Thursday, August 23, 2007

Not optional

There's only one man in the world who could, at my advanced age, convince me to have another baby, and he's neither my husband nor that lopsided-lip knowitall naif George Clooney, however popular he is with my set: it's Mark Steyn, humorist commentator and demographic doomsayer. I finally found his America Alone and started it last night. I'm only up to page 59 (Deathly Hallows was like the world's longest sprint while hopped up on goofballs, while this book takes a little more digestion on the way), but I decided on the strength of what I've read so far that I'm going to blog it chapter by chapter.

Beginning with the prologue, and beginning here: "To Be or Not To Be."

Steyn acknowledges the resemblance of his thesis to the many end-of-the-world theses that have been promulgated since, well, the beginning of the world (as he says) - but perhaps I should start with that thesis: that Islamists pose the greatest-ever threat to (in his apt formulation) the community of liberal pluralist democracies, and that demographics alone gives them a significant advantage over the nations that belong to that fraternity. Muslim-majority nations have, across the board, way way higher birth rates than we LPDs (because I wouldn't be a military brat without occasionally introducing a new acronym) have, and most of us, save - wait for it - America alone, are not even close to replacement level. Therefore we'll simply be outpopulated, and the Islamists and their indifferent Muslim counterparts will achieve the Islamist aim of widespread, even global, caliphate without firing a shot. Or many, at any rate.

It's terribly hard to resist launching into a whole lot more on this piece of the topic right now, but I'll try to stick to the prologue, the point of which is the ever-popular "We stand at a crossroads." We do, and I (and many others) have been talking about it since 9/11, when multicultural sensitivity first clashed with the determination of the world's most committed enemies of liberalism on the front pages and the TV news ledes. Yet we continue to muddle through the bogs of fantasy:

All dominant powers are hated - Britain was, and Rome - but they're usually hated for the right reasons. America is hated for every reason. The fanatical Muslims despise America because it's all lap-dancing and gay porn; the secular Europeans despise America because it's all born-again Christians hung up on abortion; the anti-Semites despise America because it's controlled by Jews. Too Jewish, too Christian, too godless, America is George Orwell's Room 101: whatever your bugbear you will find it therein; whatever you're against, America is the prime example of it.

That's one reason why its disparagers have embraced environmentalism. If Washington were a conventional great power [I might say, instead, if it acted like one - ed.], the intellectual class would be arguing that the United States is a threat to France or India or Gabon or some such. But because it's so obviously not that kind of power the world has had to concoct a thesis that the hyperpower is a threat not merely to this or that rinky-dink nation state but to the entire planet, if not the entire galaxy. "We are," warns Al Gore portentously, "altering the balance of energy between our planet and the rest of the universe."

Spoken like a true child of the Crazy Years. Al Gore, I mean. And my Lord, my Lord, I'm reminded of my dear friend who told me, post-9/11, that her most potent fear was that Bush would be reelected in 2004. Here we are, three years on from that dread day, and so far she and her kids continue to live normal liberal lives, probably sporting that puckish little "Oh well, I wasn't using my civil liberties anyway" button I ran across in Dallas.

I also heard a dude on the radio the other day, a caller to the Glenn Beck program, which I seldom hear but usually get a chuckle from when I do, who came across with the usual "You righties are living in fear" line. Uh-huh. No. The analogy that sprang to mind was actually a real event: a wasps' nest outside the door of my work, which happens to be a door children use a lot. I'm not afraid of stinging insects. In fact, there's a ground nest of bees in the lavender in my herb garden, and we live in perfect harmony, the swarms of bees and I. I do, however, realize that wasps can hurt people, that some people actually are in grave danger from stinging insects, and that a door opening and closing in front of the nest all the time might incite the critters to action.

So my choices were (a) to detour everybody to another door, and therefore avoid irritating the wasps, or (b) to remove the nest, at some risk to my skin. I removed the nest - of course. What are we, as a society, as a liberal and, we hope, global community, to do about the Islamist wasps who have built their nest outside our door? Do we avoid them so they don't get stirred up, or do we remove them, taking back possession of our door? Me, I'm for removing them; we built the damn door. (The analogy fails where it comes to Europe, because the nest - of unassimilated, disaffected Muslims - is in the middle of the living room.)

Standard disclaimer: I'm speaking of Islamists, not Muslims: of that minority in the Muslim world that looks forward to and works toward a renewed caliphate in which non-Muslims are dhimmis who exist on suffrance. Those who practice Islam but are committed, by birth or by conversion, so to speak, to the principals of liberal pluralist democracy, are my brothers and sisters as much as anyone else who embraces the principles of the Enlightenment.

Steyn concludes his prologue: "One day the British foreign secretary will wake up and discover that, in practice, there's very little difference between living under Exquisitely Refined Multicultural Sensitivity and sharia." This statement comes after a bunch of examples of Exquisitely Refined Multicultural Sensitivity's capitulation to the unreasonable demands of Islamists: the Danish cartoon "kerfuffle" that resulted in dozens of deaths, Burger King's elimination of squiggly-topped ice cream cones from British menus because they looked too much like the word "Allah," the fact that Muslim inmates at Gitmo are handed complimentary copies of the Koran by gloved soldiers (gloves not being normally part of the Uniform of the Day), such that the U.S. military has tacitly acknowledged and attempted to mitigate its ritual uncleanness to its prisoners and enemies.


Jeremy Klein said...

Steynonline linked to you; wouldn't surprise me if you get a few visits from it. Of course, as a diehard Steynite demographican (with 4 kids, so I've paid my dues!), I agree with your comments for the most part.

The only bit of caution would be on the distinction between 'Islamist' and Muslim. It's true that, thankfully, large numbers of Muslims don't take the Koran seriously. The same could be said for those who style themselves Christians. The problem is what happens when the younger generation decides that Mum and Dad are being hypocritical, telling Junior to diligently study the Koran, but then happily toddling off to their jobs on Wall Street, rubbing elbows with infidels, Jews, and homosexuals right and left with nary a qualm. Next thing you know the youngster has joined the local Sword-of-the-Infidel-Slayer chapter.

When the equivalent epiphany happens in a young person raised in a nominally Christian home, taken to Sunday School in some nice inoffensive, say, Episcopal church that doesn't take anything very seriously, he suddenly decides that perhaps Jesus really meant that bit about having to be born again, doing unto others, and loving your neighbor; and Paul was perhaps serious about trying to persuade men to be reconciled to Christ.

Crazed lefty fantasies about legions of abortion-clinic-bombing Christians aside, who would you rather come upon in a dark alley late in the evening? A group of young men coming out of a Mosque, or a group of men coming out of a Bible study? Pretend it's France, and you're Jewish...

Gahrie said...


I read that book some time back, and it's spot on.

For the last 15 years or so I've been warning people about a demographic problem that Steyn doesn't deal with: the millions of extra men in India and China. Something is going to blow there and soon.

That said, I actually felt guilty when I was through with his book for not raising a family. Seriously.

My only redemption is that there is a guy at work whose wife is pregnant with his 11th (and their second) child. I have thanked him several times for taking up my demographic slack.

Anonymous said...

I like you already! I ended up here since Mark Steyn linked you. MS is the most gifted writer of our century. I wanted to tell you how I came upon this book. Christmas Day 2006. My best friend, a dreadful Lib gave me this book, unbelievably. Christmas morning over, cooking beginning, our whole house in cacaphony, I stole away to read. The couch was askew, wrapping still on the floors,the beautiful Christmas tree hiding me from full view, someone else was going to cook, or so I surmised since I was on the couch reading America Alone. I hardly heard anyone, let alone their jibes. " She can read with the couch facing that way? She won't play crokinole? " I think that gorgeous cold Canadian Christmas Day I got as far as you did. I look forward to your blog discussing this. Funnily, I mentioned this book to my computer technican today. He had no idea of ANY of this. Most people are still in denial. He thought the world was overpopulated. I love when MS says he has become a demographic bore. Cheers Lipstick, looking forward to more on this astounding book. Patz

Jamie said...

Wow, I got a link from Mr. Steyn?? You have made my day, folks! I'm only sorry it took a month for me to revisit my own darn blog.

Cobra said...

Jeremy Klein writes:

>>>"Crazed lefty fantasies about legions of abortion-clinic-bombing Christians aside, who would you rather come upon in a dark alley late in the evening? A group of young men coming out of a Mosque, or a group of men coming out of a Bible study? Pretend it's France, and you're Jewish..."

I feel for you, brother. As an African-American, I think the same things when I make business trips through South Carolina. Some of my Southern cousins have stories about which small, backwater towns I shouldn't wander off the I-85 to get gas from, and I tend to avoid even the highway stops that have a few too many Confederate flags and shotgun racks visible.

As far as American population demographics, it's actually GROWING. There are over 300 Million people in the country now. Perhaps there is a bit of "discomfort" as to WHAT KIND of Americans are increasing in population.

Looks like Mark Steyn is channeling Fox News' John Gibson.


Gahrie said...

Cobra: You mean ILLEGAL ones?

Yes I have a definite problem with the 20 million+ illegal immigrants that are currently boosting our demographics. And if you had actually read steyn's book, you'd understand why.

Cobra said...


Given what I've seen of Steyn from his articles and television appearances, my stomach wouldn't make it through reading his book.
IMHO, Steyn is little more than the next angry old chickenhawk, neo-con "send-poor-people-out-to-bomb-brown-people-while-me-and-my-loved-ones-sit-in-safety-and-watch-my-defense-contractor-stocks-explode" kind of a guy.

Also, I find the "illegal immigrant" issue to simply be a re-visit to the Southern Strategy/anti-Civil Rights movement employed by conservatives effectively for so many years. The enemy isn't African-Americans this time, but Hispanics.

Nobody's complaining about the estimated 1.1 million illegal EUROPEAN immigrants in the US. Oh, no. That isn't sexy enough. You've got to think about Fox News B-Roll of brown skinned Mexicans running in the desert.

That's the ticket!

What I don't understand, is why people don't address the REAL problem...


If there was no DEMAND for illegal immigrant labor, there would be no SUPPLY of illegal immigrants.