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 14, 2008 |
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 wake-up 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 line-holding: 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.