Tuesday, May 12, 2009

By Bruce Bawer
Doubleday, $24.95, 352 pages

Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom,” Bruce Bawer documents a phenomenon still inconceivable to most Americans although, as he proves, it is happening on our side of the Atlantic Ocean, too — the almost total suppression of free speech in most European nations about the rising threat of extremist Islam across the continent.

The issue has — no doubt briefly — flared again in the United States following the British government’s decision to ban U.S. radio talk-show host Michael Savage from even entering Britain. This is especially ironic, as Britain over the past 10 years has complacently allowed the most virulent and extreme Islamist preachers and Web sites to live securely and comfortably in the country — often on generous unemployment benefits at British taxpayers’ expense — while giving them full protection and freedom to seriously advocate policies to exterminate the state of Israel and topple the moderate Arab governments of the Middle East, which they loathe.

Yet it is not the Islamists who are Mr. Bawer’s target but the European elites, stretching across all the supposedly responsible parties from moderate left to theoretically conservative right, who in a remarkably broad and deep consensus eagerly bow down to the Islamists and obey their every whim.

Mr. Bawer concludes that the major governments of Europe already have willingly transformed themselves into eager-to-please, subservient puppets for the harshest elements of radical Islam within their Muslim populations. To criticize or question the tough positions of even mainstream Islam on gay rights and women’s rights is easily and almost universally equated in Europe with Nazism and racism.

Mr. Bawer, however, does a lot more than document and catalog this bizarre and ultimately suicidal collapse in national, continental and civilization self-worth across a European Union of half a billion people. He digs deep to discover its origins in the horrors of World War II and the decades of prosperity and safety combined with powerlessness that the European peoples have since experienced.

He goes even further back to discover that in the 1830s, the great French political intellectual Alexis de Tocqueville, in his classic “Democracy in America,” already recognized that the statist government-knows-best systems of what then were still the old reactionary European monarchies destroyed the individual enterprise, courage and very capability for personal conviction of their subjects by overprotecting and overorganizing them.

Mr. Bawer argues that the soft-socialist-democratic governments that have shaped the peoples of modern Europe since World War II have intensified those processes and produced the pacifist middle classes and elites, terrified of approving the exercise of military power even in their own defense, let alone being ready to sacrifice life and liberty for it.

The consequences of this attitude are profound and probably imminent, for, as the Oslo-based but deeply American Mr. Bawer rightly concludes “the necessary price of a free life is the willingness to die for it.” Mr. Bawer does not add, but could have, that the willingness to allow national armed forces to kill in defense of one’s own country is even more essential. If entire populations are unwilling to approve that, they certainly will die instead — violently.

Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized this essential principle when they saved the world from Nazism in World War II. Their successors, along with their own loyal European allies, also recognized it when they created NATO and successfully deterred the unprecedented nuclear power of the Soviet Union through the Cold War. But today’s European leaders and elites have totally forgotten and abandoned such old principles. Instead, they have turned on such pearls of hard-won wisdom and experience and trampled them underfoot.

Mr. Bawer has produced an alarming, depressing, brilliant and remarkably courageous book. His conclusion is bleak but uncompromising and clearly typical of the man: “At least one thing seems certain: against people who are ready to die in the cause of destroying freedom, people who are not willing to speak up for freedom for fear of being called a racist or an Islamophobe don’t stand much chance of victory.”

It is difficult to argue with this analysis. As St. Paul told the Corinthians 1,950 years ago, “If the trumpet give forth an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for the battle?”

Martin Sieff is defense industry editor for United Press International and has received three Pulitzer Prize nominations for international reporting. He is most recently the author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East,” 2008.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide