Mark Steyn takes on the world

41633006 f90338f6e0There is something in this sprawling Mark Steyn essay to fire up just about anyone. I realize that this is off the normal GetReligion path, but there are the hooks of major news stories — many rarely covered — throughout the text.

I think you’ll make it all the way through if you manage to hang on to the roller coaster until the BBC interview and Steyn’s remark: “Hmm. Lady Kennedy was arguing that our tolerance of our own tolerance is making us intolerant of other people’s intolerance, which is intolerable.”

Of course, please note the role that religion plays in this epic, which ran in the Wall Street Journal under the headline “It’s the Demography, Stupid: The real reason the West is in danger of extinction.” It does appear that making more than 2.1 babies in a lifetime is linked, somehow, to traditional religious faith.

Enjoy! Or enjoy hating it.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Matthew M.

    Here’s a ghost I noticed: His discussion of environmentalist pronouncements of the “end of the world within thirty years” strongly reminded me of the various false prophecies of the literal end of the world over the past few decades in Christian circles.
    Very interesting article.

  • http://BUSY Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Steyn’s article says what some–very few of us–traditional Catholics have been saying since Pope Paul VI many years ago issued his great and perceptive encyclical called Humanae Vitae. Even many in the Church excoriated and derided him. Yet, now it looks like someone we Catholics call the Holy Spirit was whispering in his ear to tell the world and the Catholic Left-in essence:: “Choose Life” (as the Bible enjoins) or you will die.
    Almost 4 years ago Patrick Buchanan’s book “The Death of the West” (by virtual self-genocide)was published and promptly ignored by the mainstream media.(The mainstream media being among the biggest cheerleaders for the West’s and America’s forced march to demographic oblivion.)
    As the father of 4 I sometimes wish that Social Security payments should be based on number of children one has put financial, emotional, and sweat equity into raising (since the collapse of social security will come about from there being too few young workers). Why shouldn’t I get 4 times the SS as someone who opted to put all his energy into traveling or a Swiss Chalet at Lake Tahoe instead of raising members of the next generation who are needed to do the work so old-timers can retire comnfortably.

  • dk

    Why this sort of obvious stuff is rare and controversial indicates how pathological the culture has become. See also the lastest issue of FT on “Jewish Babies.”

  • Avram

    To what extent is “traditional religious faith” synonymous with “denial of women’s rights”? They both correlate strongly with high birth rates. And if we’re talking (as Steyn is) about jihadist Islam, well, it’d be tough to come up with a faith or culture that treats women worse than the Muslim far right.

  • Mulopwepaul

    “[I}t’d be tough to come up with a faith or culture that treats women worse than the Muslim far right.”

    Please review for me the leaders of the Muslim left or centre.


  • tmatt

    That would be the “secularists” that the US loves so dearly.


  • Avram

    Mulopwepaul, could you provide some context for your request? What exactly do you mean by “leaders”, and why are you asking?

  • Charming Billy

    I ask this as someone incapable of balancing my checkbook. Is there anyone out there who finds a problem with the way Steyn does his numbers in the article? Furthermore since he’s dealing here with “lies, damn lies, and statistics” beyond my ken, are there any statisticians or non ideological sociologists and historians reading this who can explain why these numbers don’t necessarily predict the inevitable decline of European populations? Like I said, I have trouble with basic arithmetic, but I’m aware that making demographic predictions is often fraught with peril. Are there variables that Steyn isn’t taking into account that might make a less self assured investigator tentative about predicting the end of Europe?

    As for myself, I’m inclined to think Steyn’s onto something here. Unfortunately, however, owing to the MSM’s silence on this issue, there’s a dearth of pro and con discussion about it.

  • Daniel

    Isn’t he just lining up with Maggie Gallagher and Stanley Kurtz in the “where are all the white people” meme?

    I also think there is some debate whether faith plays a role in how many children you have. While Catholics and Mormons may have more children, there is some data to suggest that the Evangelical birth rate is more tied to class than religion. The poorer you are, the more children you have. The wealthier you are, the fewer children you have. Just as divorce among Evangelicals is correlated to class, so it appears is fertility.

  • Jody Bilyeu

    All Steyn says may be true, although he doesn’t seem credible, but I have no despair at all for anything I esteem about my civilization or my people. Any part of it which can only prosper by winning an ethnicity-driven birth rate race is a paltry thing, and deserves to die.

    Western civilization (rational, humanistic, civil, liberal, educated) has never had a problem disseminating itself across ethnic, cultural, or religious lines, and it never will, unless it follows Steyn’s lead and redefines itself along those lines. I’m confident it won’t make that mistake; if it does, it won’t be Western civilization anymore, in which case, who needs it?

    The developmental throes of Western cultures and religions brought them through all the things Steyn fears about Islamist culture. Islamism, which after all can only define itself in the context of its relationship with the West, will do the same, unless the West crosses over in the meantime by taking Steyn’s advice and stealing some plays from the Islamists’ playbook, with regard to will to destruction and so forth.

    And of course from a spiritual perspective, what Steyn says, including the assumptions behind and the attitude before, is horribly wrong, terrifying and sad. But he’s manifestly not making any spiritual claims in the essay, so maybe it’s not fair to judge it in that regard.

  • shane wilkins

    It seems to me that Steyn is a bit too apocalyptic in his tone. Charming Billy noted, this is in the vein of ‘lies, damn lies, and statistics’. Something that neither Steyn nor anybody else who I’ve seen writing along these lines discusses is whether or not the birth rate of second and third generation immigrant children remains as high as their mother’s and grandmothers. Steyn’s projected arabization of europe seems to depend on all of the muslim immigrants and all of their descendents continuing to have 6, 7 or 8 children. this seems quite unlikely to me. My guess is that by the third generation, muslim women have identical birth rates with the white women. This is just a hypothesis, because I haven’t been able to find any solid demographics yet.

    It should also be noted that Steyn never seems to give a persuasive argument for why ‘cradle to grave’ social welfare leads to a lower birth rate, (or why having a larger military budget correlates to a higher birth rate.) I’d think that a strong social welfare system would actually encourage people to have more babies. I don’t think Steyn really has an argument here, just a scary hypothetical situation based on some questionable statistical inferences.

    shane wilkins

  • shane wilkins

    sorry, forgot to turn off the italics

  • Will

    “Intolerance being, ma’m, a state
    “No tolerant man can tolerate!

    Phyllis McGinley

  • dk

    “All Steyn says may be true, although he doesn’t seem credible…” Why not? It seems to me that this sort of retort really means “I can find no logical refutation, but I dislike the concclusion, so I’m going to call the author’s credibility ‘suspect.’”

    Jody then goes on to offer a contrary speculation:

    “Western civilization (rational, humanistic, civil, liberal, educated) has never had a problem disseminating itself across ethnic, cultural, or religious lines,”

    True in the past, and it is a bloody, nefarious history of imperial, colonial dissemination. Awareness of this fuels the default nihilism Steyn is discussing.

    “…and it never will [have a problem disseminating itself], unless it follows Steyn’s lead and redefines itself along those [natalist] lines. I’m confident it won’t make that mistake; if it does, it won’t be Western civilization anymore, in which case, who needs it?”

    There is no civilizational “it” that makes “decisions” and acts as one. Steyn suggests those hell-bent on dying off will do so, and the rest will take their place. He says nothing about whether big western families today will see successive generations peter out or not. But the more interesting assumption from Jody is that a civilization’s continuity is somehow “worthless” if it is bolstered up by mere numbers. As if hundreds of millions of people would just be sitting around doing nothing of value except crowding out prospective immigrants?

    Similarly, Shane finds Steyn “too apocalyptic in his tone.” So “tone” has become a logical flaw? How should one present probably inexorable population decline as anything but a cultural “apocalypse”–its last end?

    There is nothing wrong with his numbers, and the math is so simple, a child of 3 can understand it. These kinds of trends can change radically, but they seldom do–in a positive direction. It is telling that a default attitude of denial and a desire to discredit and disbelieve follows so easily from the most blatant example of an undeniable reality check.

  • Brad

    I’m reading a book on this subject right now, applied specifically to Europe, called “The Cube and the Cathedral” by George Weigel (Pope JPII’s biographer and a Catholic theologian).

    It’s a very interesting subject! No doubt the debates about whether or not the West is dying and, if so, what the causes are, can go on forever (although, certainly judging by the birth rates, the question of whether or not the civilizations as we have known them are dying is one of simple math).


  • Harris

    There is in Steyn the ideology of a “feminized” West v. the “masculine” (mid)East. That vision, as others have pointed out, depends on the current state continuing. But will it? Last week’s article about Muslim women in Europe ( suggests that things may be just a little more complicated.

    As to the loss of Western civilization … there is a despair there, but is solely on one side? Steyn’s own cynicism, I think, betrays him.

  • Bartholomew

    But the more interesting assumption from Jody is that a civilization’s continuity is somehow “worthless” if it is bolstered up by mere numbers.

    But Jody’s right – and the irony is that Steyn detests the very things about the West which make it stronger than Islamist ideology. The environmental consequences of global overpopulation don’t look good, so he mocks scientists. I also note from elsewhere that he supports ID creationism over evolutionary biology. Steyn puts ideology before science, and his well-known views on Guatanamo Bay and such show that he’s not much of a fan of accountable government, either.

    And does Steyn really address why the birth-rate is becoming lower, besides assuming that it must be because of liberal vice? He mentions “yuppies” in passing, but he can’t make too much of that, since the yuppies were the creation of Thatcher and Reagan. But he may be on to something, nevertheless – to what extent do the uncertainties of social and career mobility make younger people less willing to get saddled with children? Especially when they’ve had years of propaganda about how teenage pregnancy will destroy their chances in life by making them less attractive to employers?

  • shane wilkins

    dk, Steyn’s article is not a ‘reality check’; it is an extended example of poor statistical thinking and unsupported assertions of a conservative political agenda relying on fear rather than reasoned argumentation.

    suppose i told you that the remaining space in american landfills is decreasing by %45 a year. If you wrote an article about this fact claiming that the united states will soon by overrun by trash and that within our lifetime, civilization as we know it will come to an end, smothered under a mountain of our own filth, I would tell you that you had written in ‘too apocalyptic a tone’, meaning, “You have illegitimately assumed a whole set of negative social consequences based on one statistic which you don’t really even seem to understand very well. You are too worried about being a doomsayer to try to think through the problem.”

    Apocalypticism relies on fear. Steyn has one interesting fact: first generation immigrants have a much higher birth rate than the native european population. From this he ‘reasons’ that “there won’t be an Italy” by 2035 (or whenever). Europe is doomed . . . so (let’s read the subtext) you should vote for more military and less social security . . . to raise the birth rate in north america so the arabs won’t take over. excuse me, how is that supposed to follow? This is the logical flaw in Steyn’s argument, namely that there isn’t a logical argument to speak of, just a set of apocalyptic assertions. Steyn appeals to your fear of muslims to support a conservative political agenda.

    Now, on to the flaw in his statistical inference. Just because first generation immigrant women have a much higher birth rate does not assume that their children will have such a birth rate. Steyn’s numbers seem to assume that all muslim immigrants and their children will continue to outbreed the native europeans 3 or 4 to one. There is no argument given for this inference and certainly no statistics cited to prove it. It seems highly dubious to me. Steyn never asks: Why do european women have low birthrates? My guess is because they want to put off having children until they finish getting their degrees/have climbed a few rungs on the corporate ladder. Why would second and third generation muslim women, in the same society and the same situation not want to do the same? Their immigrant fathers can’t force them to have 8 children, this is Paris, not Tehran we’re talking about.

    But why does Steyn never discuss this question? Because it would make the future less dire, less terrible–ok maybe there still will be an italy in 2030–and then you might vote to keep social security. In short, Steyn hopes that you will think that “There is nothing wrong with his numbers, and the math is so simple, a child of 3 can understand it”, but it isn’t the case, because there is no consideration of why that math is appropriate.

    So, in short, DK missed the two fatal flaws of Steyn’s article which i had already gestured towards in the first post and have now explained more expansively. Now to turn to DK’s own post,
    which accuses me and some others of willfully ignoring the sage insights of Steyn, “It is telling that a default attitude of denial and a desire to discredit and disbelieve follows so easily from the most blatant example of an undeniable reality check.”

    What blatant example of an undeniable reality check? It is one of the oldest tricks in the conservative politico playbook to pretend that you are a hardnosed realist, just telling it the way it is. In truth, I don’t think Steyn is any such thing. Who is to say that the majority of muslim immigrants (or more crucially, their children and grandchildren) are not assimilating into their new culture?

    Does the crisis in the suburbs of paris (riots by second and third generation muslims) prove that all muslims are violent by nature and want to impose shar’ia on Europe? No. No more than the riots in LA prove that all poor black people in Los Angeles are inherently violent and want to overthrow white society. The situations seem roughly analogous to me. Steyn never why the riots happened in the first place. He simply assumes that all the muslims are inherently violent, irrational jihadis.

    But what if they aren’t? It seems to me that the problems that caused the Paris riots are poor housing, lack of education, and ethnic discrimination. How would Steyn’s political proposals (getting rid of social security and spending more money on the military) solve that problem? How is fearing muslims going to help us to figure out how to assimilate them better into our society?


    p.s. ‘probably inexorable’ is an oxymoron. There is nothing inexorable in human life.

  • Steve Griffin

    Shane Wilkins: “I’d think that a strong social welfare system would actually encourage people to have more babies.”

    Holy smoke, I’m glad it wasn’t a conservative who said that…

  • Michel

    “it is an extended example of poor statistical thinking and unsupported assertions of a conservative political agenda relying on fear rather than reasoned argumentation.”

    Isn’t it a pretty good indication that we are not on the path to reasoned argumentation when you have to start by attributing everything to motives of the person you are attacking?

    “Why would second and third generation Muslim women, in the same society and the same situation not want to do the same?”

    Would be a nice point except that recent events suggest that Muslim women in Paris are not, in fact, in the same situation. See, for example:

    “So, in short, DK missed the two fatal flaws of Steyn’s article which I had already gestured towards”

    The problem, as pointed out nicely previously, is that all you did was “gesture towards”. If you have actual figures to cite, actual logical errors to show us, please, let’s see them. But for now all you keep doing is repeating “seems dubious to me” over and over again.

    I’m not convinced by Steyn myself but I can’t help but notice that none of the above posts against contains anything that even remotely resembles a substantive argument. Does anyone here have an actual argument against Steyn?


  • Michel

    One more thing, Shane writes;

    “Steyn has one interesting fact: first generation immigrants have a much higher birth rate than the native european population.”

    There is a tad more to it than that. It is also the case that not only is the birth rate among native Europeans lower than first generation immigrants, it is also substantially below the replacement rate.

    It seems to me that there is really only one avenue open to counter Steyn’s claim and that is to make a case, as one person suggested above, that western ideas about tolerance can be more successfully transmitted through acculteration as has been done in the past. But “acculturation” is just a polite way of saying “assimilation” and we have spent much of the last decades decrying assimilation as just another form of intolerance.


  • holmegm

    >Isn’t he just lining up with Maggie Gallagher and
    >Stanley Kurtz in the “where are all the white
    >people” meme?

    Um, that’s not what Gallagher and Kurtz say at all. That’s the convenient accusation of racism that is flung at them.

  • shane

    michel, i think you have the burden of proof backwards. the responsibility lies on steyn to make a persuasive argument, not on me to refute unargued assertions. I don’t have to have the statistics in hand to prove that steyn’s numbers are wrong to tell point out that he hasn’t given me any reason to think that he is right. it seems dubious to me that third generation immigrant women would have the same birth rates as their grandmothers, and since that is a crucial link in steyn’s article, you would think that he would try to convince me that it is the case. But he doesn’t.

    I would also like to point out that ‘relying on fear rather than arguments’ is a logical fallacy.

    my criticisms of steyn’s article do not rely upon any sort of judgment about what his personal motives are (though he seems pretty open about what those are), but rather upon the arguments he presents (or lack thereof). if you think i am wrong, please spell it out for me. show me a valid argument which moves from this premise:

    “white European women have a lower birth rate than first generation immigrant women.”

    to any of steyn’s conclusions: “European society will no longer exist by 2035″; “social welfare systems are bad”; etc.

    For a more extended version of my criticisms Steyn’s article, see my blog, which should be linked through the html tag on my name.

    I found the article you linked interesting because it makes some claims that seem to support my point rather than steyn’s: “What is striking is that the third generation – and this applies equally in Germany – are often less well integrated than their grandparents. And forty percent of these young people between 16 and 25 are unemployed..” How can they be well integrated if the government social welfare system is not taking care of them? How can french muslim women have a higher quality of life if the french police do not protect them from the male violence of their neighborhoods? Isn’t the answer here more government, not less? What about the movement “ni putes ni soumise”, isn’t that precisely a sign of the europization of the second and third generation muslim women?

    More to the point, the burning questions in my mind is whether the women of ‘ni putes ni soumise’ representative of the larger european female muslim community and how many children they plan on having. I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure Mark Steyn doesn’t either. Or at least his article doesn’t give me any reason to think that he does.


  • Fred

    The drama of the title seems to push readers into immediate wholesale acceptance or rejection. The truth likely lies somewhere less than that. A large migration into any country has had an impact on that society. In the past immigrants were forced to adapt, kowtow to the reigning culture and adopt it. Even with this absorbtion over time they still changed the larger social and political environment. How much more today when the immigrant is not only not forced to acculturate but is encouraged not to, has a culture radically different from the host, has come in in large numbers, and has a higher birth rate. The US is also changing with the Hispanic influx, but they carry the Christian culture with them, so the cultural differences are mitigated. We continue to grow but as a relatively homogeneous culture, not so Europe. The question is not whether Europe will change, but how much and in which direction. Do the naysayers really believe the Muslims will have no impact on Europe?

  • Michel

    “it seems dubious to me that third generation immigrant women would have the same birth rates as their grandmothers, and since that is a crucial link in steyn’s article, you would think that he would try to convince me that it is the case.”

    Is it? Don’t you think the point that European natives have a birth rate below the replacement rate is more important? I mean, even if Islamic immigrants stopped moving to Europe tommorrow and every current Muslim resident decamped to Borneo, it would not change the end result of that trend would it?

    And are you sure that Steyn’s point is that Europe will be overwhelmed by Muslim hordes? It seems to me that his basic point is that people who really believe in the truth of their culture are more likely to succeed in preserving that culture.


  • Steve Nicoloso

    So the question is: how big a fraction of hordes of Muslims arriving, or awaiting birth, in mortally tolerant Western Europe will be “converted” into (for lack of a better term) nice white, upwardly mobile, secularists? I don’t know but I have my doubts that enough will “convert”. How many of the 7/7 bombers were British-born? How many of Paris’ suburban rioters were French-born?

    Secularism only works for a while and only among groups who bow to secularism. It is inherently unstable, for the only way it can promise peace among various competing ideologies based upon transcendent (non-negotiable) goods, is to rule with an iron fist and thus become itself just another ideology based on a transcendant, non-negotiable good, viz., you all just better get along… or ELSE. And it is the “or ELSE” that secularists simply cannot stomach.

  • Jody Bilyeu

    dk, Steyn’s credibility gap subsists in his gross indulgence in chaos rhetoric, and his reliance on sweeping alarmist generalizations bolstered by dicey demographic/scientific projections, a tactic he himself disparages in others. The very fact that those numbers are designed to be understood by 3-year-olds calls them into suspicion. Just as he uses his own set of alarmist projections to counter the alarmist projections of others, he appears to think he can best counter liberal demagogues by becoming a conservative one. In short, he comes off like an idealogue, and I don’t trust idealogues.

    You mis-bracketed me. Steyn’s major mistake is not redefining the civilization along natalist lines, but along “ethnic, cultural, and religious” ones. The civilization that matters, the one worth keeping, transcends those definers.

    A civilization that is “rational, humanistic, civil, liberal, educated” disseminates itself by conquest only incidentally, under the very terms of that (very brief and inadequate, sorry) definition. Conquest, by contrast, is occasioned by a quite different set of motives–witness the absurd contradiction in Christianity’s bouts with conversion by the sword–and is a disorder that every civilization is prone to at certain stages. That doesn’t mean that empire is a cost of Christianity, for instance, it means Christendom was once run by greedy, power-hungry, ethno-centric morons, who remind me a lot, in their rhetoric and tactics, of today’s suicide bombers. We should always oppose those f—ers, by force if necessary, whether they’re found abroad or in our midst.

    Steyn’s other main error, and I took this to be a logical refutation, is to assume that other cultures won’t come through the same stages we, whitey, have, and in much the same fashion, including by way of lowering their birthrate after a few generations in modernity. One irony is that whitey probably once said the same thing about Steyn’s immigrant ancestors that he’s saying about muslims.

    I don’t think they’ll outnumber us (whoever “they” are), and if “they” do, who cares, if by the time “they” do, “they” have become “rational, humanistic, civil, liberal, educated,” that is, if “they” have become “us”? The rapidity with which “they” are doing so is the whole reason they’re having a bout with fundamentalism in the first place.

    That list of values will endure and flourish, not by warfare (a will to which I don’t see in danger of vanishing hereabouts), and not by procreation, but on the merits. As long as those values endure, I just don’t see the problem of having some of my great-grandbabies come out brown. My family’s a bit pale anyway.

    There’s a cynical reason, too, why I’m not afraid of the collapse of the civilization, which has to do with sheer economic might. To paraphrase Blanche Dubois, “I have always depended upon the propensity of the juggernaut of bourgeois capitalism to subsume and assimilate marginalized cultures into the broader identity.”

  • shane wilkins

    to michel,

    yeah i really think steyn’s point is that europe will become a muslim nation. the population problem to him is just the vehicle by which it will happen.

    after all, low birth rate does not necessarily imply the collapse of european civilization. faced with unsupportable rising social welfare costs they could always do something radical . . . like cut their welfare budgets back, increase the length of the work week, or raise the retirement age, you know, all the same stuff that the United States does in those same situations. (Steyn never considers this as an option . . . it is only doom and gloom in Steyn’s mind, because the muslims are out breeding us, the horror, the horror).


  • http://BUSY Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    It is amazing how so many Americans (usually on the left) morph a concern for saving a culture or a people or a religion into some sort of a racist act-talk about self-loathing and self-hatred. Half our Catholic family (including half my grandchildren) are of mixed race and just as concerned over the way what used to be called Christendom is committing self-genocide. It is interesting that I didn’t see any mention in the comments of in-depth books or reports refuting Steyn’s (or Buchanan’s) demographic arguments-just typical elitist left-wing sneering and head in the sand criticism of the type that I am sure is warming the hearts of those who want Western Civilization dead.

  • Daniel

    Given the, until recently, homogonous and white make-up of “Western Civilization” in Europe, it is not a giant leap to suggest that concern about the “dying” of Western Civilization is really about the dying out of white people. The European experience with intolerance for non-whites and the difficult in assimilating Asians, Muslims, and Africans underscores the current concern about “Western Civilization” dying out.

    I don’t think you can talk about the fertility “crisis” without also discussing some of the racist and xenophobic undercurrents of the perception. Even in non-white cultures, like Japan, the alleged fertility crisis is fueled because of grave concerns about having to assimilate more non-Japanese into a historically xenophobic culture.

  • Jody Bilyeu

    If you’re concerned about Christendom, John, then I can recommend anything by Phillip Jenkins. Here’s a synopsis from a UPI story:

    Christendom is growing robustly, according to historian Philip Jenkins, who says the quintessential Christian of the future will not be a white male surbanite but a poor brown-skinned woman from a huge city in the Third World.

    “By the year 2050, 3 billion Christians will inhabit the globe, but of those only one in six will be a non-Hispanic Caucasian,” Jenkins told United Press International in a telephone interview Thursday. As Europeans have slowed in their birth rate, Jenkins explained, “Christianity will become much more of a black and brown religion.”

    To which I say: “Cool!”

  • Steve Nicoloso

    Just because an argument might somehow be utilized by racists and xenophobes doesn’t mean the argument is racist or xenophobic. The “death” that Steyn speaks of is the death of liberal democracy, not necessarily that of whiteys. I’m sure Steyn would be happy to find out that the vast majority of European-born Muslims would grow up to be of the defanged (i.e., modern, urbane, liberal, and wealthy) variety. But where is the data to support such a hope? The only hope is in the “propensity of the juggernaut of bourgeois capitalism to subsume and assimilate marginalized cultures into the broader identity” (GREAT line, btw). Although it is far from clear (to me) that this solution morally superior from the alternative should economic self-interest fail, one can always hope, I s’pose. It has tended to work in the (predominantly protestant) US… so far… but has it everywhere? and at all times?

    Remember, tolerant multiculturalism has become a virtue so utterly unquestionable that forced “assimilation” is no longer “required”. Groups that reject the secularist spirit of age can simply stay in their (intellectual and actual) ghettos and yet, by the very laws of mandated tolerance, still acquire wealth and political power (is there a difference?) in ways not possible just a few generations ago.

    This is a clash of civilizations: one that says we can all get along just fine and all prosper if we keep our religions more-or-less to ourselves, and another one that simply says that’s fine for you but not for us. And because the former civilization is (perhaps fatally) tolerant on the basis of its own principles, it has no coherent way of countering the agression. The only way the “secular” (liberal, freedom-loving, economic) civilization can stay “on top” in a liberal democracy (i.e., preserve liberal democracy at all) is to outnumber the agressive, illiberal civilization. And this is the one thing they are NOT doing. Non-muslim Europeans will eventually be a minority, and one can only hope that the majority will behave gently toward them.

    The only way liberal democracy can be saved is behind the barrel of a gun, and that’s the one thing its liberal, urbane, sophisticated, and tolerant defenders will (I think) be unwilling to do. Steyn’s right. It should be the left that’s most worried about it. It’s their experiment! Conservatives (folks who never really cared much for Locke and Montesquieu anyway) don’t really have a problem with all this…

    My $0.02

  • Michel

    Daniel wrote:

    “Given the, until recently, homogonous and white make-up of “Western Civilization” in Europe, it is not a giant leap to suggest that concern about the “dying” of Western Civilization is really about the dying out of white people.”

    So it would also be true that:

    Given the, until recently, homogenous and white make-up of major league baseball, it is not a giant leap to suggest that concern about the possible death of baseball is really about the dying out of white people.


  • Daniel

    Well, if we were talking abuot the death of baseball, we’d be talking about the death of Latino people if we want this to be a pure analogy.

    I know it’s uncomfortable to talk about race, but in any discussions of Muslims in Europe and the death of “Western Civilization,” there is a palatable taste of race. Unlike in the U.S. and Canada, Europe is not racially mixed or multicultural. Heck, they fight over which region of their small countries they are from. It would be like having a 200 year civil war between Buffalo and Manhattan.

    When people talk about the decline in fertility in the Netherlands or Sweden or Germany, we are talking about the decline in fertility of white people who make up 98% of the population. On a continent that relies on immigrants begrudgingly and with high levels of intolerance and prejudice, I don’t know how one can talk about the alleged death of “Western Civilization” without talking about race.

  • http://BUSY Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Jody–Jenkins is one of my favorite historians. My wife and I went to see him speak at Gordon College near our home. He is not a Catholic, but he sure sounded like one at that Evangelical school. And if Christianity and Catholicism become “non-white” -as seems already the case world-wide today- then hooray. But that should not be an excuse for not taking action to preserve Western Christendom–which really is many different types of Christianity. Ethiopian Catholics are a whole different breed of cat than Irish Catholics–Phillipino Catholics are light years different from German Catholics–yet all follow the same creed under the same successor to St. Peter. And it will be a major tragedy if any of those forms of Christianity die out–especially if it is the result of a demographi collapse engineered and promoted by secularists, and fought against by the popes.

  • Steve Nicoloso

    I don’t know how one can talk about the alleged death of “Western Civilization” without talking about race.

    First off, what race are we talking about? AFAIK, most Muslim immigrants to Western Europe, and their children, **ARE** white, i.e., caucasoid. Many of them are Arab. Is there really an Arab “race”? Is there really “race” at all? If France gets overrun by Sicilian overbreeding, do you think talk of the end of French Civilization would be a xenophobic code for the end of fairer-skinned French “race”? No. It will be the end of things that are uniquely French (whatever the heck those things are). If the invading, overly fecund Sicilians could be made into nice respectable Frenchmen (again, whatever that is), no one (except true xenophobes) would have a problem with it. But what if we have very strong evidence that the invading and overly fecund Sicilians **hate** French culture and would no more become nice respectable Frenchmen than be dunked in molten lead? One, or the other, or both of these groups have a problem.

    Of course, it turns out that while Sicilians and the French have slightly different complexions, they have broadly similar cultures, manifested not least by liberal democracy and a more or less secular public square. Furthermore, it turns out Sicilians are not invading the countryside of France. They, in fact, have their own problems with population decline. The problem for France (and maybe Sicily) is that they are being invaded by a fast breeding people group with more or less the same complexion as Sicilians, but who detest the idea of a secular public square, and care sufficiently little for liberal democracy to overthrow it if the a particularist religious public square could be gained.

  • Jody Bilyeu

    Steve, the problem is, Steyn doesn’t bother to gauge the stand on any of these issues, such as civility, rationality, liberality and so on, of future baby-having immigrants, and it certainly doesn’t appear as though he’s bothered to ask them. His is the burden of proof.

    It’s actually an odd assumption that they won’t integrate. What do the majority of the immigrants Steyn worries about tend to believe on these core issues? It wouldn’t be very much trouble to find out, and that’s a crucial link in determining whether “native Europeans” becoming a minority means the end of democracy, for pity’s sake.

    John, it’s a heck of a long way from losing majority status to annihilation. Ask anyone who’s tried to annihilate a religious minority how easy that is. Do you actually have any anxiety as to whether Irish Catholics, for instance, will be able to prosper as minorities? Meanwhile, Christendom is expanding, getting browner. No crisis or collapse in the offing, both regardless of, and because of, demographics. Is there some other aspect of civilization you care more about?

    Let’s say some ne’er-do-wells are, in fact, among those future immigrants and their babies. I still have every confidence that my people (the hillbillies) and the freedom-loving contingencies of other groups, including hispanics, jews, muslims, baptists, Olympic curlers, ornithologists, and the custodians of mega-churches (which in twenty years, I predict, will constitute a stout 24% of the American population) will be able to form a massive coalition to oppose, incarcerate, and/or kill the ne’er-do-wells, as the situation warrants, just as now.

    Steve, back to the capitalist juggernaut. No, it’s absolutely an amoral hegemony, and it disseminates quite nicely without the use of force, although I think we can rest assured that if ever it needs a war it can rustle one up. It spreads by economics and culture, which as you suggest are practically indistinguishable. The world wants DVDs of “Cheers” and Clint Eastwood movies, blue jeans, and KFC, and we know just the guys who can hook ‘em up. I don’t want to believe, with my historical materialist brothers and sisters, that religion is generally mere window-dressing on economic interest, but I sure wouldn’t want to be in the position of having to prove the point. And you’d be surprised how many of the things you believe in are encoded in a given episode of “NYPD Blue.”

    Despite falling back on this…uh…optimistic cynicism, I still stand by my premise that the other values of democracy are destined to prevail as well. John, you may also be familiar with that liberal luminary, Dinesh D’Souza, who believes with me that freedom is bound to prevail on the merits as long as we don’t screw it up by cancelling freedom, and who, I believe, is probably thouroughly disgusted with Steyn’s article and its ugly presumptions, and is likely composing a retort as we speak. He, at least, is bound to have a better handle on why immigrants immigrate.

    Meanwhile, between Steyn and V.S. Naipaul, I’ll take the latter as my prophet, and try to join him in preferring for the concept we’re discussing the term “Universal Civilization.” In an article of that name he writes:

    This idea of the pursuit of happiness is at the heart of the attractiveness of the civilization to so many outside it or on its periphery. I find it marvelous to contemplate to what an extent, after two centuries, and after the terrible history of the earlier part of this century, the idea has come to a kind of fruition. It is an elastic idea; it fits all men. It implies a certain kind of society, a certain kind of awakened spirit. I don’t imagine my father’s Hindu parents would have been able to understand the idea. So much is contained in it: the idea of the individual, responsibility, choice, the life of the intellect, the idea of vocation and perfectibility and achievement. It is an immense human idea. It cannot be reduced to a fixed system. It cannot generate fanaticism. But it is known to exist, and because of that, other more rigid systems in the end blow away.

    Strange how easy that is to forget.

  • Jody Bilyeu

    Sorry, I have now twice failed to properly end a block quote. In both the prior instances, the tag line was me.