It did not take long for Norwayâ€™s New Quislings to rally around a new label for their enemies: â€śEurabia writers,â€ť â€śEurabia conspiracists,â€ť â€śEurabia propagandists,â€ť or some variation thereupon. One of the first to employ this label was Sindre Bangstad, a social anthropologist at the University of Oslo, who in the Danish newspaper Politiken used Breivikâ€™s atrocities as a club with which to beat a wide range of adversaries. He went, for example, after Walid al-Kubaisi, an Iraqi Norwegian writer whose website is called Opplyste Muslimer (Enlightened Muslims). Walid is one of the bravest people in Norway and one of its most fervent defenders of individual libertyâ€”yet Bangstad smeared him as a â€śEurabia literature propagandistâ€ť and mocked him for having assumed, in the first moments after the explosions in Oslo, that they were the work of Islamic terrorists.
What is â€śEurabiaâ€ť? The word refers to the book of that title by the scholar Bat Yeâ€™or, who describes how various obscure European commissions, committees, and such have smoothed the way for the Islamization of Europe. Since July 22, the book Eurabia has repeatedly been characterized in the Norwegian media as pure fantasy; on the contrary, it is a sober work of solid documentation, and anyone who wishes to try to refute it should do so by resorting to facts, not by smearing it as baseless propaganda. Yeâ€™or has studied a small library of obscure agreements produced by diplomat meetings, conferences, conventions, and the like over recent decades, and has found what she considers an unsettling pattern of â€śinformal alliancesâ€ť between European officials and their Mediterranean Arab counterparts that take place under the umbrella of something called the Euro-Arab Dialogue, which dates back to 1974. Bat Yeâ€™or considers these alliances to be characterized by a European deference toward Muslim values, sensibilities, and sensitivities, a pattern she likens to the historical subordination of non-Muslims in Islamic countries. These agreements, in her view, have been instrumental in producing an increasingly Islamized Europe in which government leaders are quick to give way to Muslim wishes and demands and loath to defend Western values and principlesâ€”thus, Eurabia. Yeâ€™or is no shrill self-promoter, and her books are hardly the punchy screeds they have been made out to be; on the contrary, they are dry, sober, and packed with long, thoroughly footnoted quotations. The serious and responsible way for an opponent to respond to such work is by challenging the facts or the interpretations thereof; it is not to name-call, to describe her as a street-corner hatemonger or a reckless peddler of baseless conspiracy theories.
Bangstad also went after the Progress Party and its former head, Carl I. Hagen: â€śWe donâ€™t know when Carl I. Hagen began to read the type of Eurabia literature that Anders Behring Breivik has also read, but it is well documented that he and several of his fellow party members have read precisely that type of literature.â€ť As in any totalitarian society, it was now apparently an offense in Norway simply to have read certain books that the countryâ€™s new Public Enemy Number One had also read. (By the same logicâ€”in fact by far better logicâ€”one would expect that after 9/11, Madrid, London, Beslan, Bali, Mumbai, and so forth, it would be forbidden to read the Koran.)
Bangstad had more to say:
Anders Behring Breivik . . . has read widely in the racist and Islamophobic literature, from the Israeli right-wing extremist Bat Yeâ€™or by way of the American-Norwegian neoconservative Bruce Bawer to the Norwegian professor emeritus in sociology Sigurd Skirbekk. . . . Hereafter it will be difficult for editors and intellectuals to minimize the existence of Islamophobia in Norway, and it will, if possible, be even more difficult to claim that racistsâ€™ and Islamophobesâ€™ words are just words. . . . Anders Behring Breivik has, by his actions, set himself up against history. Multicultural Norway has come to stay. No pasaranâ€”the line is drawn here.
Those last words, of course, were a quote from Che Guevaraâ€”which gave a helpful hint as to exactly where, ideologically, these nasty lucubrations had their origin. (Though it should have been No pasarĂˇn, with an accent over the third a.)
Late August saw the publication of more thorough, sustained attacks on the critics of Islam and of multiculturalismâ€”attacks that had obviously been in the works for some time. They reached new level of propagandistic poison. The malice and mendacity were palpable; it was now no longer disputable that the New Quislings were out to destroyâ€”nothing less. By now it was also clear that many of them considered the â€śEurabiaâ€ť line of attack a winner.
On August 19, the Norwegian weekly Morgenbladet ran a long, mischievous article by Maren NĂ¦ss Olsen and Anders B. Bisgaard titled â€śThe Eurabian Verses.â€ť It was yet another attempt to link critics of Islam with Breivikâ€”and yet another in a years-long list of attempts by left-wing journalists across the Western world to dismiss concerns about the Islamization of Europe as the product of misinformation by a few nutty extremists. Indeed, even given the ostrich-like attitude of the Western mass media generally toward the darker facts about Islam, Olsen and Bisgaardâ€™s article was well-nigh breathtaking in its utter refusal to acknowledge basic realities about the world we live in.
According to the tale spun by Olsen and Bisgaard, pretty much all of Islam criticism, it seems, can be traced to the work of one whacked-out lady, and then, in turn, to the work of another whacked-out lady. â€śThe mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, the blogger Fjordman, the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, the Oslo-based author Bruce Bawer, the Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi, and [Norwegian] Conservative Party veteran Hallgrim Berg,â€ť the Morgenbladet authors wrote, â€śare among those who have embraced all or parts of Bat Yeâ€™orâ€™s imaginative Eurabia universe, which in turn is built on the thoughts of the Italian journalist and author Oriana Fallaci. Yeâ€™orâ€™s book, in time, has in time spawned an entire genre, with titles like Londonistan, The Last Days of Europe, Defeating Eurabia, and While Europe Slept.â€ť
Olsen and Bisgaard called me, Wilders, Yeâ€™or, Berg, Walter Laqueur, Melanie Phillips, and other critics of Islam â€śconspiracy theorists.â€ť But it was Olsen and Bisgaardâ€™s article that was framing a conspiracy theory. For their whole agenda was to dismiss all concerns about the Islamization of Europe as the product of a cultish conspiracy by us, a group of loony right-wing bigots who are the disciples of a lone crackpot and whose views have gained no traction whatsoever among academic â€śexpertsâ€ť in Islam and immigrationâ€”but who, for some mysterious reason, have managed to convince millions of readers that there is something to what we say.
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