Thursday, November 29, 2007

Not optional, Chapter TWo

That's me, the once-a-month blogger... I'm burning the candle at both ends and at various places along its length, so this is the best I can do right now. But it's certainly got to be time to return to Mark Steyn.

When last we spoke of Mr. Steyn, the subject was the out-populating of western pluralist liberals such as myself by adamantly non-pluralist illiberal groups. Chapter Two, entitled "Going...Going....Gone," Steyn's argument is that to believe with all your might that the unassimilated and fertile young will one day take up their (ahem) cross and support you in your age is to ignore the obvious. The Spanish election results in March 2003 clearly marked the Spanish populace's position: as Steyn puts it, "We apologize for catching your eye." That Theo van Gogh could be brutally murdered in the street and the outcry concerning the culturally insensitive subjects of his movie-making could actually be used, if not to justify, then at least to rationalize the manner of his death - farce. Let me quote a paragraph in its entirety:

In June 2006, a fifty-four-year-old Flemish train conductor called Guido Demoor got on the number 23 bus in Antwerp to go to work. Six - what's that word again? - "youths" boarded the bus and commenced intimidating the other riders. There were some forty passengers aboard. But the "youths" were youthful and the other passengers less so. Nonetheless, Mr. Demoor asked the lads to cut it out and so they turned on him, thumping and kicking him. Of those forty other passengers, none intervened to help the man under attack. Instead, at the next stop, thirty of the forty scrammed, leaving Mr. Demoor to be beaten to death. Three "youths" were arrested, and proved to be - quelle surprise! - of Moroccan origin. The ringleader escaped and, despite police assurances of complete confidentiality, of those forty passengers only four came forward to speak to investigators. "You see what happens if you intervene," a fellow rail worker told the Belgian newspaper De Morgen. "If Guido had not opened his mouth he would still be alive."

Wait - I've got to include two more sentences:

No, he wouldn't. He would be as dead as those forty passengers are, as the Belgian state is, keeping his head down, trying not to make eye contact, cowering behind his newspaper in the corner seat and hoping just to be left alone.

The so-inclined reader will no doubt glom onto that first paragraph as "further" "evidence" of racism by a non-voting Rethug. But that's not it at all. The point Steyn makes is that "youths" are young; their victims, or their neighbors if they're just ordinary "youths" rather than violent criminals, are older. As he notes, the ten percent of France that is Muslim is significantly skewed younger (more like 45% of the under-twenty crowd in the major cities), which makes cultural assimilation absolutely vital to the future of French society as it is generally understood. Let me say it another way, to be utterly clear: I don't give a hoot whether 45%, or 65%, of all of France visits a mosque rather than a church or synagogue (or, more likely, a café), and their country of origin is even less important, provided that that 45% (or 65%) buys into the kernel of Western civilization that makes us liberal and pluralist: individual, natural rights that are only affirmed, not granted, by government.

1 comment:

Gahrie said...

I'm actually teaching my 8th graders about the writing and ratification of the Constitution right now.

I get all "Mr. Grover" on them about how important it is to realize that they don't get their rights and freedoms from the government, that they are born with them.

I've even told them that if this is all they understand and remember from 8th Grade Social Studies, I'll be happy.

I have to say though, it's tough trying to teach 8th graders about the state of nature, and Locke; about the difference between democracy and republicanism, about the consent of the governed.

There are a couple who are paying attention, and do get it, and their government teachers are in for a treat in four years, especially if they don't know their stuff.

We've parsed the preamble, and tomorrow I'm going to attempt to read Federalist #10 with them.