Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Mark Steyn discusses his book America Alone -- which is still, 17 months after its publication, ranked #531 on Amazon -- and whether it is "alarmist" in an essay in Maclean's. I thought this bit was particularly good:
Okay, enough already. I get the picture: alarmist, alarmist, alarmist. My book's thesis — that most of the Western world is on course to become at least semi-Islamic in its political and cultural disposition within a very short time — is "alarmist."
The question then arises: fair enough, guys, what would it take to alarm you? The other day, in a characteristically clotted speech followed by a rather more careless BBC interview, the Archbishop of Canterbury said that it was dangerous to have one law for everyone and that the introduction of sharia — Islamic law — to the United Kingdom was "inevitable." No alarm bells going off yet? Can't say I blame you. After all, de facto creeping sharia is well established in the Western world. Last week, the British and Ontario governments confirmed within days of each other that thousands of polygamous men in their jurisdictions receive welfare payments for each of their wives. Still no alarm bells? I see female Muslim medical students in British hospitals are refusing to comply with hygiene procedures on the grounds that scrubbing requires them to bare their arms, which is un-Islamic. Would it be alarmist to bring that up — say, the day before your operation?
Sharia in Britain? Taxpayer-subsidized polygamy in Toronto? Yawn. Nothing to see here. True, if you'd suggested such things on Sept. 10, 2001, most Britons and Canadians would have said you were nuts. But a few years on and it doesn't seem such a big deal, and nor will the next concession, and the one after that. It's hard to deliver a wake-up call for a civilization so determined to smother the alarm clock in the soft fluffy pillow of multiculturalism and sleep in for another 10 years. The folks who call my book "alarmist" accept that the Western world is growing more Muslim (Canada's Muslim population has doubled in the last 10 years), but they deny that this population trend has any significant societal consequences. Sharia mortgages? Sure. Polygamy? Whatever. Honour killings? Well, okay, but only a few. The assumption that you can hop on the Sharia Express and just ride a couple of stops is one almighty leap of faith. More to the point, who are you relying on to "hold the line"? Influential figures like the Archbishop of Canterbury? The bureaucrats at Ontario Social Services? The Western world is not run by fellows noted for their line-holding: look at what they're conceding now and then try to figure out what they'll be conceding in five years' time.
The other night at dinner, I found myself sitting next to a Middle Eastern Muslim lady of a certain age. And the conversation went as it often does when you're with Muslim women who were at college in the sixties, seventies or eighties. In this case, my dining companion had just been at a conference on "women's issues," of which there are many in the Muslim world, and she was struck by the phrase used by the "moderate Muslim" chair of the meeting: "authentic women" — by which she meant women wearing hijabs. And my friend pointed out that when she and her unveiled pals had been in their 20s they were the "authentic women": the covering routine was for old village biddies, the Islamic equivalent of gnarled Russian babushkas. It would never have occurred to her that the assumptions of her generation would prove to be off by 180 degrees — that in middle age she would see young Muslim women wearing a garb largely alien to their tradition not just in the Middle East but in Brussels and London and Montreal. If you had said to her in 1968 that Westernized Muslim women working in British hospitals in the early 21st century would reject modern hygiene because it required them to bare their arms, she would have scoffed with the certainty of one who assumes that history moves in only one direction.
Compared to Europe's immigration issues, ours are, well, intramural.
My review of America Alone is here. Among other subjects, it quotes Ralph Peters on the durability of European pacifism:
Yet Europe is likely to be good for a number of surprises - surprising not least to Europeans themselves. With our short historical memory (one American quality Germans welcome), we thoughtlessly accept that, since much of Europe appears to be pacifist now, so it shall remain. But no continent has exported as much misery and slaughter as Europe has done, and the chances are better than fair that Europe is only catching its breath after the calamities it inflicted upon itself in the last century.
We last saw widespread pacifism in Europe just before 1914 and again during the half-time break in that great European civil war that lasted until 1945 (or 1991 east of the Elbe).
Europe's current round of playing pacifist dress up was enabled by America's protection during the Cold War. We allowed our European wards to get away with a minimum number of chores. The United States did (and still does) the dirty work, seconded by our direct ancestor, Britain. Even the North Atlantic Treaty Organization merely obscured how little was asked of Europe. For almost a century the work of freedom and global security has been handled by the great Anglolateral alliance born of a struggle against the tyranny of continental European philosophies hatched on the Rhine and Danube. Our struggle continues today, against fanaticism and terror.
It is unlikely that Europe's present pacifism will last... Europe will rediscover its genius, reforming itself if necessary. There will be plenty of bitterness and recriminations along the way, but Europe will accept the need to change because change will be forced upon it. The trouble with European genius, of course, is that it has a dark side. If its racist populations feel sufficiently threatened by the Muslim millions within their divided societies and by terror exported from the Islamic heartlands, Europe may respond with a cruelty unimaginable to us today. After all, Europe is the continent that mastered ethnic cleansing and genocide after a thousand years of pactice. We Americans may find ourselves in the unexpected
position of confronting the Europe of tomorrow as we try to restrain its barbarities toward Muslims.
I suspect he is wrong, that the cultural connection with Europe's violent past died, finally, with the last destruction of Germany and the full revelation of the Third Reich's horrors. The counterargument is, of course, Serbia.
CWCID: Glenn Reynolds.
So, there's "The German Question"...finally solved, it seems. But is that the totality of European violence? Or merely its most recent, and therefore its most extreme manifestation?
In your review you said "But no continent has exported as much misery and slaughter as Europe has done".
Key word is "export". Of the European powers...the smallest "exporter" (aka colonial power) among them was Germany.
It's one thing if the Europeans want to duke it out every few decades in their backyard. Problem is, they *all* wanted to have nice little Empires too. And, naturally, their little squabbles splilled over into those Empires...and involved the rest of the world.
I suspect he is wrong, that the cultural connection with Europe's violent past died, finally, with the last destruction of Germany and the full revelation of the Third Reich's horrors.
History can be safely ignored now, huh? The history of Germanic tribes roasting their victims in cages, Franco tribes ritually dismembering their victims before cheering throngs, centuries of war wiping out whole populations, the treachery and tyranny of Napoleon and the answering treachery of Britain’s changeable "Allies", the entire twentieth century, all gone. Now, it's different because the horrors of post WW2 revelations have shamed us all into behaving.
I'm not enough of an history student to respond to this post as it deserves, and the "idea" of a federal Europe seems to lack enough of a pacifying constitutional structure to make it real enough to help contain the old instincts of many of these individual countries.
Does Claire Berlinski ever post here? She might have something interesting to say on this subject.
My entire instinct screams out that history will always be repeated, and if one had to bet, I'd want to place my safety and security in the hands of those arguing that Europe's countries and populations will indeed only take so much and no more from Muslim immigrant groups before responding violently.
Europe isn't one single state or culture, that should be remembered.
Besides, human nature is the same on both sides of the Pond: there's no reason the think that Americans would be incapable of barbarism,
Violence is a game for young men. It will be quite difficult for the geezers of Europe to kick out or kill the younger population of Muslims, even if there is a drastic change in attitude. That's why it's so important to take some steps to curb the forthcoming disaster before it's too late.
Why is it that only countries dominated by white people allow massive immigration of ethnically and culturally foreign groups? Even in other countries that are undergoing drastic demographic decline (Japan), you don't see the importation of large numbers of foreigners. I know that many people believe that people of European descent are uniquely evil; I think they are uniquely stupid.
I've been alarmed since 1979. Mostly I was alarmed at how "measured" our response was. Daniel Pipes convinced me early on that there was a problem. Here's an early Pipes alarmist article.
Europe is not really that different from us. We both have something good going that we take for granted. We've both been under threat for years and we haven't done anything about it. The immigration argument highlights some of the dangers facing us. The cultural attributes of our country that have made us successful are not proof against dilution. No one knows for sure what the secret of our success has been and how easily that process might be broken.
I don't really expect a European backlash. I expect there will be a gradual Islamification process caused by tolerance of fundamentalism and polygamy, and the consequent impoverishment and educational marginalization of young men. Radicals will impose their utopian cures on other Muslims, and eventually on everyone. The population growth differential will insure that the dysfunctional memes will spread.
No one said that Americans are incapable of barbarism. We are quite capable; ask the Japanese.
I disagree that the Europeans are incapable. They were capable of the mass slaughter of WWII after the "war to end all wars." When they are sufficiently provoked, they will respond. Europeans have proven far more xenophobic in the past than we were, and I suspect that those sentiments are buried in a very shallow grave.
The Islamists will have to boil the pot very slowly to avoid a fatal provocation. I doubt that they are capable of such subtlety.
Most European nations are incapable of defending themselves. Because they believe that their own nations, cultures, values, and traditions are evil, fatally flawed, built on evil, and inferior to that of foreign, mostly Muslim peoples and values and cultures.
This is the result of most European nations losing lots of wars, and being shown irrelevant in world affairs as the USSR and America shoved them aside and put leashes on them.
Denmark is likely to kick most of the Muslims out or demand that they follow Western standards. Because Denmark "won" it's resistance to Nazi Germany (or thought they won, same thing) and lacking massive colonial defeats did not internalize defeat after defeat as representing the flawed/evil nature of their culture.
Britain, France, Italy, and Spain have all "lost" wars and colonies and don't believe their nations and culture deserve defending. Thus -- they'll surrender as Britain already has.
Steyn is right, America is alone. And even here Obama represents the feeling that America is inherently evil and must "surrender" to the Third World in values and cultures and especially symbolizing that military defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
What is our cultural heritage, and what do we owe to our posterity?
These things are written in books, but if the books are never opened and read, they might as well not exist.
How strongly do our children believe in them? Will they fight for the Rule of Law, Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the rest of our freedoms enshrined in our Constitution? Will they "fight" for anything?
The pop-culture is the key. When we start seeing popular movies and other entertainment praising the "other", and especially the values of the "other" (listed above in the extended quote from Steyn's book) over that which we hold sacrosanct and "self -evident", then we know that we have lost. That's what scares me. When we see that, it will be too late.
I travel to Europe regularly (France), and what they do to their civil society troubles me not. But I fail to see the value or praiseworthiness of the "self-identified" virtues in their culture that are leading to their inevitable collapse. Multiculturalism, not multi-ethnicity, is a ticket to the lowest common denominator in values, until a strong monoculture emerges to dominate. And it will.
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. That's my monoculture.