Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What a maroon

I just stumbled across Mark Kleiman at Reality-Based (?!) Community, via this Instapundit bit. Kleiman has a "thoughtful and damning critique" (not a quote from Kleiman or anyone else but my characterization of how he seems to appear to himself in that spotted and wavy glass he evidently calls "reality") of Mark Steyn. In sum, Kleiman claims that Steyn advocates genocide against Muslims. He bases this claim on this passage from an interview Steyn gave to Christopher Hitchens:

Why did Bosnia collapse into the worst slaughter in Europe since World War Two? In the thirty years before the meltdown, Bosnian Serbs had declined from 43 percent to 31 percent of the population, while Bosnian Muslims had increased from 26 percent to 44 percent. In a democratic age, you can’t buck demography—except through civil war. The Serbs figured that out—as other Continentals will in the years ahead: if you can’t outbreed the enemy, cull ’em. The problem that Europe faces is that Bosnia’s demographic profile is now the model for the entire continent.

And here's what Kleiman says about that passage:

Hitchens let this pass in silence, except for a little bit of tut-tutting about the differences among Muslims, but let's call it by its real name: Steyn is justifying genocide, both retrospectively in Bosnia and prospectively in the rest of Europe.

He implies that the silence of everybody else from "Red bloggers" to anti-Holocaust groups on the subject (of Steyn's call for Euro-genocide, that is) is tacit agreement with Steyn's premise as he - Kleiman - interprets it. He of course overlooks the fact that all this silence might just mean that his interpretation... um... doesn't fit the facts.

Only someone who had never read one other word of Steyn could interpret that statement as advocacy of genocide. I'll admit that a passing familiarity with Steyn's actual premise on Europe - that demographically, Muslims in Europe are not just outperforming but overwhelming traditional, or ethnic, Europeans, and that therefore the "never again" Europeans had better watch themselves lest they somehow manage to forget the "never" part of that phrase - is a bit helpful.

Kleiman, you listening? (At last I understand the frustration Michelle Malkin's opponents feel when they can't comment on her blog - though, given the horrifying examples of comments she received that led her to disable commenting, I don't blame her, and for all I know, Kleiman has been on the receiving end of similar disgusting displays of pique.) Steyn is, was, and has long been warning Europe that they will be faced with "the cold equations" sooner than they expect: Muslims will soon outnumber ethnic Europeans (forgive the awkward phrase - I'm at a loss for what to call non-Muslim Europeans besides the even more awkward, and less descriptive, "non-Muslim Europeans") if current demographic trends continue, and birth rates among ethnic Europeans and Muslims in Europe and elsewhere pretty much guarantee that current democratic trends will continue. Europe has a history of using genocide as a weapon against "threatening" ethnic groups. It has happened in living memory, not just in the Holocaust but thereafter in Bosnia, as he points out in the passage from the Hitchens interview. Muslims are a potentially "threatening" ethnic group, in that all over Europe, Muslim communities have resisted assimilation and have insisted that they are or should be bound by other rules - sometimes even other laws than the rest of the society in which they live. Some of these rules, and certainly Shari'a law, stand in direct opposition to the Enlightenment values on which European civilization is supposedly based.

Steyn's assertion is that European "civilization" is a veneer. It's an effective, beautiful, and in some ways robust veneer, but he writes and speaks from the standpoint that a veneer is not very thick and is vulnerable to accidental or willful rubbing, and that it didn't take a whole heck of a lot to sand through that veneer to expose the barbarity beneath during World War II, for instance.

He doesn't except the rest of western civilization; he just points out that Europe is in a particularly bad position at present: faced with what it - Europe - has tended to view as an existential threat, with feckless domestic policies that do nothing to address that threat, a populist sense not unlike that which allowed Hitler to come to power in the '30s could again prevail in Europe, and we don't want that.

Are we clear?

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