Mark Steyn is a brave guy. It takes a certain kind of bravado to write a book criticizing Islam. Just a few days ago I heard an author mention a book he has written dealing with Islam, but suggested that it will only be released posthumously. Other books on the subject have been released anonymously. This is a topic many people are concerned about but which they are afraid to address. Not so, it seems, for Mark Steyn.
Bemoaning the fact that Europe has fallen under the influence of Islam and is almost certainly too far gone to recover, Steyn suggests that if any Western nations are to survive, the future will belong to America standing alone against an Islamic world. The book’s central points go something like this (and I have borrowed these from another reviewer who managed to encapsulate them very neatly):
1) In the ongoing conflict between the West and Islam, both the demographics and the will to power favor the Islamists. That a country like Spain, with a birth rate of 1.15 children per adult women, will extinguish itself in a few generations, while immigrants from countries such as Pakistan (birth rate 4.53) will move in to fill the vacuum.
2) That as an aggressive, unassimilated minority edges closer to a majority (as in France, with an estimated 30% Muslim population in the under 20 age group), the character of the democratic institutions will become more closely aligned with Islamic law and culture.
3) That the post-Christian welfare state is largely to blame for the pessimism and failures of will demonstrated by Europe.
4) That America represents the primary exception to this trend, if only by degree, and that only a concerted effort to save our society stands a chance of reversing these trends.
Though agreement with these points is far from unanimous, I found it interesting that of the nearly 300 reviews at Amazon, the majority are positive (with an average rating of 4.5 stars out of a possible 5). This tells me that people are intrigued by this topic and are concerned by what they see as a growing threat to their way of life. Europe is extinguishing itself through a very low birthrate and through extremely high rates of immigration. While native Europeans seem to have little interest in having children, they are inviting millions of Muslims to the continent and these people are maintaining high birthrates. Needless to say, something is going to have to give. It will probably not be long before most of Europe is predominantly Muslim.
As far as I could tell, the book does not flow from the first chapter to last. Rather, like a Coulter book or any number of other “issues” books, the chapters seem somewhat like essays that have been compiled into the book. I will grant that the book is comprised of three sections, each with several chapters, and there is flow from one section to the next, but not so much from chapter-to-chapter. Of course this is more observation than critique.
Steyn, a Canadian who now lives in New Hampshire, has a quick wit and one that appeals a lot to my Canadian sense of humor. And though he makes many jokes, he avoids the vulgarity of Ann Coulter and other commentators. And all the while he keeps the book focused on the dead seriousness of the topic.
Interestingly, Mark Steyn is the obituarist for The Atlantic Monthly. This book reads like an obituary, not for a person, but for a civilization. It is one that continues to exist, but one that seems to Steyn and many others to be hurtling headline to oblivion. While I may not buy into the “doom and gloom” tone of the book, it does seem the Islam is on the rise and that Christianity is on the decline in much of the world. It may be Europe is already destined to fall under the crescent. Steyn is not the first to suggest this and will certainly not be the last. It is wise for us to at least consider the possibility and prepare ourselves accordingly.