I’ve never read such an amusing book about such a grim subject. Mark Steyn’s America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It is in deadly earnest — our civilization is facing a crisis of confidence and demographic vigor just at the moment when a jihadi world movement stands poised to upend us. And yet Steyn’s inimitable wit enlivens every page. As NR readers already know, he is the Errol Flynn of commentators, finishing off opponents with a single flick of his rapier. Whether that rapier will finally be silenced by a scimitar is the story of this book.
Steyn is not the first to tackle the theme of Western pusillanimity in the face of Islamic barbarism — While Europe Slept, Londonistan, Eurabia, and others have plumbed similar themes — but he is undoubtedly the most stylish. Here is his rejoinder to an Episcopal priest who told his congregation after the London bombings “There are no Muslim terrorists. There are terrorists.”
“It’s not the perfect fatuousness of the assertion so much as the meta-message it conveys: we’re the defeatist wimps; bomb us and we’ll apologize to you.” Later, he warms to the subject: “Most mainline Protestant churches are, to one degree or another, post-Christian. If they no longer seem disposed to converting the unbelieving to Christ, they can at least convert them to the boggiest of soft-left political clichés, on the grounds that if Jesus were alive today he’d most likely be a gay Anglican bishop in a committed relationship driving around in an environmentally friendly car with an ‘Arms Are for Hugging’ sticker on the way to an interfaith dialogue with a Wiccan and a couple of Wahhabi imams.”
Beyond the absurdity of this spectacle is the bleak reality that for whatever reason — and Steyn advances the view that it’s a combination of multiculturalism — welfare-state torpor, and prolonged adolescence, native Europeans are fast disappearing. He makes a powerful case that demography is the ball game.
“What’s the Muslim population of Rotterdam? Forty percent. What’s the most popular baby boy’s name in Belgium? Mohammed. In Amsterdam? Mohammed. In Malmo, Sweden? Mohammed. By 2005, it was the fifth most popular boy’s name in the United Kingdom.” By mid-century, Steyn observes, if Muslims continue to have large families and Europeans continue to have tiny ones, the nation of Yemen will exceed Russia in population. “In the fourteenth century, the Black Death wiped out a third of the Continent’s population; in the twenty-first, a larger proportion will disappear — in effect, by choice. We are living through a rare moment: the self-extinction of the civilization which, for good or ill, shaped the age we live in. One can cite examples of remote backward tribes who expire upon contact with the modern world, but for the modern world to expire in favor of the backward tribes is a turn of events future anthropologists will ponder, as we do the fall of Rome.”
Now to my favorite part:
This book isn’t an argument for more war, more bombing, or more killing, but for more will. In a culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of “suttee” — the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. General Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural: “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”
India today is better off without suttee. If you don’t agree with that, if you think that’s just dead-white-male Eurocentrism, fine. But I don’t think you really believe that. Non-judgmental multiculturalism is an obvious fraud, and was subliminally accepted on that basis . . . . But if you think that suttee is just an example of the rich, vibrant tapestry of indigenous cultures, you ought to consider what your pleasant suburb would be like if 25, 30, 48 percent of the people around you really believed in it too. Multiculturalism was conceived by the Western elites not to celebrate all cultures but to deny their own: it is, thus, the real suicide bomb.
The lone exception to this downward spiral in the West is the United States. Our birthrate plus immigration means that our population is growing, not shrinking. (Actually, our growth is due to red state birth rates. If it were up to the blues, we’d be in Europe’s fix.) But most American liberals are as weak-minded as the Europeans when it comes to the matter of will. They do not feel the urge to preserve Western civilization as strongly as the desire to apologize for it — and that may be the death of us.
– Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist and author who blogs on National Review Online’s “The Corner.”