Is White Nationalism destroying the West?
Such was the provocative title of an article in The New York Times for October 12 by Sasha Polakow-Suransky, which can be found <a href=”https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/12/opinion/sunday/white-nationalism-threat-islam-america.html”>here</a>.
Believing that issue could be taken with almost every claim made in the piece, I’ve chosen to take issue with just a few of his myriad misrepresentations:
<blockquote>On July 14, 2016, as French families strolled along Nice’s seafront promenade, a Tunisian man driving a large truck rammed into a crowd, killing 86 people. A month later, the mayor of nearby Cannes declared that “burkinis” — a catchall term for modest swimwear favored by many religious women — would be banned from the city’s beaches; a municipal official called the bathing suits “ostentatious clothing” expressing an “allegiance to terrorist movements that are at war with us.”
One of the law’s first victims was a third-generation Frenchwoman who was ordered by the police to strip off her veil while onlookers shouted, “Go back to your country.” Still, many French politicians and intellectuals rushed to defend the ban. The former president Nicolas Sarkozy called modest swimwear “a provocation”; Alain Finkielkraut, a prominent philosopher, argued that “the burkini is a flag.” But what they presented as a defense of secular liberal values was in fact an attack on them — a law, masquerading as neutral, had explicitly targeted one religious group.</blockquote>
The “burkini” is far more than “modest swimwear.” It is a head-to-toe covering, with only an opening for the face, and wearing it is mandated by Islam. Some Muslim women wear it knowing that otherwise they will face the fury of male Muslims; others wear it because they want to, for they believe, as good Muslims and even without male pressure, that they should. But in both cases, the “burkini” is a religious symbol, and the laic state of France is opposed to all such symbols, whatever the religion involved, if they are deemed “ostentatious.” The hijab, for example, has not been banned, even if it signifies adherence to a religion, because it is not judged to be “ostentatious.” As Alain Finkielkraut says, “the burkini is a flag.” Polakow-Rumansky did not properly identify Alain Finkielkraut as a “French Jewish philosopher” — calling him only a “prominent philosopher” — because Finkielkraut does not fit anyone’s idea of a “white nationalist,” and it is “white nationalism,” as the opponent of Islam, that is being presented by Polakow-Suransky as the real threat to Western civilization. Finkielkraut doesn’t fit the template.
<blockquote>When rapid immigration and terrorist attacks occur simultaneously — and the terrorists belong to the same ethnic or religious group as the new immigrants — the combination of fear and xenophobia can be dangerous and destructive. In much of Europe, fear of jihadists (who pose a genuine security threat) and animosity toward refugees (who generally do not) have been conflated in a way that allows far-right populists to seize on Islamic State attacks as a pretext to shut the doors to desperate refugees, many of whom are themselves fleeing the Islamic State, and to engage in blatant discrimination against Muslim fellow citizens.</blockquote>
When there have been, since 9/11/2001, nearly 38,000 attacks by Muslims around the world, is “fear of jihadists” really hard to understand? If the real threat to Western civilization is “white nationalism,” then please tell us how many attacks have there been to justify such a fear? In the ballpark of 38,000? Or perhaps 380? What about 38? One need not be a “white nationalist” to be suspicious of these people whom the writer melodramatically calls “desperate refugees,” but as we now know, are not mainly “refugees” in the classic sense at all, but people attempting to benefit economically from generous Western welfare states. Most of those entering Europe as ‘”Syrian refugees” have nothing to do with Syria. In the same vein, many of these Muslim refugee “children” turn out to be in their twenties and need to shave. Why is it “blatant discrimination” to worry more about Muslim than about non-Muslim immigrants? Don’t we have nearly 38,000 reasons to do so?
There have been, in recent years, major terrorist attacks by Muslims in London, Manchester, Paris, Toulouse, Nice, Madrid, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Moscow, Beslan. And outside Europe, the attacks in New York, Washington, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Fort Hood, San Bernardino, Orlando, Chattanooga. Or in Asia, think of Mumbai, Delhi, Kashmir, Xinjiang, Beijing, Karachi, Dacca, Jakarta, Bali. Aren’t we allowed to draw some conclusions from this ever-lengthening list of terrorist attacks by Muslims? There is here no “xenophobia” — that means an irrational fear of all foreigners — but instead, a rational fear of Muslims alone. That fear is based on many things: 1) an increase in knowledge of what is contained in the Qur’an, especially greater familiarity with the 109 Jihad verses that command endless warfare against the Unbelievers; 2) the commonsensical reaction to the observable behavior of Muslims toward non-Muslims in Muslim-majority states, as with the killing of Christians in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, or of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh; 3) the swift and staggering rise in the Muslim population of Europe, now numbering 44 million (counting those in European Russia); 4) the willingness and ability of Muslim migrants to attack their non-Muslim hosts in a dozen European countries; 5) the apparent ability of non-Muslim immigrants — Chinese, Hindus, Vietnamese Buddhists, black African and Filipino Christians — to integrate successfully, without any violence, inculcated hostility toward their hosts, or any attempt to ignore the laws and customs of their hosts.
<blockquote>But this isn’t happening only in European countries. In recent years, anti-immigration rhetoric and nativist policies have become the new normal in liberal democracies from Europe to the United States. Legitimate debates about immigration policy and preventing extremism have been eclipsed by an obsessive focus on Muslims that paints them as an immutable civilizational enemy that is fundamentally incompatible with Western democratic values.</blockquote>
There is no “obsessive focus on Muslims” but rather, an understanding, that has been too long in coming, that the ideology of Islam poses special and permanent problems for non-Muslims, and especially for those who take in Muslims in the belief that they will successfully integrate into a non-Muslim society. The “focus,” such as it is, reflects the realization that the terrorists are Muslim; that they are not “extremists” with a “twisted ideology,” but merely mainstream Muslims taking to heart their duty to conduct Jihad, and to “strike terror” in the hearts of the Unbelievers (see Qur’an 8:12 and 8:60). Instead of a generalized “anti-immigration” rhetoric, there is, rather, the intelligent articulation of anxieties about one particular group of immigrants, that is, Muslims, with ample evidence (those nearly 38,000 attacks by Muslims since 9/11/2001) provided to justify such anxiety. Far from there being an “obsessive focus” on Muslims, the peoples and governments of Europe have consistently downplayed the Muslim threat. The mainstream media, too, have made people wary of criticizing Islam, for fear of being painted as “Islamophobes.” It is only now, thanks in large part to a handful of tireless commentators, that grim truths about Islam are now being recognized, though there is evidently still widespread reluctance to fully grasp the meaning and menace of Islam.
<blockquote>Yet despite the breathless warnings of impending Islamic conquest sounded by alarmist writers and pandering politicians, the risk of Islamization of the West has been greatly exaggerated. Islamists are not on the verge of seizing power in any advanced Western democracy or even winning significant political influence at the polls.</blockquote>
Look at how this author stacks the rhetorical deck: “breathless” warnings, “impending” Islamic conquest, “alarmist” writers, “pandering” politicians. But who is more “pandering” than Tony Blair, carrying around the Qur’an that he praises so highly, or Angela Merkel, who keeps swinging open wide the door to Muslim Syrian “refugees,” the great majority of whom turn out not to be from Syria at all, but merely Muslims looking to be supported by the generous German welfare state? “Alarmists” about Islam? With 1.5 billion Muslims, with tens of millions of those Muslims now in the West, with Islam the fastest-growing religion in the world? Are Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Paul Weston, Mark Durie, Geert Wilders, Thilo Sarrazin, being “alarmist” when they soberly point out the steep rise in Muslim numbers in Europe, both from the enormous number of Muslims now being admitted as “refugees,” and from Muslims in Europe outbreeding the indigenous population? In 1970, there were 2,000 Muslims in Italy; now there are two million, or one thousand times as many. Less dramatic, but just as worrisome, are the increases in the Muslim populations of France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, the U.K. So is the fact that every decade, the proportion of the European population that is Muslim rises by 1%. Those who point this out are not “pandering,” not “alarmist,” and certainly not warning of “impending” Islamic conquest, but are soberly presenting the statistics, as currently compiled by such groups as Pew Research.
<blockquote>The same cannot be said of white nationalists, who today are on the march from Charlottesville, Va., to Dresden, Germany. As an ideology, white nationalism poses a significantly greater threat to Western democracies; its proponents and sympathizers have proved, historically and recently, that they can win a sizable share of the vote — as they did this year in France, Germany and the Netherlands — and even win power, as they have in the United States.
Far-right leaders are correct that immigration creates problems; what they miss is that they are the primary problem. The greatest threat to liberal democracies does not come from immigrants and refugees but from the backlash against them by those on the inside who are exploiting fear of outsiders to chip away at the values and institutions that make our societies liberal.</blockquote>
Is the “primary problem” of immigration that caused not by the immigrants — the Muslim immigrants — but by “far-right leaders”? Why does the author slip in “far-right” to describe those worried about immigration? There are many people who are neither “far-right” nor even “right,” many indeed who by any measure are on the left, who have been at the forefront of those warning about the effect of Muslim immigration into Europe. Think of Pim Fortuyn, the famously liberal (and libertine) homosexual activist in the Netherlands, warning that Muslims could not be integrated; he was murdered for his views. So was Theo van Gogh, for the crime of making a movie about Muslim mistreatment of women. Think of the famous left-wing Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, who wrote, in cold fury, two books — <em>The Rage and the Pride</em> and <em>The Force of Reason</em> — about what Muslim immigrants were doing to her beloved Italy. She reported on their contempt for the country, for its artistic treasures (she was particularly exercised by the Muslims given refuge in Italy, who showed their gratitude, and appreciation of Christian art, by urinating on, and defecating near, the celebrated “Gates of Paradise” that Ghiberti had made for the Baptistery in Florence. She who as a teenager had helped the Italian partisans fight the Nazis in Florence, and in her journalistic career lived among Muslims, interviewing Khomeini, Qaddafi, and Arafat, even spending time with PLO fighters in their lairs, had her eyes opened wide to Muslims and to Islam, and what she came to realize was a totalitarian ideology akin to the fascism with which she had been familiar since childhood.
In France, Polakow-Suransky ignores all the people on the left, including the socialist former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who has been steadfast in sounding the alarm about Muslims in France undercutting the laic state, spreading antisemitism, and refusing even to attempt to integrate. Neither Valls, nor Alain Finkielkraut, nor Pascal Bruckner, nor Elizabeth Badinter could remotely be called “white nationalists”’; two of them are Jews, and the other two (Valls, Bruckner) are well-known for their philosemitism; all of them were originally on the left, but have been mugged by Islamic reality.
<blockquote>Anti-Semitic and xenophobic movements did not disappear from Europe after the liberation of Auschwitz, just as white supremacist groups have lurked beneath the surface of American politics ever since the Emancipation Proclamation. What has changed is that these groups have now been stirred from their slumber by savvy politicians seeking to stoke anger toward immigrants, refugees and racial minorities for their own benefit. Leaders from Donald Trump to France’s Marine Le Pen have validated the worldview of these groups, implicitly or explicitly encouraging them to promote their hateful opinions openly. As a result, ideas that were once marginal have now gone mainstream.</blockquote>
What has occurred in Europe is not the reappearance of “antisemitic and xenophobic movements” connected to the real far-right, but the appearance of antisemitism in a new guise, promoted and spread now by Muslims. As for the phenomenon of “xenophobia” — irrational hatred of all foreigners — the word does not properly describe the dislike and distrust, not of all foreigners, but of Muslims only, and a dislike and distrust that is hardly irrational, but the result of the evidence, both textual and behavioral, of Muslim hostility toward, or even murderous hatred of, all Unbelievers. This dislike has no need to be “stirred from [its] slumber” by those seeking to “stoke anger…for their own benefit.” The main carriers of antisemitism, the most dangerous spreaders of the pathology today, are not “white nationalists,” but Muslims. The attacks specifically on Jews are hard to forget. There was the attack at the Jewish school in Toulouse (where a rabbi and three small children, two of them his, were killed), the attack on the Hyper Cacher market in Paris, the attacks both on Ilan Halimi, kidnapped, tortured, and finally killed by a band of Muslims, and on an elderly Jewish lady, Sarah Halimi, killed, mutilated, and thrown out of a third floor window by a Muslim chanting from the Qur’an. There were the savage attacks on two Jewish brothers pulled from their car by a group of Muslims who beat them up (and sawed off the finger of one of them, just for fun). There have been other attacks on Jews in Malmo, and in Oslo, and in Berlin, all by Muslims, not “white nationalists.”
Polakaw-Suransky ignores, too, not just this record of attacks (can he offer a list of antisemitic, misogynistic, homophobic attacks by “white nationalists” in Europe?), but also what the polls tell us about Muslim attitudes. A poll taken by the Anti-Defamation League in 2014 measured Muslim attitudes in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the U.K., and showed that an average of 55 percent of Western European Muslims harbored anti-Semitic attitudes, more than twice the level — ranging from 12 to 29 percent — for non-Muslims in the same countries.
Surely he knows both about this, and about other polls with similar results. Given those figures, and given, too, that the only attacks on Jews in Europe in recent decades have been not by “white nationalists” but by Muslims, shouldn’t that information be revealed rather than concealed? Or would it show something about Muslim antisemitism that the author wishes to keep hidden? Would it show that antisemitism is far more prevalent among, and much more likely to be acted upon by, the Muslims, for whom Polakaw-Suransky wishes, at whatever cost to the truth, to garner sympathy?