Mark Steyn’s Back Door Racism

By Max Fawcett | June 3, 2008


It's no secret that we live in a world that is badly
overpopulated. The recent outbreak of food riots in Haiti and Egypt, where the
army was ordered to bake loaves of bread to stem further incidents of civil
disobedience, only served to underscore that reality, to say nothing of the
millions of people, mostly children, who starve to death each year and the
millions more who live in a state of persistent malnutrition. The stress placed
by ever-growing human populations on the environment has resulted in dropping
water tables, disappearing fish stocks, and the daily disappearance of various
species of animals across the world. Yet you'd have a hard time convincing Canadian
polemicist Mark Steyn of the dangers of overpopulation, judging by what he said
during his recent appearance at the Bay and Bloor Indigo location in support of
his controversial book America Alone. According
to Steyn, the solution to the threat of Muslim extremism isn't diplomacy,
cultural engagement, or even military conflict. Instead, it's the delivery of non-Muslim
babies and lots of them.

In Canada, where the 2006 census counted 783,700 Muslims, or
2.5% of the overall population, the idea that Muslims could somehow overwhelm
the rest of Canadian society by producing more children is self-evidently
absurd. Research repeatedly demonstrates that the fertility rates of immigrant
women, be they from Islamic countries or elsewhere, regresses to the national
average within two generations. Similarly, a 2008 report from the Demographic
and Social Statistics unit of the United Nations Statistical Division indicates
that fertility rates throughout the Muslim world are falling rapidly, with
countries like Tunisia, Lebanon, Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, Indonesia, and Iran
all at or near the replacement level of 2.1 children per family. Taken
together, these are hardly the precursors of a demographic invasion.

More importantly, though, Steyn's philosophy of natalism is a
little more than poorly coded racism. That it glosses over the profound
differences between and within different forms of Islam, which contains the
same diversity of views, interpretations, and practises as Christianity, is bad
enough, since over-simplifications like these are the natural precursor to more
explicit forms of racism. But the linkage between Muslims and prolific rates of
reproduction – one that, according to the United Nations, isn't even true any
longer – is far worse. It is, in fact, frighteningly similar to the same
comparisons that were drawn by Nazi propagandists over seventy years ago, in
reference to the Jews of Germany. As Swedish journalist Eva Ekselius writes, "like
the Jews were depicted as the foreign, the other, onto which one could project
all the traits the culture wants to deny in themselves, so the ‘muslims' now
get to take over the second-hand props of anti-semitism."

In Steyn's defence, he didn't come up with this odious
theory on his own. Instead, it's a re-branding of the Eurabia thesis that
Bernard Lewis, Daniel Pipes, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the late Orianna Falacci have
been hawking for years now. They've done so with more success than Steyn has
enjoyed in North America thus far, with many governments implementing
explicitly anti-Muslim immigration and naturalization policies. Some have gone
so far as to adopt the same repugnant policy with respect to Muslims as Canada
did towards Jews in the Second World War, that even one is too many. This
should alarm anyone who even vaguely remembers the outcome of that policy the
last time it was deployed. So too should a recent announcement by INED,
France's National Institute of Demographic Studies, which explicitly noted that
the recent rise in France's birth rate and resulting population increase has
little to do with Muslim immigrants and in so doing indicated just how deeply
the Eurabia thesis has penetrated the Western European consciousness. According to the report, the fact that Muslim
immigrants to France accounted for only 5% of the overall increase "is
important in a country where the number of immigrants from traditionally Muslim
countries and their French-born children and grandchildren is now reckoned to
be more than 6 million from a total population of 60.7 million."

The most interesting part of Steyn's Eurabia thesis is how
little confidence it places in the western values it supposedly seeks to
protect. Inherent in his argument is the notion that everything we supposedly
cherish in the West, from basic freedoms of speech, movement, and association
to the equality of all peoples regardless of race, gender, or sexuality, to
liberal democracy itself, could be significantly modified or even destroyed
altogether by the simple movement of people. Let's indulge in the more
conspiratorial aspects of Steyn's argument and assume, just for the moment,
that all Muslims, whether Shia, Sunni, or Kurd, old or young, from Afghanistan
or Kenya or Lebanon, all of them are united in the desire to immigrate to the
West and put us under the jackboot of fundamentalist Islam. Two questions
immediately arise from such a thought experiment. First, isn't it still likely,
given the natural inclination towards assimilation and integration that has
defined immigration over the past century and beyond, that our values would
survive this encounter with these millions of Muslims that are (theoretically)
united in their desire to subvert them? Second, and far more importantly, if
they didn't survive then what were they really worth in the first place?

Mark Steyn doesn't deserve to be hauled in front of a human
rights tribunal because of his decision to import Europe's anti-Muslim racism
to Canada. He isn't, as the Canadian Islamic Congress argued in its two
separate complaints to Human Rights Commissions in British Columbia and Ontario,
espousing hate speech. He's espousing stupid speech, and the logical response
to that isn't litigation or censorship but instead neglect. Seeds of ignorance
like the ones he planted need attention to germinate, and putting him on trial
serves that purpose only too well. Instead, let's just ignore Mark Steyn and
his deliberate provocations. The values of western liberalism will stand up
just fine to the influence of immigrants, regardless of how many they number or
where they come from. After all, those values are why they're coming here in
the first place.

Toronto, June 2nd – 1,018 w.


  • Max Fawcett

    Max Fawcett is the former editor of the Chetwynd Echo, a weekly newspaper in the small northern town of Chetwynd, B.C. He currently lives in Edmonton, and works as the managing editor of Alberta Venture Magazine.

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