STEYN SPEAKS! … ABOUT MUSLIM IMMIGRATION
(Comments in this entry begin here
For the last several years I have taken Mark Steyn to task for remaining stone-cold silent about Muslim immigration into the West even as he was writing dozens of articles and a book on the Islam threat inside the West, a threat that could not exist without Muslim immigration. I’ve also pointed out that Steyn has never advocated doing anything about the Islam threat, except for his pet notion that Westerners should strive to replicate Muslim birthrates. But now, in an article about Christopher Caldwell’s new book, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West, Steyn at long last addresses the issue he has assiduously and silently avoided for so long. Evidently this “brilliant” leader of “conservative” opinion couldn’t broach the issue of Muslim immigration, until a respectable member of the conservative mainstream had done it first, thus making it ok, or, rather, unavoidable, for Steyn to talk about it as well.
In some ways the article is remarkable, with Steyn admitting things about immigration, and about his past evasion of the issue, that he’s never admitted before.
In the end, however …
But instead of giving away the conclusion, let’s go through the article and lead up to it. While the ending is disappointing, there is much in the piece that represents a significant step forward from the lies and nonsense that have controlled the “conservative” mind on the issue. And for this we should be grateful to Christopher Caldwell, who has treated the immigration problem in such a way that the mainstream “conservatives” can no longer ignore it.
The title of Steyn’s article, which appears in the Canadian weekly Maclean’s, is:
We can’t talk about immigration
That’s pretty strong stuff, especially coming from a writer who has never raised or tried to raise the slightest peep about immigration, even though it was central to his main subject, the growth of the numbers and power of Muslims in the West. And lest anyone think that it’s improper to criticize Steyn for the title, since the title is usually chosen by the editor, this title in fact accurately reflects the body of article, where Steyn complains that “decades of multiculti squeamishness have stripped us even of a language with which to discuss the subject” of Muslim immigration. A remarkable complaint, given that Steyn has totally ignored the critics who somehow did possess the mysterious words for discussing Muslim immigration (they’re spelled “M-u-s-l-i-m i-m-m-i-g-r-a-t-i-o-n”) and who were calling on Steyn to do likewise. (See my 2003 letter to him, below.) Indeed, given Steyn’s prominence and ubiquity, it could be fairly said that if there is anyone in the media who has sent out the message during the post 9/11 period that Muslim immigration is not to be discussed, it is Steyn himself. He’s the one who by his own example taught his worshipful readers, followers, and imitators that the way to deal with Islam is to vent constantly about the mortal threat Islam poses to the West, while never saying a single word about how Muslims came into the West in the first place and how they’re coming still. He’s the one who told the public that there is nothing Europeans can do to stop the Islamization of Europe (except for replicating Muslim birth rates), and in article after article conveyed a message of defeat. And he’s the one who said that an Islamic Europe would be more desirable from the American point of view than a non-Islamized one:
In fact, we’ll do anything rather than confront the truth about what’s happening.
Some of us think an Islamic Europe will be easier for America to deal with than the present Europe of cynical, wily, duplicitous pseudo-allies. But getting there is certain to be messy, and violent.
Until the shape of the new Europe begins to emerge, there’s no point picking fights with the terminally ill. The old Europe is dying… The 21st century is being built elsewhere… [“U.S. can sit back and watch Europe implode,” Jewish World Review, Feb. 21, 2005]
And Steyn’s the one who absurdly said
, in his dreadful and wildly praised article in the January 2006 New Criterion
, “It’s the demography, stupid,” that the only thing the “dying Europeans” can do is assimilate the Muslims to European pluralism and democracy even as the Muslims are taking over Europe:
Or will the dying European races understand that the only legacy that matters is whether the peoples who will live in those lands after them are reconciled to pluralist, liberal democracy?
Far from being someone who wanted to address the problem of Muslim immigration but just couldn’t break through the PC barriers around the subject, Steyn has been a cheerful counselor of defeat, a jesting Grima Wormtongue of the West, giving his “conservative” readers the feeling that cynical indifference to the impending doom of Europe was a cool attitude in conformity with the best of American conservatism.
However, let’s be fair and open minded and recognize that people occasionally change. And of course that is what we hope for in the case of Steyn. Let’s look, then, at his Maclean’s article.
Here’s the way he first touches on the immigration issue:
As it happens, for all his non-ranting, non-hysterical sobriety, Mr. Caldwell is somewhat more “extreme” than I am on immigration. [LA comments: sorry for intruding on a minor point, but how can Steyn’s position on Muslim immigration be more or less extreme than Caldwell’s, given that Steyn has never discussed the issue before in his life and has had no position on it, except to remain absolutely silent about it?] For a notorious blowhard, I can go a bit cryptic or (or, according to taste, wimpy) when invited to confront that particular subject head on.
Steyn then tells an anecdote, not flattering to himself, about how, when asked about Muslim immigration on panels and interview shows, he has avoided the subject by resorting to fancy arguments about “structural weaknesses” in society creating a “dependence on mass immigration,” and saying that the structural weaknesses (not immigration) should be addressed.
Having admitted his past evasions on the issue (which, again, is unprecedented), he says that he agrees with Caldwell that the argument that he, Steyn, had used, was false, because no country truly depends on mass immigration:
Ultimately, it’s a choice, or a fetish, or a bit of absentmindedness for which, in the event that one is called up to justify it, there is no rationale. Indeed, it’s the definitive irrationale of the age: a hitherto all but unknown phenomenon that is now regarded either as inevitable or the essential moral component of an advanced society.
By the way, has Steyn been reading me? Compare his last sentence to this passage from my February 2009 speech
, “A Real Islam Policy for a Real America”:
What would have been inconceivable 70 or 80 years ago is unquestionable today. A society that 70 years ago wouldn’t have dreamed of admitting large numbers of Muslims, today doesn’t dream of reducing, let alone stopping, the immigration of Muslims…. Such is the liberal belief which says that the most morally wrong thing is for people to have a critical view of a foreign group, to want to exclude that group or keep it out.
Then Steyn makes a highly interesting point. That for all the talk that Europe urgently needs immigrants to pay taxes to provide for social services which are no longer being paid for by Europe’s declining native population, in reality the immigrants themselves have low work rates and are on the dole. Thus:
Between 1971 and 2000, the number of foreign residents n Germany rose from three million to about 7.5 million. Yet the number of foreigners in work stayed more or less exactly the same at about two million. Four decades ago, two-third of German immigrants were in the workforce. But at the turn of the century, barely a quarter were….
Turks in Germany have three times the rate of welfare dependency as ethnic Germans, and their average retirement age is 50. In the Stockholm suburb of Tensta, where immigrants and their children make up 85 per cent of the population, one-fifth of women in their late 40s collect disability benefits. Foreigners didn’t so much game the system as discover, thanks to family “reunification” and other lollipops, that it demanded nothing of them. Indeed, entire industries were signed up for public subsidy. Two-thirds of French imams are on the dole.
Which raises the obvious question, if immigrants are not economically necessary, why do the European countries let them in? Steyn’s point seems to be that whatever the proffered rationales for the necessity and inevitability of immigration may be, whether payback for colonialism, or economic need, or desire for a multicultural society, they are just rationales. However, Steyn himself doesn’t say what the real reason is.
Even more significant, if, as Steyn is now saying, it is not the case that Muslim immigration is a response to and a replacement for the declining native population of Europe, what happens to Steyn’s number one argument on the subject, that the West is Islamizing because Westerners aren’t having enough children, and that the only solution to Islamization is for them to have more children? Does Steyn realize that he’s just canceled out the main thesis of his work for the last several years?
Moving forward, in addition to discussing the evasive rationales that are used to make Muslim immigration seem necessary and inevitable, Steyn also discusses the evasive rationales that are used to explain why the Muslim are failing to assimilate. His treatment of that idea leads up to his key concession on the immigration problem:
So it’s the consequence of your urban planning, or your colonialism, or your wealth, or just plain you. We’ll blame anything rather than confront the central truth—than when an old, relatively unicultural society admits in a short space of time a large, young, fecund population from somewhere else, you are setting in motion a process of transformation. Caldwell asks the obvious question—“Can you have the same Europe with different people”? and gives the obvious answer: no. “Europe is not welcoming its newest residents but making way for them.”
Amazingly, Steyn agrees with Caldwell’s non-liberal
point, that you can’t have the same Europe with different people, and that the Muslims are simply replacing the Europeans.
But then, before the reader has had a millisecond to absorb the astounding fact that the neocon hero Mark Steyn has said that diverse immigration alone can destroy a society, in the next and final paragraph of the piece, Steyn throws it all away:
In the end, that coy French euphemism for the, um, rioters of no particular socio-religious persuasion—“youths”—gets to the heart of the matter; youths are youthful, and ethnic Europeans aren’t. In the heavily North African Paris suburb of Montfermeil, the Muslim children from the housing projects pass on their way to school each morning a neighbourhood of detached houses still occupied by French natives: they call it “la ville des vieux”—the old people’s town.
Like a dog to its vomit, so returneth a fool to his folly, and so returneth Mark Steyn to his passive acceptance of—or rather his cheerfully sadistic evocation of—the inevitable extinction of Europe through differential birthrates. For all the startling newness of the piece, it ends up as classic Steyn. No, worse
than classic Steyn, because now he has recognized a truth he had never recognized before, that immigration alone can change a country and people into a different country and people; but he derives nothing from this important insight as far as the Islam problem is concerned, except his usual slogans that Europe is finished because it is “aging,” and because the Muslims are “young,” and because the Muslims are reproducing at a faster rate. And, finally, that there’s nothing we can do about any of this, except, in the words of Steyn’s 2003 piece, eherish the absurdities on our way down.
My 2003 letter to Steyn:
Dear Mr. Steyn,
In your article, “An Open-and-Shut Case,” in the December 8 New York Sun, you write:
[CAIR’s] chairman, Omar Ahmad, has said that “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant.” The Koran “should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.” However, its supply of White House invites and presidential photo ops never seems to dry up, and its willingness to see offense everywhere is treated respectfully by the media.
Good, you see the problem of Moslems whom we have permitted en mass into this country and who are fundamentally and irremediably hostile to our society. The question I have for you is: Therefore, what? What do you propose that we do about this? Stop the Moslem immigration? Deport Moslems who are already here? Continue the Moslem immigration while calling for renewed efforts at “assimilation”? (I’m sure you understand that “assimilation” is to Moslem immigration what the “peace process” is to the Arab war against Israel.) Or just continue vaguely complaining about the problem?
However, as it turns out, you do recommend something. Your article concludes:
… A tolerant society is so reluctant to appear intolerant, it would rather tolerate intolerance.
So, you write a column about a group that in your estimation represents the death of our society if it is not stopped, and all you can suggest is that we “cherish the absurdities on the way down.” How can you see a threat like this and then just wipe your hands of it? That’s certainly not what you do regarding the terror threat from abroad. There you recommend that we engage in strong action to defend ourselves. You’ve written hundreds of columns supporting the war on Moslem enemies and terrorists in other countries. Why don’t you support a similarly decisive policy with regard to Moslem enemies in this country? Why don’t you want to do something about this?
In Holland, the late Pim Fortuyn recognized that at some point the contradiction had to be resolved. In Nigeria, Sudan and other frontiers between the ummah and the rest of the world, it already has—in favor of Shariah law and the Islamists.
It’s hard to see why the enervated West should prove any more successful at squaring the circle. However, we can at least cherish the absurdities [of the double standard that Westerners accord Moslems] on the way down.
Full text of Steyn article on Caldwell’s book
We can’t talk about immigration
In fact, we’ll do anything rather than confront the truth about what’s happening.
Christopher Caldwell’s new book is called Reflections on the Revolution in Europe. And, if you don’t quite get the Burkean allusion, his subtitle spells out his real concerns: “Immigration, Islam and the West.” Given my own obsessions in recent years, you’d expect me to be favourably disposed to it. And I am, my enthusiasm only slightly tempered by the instant conventional wisdom that, if you’re only going to buy one Islamophobic Euro-doom-mongering diatribe this summer, Caldwell’s is the sober and respectable one, in striking contrast to certain others we could mention. “Unlike [Oriana] Fallaci and Mark Steyn, Caldwell does not rant or sneer,” writes Matt Carr of Britain’s Institute of Race Relations. Caldwell, says The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan, is not a “Steynian hysteric.” Oh, dear. I think I prefer the droll Irish commentator “P O’Neill”: “Someone has to say it,” he smirked. “Caldwell is the thinking man’s Mark Steyn.”
But enough about me. On to the book … actually, hold on a minute. One more thing about me. Let us put Islam aside for the moment, as my views have been well aired in these pages, and consider the author’s other theme. As it happens, for all his non-ranting, non-hysterical sobriety, Mr. Caldwell is somewhat more “extreme” than I am on immigration. For a notorious blowhard, I can go a bit cryptic or (according to taste) wimpy when invited to confront that particular subject head on. On the CBC last year, I was tap dancing around various socio-cultural generalities when the host, George Stroumboulopoulos, leaned in in that way he has and cut to the chase: “You mean [pause and knowing glance to camera] immigration?”
I thought of bolting for the nearest exit, but, at such moments, I usually take refuge in the formulation that a dependence on mass immigration is always a structural weakness and it would be prudent to address it as such. But in the end my line’s a bit of a dodge. As Christopher Caldwell sees it, no country truly “depends” on mass immigration. Ultimately, it’s a choice, or a fetish, or a fit of absentmindedness for which, in the event that one is called upon to justify it, there is no rationale. Indeed, it’s the defining irrationale of the age: a hitherto all but unknown phenomenon that is now regarded either as inevitable or the essential moral component of an advanced society.
To be sure, the green eyeshade types never cease trying to sell it on more prosaic grounds. “Sober-minded economists reckon that the potential gains from freer global migration are huge,” writes Philippe Legrain in Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them. “The World Bank reckons that if rich countries allowed their workforce to swell by a mere three per cent by letting in an extra 14 million workers from developing countries between 2001 and 2025, the world would be $356 billion a year better off, with the new migrants themselves gaining $162 billion a year, people who remain in poor countries $143 billion, and natives in rich countries $139 billion.”
$139 billion? From “a mere” 14 million extra immigrants? Wow! As Caldwell writes, “The aggregate gross domestic product of the advanced economies for the year 2008 is estimated by the International Monetary Fund at close to $40 trillion.” So an extra $139 billion works out to an extra, er, 0.0035 per cent. He compares M. Legrain to Dr. Evil excitedly holding the world hostage for one million dollars! “Sacrificing 0.0035 of your economy would be a pittance to pay for starting to get your country back.”
Okay, forget economic growth. With Europe’s population aging and the worker/retiree ratio shrivelling remorselessly, we need more immigrants to come in and prop up the welfare state. Johnny Frenchman may get a bit tetchy at the end of an agreeable evening with his mistress when he glances out the window just before heading back to the missus and sees une bande de jeunes (in the preferred designation) lighting up his Citroën. But when he’s 53 and retired he’ll be grateful to have those jeunes in the workforce paying in to keep his benefit cheques coming. That, at any rate, is the theory. The reality is encapsulated in this remarkable statistic from the Bundesausländerbeauftragte: between 1971 and 2000, the number of foreign residents in Germany rose from three million to about 7.5 million. Yet the number of foreigners in work stayed more or less exactly the same at about two million. Four decades ago, two-thirds of German immigrants were in the workforce. By the turn of the century, barely a quarter were. These days, Germany’s Gastarbeiter (“guest workers”) are heavy on the Gast, ever lighter on the Beiter.
Turks in Germany have three times the rate of welfare dependency as ethnic Germans, and their average retirement age is 50. In the Stockholm suburb of Tensta, where immigrants and their children make up 85 per cent of the population, one-fifth of women in their late 40s collect disability benefits. Foreigners didn’t so much game the system as discover, thanks to family “reunification” and other lollipops, that it demanded nothing of them. Indeed, entire industries were signed up for public subsidy. Two-thirds of French imams are on the dole. Does M. Legrain set their welfare cheques on the debit side of that spectacular 0.0035 per cent economic growth? Or does that count as valuable long-term investment in the critical economic growth sector of fire-breathing mullahs?
Across the decades, one self-delusion of the political class succeeds another: “temporary workers” are now political “refugees”; the urgent need for mill workers and janitors is now an urgent need for millions of Somali software engineers who’ll help Europe stay competitive in the “high-tech” “knowledge economy.” The policy changes but the traffic is remorseless. Recoiling from the logic of tightly argued books like Caldwell’s, sophisticates protest that “it is hard to generalize about Europe.” And it’s true that, if you take a stamp collector’s approach to immigration issues, there are many fascinating differences: the French blame their immigration woes on the bitter legacy of colonialism; Germans blame theirs on a lack of colonial experience at dealing with these exotic chappies. But, if you’re in some decrepit housing project on the edge of almost any Continental city from Malmo to Marseilles, it makes little difference in practice. “If you understand how immigration, Islam, and native European culture interact in any western European country,” writes Caldwell, “you can predict roughly how they will interact in any other—no matter what its national character, no matter whether it conquered an empire, no matter what its role in World War II, and no matter what the provenance of its Muslim immigrants.”
How does one express one’s, ah, concerns about these issues? Caldwell cites a headline from his own newspaper, the Financial Times: “The Uneasy Cosmopolitan: How Migrants Are Enriching An Ever More Anxious Host.”
The “unease” seems principally on the part of the FT’s sub-editor: as his linguistic tiptoeing suggests, decades of multiculti squeamishness have stripped us even of a language with which to discuss the subject. What benefit is it to France or French taxpayers to fund Islamic welfare imams? To pose the question is to miss the point. If you believe in mass immigration, you do so because it’s a talisman of your own moral virtue. If the economic argument for immigration is reductive even when it’s not plain deluded, the psychological one is not to be disdained. On the one hand, mass immigration is the price posterity levies on old-school imperialists: “They are here because we were there,” as they say in the Netherlands. But, if like Sweden you never had an imperialist bone in your body, they’re still here: “They are poor because we are rich.” And, if you’re a small urbanized nation like the Netherlands, the “challenge” of immigration is just the usual frictions that occur when people from the countryside—in this case, the Moroccan countryside—move to the cities.
So it’s the consequence of your urban planning, or your colonialism, or your wealth, or just plain you. We’ll blame anything rather than confront the central truth—that when an old, relatively unicultural society admits in a short space of time a large, young, fecund population from somewhere else, you are setting in motion a process of transformation. Caldwell asks the obvious question—“Can you have the same Europe with different people?” and gives the obvious answer: no. “Europe is not welcoming its newest residents but making way for them.”
In the end, that coy French euphemism for the, um, rioters of no particular socio-religious persuasion—“youths”—gets to the heart of the matter: youths are youthful, and ethnic Europeans aren’t. In the heavily North African Paris suburb of Montfermeil, the Muslim children from the housing projects pass on their way to school each morning a neighbourhood of detached houses still occupied by French natives: they call it “la ville des vieux“—the old people’s town.
—end of initial entry—
James N. (who recently had his seventh child) writes:
“… except for his pet notion that Westerners should strive to replicate Muslim birthrates”
Well, I’m doin’ my damndest!
Roger G. writes:
As an old bachelor who failed dismally in his duty to help people the West, I salute James N.!
Steve R. writes:
Having arrived at the understanding that he is has been wrong for so long and admitted it, I will not fault Steyn much for his belief that Europe is so far gone that it isn’t worth putting up the fight. His belief is likely a matter of ignorance regarding the extent of pent up nationalist feelings across the ocean. If however, with his new insight he now fails to advocate, concretely, the curtailment of immigration on this side of the ocean, then his conversion is empty and meaningless.
Richard Hoste writes:
He never answered your letter? You’ve never had a chance to talk to him in person?
Of course not. Steyn never answers or acknowledges substantive criticism. The man runs riffs; he’s incapable of engaging in actual debate.
I don’t know if he still prints readers’ comments at his website, but when he used to, he would turn aside questions and challenges with jokes.
A. Zarkov writes:
I cannot yet marshal enough objective evidence to confirm the following ideas, but I sense, albeit intuitively, that Obama and the left have finally overplayed the race card. Glenn Beck recently called Obama a “racist” on television and he’s still breathing. Officer Crowley stood up to Gates and both his fellow officers and his department have backed him. Now we see Steyn, ever the dead man on immigration, experience some kind of partial re-animation. Over the last 20 years the left has managed to create a nearly impenetrable shield for itself with the race issue. This brilliant strategy has worked perfectly up until now, but the health care debate has opened up a crack in the shield, and the left is getting desperate. For example Paul Krugman recently wrote, “… That is, the driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that’s behind the “birther” movement, which denies Mr. Obama’s citizenship.” This is pretty extreme and stupid even for attack dog Krugman. The race shield is failing and we can see it in Obama falling approval ratings. In my opinion, this is why Steyn is willing to admit immigration just might be a problem that we can fix. He sees the crack, so he is willing to expose himself—partially. Most ersatz conservatives like Steyn are much too poltroonish to change their tune until they sense safety.
Just 12 days ago, in my entry on the New York Times’ review of Christopher Caldwell’s book, I fired off some shots at Steyn, pointing out that that the Muslim immigration that Caldwell so importantly focuses on is the very thing that Steyn has always resolutely ignored. So it’s ironic and also satisfying that within ten days of my attack on Steyn, he wrote his review of Caldwell’s book in which he admits for the first time that Muslim immigration is a problem and that he himself has been shying away from the issue.
Timothy D. writes:
I am a frequent peruser of your blog, enjoy it often, and occasionally dismayed by your seeming incapacity to refrain from making an enemy when you could be making a friend.
I refer to your comments about Mark Steyn, who has been raising consciousness (if you will forgive the term) about the consequences of Islamic demographics in Europe for some time, and quite effectively.
Why do you not try to congratulate him for coming around to your point of view rather than castigating him for being three years late? [LA replies: In fact I gave him lots of credit—for criticizing his past statements, for admitting his past evasions, for his “amazing” turnabout on Muslim immigration and so on, which you evidently didn’t notice. But when he threw it all away in the last paragraph, returning to his usual “Die, Europe, die!” Schadenfreude, I deservedly castigated him for that.]
I do not understand why you think it useful or productive to engage in this kind of personal attack. [LA replies: As I said in response to similar criticisms in 2007, when it came to other inadequate Islam critics, I have criticized them, not sought to discredit them. but that when it came to Steyn I avowed that I was seeking to discredit him, because he is the opposite of what his deluded fans think he is. He’s a writer who gives lazy readers the feeling that he’s defending the West against Islam, but is really spreading a counsel of defeat. When Steyn stops playing games, stops being the pied piper of the West, stops leading people into defeatism, then I’ll stop attacking him.] What earthly political objective is being advanced by being so bloody rude about Steyn? Are you so blind you cannot see an ally when they appear? Is no one pure enough for you? [I’ve answered the question. It’s not a matter of someone not being pure enough for me, but of someone misleading and deceiving people, and betraying the very cause he pretends to be standing for. If Steyn stopped doing those things, I’d stop attacking him. So my standards are rational, not impossibly pure; and it’s not personal.]
I fear you have no clue what I am talking about. You are way too keen to prove yourself right at the expense of being effective. [I’ve been effective at showing thinking people the real meaning and tendency of Steyn’s writings and delivering them from the Steyn spell that has captured thousands. You yourself just said that Steyn has reversed himself and come over to my side. So you’re saying that I’ve been right about him all these years. Well, then, instead of telling me that I’m clueless and ineffective and that I’m alienating people to no purpose, you should be congratulating me for my effectiveness in having held Steyn’s feet to the fire for all this time against all the people who said I shouldn’t be doing it. But you’re not congratulating me. Why not? The answer is that you never thought I should be doing it. The answer is that you thought I should be “friends” with Steyn instead of criticizing him—criticism which you see as merely personal attack, personal rudeness.]
Make friends while you can. Enemies accumulate without any effort whatever. [I wonder what you’re talking about. In what sense could I be friends with Mark Steyn? Would we have a beer together at the White House? Start hanging out together at neocon conferences? No, you’re not talking about me being friends with Steyn, since that’s absurd. What you’re talking about is me showing myself to be an ok person in your eyes, so that you can feel ok about me. But if the condition of your feeling ok about me is that I never have written what I’ve written about Steyn, which you consider destructive personal attacks serving no useful purpose, then forget about it. ]
Steve R. writes:
Is it possible that your continued harsh words about Steyn may somehow have contributed to his change of heart? Obviously it is unlikely that we will ever know. However it is possible and if it were so, then surely Timothy D. would have to admit that your attacks were quite worthwhile—even considering his sensibilities. (and I do not mean to say that your past harsh words weren’t warranted unless Steyn was affected by them.)
You wrote, “… but of someone lying, deceiving people, and betraying the very cause he pretends to be standing for.”
Do you think this is true even now? I’m asking this since every thing else, you last said here about Steyn, does apply even now. I don’t think that particular charge would be appropriate to the new Mark Steyn—especially since, as I said in my previous comment, it is possible that Steyn sincerely believes there is no chance that Europe can be saved.
First, while he’s big time deceiver, “lying” isn’t the right word. So I’ve changed the phrase to “someone misleading and deceiving people, and betraying the very cause he pretends to be standing for.”
Second, to reply to your question: is he still doing those things now? Yes. In that readers will be led by the column into believing that Steyn is now saying that Muslim immigration is a problem and that something ought to be done about it, whereas he’s not saying that something ought to be done about it. They will still get the impression he is a defender of the West against Islam, whereas in that devastating last sentence of his article he essentially took the perspective of the Muslims against Europe in writing off Europe as finished. So he’s still betraying the cause he pretends to stand for, the defense of the West against Islam.
Further, if someone says that Steyn doesn’t claim to stand for the defense of the West, but only the defense of America, I would say that to claim to be defending America from Islam, while with gleeful disdain consigning Europe to Islamization, is an absurdity.
Finally, it remain to be seen whether Steyn will even mention immigration again. Basically he had no choice but to mention it since he was reviewing Caldwell’s book and it’s central in Caldwell’s book. Now that he’s done reviewing it and the distasteful task discussing immigration is finished, will he bring it up again? We don’t know. But it’s entirely possible that he will revert to his usual silence on the issue.
Kidist Paulos Asrat writes:
You may have been following the story where Ezra Levant, lawyer and magazine publisher of the former Western Standard, published the Mohammed cartoons in the Western Standard and had a complaint filed against him by a Muslim through the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Levant calls these “kangaroo courts.”
Similarly, Steyn had complaints filed against him by Muslims in three places: the Ontario HRC, the B.C. HRC and the Canadian HRC for excerpts of his article that were published at Maclean’s. Both Levant’s and Steyn’s cases got dismissed, but at considerable financial loss for Levant (I don’t know about Steyn, he never wrote about that).
Recently, Levant got sued in a “real” court yet again by a Muslim, for defamation on Levant’s site of this Muslim. This could cost Levant a considerable amount again. Steyn had set up a fund raising campaign at his website to help Levant cover these new legal costs. The whole atmosphere at Steyn’s site was euphoric fun—we’re going to win…We’re winning!
Not once, during this whole almost three-year ordeal, and including this current one, did Steyn talk about immigration, let alone Muslim immigration. So, one would think that this frustrating and ugly ordeal would have sealed his position against Muslim immigration, at least, once and for all.
So, I don’t think you’re being mean to Steyn.
That’s right. These total aliens and enemies are among us, and they were targeting Steyn himself. And, even then, never once did it occur to him to say, “We’ve admitted these total aliens and enemies into our society who intend to subdue us under their power. This was a terrible mistake and we must reverse this mistake.”
Nor did he remotely hint at the tiniest shadow of such a thought. Nor, with the exception of Robert Spencer, has it occurred to a single one of the mainstream conservative warners about Islam—your Horowitzes, your Phillipses, your Gaffneys, your Pamela Gellers, your anybodys, to say that it was a mistake to let Muslims in and at the very least we must stop admitting more of them.
When these Usual Suspects stop being Usual Suspects, when they stop sending out their mixed messages and say what we ought to DO to defend ourselves from the Islam threat, I’ll welcome that day and give them credit. Until then, they deserve hell for jerking us around on such a vital issue. And to give people hell when they deserve it, is not mean.
Richard S. writes:
I have to agree with the gist of Timothy D.’s comment. Those who, in a severe and life threatening culture war, are 80 percent on your side are not the enemy, Mr. Auster. They are allies, albeit imperfect. Is there a human being who is not imperfect? Charity, or, if you prefer, rachmanes, is in order when dealing with friends, everyone of whom counts in this very-much-in-the-balance war.
I disagree with your premise that Steyn is 80 percent on my side and that I am attacking him for merely failing to be perfect. That is an absurd characterization of my position. For someone to say that the substance of my criticisms of Steyn for the last several years is that he’s not perfect suggests a total failure to read and understand my arguments. It would be like saying that in Churchill’s speeches in 1937 and 1938 he was attacking Chamberlain for not being perfect.
Kidist Paulos Asrat writes:
Straightforward information about immigration, the consequences of immigration, and some sensible and practical suggestions about what to do with these problems, is surely the responsibility of any writer who has broached the subject of immigration, and is considered somewhat of an expert on that subject.
If a writer doesn’t do that, then he must be called upon to explain why he doesn’t, since, in effect, he is misinforming his readers and acting irresponsibly. There is nothing “personal” in this approach. In fact, it is the correct thing to do, since so much is at stake with this evasive attitude, which can be interpreted as misinformation.
No one is asking Steyn to solve the problems of the world; only to open up his obviously well-stacked knowledge base and start writing the whole truth.
Also, a couple of years ago I stated a minimum requirement for a Usual Suspect to stop being classified as one: he has to support significant reductions in Muslim immigration. That is an exceedingly modest demand. I’m not saying that the Suspects have to support a reversal of Muslim immigration, as I do; I don’t even say that they have to support the cessation of Muslim immigration, as I do. I just say that they have to call for a signficant reduction of Muslim immigration. Which shows, pace my critics, that I’m not demanding “perfection,” i.e., complete agreement with myself, but a minimally honest and consistent position. A writer who vents endlessly about the Islamic threat in the West, and will not even say that Muslim immigration should be reduced, is a fraud.
Alex K. writes:
The best way to think of it is that Steyn is a soldier, holding important ground, who refuses to fight. He holds an important position and he’s taking some shots at the enemy, but he’s not really fighting the way he could be and the way we need the person at his station to do. So of course you criticize this person. Of course his behavior is atrocious. That he may be an ally is irrelevant. He is not fighting. That is the most important thing about him, not that he is on our side.
The George B. McClellan of the anti-jihad movement!
* * *
A popular “star,” full of vainglory, but having no desire to fight and win—indeed, not even believing in the cause he’s supposedly leading.
August 24, 2009
Below is another e-mail I sent to Steyn, in September 2005. He had said in a widely noted column that
60 percent of British Muslims want to live under sharia in the United Kingdom. That’s a “moderate” Westernized Muslim: He wants stoning for adultery to be introduced in Liverpool, but he’s a “moderate” because it’s not such a priority that he’s prepared to fly a plane into a skyscraper.
Steyn thus effectively dismissed the notion of a moderate Islam. Therefore, what
I wrote to him:
Since you say that West is not at present serious about fighting the war on terror, and since you are calling on it to be serious, what do you propose doing about the 60 percent of British Muslims (and presumably similar proportions of other Western Muslims) who, as you point out, support the imposition of sharia and thus have the same strategic goals as the terrorists?
Until you address that question, it remains impossible, as in the past, to see you as being serious.
Also, it is dishonest to act as if Bush is waging the war abroad and that the left is undermining the war at home, given the fact that Bush himself through his dhimmi-like attitude to Muslims also undermines the war at home. Bush is obviously doing nothing about the “moderate” Muslims who support the same strategic goals as the terrorists. He even remains close friends with the Saudis who actively promote those strategic goals among U.S. Muslims. He hasn’t even done anything to stop the Saudis from distributing anti-American and anti-Christian jihadist literature in U.S. mosques.
The net effect of your article, as so often, is to give your readers the delusory sense that someone on the so-called right (you, President Bush) is being serious about the war on terror, and that this seriousness is being undermined by the left, when in fact there’s no one either in the government or in the mainstream conservative media who is being serious.
Steyn is very funny and for that quality I enjoy reading him. He is also a rather banal weasel. He is a type very familiar to an observer of Communist propaganda apparatchiks who very flexibly made transition from Breznev to Gorby to Yeltsin to Putin, never missing a beat or paycheck. An interesting example of the species is Nikita Mikhalkov, his Burnt by the Sun (1994) is highly recommended as one of the best artworks about Communist terror.
As H.L. Mencken pointed out, it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his income depends on his not understanding it.
For the time being I will stick with Occam razor principle, the simplest explanation of Steyn’s rather strange attitude to immigration, especially Mohammedan immigration, is his deep desire to maintain his income all of which comes from MSM.
I am uneasy with the Occam razor principle and think it is relied on far too much and in a mechanical fashion. I think the best explanation for a thing is the explanation which best explains that thing, not the explanation which is the simplest explanation for that thing.
There’s another thing I just noticed about Steyn’s brief acknowledgement that Islamic immigration will change Europe into something else. He doesn’t actually say that this replacement of Europe by Islam would be bad or undesirable.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 15, 2009 07:52 AM | Send