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    Don’t look too deep into those angeleyes

    Bruce Bawer writes that he’s received a number of responses to his most recent City Journal piece, which says in part:

    More and more Western Europeans, recognizing the threat to their safety and way of life, have turned their backs on the establishment, which has done little or nothing to address these problems, and begun voting for parties—some relatively new, and all considered right-wing—that have dared to speak up about them. One measure of the dimensions of this shift: Owing to the rise in gay-bashings by Muslim youths, Dutch gays—who 10 years ago constituted a reliable left-wing voting bloc—now support conservative parties by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

    The other major reason for the turn against the left is economic. Western Europeans have long paid sky-high taxes for a social safety net that seems increasingly not worth the price. These taxes have slowed economic growth. Timbro’s Johnny Munkhammar noted in 2005 that Sweden, for instance, which in the first half of the 20th century had the world’s second-highest growth rate, had since fallen to No. 14, owing to enormous tax hikes.

    The past few decades in Europe have made three things crystal-clear. First, social-democratic welfare systems work best, to the extent they do work, in ethnically and culturally homogeneous (and preferably small) nations whose citizens, viewing one another as members of an extended family, are loath to exploit government provisions for the needy. Second, the best way to destroy such welfare systems is to take in large numbers of immigrants from poor, oppressive and corruption-ridden societies, whose rule of the road is to grab everything you can get your hands on. And third, the system will be wiped out even faster if many of those immigrants are fundamentalist Muslims who view bankrupting the West as a contribution to jihad. Add to all this the growing power of an unelected European Union bureaucracy that has encouraged Muslim immigration and taken steps to punish criticism of it—criminalizing “incitement of racism, xenophobia or hatred against a racial, ethnic or religious group” in 2007, for example—and you can start to understand why Western Europeans who prize their freedoms are resisting the so-called leadership of their see-no-evil elites.

    If the Danes have affirmed individual liberty, human rights, sexual equality, the rule of law, and freedom of speech and religion, some Western Europeans have reacted to the mindless multiculturalism of their socialist leaders by embracing alternatives that seem uncomfortably close to fascism. Consider Austria’s recently deceased Jörg Haider, who belittled the Holocaust, honored Waffen-SS veterans, and found things to praise about Nazism. In 2000, his Freedom Party became part of a coalition government, leading the rest of the EU to isolate Austria diplomatically for a time, and last September his new party, the Alliance for the Future of Austria, won 11% of the vote in parliamentary elections. Or take Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has called the Holocaust “a detail in the history of World War II” and advocated the forced quarantining of people who test HIV-positive—and whose far-right National Front came out on top in the first round of voting for the French presidency in 2002. The British National Party (BNP), which has a whites-only membership policy and has flatly denied the Holocaust, won more than 5% of the vote in London’s last mayoral election. Then there’s Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest), formerly Vlaams Bloc, whose leaders have a regrettable tendency to be caught on film singing Nazi songs and buying Nazi books. In 2007, it won 5 out of 40 seats in the Belgian Senate.

    He’s posted an update on his blog–there are no links to individual posts but this is the one timestamped “Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 9:28 P.M. CET”:

    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.

    Some of these people probably had contempt for Fortuyn all along but were willing not to repudiate him as long as he was one of the few high-profile advocates of classical liberalism. It doesn’t take a major leap to see their becoming fans of the Vlaams Belang (which from everything I’ve ever heard is seriously wacko), either.

    What’s more worrisome is the number of sensible, rank-and-file Western European citizens who may be figuring that the emerging alternatives to the left establishment are the only useful corrective and pushback available at this point, and that the unpalatable fascist undercurrents can be dealt with later. It seems a dangerous game to play in light of history.

    Added at 20:44: Oh, and speaking of people with Norway connections who don’t swim with the social-democratic current around them, Rondi Adamson was profiled last week on Normblog, and it’s an interesting read.

    Added on 12 May: Thanks to Eric for the link.

    Come to think of it, he’s got Norwegian blood, too.

    5 Responses to “Don’t look too deep into those angeleyes”

    1. Rondi says:

      Hey, thanks for the plug, not to mention the link to the Bawer article.

    2. Eric Scheie says:

      “Libertinism” is a charge often thrown at libertarians. It’s next to impossible to rebut, as the word has multiple definitions. It can mean free thinking in general, or it can also mean licentiousness and hedonism.

      People who hurl the charge often presume lifestyle advocacy (or at least some personal motive) where it may not exist. Supporters of drug legalization are thus conflated with drug users, which makes about as much sense as saying all opponents of global warming hysteria are being paid by Big Oil.

    3. Sean Kinsell says:

      Of course, Rondi. :)

      Yes, Eric, true enough. It never ceases to amaze me when people don’t understand why you’d treasure the freedom to engage in this or that behavior even if you didn’t plan to exercise it yourself. But if we could all agree on what was objectionable, we wouldn’t have to argue over liberties in the first place.

    4. Rondi says:

      Norwegians rock…er, except for that Quisling guy…and Sonja Henie…and Knut Hamsun…Should have stopped while I was ahead.

    5. Sean Kinsell says:

      There’s always A-Ha.

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