With Muslims in the role of needy victims and Norwegians as heroic benefactors

Though immigration and integration have become major points of contention in Europe, they weren’t even open for discussion when I was first living in Oslo.  On these topics, the “one idea” of the “one-idea state” was clear: Muslims in Europe were a colorful and enriching asset – period.  In Norway, the expression on everyone’s lips was “fargerik felleskap” – “colorful community”. On the rare occasions when immigrants were mentioned on TV or in the press, you could be sure these words would figure prominently. Norwegian journalists, professors, and politicians loved to use the term. But from the beginning, I found it offensive. Its fixation on the skin color mocked Martin Luther King’s dream of a color-blind society, and its reduction of immigrants to their most superficial aspect turned them into mere window-dressing – an outward sign of ethnic Norwegians’ inner virtue. Often, hearing and reading comments on immigration by Norwegian establishment types, I nearly gasped at their grotesque condescension, their inability to see immigrants as individuals, and their view of the whole business as a morality play; with Muslims in the role of needy victims and Norwegians as heroic benefactors.

– Bruce Bawer, While Europe Slept

7 Responses to With Muslims in the role of needy victims and Norwegians as heroic benefactors

  1. Bernt says:

    Suprisingly accurate from Bawer, whose writings I usually disagree with. Those of us who are 25-30 and older will remember very well the deafening consensus and the instant labeling if you in public pointed out some of the problems. During the 80s and 90s my impression of the multiculturalism/immigration debate was that the authorities (Labor) promoted the view that Norway was best and knew best (we loved those UN rankings). Therefore it would of course work out. Anyone pointing out otherwise should be silenced since only bad things could could come out of talking about something that conflicted with what we “knew” to be the truth. While authorities and the left scared us with (extremely marginal) neo-nazi and racist groups at the time, the predominant national attitude was still a strange form of nationalism in an otherwise social democratic country.

  2. There are a lot of good observations like this in the book – will be quoting more over the coming days.

  3. Konrad says:

    Bruce Bawer is not a credible source. He is a propaganda maker.

  4. He’s absolutely credible when it comes to his own experiences living in Europe, which is what most of this book concerns. Highly subjective, (lots is in grumpy rant mode), but this is weighed up by his providing a valuable outsider’s perspective.

    There’s also lots of conspiratorial Eurabia stuff here, but, actually, apart from that, he writes a lot of the same things about immigration that I wrote in the Minerva essay recently.

  5. Konrad says:

    His subjective experiences perhaps. But he is still a paranoid, islamophobic propaganda manufacturer. How can be sure that his personal experiences are not contaminated by the “Eurabia” stuff?

  6. Have you read the book? Look – I’ve been following Bruce Bawer on and off for almost a decade. I have a pretty good idea of his strengths and weaknesses. Criticism of the shared assumptions and delusions of Norwegian political culture is his greatest strength. His uncritical acceptance of Bat Ye’or’s Eurabia theories is his greatest weakness.

    There’s a lot of overlap with my own views here. That’s not entirely a coincidence. Back in 2001-2003, I read him, he read me, and we both read the same European and American blogs. I’ve changed my mind on many things since then, but mostly in terms of priorities and what to do – not in such thing as the fact that Norwegian responses to the post-9/11 world were absolutely ridiculous. For instance: I believe the Iraq war was wrong, but also that most Norwegians had no idea why the war was fought, and no interest in finding out. Bawer’s criticism of what the media was saying at the time is quite correct.

  7. Konrad says:

    I don’t deny that he has some useful insights, but it is very difficult to take seriously someone that embraces extremists like Bat Ye’or.

    I will not read his book. And I will not read Bat Ye’or even if there happens to be some truths in his publications.

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