By Bruce Bawer
Much of the world paid attention in March when the Netherlands held a general election and in May when the French chose a new president. But even in Norway nobody seems all that worked up about the parliamentary elections scheduled to take place here on September 11. One reason may be that when it comes to the most important issue of all, namely you know what, there’s really not much of a choice. As in most of the rest of western Europe, there are several parties vying for seats; but this year there are pretty much only two likely outcomes to the election: a socialist coalition government led by the Labor Party under the execrable Jonas Gahr Støre and a nominally non-socialist coalition government led by the Conservative Party under the useless incumbent Prime Minister, Erna Solberg.
For a voter concerned about the Islamization of Norway, Gahr Støre is, as it happens, the guy who, when a Norwegian newspaper, Magazinet, reprinted the Danish Muhammed cartoons in 2006, came down hardest on that newspaper’s courageous editor, Vebjørn Selbekk, who had to go into hiding because of death threat. Instead of standing up for Selbekk, Gahr Støre, who at the time was Norway’s Foreign Minister, brutalized him, claiming that freedom of speech should be tempered by “a sensitivity to ethnic and religious values” and blaming Selbekk for the burning of the Norwegian embassy in Damascus by Islamic nutbags. Visiting the Palestinian territories that year, Gahr Støre personally apologized for Selbekk and excoriated the Jerusalem Post for reprinting the cartoons, telling its editors that “freedom of expression is there to be exercised with reason.” He even instructed Norwegian ambassadors to reply to foreign critics of Magazinet by crawling shamelessly and agreeing that free speech should have limits. Three years later, Gahr Støre promised to bring down jihad – no, sorry, he promised to bring down “all rhetoric that ties Islam to danger, violence, and terror.”
As for Solberg, this is a woman who in 2004 welcomed a fanatical Pakistani religious leader by putting one hand on her chest and bowing to him. When she succeeded Labor Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg four years ago, she ramped up his already shameless level of appeasement and brown-nosing of Islam, issuing stomach-turning statements of congratulation on Muslim holy days and publicly honoring Norwegian Muslims for such outstanding accomplishments as having jobs and not blowing things up. This June she was the star attraction at an Eid celebration hosted by two terrorist-linked mosques. While continually sucking up to even the vilest imams and routinely responding to deadly terrorist acts by denying their connection to Islam, she has savaged Norwegian citizens who dare to openly criticize the Religion of Peace.
In a political class awash in cravenness and cowardice, there are few people who dare to voice the concerns of the many Norwegians who actually do worry about their country’s future. Meet 39-year-old Sylvi Listhaug, a Progress Party politician who currently serves as Minister of Migration and Integration. Since taking office, she’s repeatedly made headlines – and caused outrage throughout the political, media, and academic establishment – for saying what most of us would consider highly reasonable things. Last summer she dared to admit that most foreign aid amounts to throwing cash down a rat hole and that too many Norwegian politicians are less concerned with the actual results of such aid that with the good feeling it gives them to spread it around. In response, the Christian People’s Party – of which Listhaug had given a perfect description – had a conniption fit. Last December came reports that Listhaug and Ayaan Hirsi Ali were working together on a conference about women’s equality. That drew attacks, too.
In July, Listhaug argued that little girls shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijab in Norwegian schools, asserting that such garb sexualizes them and has obviously been forced on them by their parents; in reply, both Education Minister Torbjørn Røe Isaksen (Conservative) and Labor Party education spokesman Trond Giske rejected the idea out of hand. Speaking earlier this month at an “anti-extremism” conference for Muslim youth, Listhaug boldly noted that there are plenty of “wolves in sheep’s clothing” in the Muslim community and chastized the guest of honor, the purportedly moderate Pakistani-Canadian imam Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, who has proclaimed that Islamic law should supersede Western law and who helped formulate a Pakistani law prescribing the death penalty for blasphemy. The conference organizer castigated Listhaug, saying that instead of “stretched out a hand” to Muslim youth she had “put up walls” by disrespecting “one of the leading Muslim scholars in Europe and the West, and one of those who have opposed extremism most severely and unequivocally.”
The other day she got in hot water for mentioning in a TV interview that during the election campaign, several people have told her about neighbors who came to Norway as asylum seekers but who have taken vacations in the countries they supposedly fled from. It’s no secret to anyone that this sort of scam is going on all over Europe. Listhaug suggested that any citizen who’s aware of such cases report them to the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, noting that those engaging in such deception are taking up places that might otherwise be occupied by individuals who are genuinely in need of protection. Sounds reasonable enough, no? But of course all the usual suspects instantly jumped down her throat. Knut Arild Hareide, head of the Christian People’s Party and one of the most fervent defenders of irresponsible immigration policies, accused her of calling for “snitching.” Reporters echoed the charge. Labor Party politician Martin Kolberg, for his part, accused her of violating “Christian values.” (This in a country, mind you, where a long-cherished national pastime is looking up your hard-working native-born neighbor’s income and tax information – which is freely available online – and ratting on him to the authorities because you think he might be cheating.)
Listhaug is – to put it bluntly – a diamond in a dungheap. I suspect that if Norway’s equivalent of red-state voters had their druthers, she’d be running the country. Instead the electorate will face a hopeless choice next month between Tweedledee and Tweedledum – Scandinavia’s answer to those execrable American politicians who reflexively place the interests of potentially dangerous foreigners and folks who’ve entered the country illegally or under false pretenses above the legitimate rights, wishes, and security of law-abiding citizens.