We are still allowed to write critical books about Islam. Bruce Bawer has. You and I are still allowed to read these books and criticize them all we want, praise them or trash them. That's free speech. It's a great Western value people in the past have fought hard for. Lost their lives over.
According to Bruce Brawer, an American living in Norway, this is about to change unless we Europeans who are still enjoying our innocent beauty sleep wake up.
This is the message of Bruce Bawer's book 'While Europe slept'.
As readable and non-intellectual (I mean that positively) Bawer's writing style is, the sharper and more non-compromising is his message. Basically, if we don't call the common enemy, fundamentalist Islam, by its real name, get our heads out of the sand and stop being so apologetically politically correct NOW, JETZT, NU, ADESSO, IMMEDIATEMENT, Europe's future is looking very dark indeed. Brawer's analysis of Western Europe's failed immigration politics and its attitude towards immigrants rings very, very true.
The book also dedicates a substantial part to explaining the paradox of the ubiquitous anti-Americanism among Western Europeans. Certain aspects of Brawer's sweeping analysis hit the bull's eye while others seem a bit more dubious. For instance, although Brawer is not explicitly pro-Bush, he delivers harsh critique to all Europeans, normal citizens, politicians and members of the intellectual elite alike, who criticize Bush's resolve in dealing with dictators and tyrants and, ultimately, America's war in Iraq. However, Brawer fails to mention (deliberately or not) the lacking evidence for the existence of weapons of mass destruction, which, after all, was the main pretext for starting the war. Now, two years after this book was written, in light of Bush's appalling approval ratings even in the U.S., Brawer's argument on this particular issue loses clout.
The reason for the different approaches America and Europe take in facing threats, Brawer argues, is the different lessons learned and conclusions drawn after the Second World War. America argues- no more dictators. Europe argues- no more war. This, according to Brawer, is the reason behind Europe's lethargy and unwillingness to see Islam as the real enemy of Western values and thereby act resolutely and accordingly.
Although this book seems very well researched, why on earth doesn't Bawer include a bibliography to list his sources? At least in my paper back copy there is isn't one. If this book were a University essay it wouldn't pass! Quotes are left hanging without a source reference making you wonder if the author made it up. On page 26 in my copy Bawer quotes the Koran without telling the reader which sura it is. This is bad form! Although I don't doubt the veracity of the quotes, newspaper articles etc. by failing to include a bibliography Bawer robs the book of a large portion of credibility it needs and deserves.
In spite of some shortcomings the main argument of Bawer's book should be taking very seriously. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water. The main urgent message is a friendly but hard slap in the face that leaves a bright red mark on the European reader's cheek. Recommended!