Monday, May 22, 2006

We Losing
To Islamofascism?

An interview at Front Page Magazine, with award-winning journalist Abigail Esman. The subject? How the eff is it that we are losing to Islam here in the West?

FP: ... tell us a bit about your background and why Islamism's encroachment on our liberties is close to your heart.

Esman: I think it's close to all our hearts. As a writer -- and as someone who writes frequently about art -- I am especially passionate about free speech issues, and watching the capitulation of so many to those who decried the Danish cartoons, or the recent report suggesting we ban the term "Islamic Terrorism" from our lexicon -- these strike me as dangerous, the latest of moves on a slippery slope that is proving to be not only more slippery but steeper than we may have realized. When you start playing with language, you start playing with the way that people think.

FP: So you think democracy is losing to militant Islam?

Esman: Absolutely.

The idea was for democracy to create gradual changes in the Muslim world. Instead, I'm seeing pressures from Muslim militants to force gradual -- and sometimes not-so-gradual -- changes in the democratic world. We are not winning this fight.

FP: So let's talk about the big recent news: Hirsi Ali. What do you make of the recent developments?

Esman: The American coverage of this situation has been rather superficial, so I'm glad to have a chance to clarify much of it - or as much as I can in brief. This whole issue emerged because of two recent and very high-profile cases in which Rita Verdonk, the Immigration and Integration Minister, denied naturalization or asylum to others who had in one way or another bucked the system -- or tried to -- in their applications.

Subsequently, a TV news program, a kind of "60-Minutes" sort of show, ran a piece about Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the stories she had told at the time of her application for asylum. Those stories had, for the most part -- not all of them, but most of them -- been well known, and Hirsi Ali had never made a secret of any of it.

But by running the piece at this particular moment, it put the question of her naturalization in a new context for the public, and forced Verdonk to explain why, in fact, Ayaan Hirsi Ali had been able to become a Dutch citizen when she had lied on her application, and yet others were being deported.

And Verdonk had to respond.

But Rita Verdonk runs on a platform of being "Iron Rita" - the law is the law, the letter of the law is all that counts (which is why she has been known to do things like force some Iranian homosexuals to return to Iran, where clearly their lives are in danger). And she is running for office for 2007. It's important to her campaign, in other words, that she maintain that image.

So what you have here is this woman who on one day, of her own accord, announced that "Ayaan has nothing to worry about," the next day called for an investigation, and the following day revoked Hirsi Ali's passport. And I think it's clear that someone said something to her about her campaign and her supporters and the Iron Rita image in the interim, and that alone took precedence.

The irony is that within the subsequent two days, she has agreed, under pressure from the Parliament to re-review the case; then the following day, announced that she was going to hold to her decision to revoke citizenship, and the third day announced yet again that she would try desperately to find "room within the law" that would allow her to make an exception for Hirsi Ali.

Hardly "iron."

But there's more than that, because the whole story is more a view into the way the Dutch so often avert their eyes until called to task for something -- which is, actually, what Ayaan Hirsi Ali did to them on many issues.

The fact is that Hirsi Ali never went after a career in politics. She never went after a role as a public figure. She made a statement while sitting in the audience during a lecture, and some reporter asked her to write a piece for his newspaper, and suddenly everyone was listening to her.

And when she was threatened and had to leave the country, it was the VVD -- the party of which both she and Verdonk are members -- who came to her, not the other way around, and begged her to join them and to serve in the Parliament under their banner.

They literally, you could say, bribed her, promising her the chance to work on the issues close to her heart and, more important at that moment, guaranteeing her round-the-clock security.

FP: Profound insights, thank you.Let's switch over to anti-Semitism in Europe. What is the situation in Holland?

Esman: Holland has been guilty for decades of a deadly silence, beginning with its pretense of ignorance about the death camps (in fact, it was recently confirmed that the Dutch were well aware of where the Jews were going). Now the silence takes the form of a virtual exclusion of Judaism from its culture.

Every Dutch child knows what Ramadan is. In the schools, even the Muslim children dye Easter eggs and are taught about the Second Coming of Jesus. But these are people who think of Pesach as "Jewish Easter," and have no clue what it means. Their Easter breakfasts include matzoh, bagels, eggs and bacon.

They've never heard of Chaunkah. Why? For many Dutch children, a Jew is someone who lives in Israel and is at war with the Palestinians. That's all.

And for Muslim children, that last part is the most important definition of "Jew." It makes Jews the enemy. And so some even threaten teachers who attempt to give lessons on the Holocaust. Shocking as that is, I think the Dutch feed the problem by not educating their children - Dutch-Christian or Dutch-Muslim -- what Judaism is, who Jews are. They simply pretend we don't exist.


Go read the whole thing.