Without attracting much attention, representatives of the Belgian political party Vlaams Belang recently visited Washington, D.C. Frank Vanhecke and Filip Dewinter hoped to meet members of Congress; but Congress was in recess. They hoped to engender some understanding of their program to reverse the Islamization of Belgium; but the media were strip-mining the tinsel life and tawdry times of Anna Nicole Smith.
Maybe they should have known that Tabloid America doesn't care about the likely transformation of Europe into an Islamic continent, let alone the fate of a French- and Dutch-speaking country of 10 million people. And while Literary America does write books about the transformation -- "While Europe Slept" by Bruce Bawer, "The War for the West" by Tony Blankley, and "America Alone" by Mark Steyn come to mind -- Political America has yet to acknowledge or even notice this colossal, epoch-defining shift now taking place.
Why don't our leaders face it? This may be one of those questions our children will ask some day. But if such natural curiosity isn't expressed until the next generation, the civilizational struggle for Europe will certainly have been lost. Better to question our politicians now. Better to examine the issue today.
Europe, as we may readily observe, is very far along in an accommodation with its still-increasing Muslim immigrant population that is resulting not in the Europeanizing of Islam, but rather the Islamizing of Europe. As Bernard Lewis declared in 2004, Europe will have an Islamic majority by the end of the 21st century at the latest. As Vlaams Belang's Dewinter recently put it, "We are becoming foreigners in our own land."
Such tragic pronouncements turn conversation with Vlaams Belang into a kind of political free verse -- sadly evocative but rooted in a desperate reality that should shake American complacency. That is, "foreigners in our land" is poetry; Mohammed as the most popular boy's name in Brussels for six years running is implacable fact. The idea that "We are living on a dying continent but we are not dead yet," as Dewinter has explained, is metaphorical. His citation from Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi that "Allah is mobilizing Muslim Turkey to add ... 50 million more Muslims" to the European Union augurs world-class revolution.
Is such a revolution desirable? After writing nearly incessantly about Islamization since Sept. 11, I won't surprise anyone by saying no -- not if freedom of conscience, religious equality or women's rights are your bag (not to mention the glorious representational artworks Europe's museums are stuffed with). Besides, the strategic implications for the United States are, in a word, bleak.
In multiculturally totalitarian Belgium, however, you make such judgments at your own risk. Vlaams Belang, a conservative, free-market party that stands for Flemish secession from the French-speaking part of Belgium and opposes continued immigration, now stands trial in a Belgian court for a comment -- a comment! -- Dewinter made in 2005 to a New York publication, The Jewish Week. When asked why Belgian Jews should vote for a party that espouses "xenophobia," Dewinter replied: "Xenophobia is not the word I would use. If (it) absolutely must be a 'phobia,' let it be 'Islamophobia.' Yes, we're afraid of Islam. The Islamization of Europe is a frightening thing."
If convicted of the "crime" of "Islamophobia" ("1984," anyone?), the party would lose its state funding. In a country that effectively prohibits private political fund-raising, Vlaams Belang -- the largest party in Belgium -- would ultimately cease to exist. And so, too, would free speech in the center of Europe.
Before I met Vlaams Belang's Frank Vanhecke and Filip Dewinter in Washington, I believed Europe's rush to Islamize itself was a stampede, its transformation all but inevitable. Now, I think these men have at least earned Europe the benefit of the doubt. Studying their various statements and interviews, I found no evidence to support the crude slanders to which they are continually subjected in the media for being a right-wing party opposed to the massive Islamic immigration now transforming traditional European culture. Indeed, their statements on Israel are more supportive than any European party I know of. As Vanhecke put it in a recent speech, "They call us 'intolerant' because we oppose intolerance. They call us 'fascists' because we oppose Islamo-fascism.
They call us 'the children of holocaust perpetrators,' because we oppose Islamists who are preparing a new holocaust against the Jews.' " America must start paying attention to Europe. And to Vlaams Belang.