A roundtable you shouldn't miss....
Every once in awhile FrontPage Magazine puts together a really great roundtable. Here's one on multiculturalism, and here are Bruce Bawer's opening comments (He wrote the book, "While Europe Slept".
Bawer: It’s true: the same hatred for American capitalism that once drove members of Europe’s political and media establishment to play down the horrors of Communism, or even actively celebrate it, has since turned them into multiculturalists with a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil approach to Islam. For such people, any ideology – however problematic– is preferable to the ultimate evil of American capitalism.
Multiculturalism has become official dogma in much of Western Europe, and the word is routinely used as if it were a synonym for equal rights or ethnic pluralism or colorblind democracy. Of course, it isn’t. It’s a grotesque expression of cultural self-contempt and self-destructiveness. Multiculturalism compels self-declared anti-fascists to blind themselves to the most chillingly fascist phenomena of our time. It compels feminists to accept the subjugation and abuse of women by men who believe they have the right to rape, beat, and murder them. It compels gay activists to embrace as allies people who, given the chance, would drop a wall on them.
Multiculturalism is deeply, perversely irrational. If you’re a multiculturalist, it’s verboten even to notice, acknowledge, and express concern about murderous hatred directed against you and yours by the officially oppressed. For a multiculturalist, any act or statement by a member of an officially oppressed group, however morally reprehensible, is to be understood either as a legitimate reaction against “our” prejudice (or our forebears’ colonialism) or as a legitimate aspect of an alien culture that we, in our pitiful narrowness, have failed to understand and respect – which is, of course, our obligation.
Many Europeans recognize that multiculturalism is leading their societies to disaster. If you can get them to loosen up and trust you, they may venture an awkward, uneasy critical word or two about the proliferation in their midst of people who long for sharia law and about the refusal of multicultural-minded political leaders to address this growing crisis responsibly. But many such Europeans hardly know how to express their concerns, because they’ve almost never heard such concerns openly, intelligently, and responsibly articulated. All they’ve heard all their lives from officially approved authorities – teachers, professors, the media, politicians, government agency workers, talking heads on TV, the representatives of state-funded “independent” organizations like SOS Racism – is that any concern about multiculturalism and its consequences is tantamount to racism.
Yes, there are so-called “populist” parties that oppose multiculturalism, but they are profoundly stigmatized, and many people who silently agree with them feel nonetheless compelled to join in the routine public mockery of them. Some of these parties, moreover, are in fact racist, so that on the rare occasions when one does hear open criticism of multiculturalism in Europe, it often comes from people who only confirm the establishment assertion that to oppose multiculturalism is, indeed, to be racist.
While many ordinary Europeans do oppose multiculturalism, then, most of them tend to keep quiet about it, or to articulate their opposition only very carefully and selectively – or, alternately, to express it in occasional (often drunken) outbursts of indignation and frustration. Few of them, certainly, have any expectation that their views might ever affect official policy. There’s a widespread resignation to the fact that multiculturalists control the media, academy, state agencies, and so on. Besides, they know what happens to those few people who do openly dissent from multicultural dogma – they’re demonized as bigots and racists. They know very well that if you want to get ahead in European society, you don’t take on multicultural orthodoxy.
Granted, this has been changing – kind of – at least in some countries, and in some places more than others. As Leon de Winter notes, Pim Fortuyn tore down the wall of silence in the Netherlands regarding the dangers of multiculturalism and massive Islamic immigration. Similarly, Denmark’s Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has stood up bravely against the multicultural establishment in the name of free speech.
In Norway, Hege Storhaug has single-handedly had an explosive effect just by going on TV and radio and criticizing mindless institutional multiculturalism in a way that is bold, intelligent, moral, reasonable, and uncompromising. All this is progress.
Yet on an everyday level, among ordinary citizens in these and other countries, it can still often appear that the old inhibitions remain firmly in place. The political establishment seems solidly planted, unmovable, unchangeable. There may be a widespread rage, in short, but it’s largely an impotent rage. Europeans today have been bred to be passive, to leave things to their leaders, whose wisdom they’ve been taught all their lives to take for granted. Even Europeans who are highly uneasy about multiculturalism, then, tend to be incapable of effective action or organization. They look around for somebody else to do something, or at least to say things that might help clarify the situation, help bring their own often muddled views into focus, and help make them feel justified in their vague but increasingly intense sense of alarm.
Part of the problem is that many Europeans today have been taught to think of their own societies, in large part, as value-neutral spaces. The fact that freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and equal rights are not natural givens, but are rather a precious heritage that had to be fought for and that are now under attack and must be defended without hesitation or apology, is something that needs to be driven home to many of them. They were brought up to believe that their societies’ one great overriding virtue, other than the bottomless generosity of the welfare state, is an unbounded multicultural tolerance –a limitless openness to and “understanding” of even of the most brutally intolerant foreign cultures.
To shake off a lifetime of this kind of indoctrination is not easy: it’s hard to quit yourself entirely of the deeply instilled notion – perverse though it is – that the ultimate act of goodness is to pour endless amounts of your own hard-earned tax money into the pockets of immigrants who hate you, hate your country, hate your form of government, and will gladly destroy it all when they’ve gained enough power to do so. The feelings of guilt and insecurity on the part of many of those who dare to reject this orthodoxy should not be underestimated.