by Bruce Bawer Bio ↓ on Dec 5th, 2011
If you want a pretty good example of just why multiculturalism is so poisonous, here’s one for you.
I live in Norway. Here, as elsewhere in Europe, there reside innumerable immigrants from the Muslim world who despise Western values, reject sexual equality, and affirm primitive patriarchal codes and concepts of “honor” that condemn people (mostly females) to death for infractions that neither you nor I would even recognize as infractions. Nonetheless these individuals enjoy Norwegian residency, and in some cases Norwegian citizenship, which some of them were granted because they claimed asylum (most likely on specious grounds, as demonstrated by the fact that many, if not most, of them return regularly to the countries from which they supposedly “fled”), and which others were granted because they married Norwegian residents (usually their own cousins, whom they married for no other reason than to acquire Western residency).
Every now and then there come along people from the Muslim world who are legitimate asylum-seekers – people who really would be in danger if they returned to their homelands, people to whom Western countries should feel a moral obligation to grant residency, and people from whose presence those countries would actually benefit, precisely because they’re people who will appreciate freedom more than most of the rest of us do. To put it another way, they’re the kind of immigrants who, generation by generation, have renewed the American spirit and the American dream by reminding those of us whose ancestors preceded them just how precious a thing freedom is.
Meet “Azad.” He’s a gay Iraqi who, according to an article at the website of NRK, the Norwegian national broadcasting system, has been in a committed relationship since 2006 with somebody named Odd Arne Henriksen. (I don’t know either of these guys, though my partner, after looking at the picture of the two of them that accompanies the article, says he’s seen Henriksen around town a number of times. Oslo is a pretty small city.)
For years, apparently, “Azad” has lived in Norway without causing any problems or being a burden on the state. But now an appellate court has ordered that he be deported to Iraq. If he goes back there, he says, “my clan will kill me.” Indeed, the court recognizes that if it becomes known in Iraq that “Azad” is gay, he risks “exclusion, isolation, and physical punishment.” (In fact, he risks much worse.) Nonetheless the court has ruled that “Azad,” in the words of NRK’s report, “must comply with his homeland’s sociocultural norms.”
Let me repeat that: he “must comply with his homeland’s sociocultural norms.”
Forget freedom. Forget Norway’s sociocultural norms. Forget the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In making a decision that for “Azad” may mean the difference between life and death, what matters to an appellate court in Norway – a Western European country, a member of NATO – is “his homeland’s sociocultural norms”…however brutal and primitive those “norms” may be. NRK notes that “Azad” is far from alone. In the past two years, Norway has turned down no fewer than forty of fifty-two gay asylum seekers. The records of many other Western countries are not much better.
In the case of Norway, however, such statistics are especially outrageous. For this is a country that likes to think of itself as being extremely gay-friendly. It was the second country in the world to recognize same-sex partnerships. It was the sixth to recognize gay marriages. When it comes to native Norwegians who happen to be gay, the Norwegian state is very clear about where it stands on the rights and dignity of gay people. Gay Norwegians deserve no less than every right granted straight Norwegians, up to and including the right to marry.
But when it comes to a person like “Azad,” a person from a country where he may well be imprisoned and even executed for being gay, all bets are off. For in such cases the Norwegian state’s respect for individuals takes a back seat – in a big way – to its respect for “different cultures.” A gay person who happens to have been born into an Islamic culture cannot expect from the Norwegian state any deliverance from his culture’s values, even if those values condemn him to death.
The situation is actually even worse than I have already made it sound. Consider this: one of the five million residents of Norway is an Iraqi-born man named Mullah Krekar, who founded the terrorist group Ansar al-Islam. He is a brutal monster who has spoken out in support of Osama bin Laden and the actions of 9/11 and who is known to have ordered the torture of children. He came to Norway many years ago as an asylum seeker and was granted asylum. He now lives in Oslo, where he has a comfortable apartment, receives a generous subsidy from the government, and is able to move around the city freely without supervision. He lives with his wife, who works in a day-care center, and his children, who are being given as good an education as Norway can provide. There have been efforts to return him to Iraq to face justice for his manifold crimes. Yet Norwegian authorities have repeatedly refused to send him back on the grounds that he might be imprisoned or otherwise punished.
In other words, Norwegian authorities are able to defend – are, indeed, zealous about defending – what they see as the individual “rights” and “dignity” of a terrorist, so long as those “rights” and “dignity” don’t appear to conflict with any cultural “norms” or “values” that they’re afraid of offending. But when it comes to “Azad”? Well, sorry, fella – this way to the plane.