Monday, January 22, 2007

"America Alone" – Book review

Reviewed by "Ken"

A political polemic by Mark Steyn

“Mark Steyn for President”, I wanted to shout as I closed this book with the last sentence still ringing in my subconscious. Mr Steyn is a master writer who presents his case with an impelling cogency and a fiction-writer’s sense of timing and structure. My emotions were manipulated from deep hopeless depression through hatred and fear, to pride, elation and hope, while I fought an irrepressible desire to giggle or even laugh out loud.

This book should be mandatory reading for all adults (not that anything should be mandatory).

The theme doesn’t stray too far from the standard rightist formula; small government, self-actualisation, gun ownership, abortion, patriotism, military pride etc. but what makes it different is the meticulously researched statistical appraisal of the rise of Islam in the western world. Mr Steyn links the Muslim invasion of the west to the small concessions that the west’s sensitivity to multiculturalism has invoked: the metamorphosis of the ‘Christmas Season’ into the ‘Holiday Season’, the right to wear clothing that disguises identification and restricts vision when driving, suggestions that the Union Jack be altered to remove the white cross of St. George because he fought against Muslims during the crusades, and many similar stupidities.

But mostly this book is about demographics. I am not a statistician, nor do I have access to teams of researchers, but if the figures quoted are even within ‘Cooee’ of being correct they point to a bleak future for the non-Islamic world.

If this book were just about the demographics of an Islamic future, it could have an enormous impact and possibly even influence the politics of immigration, procreation, and multiculturalism, but, unfortunately, it is also a strong platform for Mr. Steyn’s politically-right agenda. This is bound to conflict with some readers’ sensitivities and colour their analysis of the more important issue; issues that are based not on opinion or personal philosophy but on demographic facts.

In the western world, we live for the most part in a politically middle-of-the-road society because, I would suggest, the strong arguments of left and right result in a compromised solution that can be lived with by both sides albeit with associated frustrations that things could be done better. This seems to me to be a healthy arrangement which avoids extremes and allows people of both persuasions to work on their ideas in the relatively safe environment of compromise.

Although it is hard to find fault with the idea that we should ultimately be responsible for ourselves, it is also in our nature to want to protect weaker members of our clan. The problem with applying the former idea to every situation is that it denies access to the latter by any test of philosophical consistency. Ultimately, one side are afraid of the other because they envisage unpalatable legislation if they are given their head. The left see the right as “…gun-totin’, sister-marryin’, foreigner-despisin’…” and I might add, knuckle-draggin’ rednecks. The image of that type of person owning legislation scares leftists. Despite Mr. Steyn’s rational disputation of each of the above stereotypes, the image of the gum chewing, self-righteous, xenophobic cop is a powerful one. The right, of course, fear that the left would breed a nation of parasitic no-hopers who would erode the standard of living and degrade society into an anti-entrepreneurial, crime-ridden, apathetic, and nihilistic state.

The upshot of these fears is that extremists of both persuasions will – and should – continue to voice their opinions and let us in the middle get on with our lives.

It is the very fact that Mark Steyn is lumped in with the right wing advocates that will dilute this very important book’s influence. It should be more widely read than by the already converted or the leftist looking to score points. Both such readers will approach the book with a prejudice that will only be confirmed by the sections they choose to focus on.

As I said at the outset, one is tempted to believe that Mark Steyn actually has the answers to these compelling observations but there are anomalies in his rationale.

He talks on the one hand about the probability of Muslim countries becoming nuclear powers with no conscience about blasting London off the face of the earth. On the other hand he states that all of the excess money from oil in Saudi Arabia is being sent overseas to build a Muslim infrastructure. Why would you spend all of your billions to build the biggest mosque in the world in London and then bomb it and all of its followers out of existence? We know that Muslim extremists don’t seem to distinguish between infidels and themselves when it comes to prime targets but there does appear to be a basic conflict of interests here.

In the final chapter Mr. Steyn does give a bulleted list of methods to counteract the Muslim threat and I must agree with him that they do make sense and should be given serious consideration.

On the other hand, strange and unforeseeable things happen to statistical predictions when they approach ultimate fulfilment. A backlash movement by moderate Muslims has already become apparent in the UK. It is anybody's guess what will really happen.

Congratulations, Mr. Steyn for a courageous look at our potential future.