Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The canaries flee the coal mine 

Today's Wall Street Journal leads with a front-page article($) about Ayaan Hirsi Ali's decision to resign from the Dutch parliament and emigrate to the United States. The proximate cause was a court order evicting her from her apartment because her presence put the building's other tenants at risk of terrorist attack. The Dutch are, once again, turning on their own rather than resisting the threat in their midst. I've always like the Dutch as individuals and Holland as a destination, but it is not a country with which to share a foxhole:

Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been threatened repeatedly with "execution" by Islamist extremists. She lives in an apartment with bulletproof windows, and is driven to work at the Dutch Parliament by armed guards, who vary the route to outfox would-be hit men.

But an unexpected menace emerged closer to home: her own neighbors. They have fought to evict her, complaining that the presence of a well-known terrorist target in their luxury apartment tower in this Dutch city has upset their family lives and reduced the value of their property.

"Once this lady leaves, the problem is no longer there," says Ger Verhagen, a retired executive who owns a place two floors above the hunted politician. He says he has nothing personal against Ms. Hirsi Ali. But along with other residents, he wants to banish the fears stirred by the proximity of Holland's most acid -- and most frequently threatened -- critic of Islam.

Yesterday, Ms. Hirsi Ali's neighbor got his wish. Three weeks after a Dutch court ordered her out of the building in response to complaints from Mr. Verhagen and other residents, she resigned from Parliament and said she would leave Holland altogether.

It is telling that Ms. Hirsi Ali is not just leaving Holland, she is moving to the United States. Well into the Journal's article we read that she is merely the continuation of a trend:
Across Europe, dozens of people are now in hiding or under police protection because of threats from Muslim extremists. Dutch police say politicians reported 121 death threats last year. The number this year will likely be much higher. Geert Wilders, a right-wing member of parliament who also lives in a high-security apartment owned by the state, says he has received 120 menacing emails and letters since January. One of the latest reads: "Oh you cursed infidel! Don't think you are safe from our mighty organization....It is our wish to kill you by decapitation. Your infidel blood will flow freely on cursed Dutch streets!"

In Germany, several researchers, journalists and members of Parliament receive police protection because of threats by radical Muslims. Hans-Peter Raddatz, an Islamic-studies expert under police protection, recently moved to the U.S.

Flemming Rose, the culture editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, is also mulling a move to America, at the urging of friends and security contacts. He set off a global storm by publishing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. Twelve Danish cartoonists who drew the caricatures are staying out of public for fear of attack. (all emphasis added)

The organized threat of Islamic radicalism is such that once powerful European countries -- erstwhile seats of empire -- are no longer able to preserve the security of their leading citizens, including legislators and newspaper editors. What are these people doing? On the advice of fellow Europeans and security experts, these persecuted people are moving to the United States, the only Western country whose government at least arguably acts as though it is at war with militant Islam.

The canaries are refusing to die in the coal mine. They are fleeing to the United States of the despised George W. Bush. Why?


By Blogger sirius_sir, at Wed May 17, 12:48:00 PM:

"Once this lady leaves, the problem is no longer there," says Ger Verhagen, a retired executive who owns a place two floors above the hunted politician.

Somebody should tell him "the problem" doesn't come from "this lady" but he must certainly already know it. He knows it, but prefers not to entertain the truth.  

By Blogger Fabio, at Wed May 17, 01:26:00 PM:

Another reason, albeit secondary, is that in most of Europe citizens can't really do much do defend themselves. Gun ownership and carriage is severely restricted, and the use of force for self-defense often falls under unrealistic "proportionality" requirements.  

By Blogger Miss Ladybug, at Wed May 17, 02:20:00 PM:

Visit Europe while you can. Once these countries fall to the Islamists, we will see the end of many cultural, historic and artistic treasures. They destroyed the irreplacable statues of Buddha in Afghanistan - they will destroy the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Sistine Chapel, the list could go on and on....  

By Blogger ScurvyOaks, at Wed May 17, 02:29:00 PM:

There are only two things I can't stand in this world: people who are intolerant of other people's cultures and the Dutch.  

By Blogger Sissy Willis, at Wed May 17, 04:20:00 PM:

Two bits from a doctor in Hirsi Ali's neighborhood and a professor who heads the Institute of Holocaust and Genocide Studies say it all. First the doctor:

But Ms. Hirsi Ali's case is different [from the holocaust], he says. He admires her conviction, he says, but thinks her rage at Islam belongs in the Middle East and Africa, not the Netherlands. "This is not our fight," he says.

And from the professor:

An expert on Holland's treatment of Jews during the Nazi occupation, he says he has "more understanding" for people who betrayed their neighbors out of fear during wartime than for the actions of Ms. Hirsi Ali's well-off neighbors in an era of peace.  

By Blogger snowpea, at Wed May 17, 05:06:00 PM:

Sissy W., the professor's basic point is quite valid. It took a lot more guts to aid Jews while under Nazi occupation than it does to live near Hirsi Ali now; nevertheless many of her neighbours seem to lack even that degree of courage.  

By Blogger demosophist, at Wed May 17, 05:39:00 PM:

The troubling thing about much of what fabio said above is that it also applies to New Jersey.  

By Blogger viking kaj, at Wed May 17, 07:07:00 PM:

TH, with regards to sharing a foxhole in the Netherlands we can only point out in many neighborhoods in that country that this would leave you about 6 meters (18 feet) under sea level.  

By Blogger Dan Kauffman, at Thu May 18, 02:23:00 AM:

They destroyed the irreplacable statues of Buddha in Afghanistan - they will destroy the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Sistine Chapel, the list could go on and on....

By Miss Ladybug, at Wed May 17, 02:20:34 PM
they are already trying  

By Blogger Sissy Willis, at Thu May 18, 06:43:00 AM:

Snowpea: I don't disagree with the professor's basic point. MY point was that the he appears to believe he is living in an era of peace.  

By Blogger Meme chose, at Thu May 18, 09:34:00 AM:

Note that the key characteristic of Ali's retired Dutch neighbors is that they have no concern at all for the Netherlands after they have themselves gone. The whole of Europe's sole concern is that they keep things going until and then while they collect their pensions. After that as far as most people are concerned the whole place can go to hell.

This is a characteristic of atheistic, people, often childless and often taxed during their lifetimes to the point that they have never personally engaged with the society around them, done anything charitable or contributed any of their time or their money to a political activity. This is typical in Europe.

Peoples' reaction to the activist, all-taxing state is to withdraw from all civic activity, and when the state needs them to respond to a threat or generate enough children to reproduce itself they say 'it's not my problem'.

In a way they are right. All their lives they have not really been 'citizens' - instead the state and the tiny, closed political elites who rule each European country have farmed them as if they were income-producing animals. In this important sense Europe has never got beyond feudalism, as the US genuinely has.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Thu May 18, 10:27:00 AM:

Meme chose, that's a very cogent reduction of the problem. Good comment.  

By Blogger Meme chose, at Thu May 18, 03:54:00 PM:

It was all crystal clear 25 years ago, to those with eyes to see. I emigrated from Europe to the US at an age and date similar to 'Ah-nuld', and for much the same reasons.  

By Blogger The Fox, at Thu May 18, 04:42:00 PM:

The Europeans made a fundamental error decades ago by letting in Muslim immigrants who did not share basic Western values of freedom and tolerance. Now they are reaping the consequences. Even worse, the Europeans do not seem to realize they are in a conflict, whether or not they choose to engage in the battle.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri May 19, 07:49:00 AM:

meme chose:

To what continent have you been?? European countries are ruled by tiny political elites who farm their citizens like animals? People are not engaged in society? I don't know where you get these ideas from, but they don't make any sense.

the fox:

Your comment that Europeans don't seem to realize they're in conflict with radical islam couldn't be further from the truth - it is the no. 1 political issue in many countries.

And the awareness is *especially* strong in the Netherlands, where tensions have been rising for a long time now. Ever heard of Pim Fortuyn? Theo van Gogh?  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Fri May 19, 04:44:00 PM:

"To what continent have you been?? European countries are ruled by tiny political elites who farm their citizens like animals? People are not engaged in society? I don't know where you get these ideas from, but they don't make any sense."

Sure does. Many European countries' politics are distinctly elitist. Regular citizens cannot be voted into national legislatures thanks to the representational parliamentary system. Many European countries are highly socialist welfare states whose citizens pay exorbitant taxes. Their militaries are conscript forces who are loathe to send troops into danger because they are not volunteers.

Meme Chose's comments make perfect sense.

"Ever heard of Pim Fortuyn? Theo van Gogh?"

Yeah, but it seems that the Dutch response to more of the same is to fold and turn on the threatened party as a danger, rather than try to defend them as a fellow countryman. That's both weak and contemptible, though not necessarily an indicator that they don't realize they're in a struggle with Islamists. They'd just... rather not.  

By Blogger Meme chose, at Fri May 19, 05:29:00 PM:

I don't think most Europeans can really conceive of democracy as it has been practised in the United States since the days of de Tocqueville, and even before that.

A small example: 20 years ago the small town (pop 20,000) where I live decided that it didn't like the police protection it was getting as part of a bigger city, voted to secede and did so. It now has its own police force and town council, taxes itself, etc. The residents of a small town changed the structure of government, and were able to because in the US it is the citizens who are sovereign. Try to imagine this happening in Europe, where the operations of government are determined from the center. Local government in the UK for example has been reorganized so many times by successive central governments that people have no idea what their local council is or can do (Answer: precious little).

'Civil society' also means something very different in the US, where volunteering and charitable work are everywhere. Political engagement in Europe far more often means little more than negative and cynical attitudes (which are by the way reciprocated in full by the political elites who run those countries).  

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