Sunday, September 09, 2007

Book Review: America Alone

Yes, I know this has been out for a while and I'm a little late to the party. Nevertheless, in the event you haven't read Mark Steyn's brilliant America Alone, I recommend it without reservation.

Well, on second thought, maybe with one reservation: the night I first opened the book up and began reading, it so unnerved me that I tossed and turned all that night. And I'm not one to lose sleep over much.

Briefly, and then I'll share my favorite parts, Steyn looks at the Islamist threat from a demographic perspective, something I hadn't heard any other commentator do. The replacement birth rate is 2.1 children per woman, and Steyn educates us on the birth rates of Western nations vs. Muslim nations. It's not pretty. Spain, for example, has a birth rate of 1.1; this means that the population will decrease by half every 35 years, an astounding statistic.

Some favorites...

P. 45 - Steyn addresses the dynamic in modern societies, particularly Europe: "Somewhere along the way these countries redefined the relationship between government and citizen into something closer to pusher and addict. And once you've done that, it's very hard to persuade the addict to cut back his habit." Sound like a growing problem of ours, as well?

P. 85 - "But Islam's appropriation of the gay lobby's framing of the debate is very artful. It's the most explicit example of how Islam uses politically correct self-indulgent victimology as a cover. You'll recall that most Western media outlets declined to publish those Danish cartoons showing the prophet Mohammed. Thus, even as they were piously warning of a rise in bogus 'Islamophobia' - i.e., entirely justified concerns over Islamic terrorism and related issues - they were themselves suffering from genuine Islamophobia - i.e., a very real fear that, if they published those cartoons, an angry mob would storm their offices. It was a fine example of how the progressive mind's invented psychoses leave it without any words to describe real dangers."

P. 159-160 - Steyn discusses what he calls "defense welfare" as part of the cause of Europe's problems. With no need to spend money on defense, they spent ever more on social programs. Says he: "Like any other form of welfare, defense welfare is a hard habit to break and damaging to the recipient."

P.187 - Steyn discusses the role of the state in failing to "protect" us. "But the only reason 'a box cutter can bring down a tower' is because on September 11 our defenses against such a threat were exclusively the province of the state. If nineteen punks with box cutters had tried to pull some stunt in the parking lot of a sports bar, they'd have been beaten to a pulp." Quite so.

P.193 - the importance of will. "In a culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of 'suttee' - the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. General Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural: 'You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.'" Non-judgemental multiculturalism, he obviously notes, is a fraud.

Overall, very well-done and both insightful and witty.

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