THE BACK PAGES

So what would it take to alarm you?

Sharia in Britain? Taxpayer-subsidized polygamy in T.O.? Yawn. Nothing to see here.

MARK STEYN February 25 2008
THE BACK PAGES

So what would it take to alarm you?

Sharia in Britain? Taxpayer-subsidized polygamy in T.O.? Yawn. Nothing to see here.

MARK STEYN February 25 2008

So what would it take to alarm you?

steyn

Sharia in Britain? Taxpayer-subsidized polygamy in T.O.? Yawn. Nothing to see here.

MARK STEYN

Since Maclean’s got into a spot of bother with Canada’s “human rights” pseudo-courts, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of our media confreres who don’t think it should be a “crime” for magazines to publish excerpts from books by yours truly. Nevertheless, in defending free speech in general, they usually feel obliged to deplore my exercise of it in particular:

“Maclean’s published an alarmist screed by Mr. Steyn...” (The Economist)

“While the book may be alarmist...” (CFRB)

“Steyn’s argument is indeed alarmist...” (The Guardian)

And, oh dear, even:

“The fear of ‘a Muslim tide’ was alarmist...” (Tarek Fatah and Farzana Hassan in Maclean’s)

Okay, enough already. I get the picture: alarmist, alarmist, alarmist. My book’s thesis— that most of the Western world is on course to become at least semi-Islamic in its political and cultural disposition within a very short time—is “alarmist.”

The question then arises: fair enough, guys, what would it take to alarm you? The other day, in a characteristically clotted speech followed by a rather more careless BBC interview, the Archbishop of Canterbury said that it was dangerous to have one law for everyone and that the introduction of sharia— Islamic law—to the United Kingdom was “inevitable.” No alarm bells going off yet? Can’t say I blame you. After all, de facto creeping sharia is well established in the Western world. Last week, the British and Ontario governments confirmed within days

of each other that thousands of polygamous men in their jurisdictions receive welfare payments for each of their wives. Still no alarm bells? I see female Muslim medical students in British hospitals are refusing to comply with hygiene procedures on the grounds that scrubbing requires them to bare their arms, which is un-Islamic. Would it be alarmist to bring that up—say, the day before your operation?

Sharia in Britain? Taxpayer-subsidized polygamy in Toronto? Yawn. Nothing to see here. True, if you’d suggested such things on Sept. 10, 2001, most Britons and Canadians would have said you were nuts. But a few years on and it doesn’t seem such a big deal, and nor will the next concession, and the one after that. It’s hard to deliver a wakeup call for a civilization so determined to smother the alarm clock in the soft fluffy pillow of multiculturalism and sleep in for another 10 years. The folks who call my book “alarmist” accept that the Western world is growing more Muslim (Canada’s Muslim population has doubled in the last 10 years), but they deny that this population trend has any significant societal consequences. Sharia mortgages? Sure. Polygamy? Whatever. Honour killings? Well, okay, but only a few. The assumption that you can hop on the Sharia Express and just ride a couple of stops is one almighty leap of faith. More to the point, who are you relying on to “hold the line”? Influential figures like the Archbishop of Canterbury? The bureaucrats at Ontario Social Services? The Western world is not run by fellows noted for their lineholding: look at what they’re conceding now and then try to figure out what they’ll be conceding in five years’ time.

The other night at dinner, I found myself sitting next to a Middle Eastern Muslim lady of a certain age. And the conversation went as it often does when you’re with Muslim women who were at college in the sixties, seventies or eighties. In this case, my dining companion had just been at a conference on “women’s issues,” of which there are many in the Muslim world, and she was struck by the phrase used by the “moderate Muslim” chair of the meeting: “authentic women”—by which she meant women wearing hijabs. And my friend pointed out that when she and her unveiled pals had been in their 20s they were the “authentic women”: the covering routine was for old village biddies, the Islamic equivalent of gnarled Russian babushkas. It would never have occurred to her that the assumptions of her generation would prove to be off by 180 degrees—that in middle age she would see young Muslim women wearing a garb largely alien to their tradition not just in the Middle East but in Brussels and London and Montreal. If you had said to her in 1968 that Westernized Muslim women working in British hospitals in the early 21st century would reject modern hygiene because it required them to bare their arms, she would have scoffed with the certainty of one who assumes that history moves in only one direction.

In another of those non-alarmist nothing-to-see-here stories, a British government minister tentatively raised the matter of severe birth defects among the children of Pakistani Muslims. Some 57 per cent of Pakistani Britons are married to their first cousins, and this places their progeny at increased risk of certain health problems. This is the only way a culturally relativist West can even raise some of these topics: nothing against cousin marriage, old boy, but it places a bit of a strain on the old health care budget.

It’s not the polygamy, it’s the four welfare cheques you’re collecting for it.

But this is being penny-wise and poundblasé. What does it mean when 57 per cent of Pakistani Britons are married to first cousins and 70 per cent are married to relatives? At the very least, it tells you that this community is strongly resistant to traditional immigrant assimilation patterns. Of course, in any society, certain groups are self-segregating: the Amish, the Mennonites and whatnot. But when that group is not merely a curiosity on the fringe of the map but the principal source of population growth in all your major cities, the challenge posed by that self-segregation is of a different order. There are now towns in northern England where cousin marriage is the norm: Pakistanis aren’t assimilating with “the host community”; the host community has assimilated with Pakistan. Again, if you had told a Yorkshireman in 1970 that by the early 21st century it would be entirely normal for half the kindergarten class to be the children of first cousins, he would have found it preposterous.

But it happened. By “alarmist,” The Economist and Co. really mean “raising the subject.” Last year, the British novelist Martin Amis raised the subject of my book with Tony Blair and asked him if, when he got together with his fellow prime ministers, the Continental demographic picture was part of the “European conversation.” Mr. Blair replied, with disarming honesty, “It’s a subterranean conversation.” “We know what that means,” wrote Amis. “The ethos of relativism finds the demographic question so saturated in revulsions that it is rendered undiscussable.” The “multiculturist ideologue,” he added, “cannot engage with the fact that a) the indigenous populations of Spain and Italy are due to halve every 35 years, and b) this entails certain consequences.”

Whether or not it’s “alarmist” to ponder what those consequences might be, under Canada’s “human rights” kangaroo courts it

might soon be illegal. All Section 13 cases brought to the federal Human Rights Commission end in defeat for the defendant, so, if Maclean’s fails to buck the 100 per cent conviction rate, it would be enjoined from publishing anything that might relate to the “hate speech” in question—in other words, we would be legally prevented from writing about Islam and the West, demographic trends in Canada, and many other topics.

What would we be permitted by the state to write about? How about Nazis? It’s been years since I’ve run into one, but apparently they’re everywhere. A British blogger, poohpoohing my book, said there are more Nazis than Muslims in England. Really? In Canada, meanwhile, defenders of Section 13 of the Human Rights Code—the one that makes “criminals” of Maclean’s—warn that if the private member’s motion of Keith Martin, MP, proposing its repeal were to succeed, Nazis would be free to peddle their dangerous Nazi ideas to simple-minded Canadians who might lack the fortitude to resist. As evidence of the Nazi tide waiting to engulf the Dominion once Section 13 is repealed, Liberal spin doctor Warren Kinsella posted on his website a photograph he’d taken in a men’s room stall showing the words “WHITE POWER” and a swastika scrawled on the wall at knee height. Why Mr. Kinsella is photographing public toilets on his knees I don’t know, but every guy needs a hobby. At any rate, Warren sees this loser’s graffiti as critical evidence of the imminent Nazi threat to the peaceable kingdom.

I’m something of a phobiaphobe. I don’t subscribe to the concepts of “homophobia” and “Islamophobia.” They’re a lame rhetorical sleight to end the argument by denying it’s an argument at all: you don’t have a political disagreement with me over gay marriage or sharia, you have a mental illness. But don’t worry, we can give you counselling and medication and your “phobia” will eventually go away. Yet “Naziphobia” is the real

thing—an irrational fear of non-existent Nazis. And so Canada’s leading “human rights” hero is Richard Warman, a man whose Naziphobia is so advanced he hauled the “Canadian Nazi Party” before the “Human Rights” Tribunal even though, as the tribunal was eventually forced to rule, no such party exists.

Our heroes pursue phantoms as the world transforms. Is sharia, polygamy, routine firstcousin marriage in the interests of Canada or Britain or Europe? Oh, dear, even to raise the subject is to tiptoe into all kinds of uncomfortable terrain for the multicultural mindset. It’s easier just to look the other way, or go Nazi-hunting in the men’s room. Nobody wants to be unpleasant, or judgmental, do they? What was it they said in the Cold War? Better dead than red. We’re not like that anymore. Better screwed than rude. M