websites throughout the Western world. They indicated that current problems are not mainly caused by the largest mass migrations in human history but by reactions to this, stating that “The global Islamophobic blogosphere consists of loosely connected networks of people — including students, civil servants, capitalists, and neo-Nazis.”
The authors suggested that Europe’s new political Right is “not neo-Nazi; it has swapped anti-Semitism for Islamophobia,” thus echoing the mantra that Muslims are now treated just like Jews were during the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s. Gaarder and Eriksen concluded by claiming that “Breivik has now shown that those who claim to protect the next generation of Norwegians against Islamist extremism are, in fact, the greater menace.”
Notice that these two high-profile writers didn’t merely suggest that those who are warning against Islamic aggression are just as dangerous as Muslim Jihadists. No, they indicated that Islam-critics are more dangerous. That was not a slip of the tongue. Similar sentiments were voiced in the mass media by other commentators.
On Aug. 22 2011 Aftenposten, Norway’s newspaper of record, ran an op-ed coauthored by Professor Thomas Hylland Eriksen, the social anthropologist Sindre Bangstad, the philosopher Arne Johan Vetlesen and the anti-racist activist Bushra Ishaq. Entitled “Unacceptable Utterances,” it called for tighter limits on free speech. “Certain hateful utterances,” the writers insisted, “are legally and morally unacceptable.” Rejecting “free speech absolutism” and criticizing the USA for “going the furthest in protecting the right to expression — including hateful expression,” they argued that “Norwegian editors as well as politicians” needed to make it clear that “it is not a human right to express oneself in public; and that certain hateful utterances…are not acceptable.”
In 2006 Jostein Gaarder published a controversial op-ed in Aftenposten which denounced “Zionist terrorists” and said that Israel has “raped the world’s recognition.” He wrote this at the same time as the city of Oslo, where he was born, was experiencing an escalating wave of very real rapes, some of them committed by Muslim immigrants. This happened just a few months after widespread Islamic aggression against Norway due to the Danish Muhammad cartoons, which had been reprinted by a tiny Norwegian newspaper. Gaarder received much criticism for this text, but also strong support from others such as authors Edvard Hoem and Anne B. Ragde.
Gaarder became a wealthy man by writing the novel Sophie’s World, which doubles as a guide to the history of Western philosophy and has sold more than 30 million copies in multiple languages. Yet he apparently understood very little of what he was quoting, since he fails to grasp that every single achievement of Western thought is now under threat by the same Islamic forces that are bragging about their plans to destroy Israel.
In the op-ed he argued that the state of Israel “will have no peace before it lays down its arms.” The first rule for dhimmis — discriminated non-Muslims living under Muslim rule — is that they must always be unarmed and submissive to their rightful masters. Even members of the Jihadist terror organization Hamas have stated that they may be willing to accept some Jews living in their society, as long as these accept their subjugation and inferior status vis-à-vis Muslims. Muslims may not like Jews in general, but they first of all hate armed Jews.
Europeans should take note that the same basic rules apply to other non-Muslims as well. When Gaarder argues that Israelis “will have no peace before it lays down its arms,” he is doing exactly the same thing as the Jihadists who demand that non-Muslims lay down their weapons and accept Islamic rule or face annihilation. He doesn’t seem to understand or care about the fact that this submission applies equally to his own family and nation, too.
Islam does not mean peace but submission; submission to Allah and Muhammad’s example by Muslims, and submission to Islamic rule by everybody else. Sharia law is essentially a recipe for a world of eternal serfdom.
The American author, military historian and columnist Victor Davis Hanson, who is partly of Scandinavian descent himself, noted in 2006 how “the Western press — usually so careful to condemn hate speech — is utterly silent about Arab racism. But a European paper recently published a cartoon portraying Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as a Nazi, secure that no rabbi would issue threats that could cost the editors their heads.”
The newspaper he was referring to was Norway’s left-leaning, pro-Multicultural Dagbladet, whose award-winning cartoonist Finn Graff published a cartoon depicting Israel’s PM Olmert as a Nazi concentration camp commander. The scene came from the movie Schindler’s List, where the commander shoots down a Jew from his balcony. Graff had earlier declared that he would not draw a cartoon of Muhammad out of fear and “respect.”
Founded in 1959 by a group of Norwegian researchers, prominent among them Johan Galtung, the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) has now become an independent research institution that also conducts graduate training and is engaged in the promotion of peace through conflict resolution, dialogue and reconciliation.
Hilde Henriksen Waage is a Senior Researcher at PRIO and a Professor at the University of Oslo. With her anti-Israeli profile, she has been accused of acting as an apologist for terror organizations such as Hamas in the mass media and has compared the Muslim Brotherhood and similar organizations to devout European Christians.
“Peace Professor” Johan Galtung found himself embroiled in a controversy in April 2012 due to statements that could indicate that Jews and Freemasons run the world. He even recommended reading the famous forgery about a Jewish conspiracy known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, so beloved by the Nazis.
He also hinted that the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad may have been behind Breivik’s massacre. He earlier flirted with the idea that the US Government was behind the terror of 9/11 in 2001. These remarks were seen as so outrageous that they triggered negative reactions, but that does not mean that Mr. Galtung has no supporters.
A founder of so-called “peace and conflict studies,” he is known for his sometimes controversial statements. He has been accused of acting as an apologist for brutal and repressive Communist regimes during the Cold War, but seems to hate the USA and capitalism. Galtung looks forward to the possibility that Europe could become Islamic. This could bring many positive things to the continent and dilute that pesky individualism, of which there is still too much there, or so he thinks. Yet in his view it is crucial that native Europeans quietly accept this as inevitable and do not attempt to resist the Muslim takeover of their continent in any way, since that could trigger Islamic radicalization. “Peace” to him appears to be identical to submission, just as it is in Islam.
Lars Gule, the former head of the Norwegian Humanist Association, has been among the most aggressive in attempting to blame critics of Multiculturalism and Islamization for Breivik. “It is obvious,” wrote Gule in the major newspaper VG on August 1 2011, “that certain groups, persons, and communities have contributed to Breivik’s warped view of reality, and these people need to take a good look at themselves. If not, others must help them.”
In this and other instances, Lars Gule operated firmly within the ignoble Socialist tradition of reeducating dissenters to correct thought crimes. The term used here was “responsibility.” He specifically highlighted myself, Robert Spencer and Bat Ye’or because we had been cited in Breivik’s so-called manifesto. Gule has been kind enough to state that the stigmatization of my person that took place after the terror attacks was “fully justified.”
Eivind Rindal is one of the survivors from Utøya who along with 11 others managed to escape from the island in a rowing boat that was fired upon by Breivik and sank when it reached the mainland. He claims that “The discussion around Breivik has been too concentrated around his mental state and not the right-wing extremist network that triggered and inspired him.” Rindal suggests that writers, among them myself, who have written about Islamic aggression in Europe and elsewhere share a moral responsibility for creating Breivik the terrorist, and has indicated that the terror attacks of 2011 would not have happened if Islamophobic websites did not exist.
The notion that other people are morally, if not legally, responsible for Breivik’s atrocities has repeatedly been voiced by his defense lawyer Geir Lippestad. These views were also presented in a sympathetic light by major news outlets. A headline in the public broadcaster NRK claimed that “Fjordman has terror responsibility.”
On display here we see a glaring double standard: If people who shout Islamic slogans or cite the Koran commit acts of terrorism, we are told that this has absolutely nothing to do with Islam. Yet if a person quotes writers who do not agree with him and use this to justify his acts of terror, these writers are then blamed for his actions. Terror has absolutely nothing to do with Islam but a lot to do with so-called Islamophobia, or so we are told.
A similarly deadly terror attack somewhere else would have caused a lot of grief and pain for those involved, but might not have triggered the near-existential crisis that it did in Norway. Previously sheltered Scandinavian countries have had a tendency to see themselves as immune to the ills that befall the rest of the world.
Bruce Bawer says that Norway’s left wing political elite sees itself as a beacon of virtue, which by implication means that those who disagree with them have to be evil. As a consequence, ideological dissidents were the only ones who were seen as outside of the circle of universal peace, love and the brotherhood of man after 22/7.
The Labor Party has a self-image as “those who built the country.” They are no longer as dominant as they were in the 1950s under PM Einar Gerhardsen, who came to be seen as “the father of the country,” but they are still powerful, and receive support from labor unions. It’s possible for people from their youth league AUF to make a direct transition to a political career, having never known anything other than party politics throughout their adult life.
Bawer further explains the cultural pressure for conformity that is implied in the so-called Jante Law, which was defined by the author Aksel Sandemose in 1933. Briefly summed up, it stipulates that you should never believe that you are special, and describes a mentality that de-emphasizes individual effort and originality.
Jørgen Sandemose, son of Aksel and a thinker operating within the Marxist tradition, now promotes free speech as essential. He also suggests that the censorship imposed by the ruling elites, some of the Social Democrats, on ordinary people regarding mass immigration contributed to the mental climate in which Breivik operated.
Bruce Bawer respects some of the contrarians Norway has fostered, for instance the conservative novelist Sigrid Undset. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928 and was strongly opposed to the Nazi regime both before and after they occupied her country. This was in sharp contrast to another Nobel laureate, Knut Hamsun, a gifted writer who was a political idiot at best. His notorious pro-Nazi statements during WW2 made him a controversial figure for generations after his death. Bawer also admires the oceanographer, statesman and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen, one of Norway’s most prominent polar explorers next to Roald Amundsen.
Bawer is largely correct in suggesting that Social Democracy is regarded by many intellectuals as “goodness set in a system,” which in an Orwellian sense implies that dissenting voices in some vague way must represent evil. He is also correct in pointing out the absurdity that a long-time Communist activist such as writer Magnus Marsdal, whose book FrP-koden was used to attack the right-wing Progress Party, is treated as a more mainstream voice by members of the press than those who desire less state interference in people’s daily lives.
The PP represents a far larger share of the voters than his totalitarian comrades receive, yet quite a few journalists treat Marsdal as less of an extremist than they do members of the Progress Party. His message seems to be that Islam is not the enemy; critics of Islam are. During a debate on “Dagsnytt Atten”, a major news program at NRK radio, Marsdal went far in arguing that stated fears of growing Islamic influence should be curbed after Breivik.
The Progress Party under its current leader Siv Jensen has issued some rather muted warnings against Islamization and problems caused by rapid mass immigration, but even this is too much for some people to accept.
Petter Nome, a well-known television personality with strong left-wing sympathies, attacked the Progress Party for allegedly nourishing unfounded fear of others. “Jensen is not a supporter of violence. Neither are most of her colleagues in populist and right wing parties in Europe. But they should not be left with their shock and swollen faces. They carry profound responsibility for actively creating a climate where hate and violence appear as options for their most impatient followers.” Nome later softened his remarks after public reactions forced him to do so.
Shortly after the terror attacks, the political establishment launched a full-frontal assault on critics of Islam, thereby helping to create a repressive atmosphere of fear and public ritual shaming of political dissidents. The vicious name-calling and campaign of intimidation against critics of Islam or mass immigration didn’t stop even after it gradually became clear that Breivik had probably acted alone when he carried out his horrible attacks.
The Progress Party, misleadingly dubbed “far right” by foreign newspapers such as the Sydney Morning Herald and the Irish Times, suffered its greatest losses in years during the local elections in September 2011. When its leaders sometimes tried in vain to appease those who verbally assaulted them, this only made them appear weak.
The Labor Party had grown concerned due to the steady growth of the PP, which seemed to have become a serious challenger. Labor suffered in the opinion polls, in no small measure because many ordinary citizens were fed up with Multiculturalism and — with good reason — perceived the ruling parties to be too soft on immigrant crime.
In response to this rising challenge, the then party secretary of the Labor Party, Martin Kolberg, declared “war” on radical Islam in 2009 and swore to do everything in his power to crush Muslim hardliners. Just two years later, Labor proceeded to shamelessly attack the Progress Party for their alleged anti-Islamic rhetoric.
Those warning against the ongoing Islamization of Europe have usually been labelled “Eurabia propagandists” or some variation thereupon. The weekly newspaper Morgenbladet, for example, claimed that reading Bat Ye’or’s book Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis from 2005 is like reading the definition of a conspiracy theory. This despite the fact that not a single journalist to my knowledge has ever managed to pinpoint any factually incorrect information in what Bat Ye’or writes about relationships between the Western world and the Islamic world.
At most, one might argue that she exaggerates the importance of the Euro-Arab or Euro-Mediterranean networks and the meetings she describes, but they are unfortunately very real. She has never claimed to have invented the word “Eurabia” for the combination of Europe and the Arab world, either — the term was used in a journal already in the 1970s.
Bat Ye’or soberly describes the way in which various obscure European commissions, committees and such have helped smooth the way for the Islamization of Europe. By studying numerous little-known but publicly available agreements produced by diplomatic meetings, conferences and EU conventions over recent decades, she found an unsettling pattern of strategic alliances between European officials and their Arab-Muslim counterparts taking place under the umbrella of something called the Euro-Arab Dialogue. This dates back to the 1970s.
After the oil embargo by Arab states in 1973, which was an economic shock to the West, Western European leaders opted for a policy of appeasement of the Islamic world and distanced themselves from Israel. This was in part due to Muslim pressures and the threat of possible Islamic terror attacks, beginning with Palestinians.
Her writings are full of footnotes and source references, and are if anything slightly too academic for the tastes of many potential readers. In her 2011 follow-up book Europe, Globalization, and the Coming of the Universal Caliphate, she analyzed trends that are leading to the gradual Islamization of Western civilization. Here Bat Ye’or highlights key role played by the powerful Saudi-sponsored Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in this process, working at all levels with leaders in Western nations from the EU to North America to implement restrictions on the criticism of Islam in their countries and to remove obstacles to continued Muslim immigration.
Bruce Bawer says a few words about his disagreements with the commentator and blogger Andrew Sullivan about whether or not Breivik is insane. According to Bawer, “we don’t judge the sanity of an action by its premises but by the actor’s expectation of its results. Since Breivik’s means would not lead to his desired ends, he was not only a bloodthirsty monster but obviously insane.” Nevertheless, while the main focus of his book is on Norway, Bawer might have benefited from placing these events more firmly within an international context.
He does reserve some justified criticism for Roger Cohen, a Jewish columnist for The New York Times, who deplores the racism, xenophobia and bigotry of the Western world when it comes to Muslim immigration. In an op-ed in the NYT, Mr. Cohen wrote that “Breivik has many ideological fellow travelers on both sides of the Atlantic. Theirs is the poison in which he refined his murderous resentment. The enablers include Geert Wilders in the Netherlands.” While admitting that the picture is not uniform, he continued that “Nothing, however, can excuse the widespread condoning of an anti-Muslim racism once reserved for the Jews of Europe.”
Any concern the native population might have about a mass immigration slowly turning them into aliens in their own lands is randomly dismissed as “European bigotry.” This mirrors the grossly caricatured view you can encounter in certain American circles of Europeans either being “Nazis” or “surrender monkeys.” The very possibility that Europeans have perfectly legitimate concerns over the future of their nations is simply ignored.
Bawer writes about my stepping forward from anonymity shortly after Breivik’s massacre had taken place. He states that he knew me from several years back and that we had met socially a few times in Oslo in addition to exchanging emails. This is correct. Bawer was friendly towards me and even invited me along for the Pim Fortuyn Memorial Conference on Islam in The Hague in the Netherlands in February 2006, where I met some international writers such as Robert Spencer, Andrew G. Bostom, Ibn Warraq, Bat Ye’or and others for the first time. I knew Spencer, Bostom and others via the Internet but had not met them in person prior to this date.
Bawer indicates in his book that he liked me personally, stating that I was friendly, “obviously very widely read” and knowledgeable about many aspects of Arabic culture and about Islamic history. I was highly critical of Islam, but at the same time did not say bigoted things about individual Muslims as human beings.
On the negative side, he asserts that I could be arrogant. “Indeed, he was certain, I soon learned, about almost everything. His self-assurance proved daunting. He was convinced, for example, that his magnum opus about Islam in Europe, when it came out, would save Europe.”
Perhaps I do display a touch of arrogance at times. It’s not the first time I have been accused of it, so there could be a grain of truth to this. With respect, however, the claim that I thought my writings would “save Europe” is quite simply not accurate. In fact, my critics have on a number of occasions called me “dystopic” because I have sometimes questioned whether anything at all can save Western civilization in its traditional form as it exists today.
I worked for a while in the field of psychiatry, and I have noticed that among suicidal patients there are those whose suicide attempts are mainly a cry for help. Those patients can often be helped. One also encounters people who really and truly want to die. If they are absolutely determined to kill themselves, they can be very hard, if not impossible, to stop. It’s still difficult to determine whether the modern West belongs in the first or the second category.
The author continues by saying that “In time it became clear to me that Jensen was rather too comfortable with nationalist groups of the kind I didn’t want to have anything to do with. In the end, he was one of those with whom I broke off contact in connection with the Vlaams Belang matter.” Bruce Bawer nevertheless states that I was friendlier than some other individuals he decided to break with after these events:
“I still felt kindly toward him: to judge by what I knew of him and what I had read by him, he did not seem to me in any way to be a bad person, just someone who was inclined to fall too precipitously into the ideological orbit of bad people to achieve what he saw as a good end. (Making an alliance with Stalin may be necessary, but don’t do it until you’re sure you have to.) In any event, at the time of the atrocities I had not been in contact with him for a couple of years, had seen virtually none of his recent work, and had actually forgotten his real name. As soon as it emerged that he was Breivik’s ‘hero,’ I was overcome with sympathy for him. As far as I knew, he had never written anything that any sane person would read as encouraging violence. In my view, he was an earnest, intelligent young man for whom there had been no place in a foreign service that treats Hamas with more respect than it does Israel, and who therefore sought to serve his country’s interests in the only way he could come up with — by writing about the truth as he saw it.”
He regrets seeing my “being tarred mercilessly by Norwegian media” in the aftermath of 22/7 because some of my essays had been quoted without my knowledge or approval by a person I had never once met, and that after I stepped forward voluntarily, the police responded by treating me virtually as an accomplice to mass murder.
Shortly after the attacks, a man named Øyvind Strømmen published a book called Det Mørke Nettet (“The Dark Net”) about the alleged evils of anti-Islamic websites on the Internet, with a special emphasis on me. He never deviated even slightly from the new party line, which made him a darling of the mainstream media. Virtually overnight he went from being totally unknown to an esteemed “expert,” consulted by major media outlets or national authorities on right-wing extremism and named freelance journalist of the year in Norway for 2011.
He sold many books by claiming that I am a “Fascist” leading a growing European movement with roots back to the Nazis and suggested, with almost nothing in the way of evidence to back up his claims, that there are many anti-Islamic “extremists” out there who are potentially violent and might pose a serious threat to society. Mr. Strømmen didn’t receive very many critical questions from a largely sympathetic press over such allegations.
Bawer is right to point out Strømmen’s obscurity and rise to fame on the back of Breivik. It must be said in all honesty that the majority of the population in my own country had not heard of me, either, prior to these events. Mine was a well-known name in the so-called blogosphere before this date, but political blogs are read by a vocal minority. Strømmen, on the other hand, was practically unknown even there prior to Breivik.
As it happens, the only time I had ever encountered his name was when he was linked by a major American blog called LGF, whose owner Charles F. Johnson used to be critical of Islam until he suddenly decided late in 2007 to switch sides, and over a period of two years attacked all of his former allies, calling them racists and hate-filled bigots.
Those former allies included me as well as many others, from Robert Spencer to Diana West. Johnson quoted Strømmen a number of times in an attempt to prove his claims, which had little or no factual basis and often amounted to mudslinging and character assassination. The explosion began after the Counterjihad Conference in Brussels in October 2007 where many people from both sides of the Atlantic participated, myself included.
This public fight, which was the worst I had experienced as a writer prior to the Breivik case, became so ugly from Johnson’s side that it even made the pages of The New York Times. Jonathan Dee of the NYT, not widely sympathetic to critics of Islam, said that those who disagreed with Johnson risked being labeled Fascists or Nazi apologists. His website came to resemble a totalitarian nightmare like George Orwell’s Animal Farm: “Readers both casual and loyal spoke up in the comment threads to ask, sometimes diplomatically and sometimes not, whether all this casual flinging of epithets like ‘fascist’ wasn’t maybe an overreaction. Johnson’s response, in thousands of cases, was to block their accounts and ban some of them from viewing the blog.”
After Breivik’s attacks, Johnson posted statements at LGF noting that he had deleted all of my posts, which is rather totalitarian, and rejected any association with evil people such as Robert Spencer or Geert Wilders. He specifically mentioned Wilders, who lives with constant Islamic death threats. These days Johnson attacks pretty much everyone to the right of Hillary Clinton, including the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
There may be many different reasons why people suddenly decide to switch sides, from personal issues to opportunism, or because somebody bribes and/or blackmails them into changing their allegiance. I have no idea why Charles Johnson did so back in those days, and it hardly seems to matter, since his website as well as his personal credibility have all but imploded since then. But I was a little bit disappointed with Bawer’s behavior.
Bawer stated in public in late 2007 that the Flemish party Vlaams Belang in Belgium, which had hosted this very successful Counter-Jihad Conference, are “a bunch of little Euro-fascists.” In 2009, in an otherwise decent article for City Journal, a high-quality magazine based in New York which carries the articles of many sensible writers such as Heather Mac Donald, Bruce Bawer tarred the VB with “Nazi” accusations.
It’s not the only time he has done so. This has real consequences for honorable people such as the Flemish writer and Christian conservative Paul Belien, whose wife has been a member of the Belgian Federal Parliament for the Vlaams Belang for years, and also for brave anti-Islamists such as Filip Dewinter from the VB.
In 1998, as an openly gay man, Bruce Bawer moved from the USA to Europe “in search of a home that was both liberal and willing to defend its liberal values.” He discovered to his disappointment that modern Europe was suicidal, especially when it came to Islam. However, Bawer occasionally seems to disdain those Europeans who defend Europe for its ethnic identity or traditional religion, and not just for its “tolerant, pluralist democracy.”
The author is at his best when he tells the story of the days following Breivik’s terror attacks, when the Norwegian political and media elites were busy reaching out to imams and visiting mosques, while at the same time attacking those who were seen as critical of Islam, Multiculturalism or the ongoing immigration policies.
In the Danish weekly Weekendavisen, Klaus Wivel notes that Norway singles itself out: In no nation in the world are more defendants declared insane. He also notes that summoning many Islam critics will allow Breivik’s lawyers to “hold a kind of alternative trial in the courtroom,” with ABB as an extension of their ideas.
As Bruce Bawer wrote in FrontPage Magazine, “Other countries have put critics of Islam on trial, one at a time. But now pretty much every prominent critic of Islam in Norway will be ushered into an Oslo courtroom, presumably to account for their views on Islam, the absurd pretext being that their testimony will contribute in some way to the defense of a mass murderer whose guilt has already been established beyond all doubt,” to implicate all of them in Breivik’s murderous actions in order to discredit forever the criticism of Islam.
Morten Kinander of Civita, a non-Socialist think tank in Norway, said that his defense lawyers were trying to make the entire political Right moral accomplices in his act. “The implied charge,” he told, “is that there is a connection between Islam critics’ statements and Breivik’s deed.” But he rejected this idea: was the Left ever held liable in a courtroom for the terrorist violence of left-wing groups such as RAF, the Baader-Meinhof gang? “I am appalled to see the courtroom misused as a political platform,” Kinander warned. “It becomes a circus.”
Anders Behring Breivik has a total of four defense lawyers, all presumably sponsored by the taxpayers: three men — Geir Lippestad, Tord Jordet and Odd Ivar Grøn — plus one woman, Vibeke Hein Bæra. Less than a week before the beginning of the trial, the defense team made a series of photos which made them resemble the glamorous stars of a major television show. They were justly criticized for this. It’s bad enough that Breivik himself seems to treat the trial as one giant reality TV show; it becomes worse when his lawyers do so, too.
Bawer’s book The New Quislings was panned by critics in Norway when it came out. This was predictable, since he doesn’t present the elites of that country in a very flattering light. He’s also been criticized for inaccuracies.
For instance, he mentions that the colored teenager Benjamin Hermansen was killed by neo-Nazis in Oslo in 2001 and that this incident triggered large candlelight processions throughout the country. This was perhaps lawyer Geir Lippestad’s most high-profile case before the 2011 massacre. Yet although over the years “innumerable Norwegian teenagers have been killed by Muslims,” this rarely triggers the same kind of reaction because it doesn’t make the natives feel that their own innate goodness is being called into question, according to Bawer.
This statement has been used by critics to show that Bawer is a crank who should be ignored, yet the underlying reality he mentions is largely correct. Thousands of white natives have had their lives damaged or destroyed by immigrants in brutal robberies, muggings or rapes, and occasional murders, but for some reason this almost never seems to trigger any response from the many self-proclaimed anti-racists. Are white people fair game?
Bruce Bawer has indicated that he thinks the terrorist Breivik is insane, or at least partly so. He agrees with those suggesting that to the extent that ABB had “indirect accomplices,” these are the Multiculturalists who have suppressed honest public debate. He ends his book with a comment by a wise, unnamed observer who states that it’s not the people whose books Breivik read who created the mental atmosphere prior to July 2011:
“It’s the people who refused to debate and discuss the contents of those books and instead chose to stigmatize their authors — and who in the aftermath of the Oslo massacre decided that this was an opportunity to win the argument without having to address the evidence. They’re exploiting this episode as viciously as they can to try to restore their control over the parameters of public debate — not understanding that that is precisely what caused the problem in the first place. And not understanding, either, that their ‘solution’ will only make things worse.”
Bruce Bawer indicates that he understands that the use of the term “Quislings” in the title aimed at Norway’s current governing and media elite as highly insulting — and that is precisely how he means them to take it.
Vidkun Quisling was a Norwegian politician whose collaboration with Nazi Germany during its occupation of Norway during World War II established his name as a synonym for “traitor.” After the liberation in May 1945, he was found guilty of treason and executed by firing squad on 24 October 1945, being at that point one of the most universally loathed Norwegians who had ever lived. The Nazi-inspired party Mr. Quisling headed, Nasjonal Samling, never got more than about 2% of the votes even during the economically troubled 1930s. While collaborators existed, most people in occupied Norway and Denmark simply did not like Nazism.
Sweden’s role as a neutral state during WW2 was highly complex and remains controversial to this day. On the positive side, the country served as a place of refuge for thousands of people from other nations, including the Jews who were rescued from Denmark. Swedes also gave substantial aid to neighboring Finland when it was invaded by the Soviet Union in November 1939. The Finns lost some territory, but fought so hard during the Winter War that they earned the respect even of Stalin, which helped Finnish authorities maintain some semblance of independence during the Cold War under the leadership of pragmatists such as President Urho Kekkonen.
On the negative side, Swedish authorities collaborated with the Nazis on more than one occasion, and there were probably more active sympathizers with Nazi ideology in Sweden than in neighboring Scandinavian countries. One of them was the later famous Swedish film director, writer and producer Ingmar Bergman, who saw Adolf Hitler speak in 1936. “Hitler was unbelievably charismatic. He electrified the crowd,” Bergman later admitted. Perhaps some of the dripping sense of guilt we detect in some of his films can be traced back to these sentiments.
Some of the points Bawer wants to make are understandable. For example, he says that Nazism was in fact national Socialism with an emphasis on a strong state, propaganda and conformism, elements that are arguably present today. It is also true that while some of the current political or media elites may feel insulted by comparisons with Quisling or the Nazis, they don’t hesitate in using similar comparisons themselves about others whenever this suits them.
On the 30th of July 2011, Aftenposten, the dominant newspaper in the Oslo region, ran a major article sliming well-known critics of Islam such as Robert Spencer and Bat Ye’or where I (Fjordman) was compared to the Nazi leader Vidkun Quisling plus well-known neo-Nazis, including several convicted murderers. Coincidentally, that same newspaper was once notorious for its own friendly stance towards the Nazis.
Aftenposten claimed that “Anders Behring Breivik has become the first terrorist of the Eurabia ideology.” They described a “third wave” of right-wing extremism after traditional Nazism, with personalities such as Bawer, Robert Spencer, Bat Ye’or (Gisele Littman), Daniel Pipes and Melanie Phillips, the last three being Jews.
Although I realize what Bruce Bawer wanted to achieve by choosing the title The New Quislings, it may not have been a wise or effective choice. Although some fruitful parallels can be drawn with the 1930s and 1940s, it is at least as useful and accurate to compare how many left-wing groups, including members of the Norwegian Labor Party, behaved towards Communist dictatorships during the Cold War, and how some of the same groups or organizations are appeasing Muslims today.
I will revisit that topic soon.
For a complete archive of Fjordman’s writings, see the multi-index listing in the Fjordman Files.