MAIL BAG

November 6 2006

MAIL BAG

November 6 2006

MAIL BAG

‘I don’t fear offending Islam as much as I fear the apathy of a Christian minority’

FACTS OR FEAR-MONGERING?

THE EXCERPT from Mark Steyn’s book America Alone (“The new world order,” World, Oct. 23) is an eye-opener to the future. Finally someone has the cojones to face facts, instead of playing the ostrich as so many of our Western leaders and policy-makers do. In Canada, we have been allowing far too many Muslims to immigrate much too quickly, and that needs to be addressed before we become a mess like England, France, Spain, and other European countries. Steyn is the main reason I subscribe to your magazine. Keep him coming.

Jacob Entz, High River, Alta.

I AM SO OFFENDED on so many levels by Steyn’s article that I’m not sure exactly how to begin. I guess I’ll start with the cover photo. Maybe it was just meant to be dramatic, but I have to say that my first impression upon seeing it upside down in my mail slot was of evil. When I read the cover line, I was horrified. I thought, isn’t our world divided enough? Do we really need to make people afraid that they will lose their own identity because another culture is becoming strong? I think we need to understand the cultures of the world, promote education, promote tolerance, and work together for a world that exists without war. Another thing that bothered me is that the article seemed to lack perspective. I have many Christian friends and many Muslim friends. I trust them, value them, and love them.

Jennifer Sanders, Kelowna, B.C.

MARK STEYN, in spite of endless irrelevant meanderings, presents a good case for the danger of Muslims taking over Europe because of demography. A society based on Christian and democratic-secular values could then be a totally different society based on different Muslim values, including cutting off hands and feet and other niceties of sharia law. He makes it sound as if there should be a moratorium on accepting any more Muslims into Europe if Europe as a cultural entity is to survive. But Steyn is wrong to speak of civilization exhaustion. In the West, people are always seeking new ideas, new ways to do things, trying to be tolerant (to a fault, as it turns out) of foreigners, turning to both old and new religions, and showing vigour by their pursuit of truth.

It is surely more vigorous to be able to participate in social choices than to passively see what the ruler will do next. If everyone thought like Steyn, he would be right—there would be no more values in the West because no one would be aware enough of them to appreciate them.

Ann Musil, Chateauguay, Que.

I THINK Steyn is right when he says the future of Western society is in jeopardy because of demographic decline; however, I think he is wrong to say its cause is political, that is, due to the welfare state. The European Caucasian population has always been greedy and expansionist since at least the 16th century. By the 20th century, it had expanded to control not only Europe and North America but much of the world. It consumed resources and enslaved people to improve its own lot. The start of the demographic decline came in the middle of the 20th century, and it came in the form of the birth control pill. For the first time in human history we could choose to have a family and we could choose how large it would be. It is not surprising that a greedy society prefers not to be burdened with a large family. Even Canada and the U.S. would be suffering a population decline like Europe if it were not for immigration from Mexico, South America and Asia.

Vern Piper, New Westminster, B.C.

VISITING MY native Holland in 2005,1 toured the parish where I learned to be an altar boy.

Not only was it a culture shock, but a threat to my spirituality and belief system when I saw my former Catholic grade school had become a Muslim institution. It featured a large star and crescent painted on the outside, and a woman with a burka emerged from the front door. I don’t fear offending Islam as much as I fear the apathy of what is becoming a Christian minority.

Jerry Dykman, Morden, Man.

I HAVE BEEN a long-time reader of Maclean’s and I don’t think I have ever seen such a depressing and grim article. As an Aboriginal Canadian, let me say that I know all about oppression, and I will tell you that my people here in Canada have pretty much seen it all. Extremist Islam takes even that to a different level, and I’ll tell you something else: the world has seen enough in the way of repressive regimes. It’s time to move away from the darkness of totalitarian ideologies if our world is to survive being pulled into yet another dark age. If an extremist Muslim ideology ever descended in forceful ways upon Canada, let me tell you they would have Aboriginal Canadians to face, and the outcome would not be in their favour.

Mike Wolf Vancouver

THANK MARK STEYN for the heads up. Fortunately, I will be dead and buried.

Pamela J. Coray, London, Ont.

I READ America Alone and I am now lending it to my friends and preaching from its pages to anyone who will listen. Steyn has finally put into words the real truth, not the politically correct version, spoon-fed to us by our media, politicians and all levels of government. This book is required reading for anyone who cares about the future of Canada and Western civilization.

Colin Wills, Collingwood, Ont.

THE ISLAMIFICATION of the West is correctly attributed to demographics and birth rates, which, in turn, are erroneously blamed on European socialism. To be sure, socialist Europe has its problems. But blaming our demographics and the rise of Islam on these problems is a lie. Every developed nationeven the U.S.—is experiencing decreased birth rates and an aging population. It is well established that these demographics are correlated not with socialism, but with increased education and personal freedom. This scare tactic of blaming Islamic terrorism on socialists is nothing more than a trick.

Gus Gutoski, Waterloo, Ont.

I CAN’T HELP but wonder what the birth rate would be like if corporations were more supportive of work-life balance; if there was no social stigma in the workplace when a woman became pregnant. The majority of Islamic women don’t work and have no rights; they are expected to procreate and raise children. Did feminism lead to demographic demise? I believe this article raises some very important questions. I am of the belief that a change in attitude needs to occur in our society. The majority of Western women are educated and have a need for self-advancement. When children come into the picture, a woman’s stress level rises significantly. If there was more effort from companies in truly promoting work-life balance, perhaps then we’d begin to see an increase in the birth rate.

Nicole Crawford, Toronto

WHAT I HOPED would be a thoughtful, wellresearched article about the growth of one of the world’s major faith traditions turned out to be a thoughtless, fear-mongering polemic instead. Steyn does nothing but cater to the lowest, meanest instincts, creating an oversimplified us-versus-them world in which any attempt to understand the deeper economic and cultural tensions in Europe and elsewhere is a wrong-headed surrender to Islamists. Who doesn’t he insult? Anyone to the left of him ideologically is childish. Youths are violent and invariably Muslim because, as we all know, no gang of youths who wasn’t Muslim has ever swarmed and kicked to death anybody, anywhere, in all of history. Incredibly, while claiming that Islam can’t be the organizing metaphor for Africa because Africa is too tribal, the examples Steyn cites of violent youth in Europe, motivated solely by Islam according to him, are Moroccan and Algerian, that is, African. Moreover, Steyn ignores cultural and sectarian differences among Muslims in order to paint a fearful picture of monolithic Islam infiltrating Western society and eroding our culture. The problem with publishing such tripe in a national magazine is that some people may actually believe it. Unfortunately for them, Steyn does not clearly state the obvious answers to the dilemma. If, as he says, it is all about demography, the solutions are clear—seal the borders, quarantine or eliminate the threat, and start forcing women to be baby machines. We’re even lucky enough in Canada to have a government ideologically committed to the last of these goals.

‘What planet did Esther Perel do her research on? I’m sure there are husbands all over North America right now withholding sex. I can hear the excuses: they’re tired, they haven’t shaved.’

Robert Morrison, Bowmanville, Ont.

SEX? NO THANKS. COCOA.

FROM THE DEPARTMENT of Research Findings No One Believes, couples therapist Esther Perel says her research shows that it is often the man who withholds sex in a relationship (Interview, Oct. 23). I have a question that your interviewer missed. What planet did Perel do her research on? I’m sure there are husbands and boyfriends all over North America right now withholding sex from their willing and ready spouses and girlfriends. I can hear the excuses: they’re really tired, they haven’t showered and shaved, they’re stressed from losing their hockey pickup game, or the one I hear most often from my male friends to their wives: “I just feel we need to talk more before I’m in the mood for sex.” I look forward to Perel’s next book where she reveals that what men really want is not sex, but a nice long walk and later, a cup of cocoa.

Paul Benedetti, Hamilton

THE GOOD LIFE AT WAL-MART

WHILE FINISHING my master’s degree, I was interviewed by one of the major retailers so idealized by Steve Maich (“The long, losing war to smear Wal-mart,” Business, Oct. 23). Inquiring about salary, I was told only that “we pay well... over minimum wage!” I never figured out where to place the emphasis in that sentence, and had just as hard a time with Maich’s assertion that Wal-Mart pays “well over US$8 an hour.” If Maich wants to extend his argument, he should spend a few months working for one of these big retailers and try to maintain his present lifestyle. The first thing he will find is that because employers are required to provide a paid lunch break on a minimum sixhour shift, the majority of the employees of large retailers—the cashiers and salespeople— are allowed no more than five-hour shifts, hence 20 hours per week at this measly hourly rate. That salary might modify his good opinion.

David Lee, Hamilton

GENDER NEUTRAL, PLEASE

STEVE MAICH writes, “Smart businessmen will tell you that in the new economy, attracting and retaining good staff is the most fundamental competitive advantage any enterprise can hope to have” (“Canada’s Top 100 employers,” Special Report, Oct. 16). Come on, Maclean’s. Unless he is referring to an opinion held only by smart men who own and run businesses—not smart women— some gender-neutral language would be appreciated.

Amy Middleton, Edmonton

DEATH IN AFGHANISTAN

MACLEAN’S EDITORS chose to use the assassination of prominent Afghanistan teacher Safia Ama Jan as “a timely reminder of precisely who our soldiers are fighting, and why they must stay” (Bad News, Oct. 9). That might be true if Canadian soldiers had actually prevented her murder. For many people the incident more correctly shows how little has changed since we invaded Afghanistan, and why our soldiers never should have gone there in the first place.

Andrew Epplett, Listowel, Ont.

DON’T DESPAIR. The world is taking notice. Here in Europe we normally hear little of what Canada is up to (the reason for my subscription to Maclean’s). This morning I heard the news on German radio that two Canadians had died in an ambush in Afghanistan, bringing the death toll to 42.1 send my condolences and support. Germany is attentive because it is also struggling with the dichotomy between the importance of helping in Afghanistan and that of protecting its soldiers. The mood here is, to quote a German saying, “Wash me but don’t get me wet”—it is important to fight in Afghanistan but politically incorrect to lose soldiers there. I hope we here will soon accept the responsibility instead of avoiding it.

Robert Watson, Meerbusch, Germany

SPOUSAL UPGRADES

A GOOD OFFENCE may be a man’s best defence against the phenomenon of grey divorce (“Happy retirement. I want a divorce.” Help, Oct. 23). Let’s do the math. If 30 years is an estimate of wifely tolerance, a spousal upgrade after 20 might just do the trick. A fortysomething man should be looking for a previously unmarried thirtysomething woman, preferably childless. Along with the obvious benefits of a younger woman, she would also come with a full tank of wifely tolerance. If that runs out after 30 years, he’s in his 70s and can get everything he needs in a retirement community. This is Plan B and he can afford it because he left his first wife with half the mortgage and invested the remainder of his earnings and pension in the new one. Plan A is that the new wife sticks around. She will probably outlive him because of age and gender and will inherit whatever she hasn’t spent already. At 62, married 35 years (at writing) and retired five, my options are limited to the laundry, the dishwasher and minding my p’s and q’s.

Dave LeRoux, Scarborough, Ont.