In his column yesterday Mark Steyn looked back ten years to the origins of his 2006 Book America Alone.
Ten years ago this month – January 2006 – The Wall Street Journal and The New Criterionpublished my first draft of what would become the thesis of my bestselling book, America Alone. The Journal headline sums it up: “It’s the Demography, Stupid.” [It’s Still the Demography, Stupid by Mark Steyn; SteynOnLine, January 19th, 2016.]
The thesis of the book was that Europe is doomed due to collapsing fertility among the indigenes and mass Muslim immigration, so that the U.S.A. will be left standing alone at last as the sole refuge of Western Civilization.
In light of the recent Great Migrations, Mark more than ever thinks he was right.
It’s the biggest story of our time, and, ten years on, Europe’s leaders still can’t talk about it, not to their own peoples, not honestly. For all the “human rights” complaints, and death threats from halfwits, and subtler rejections from old friends who feel I’m no longer quite respectable, I’m glad I brought it up. And it’s well past time for others to speak out.
Mark’s yesterday column prompted me to look up my review of America Alone, which appeared on the New English Review website in November 2006.
I liked the book a lot. I’ve long been a Steyn fan.
This is a book wonderfully rich with insights, from a writer with a great many interesting things to say about the state of our world. Further, Steyn says those things superbly well, with a imaginatively rococo style that draws its metaphors and allusions from an array of sources that is very wide, and deeper (intellectually, I mean) than it looks at first glance. [Whistling Past the Graveyard by John Derbyshire, New English Review, November 2006.]
It is not the case that beautiful women are wicked and plain ones virtuous. It is the case, though, however unfair it may be, that if a beautiful woman commits an error of judgment, she is much more likely to get away with it than is her ugly sister. Just so with books. A literary and stylistic gem like America Alone might be utterly wrong-headed; but one would be much more reluctant to think so than one would in the case of a dull, clumsily-written book on the same subject. Language is a charmer. If female beauty were removed from the world, in fact, language would be the charmer.
So: Is Steyn right in his analysis? Should we take up his prescriptions? Or does he leave important things unsaid, and offer strategies that have no chance of victory?
Naturally I though Mark had left important things unsaid.
Our only hope, therefore, says Steyn, is in the reform of Islam. Yet this is not ours to do. “Ultimately, only Muslims can reform Islam. All the free world can do is create conditions that increase the likelihood of Muslim reform, or at any rate do not actively impede it.” Steyn goes on to give a list of suggestions: Support women’s rights … Support economic and political liberty … Deny international legitimacy to really bad Muslim regimes … Transform the energy industry (i.e. to reduce our dependency on oil) … “Strike militarily when the opportunity presents itself.”
After the pungent brilliance of the preceding 200 pages, this all falls a bit flat. And in fact, the reader who has traversed those 200 pages has been having different thoughts from the ones Steyn tries to guide him to. For example: Is that original list of options — submit to, destroy, or reform Islam — really exhaustive? How about we just fence it off: Expel our own Muslims, forbid Muslims to enter our countries, proscribe Islam, and deal with Muslim nations commercially at arm’s length? (They have to sell their oil to someone, or else starve.) Such actions are, of course, way over the line of politically acceptable discourse today; but in five or ten years, after a couple more jihadist atrocities, they will not be.
. . . .
For all his splendid conservative credentials, Mark Steyn has tendencies towards root-causes liberalism. He takes me to task at one point:
Wearying of what he regards as the deluded idealism of the liberty-touting Bush doctrine, National Review‘s John Derbyshire began promoting the slogan “Rubble Doesn’t Cause Trouble.” Cute, and I wish him well with the T-shirt sales. But in arguing for a “realist” foreign policy of long-range bombing as necessary, he overlooks the very obvious point that rubble causes quite a lot of trouble: the rubble of Bosnia is directly responsible for radicalizing a generation of European Muslims … the rubble of Afghanistan became an international terrorist training camp … the rubble of Grozny turned Chechen nationalists into pan-Islamic jihadi …
Ah, but Mark, there is rubble, and there is rubble. Of the 13th-century Mongol horde it was said that when they had once bestowed their attentions on a city, you could afterwards ride over the place where that city had stood without your horse stumbling
. . . .
Remember those photographs of mid-1945 Berlin, fragments of broken wall sticking up out of vast drifts and dunes of pulverized masonry? Now that’s rubble.
Oh, and we won that war.
Ten years on, the truly surprising thing is how little awakening there has been. Of the Muslim immivasion, as Mark wrote yesterday: “Europe’s leaders still can’t talk about it, not to their own peoples, not honestly.”
The delusions of multiculturalism and “diversity” have proved to have a stronger hold on the Western mind than either I or Mark expected. Look at my optimistically saying “but in five or ten years . . . .” Here we are ten years later.
And the immivasion itself has to some degree made honestly more difficult. There are now huge entrenched Muslim enclaves in all West European nations. Any European politician who spoke as bluntly as I did— “Expel our own Muslims, forbid Muslims to enter our countries, proscribe Islam . . .”—or even, like Mark, in somewhat gentler tones, would face major civil unrest.
It’s a parallel situation to the one Christopher Caldwell described in Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: “One moves swiftly and imperceptibly from a world in which affirmative action can’t be ended because its beneficiaries are too weak to a world in which it can’t be ended because its beneficiaries are too strong.”
In the last ten years we have moved decisively from a Europe in which mass Muslim immigration can’t be criticized because it would be unkind to offend a weak minority, to a Europe in which it can’t be criticized because Muslim power over too many of Europe’s cities is too strong.
What about the other half of Mark’s 2006 thesis: that the U.S.A. will be left alone holding up the banner of Western Civ.?
It seems to me that the situation has deteriorated both here and in Europe; but it has deteriorated much more in Europe, especially since the events of last year.
On the other hand, we may be looking at a the-worse-the-better process. There are now organized political parties in the major European nations, with double-digit poll numbers, speaking up for the interests of the legacy populations. There is no such party in the U.S.A.
The next ten years will be very interesting.