Mark Steyn is considered by many to be one of the most controversial commentators to take on the issue of current demographics in relation to immigration. This was evidenced by the furor his book, America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It caused, especially in Canada, where angry Muslims attempted to have Steyn convicted on charges of Islamophobia along with Macleans, the magazine that published an excerpt of his book, at a number of Human Rights Commissions across Canada.
A commentator on a variety of social issues, ranging from arts and culture to the transformation of modern Europe into a continent he has dubbed "Eurabia", Mark Steyn has done well for himself; although condemned as an Islamophobic bigot by those who disagree with him (although they never manage to actually disprove his thesis), Steyn's popularity, especially in right-wing circles, has grown since America Alone was published--he now occasionally hosts Rush Limbaugh's radio show, which boasts millions of viewers.
Two weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to interview Mark Steyn by the Jewish Independent in order to cover his upcoming appearance at the annual Hillel gala. The Independent article will come out in the next two days, but I felt that a 700 word piece could not cover the fascinating insights Steyn provided in our interview, the transcription of which ended up totaling around twelve pages. I will release heavily edited versions of the interview split into two parts over the next two weeks, I hope you enjoy them.
JVM: What has been the most significant change in your life since the publishing of America Alone, besides your charges at the Canadian Human Rights Commissions?
MS: Well, I would say the biggest personal change is that Iíve become a controversial figure in the sense that Iíve never expected to. I donít think of myself as especially controversial, but you realize that although the book did very well for me and has obviously enriched my bank account and all that sort of thing, the consequence of all that is that itís moved me into a slightly different category than where I was before, and I regret that. In a sense I regret becoming a controversial figure. I donít think of myself in that way and I donít think of the book as particularly controversial. I think it describes whatís happening before our very eyes. But at a time where free speech is under assault in very liberal nations like the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and France and United Kingdom and of course Canada too, at such a time it doesnít take an awful lot to be controversial. And by controversial mostly people mean talking about subjects people would prefer you didnít talk about. But it is a small loss if youíre someone like me who, if history hadnít taken this particular turn, would be someone who likes easy listening music and Broadway shows. The idea that Iím some kind of extremist, foaming controversialist is sort of perplexing to me.
JVM: How is your family coping with your newfound, shall I call it notoriety?
MS: Well, I donít even like talking about this because I feel a lot of it just encourages people but I think you need to be more serious in approach to certain aspects of life. You always have to be careful with so-called controversialists whether theyíre just a lot of soft fascist bullies like the people who shut down Christy Blatchford the other day or whether theyíre someone more determined. The problem in the Western world today isnít very difficult to figure out, which is that a lot of people are content to live in fear. When the Washington Post [ran] a cartoon that didnít show Mohammed, didnít show Mohammed at all, but was like a parody of ďWhereís WaldoĒóthe point was that Mohammed wasnít in itóthey yanked this... cartoon. What the Washington Post said that they were willing to live in fear. Thatís what a lot of the mainstream media institutions of the Western world are telling the thugs and bullies. Well, Iím not happy to live in fear so Iím just going to get on with my life and Iím happy to get on with my life and if some bozo has a problem with that thatís his problem not mine. But Iím not like the Washington Post and Iím not going to live in fear.
JVM: Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Tarek Fatah have both recently published books, Nomad and The Jew is Not My Enemy, in which they pose strategies for combating Islamist hatredósuch as proselytization by moderate Christians from Ayaan Hirsi Ali (which I found kind of shocking due to her atheism) and Israel withdrawing from the West Bank from Tarek Fatah. What is your take on these strategies?
MS: Well, if youíre asking me either or, I think Ayaan has a better take on the situation. She is not a practicing Christian. What I find odd about this question, what would strike most previous generations as odd about your remark is that youíre shocked by it, because the idea of proselytizing for the your faith [was always a common one]. Christianity claims to be a universalist religion and it went all over the world and it did proselytize for its faith. I think the first Bible written in an Indian language dates back to the 1600ís. In other words, Christianity was in this game a long time. Itís only recently that we think it entirely normal, for example, for Christian churches to apologize for having converted members of Canadaís First Nations to the Christian faith. We would think this perfectly normal for any religion with universalist claims, which both Christianity and Islam have. So in a sense, Ayaan is just proposing what almost any sentient part of the Christian church would have thought as a normal part of its mission until a generation or two back. Itís only just because she now sounds like more of a muscular Christian than say, the Archbishop of Canterbury does or the heads of the United Church of Canada do, thatís the reason people sound so shocked about it because thatís not the way people talk. I think thatís more likely to be a viable strategy than anything Tarek Fatah is proposing to do with settlements. I mean, we all know and he knows, heís too smart not to know, that the argument that is going on in Israel is not a land dispute, itís not a border dispute, itís not like two farmers who border each other in two-bit rural British Columbia arguing about where the fence line is. Thatís not what this is about. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is right to the extent that this is part of a broader ideological struggle, and if youíre up against an ideology that has tremendous appeal to large numbers of people in the Western world, youíve got to have something to counter it. As I said, sheís an atheist. She understands that if youíre a practicing atheist, itís easier to be a practicing atheist in a pluralist society built on the Judeo-Christian inheritance than it is to be an atheist in a Muslim society. Thatís simply a fact of life, and recognizing that in that sense, being a practicing atheist, if one can practice being an atheist, and this is what she gets, that say other atheists like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins donít. Even for an atheist his atheism safer in certain types of societies than [it is] in others. Therefore his hostility to faith in general is not helpful in that regard and he ought to be a bit picker and choosier about where he directs his anti-theocratic wrath.
JVM: Recently in several European countries theyíve been trying to pass burka bans. I believe they succeeded in France and are also considering it in Quebec. Do you think these bans are helpful in combating Islamism or do you feel they are more of a knee-jerk reaction?
MS: Well, I think people are doing what they believe they can do. I mean, I think theyíre beginning to wake up in Europe to the fact that Islam institutionally poses a challenge to Western societies. We can make all the exceptions that there are millions of perfectly agreeable Muslims who just want to get on with their lives, but institutionally Islam poses a huge challenge to Western societies once it reaches a relatively small percentage of the population. But precisely because saying that is so controversial, European societies are beginning to wake up and attacking the external hinds, the external indices, for example the minaret ban in Switzerland, [and] as you mentioned the burka ban. These [the burka] are the most obvious reminders to anyone whoís not Muslim about what your future is. Your future is coming towards you in a body bag down the street. I was in Malmo a couple of weeks ago and I walked, and I found myself in a little coffee place in the old medieval square in conversation with two rather hot-looking, leggy Scandinavian blondes, which doesnít happen to me as often as I might like, and as dusk fell, I said I was going to stroll over to Rosengard, the Muslim part of town, and they advised against it but I was going to do it, so I bid them good night and walked toward Rosengard about a mile. The blondes grew thinner on the ground and the fiercely bearded Muslim young men grew thicker on the ground and then as I got to Rosengard, almost every woman was covered. Now, these are Muslim women who in many respects come from Muslim countries where they would not have been fully covered in the moderate Muslim societies from which they came. Yet when they moved to Rosengard in Sweden of all places, they found that being fully covered was obligatory. So itís nothing to do with religion, itís nothing to do with culture, itís part of an explicitly political project. And while I think itís all but impossible in the English tradition of liberty to ban individual items of clothing, I certainly think that regardless of its legality, we should make it completely unrespectable. I donít think a legal ban is important, but I think is important is to say look, sorry, but if you walk around the streets of Toronto, or wander the streets of Detroit, or walk the streets of Birmingham, England covered from head to toe with people unable to see anything other than a tiny eye slit, you cannot be a functioning part of your society, so we disapprove of that and we donít want it! Whether or not thereís a legal ban, there shouldnít certainly be a profound cultural antipathy towards the burka.
JVM: Do you think the attention paid to your book and the recent works of others in this field is encouraging in regards to peopleís awareness of Islamization?
MS: Yes, I think so. Obviously, nobody writes a dystopian vision of the future in the hopes that it will come true. You write it in the hopes that people will take action, to prevent it coming true. I certainly would not want my children to live in an Islamic society. I think it was an NDP lady who said on the radio a year or two [ago], she said what would be so wrong if Canada became Muslim? That doesnít have to be a hypothetical question, maybe the NDP lady should think about what Muslim country she would like to live in right now? Iíve been to a bunch of them; I find Morocco rather agreeable, I find Malaysia agreeable, I find Jordan tolerable. But would I want to raise my children in those societies? No! Because those societies systemically prevent people from fulfilling their human potential and fulfilling their lives to the fullest, and I would not wish that fate on me or my daughter particularly. And when an NDP lady goes on the radio and says itís another exciting, exotic menu option in the great Canadian multicultural menu of delights, I think thatís such a benign way of looking at it. The tragedy of it is that that woman will live long enough to see the folly and stupidity of her ways.
JVM: These Islamist views seem so entrenched in many places. Do you think secular education would help?
MS: Well first of all you have to be in the game. The Saudis are in the business of exporting ideology, not oil. People think itís oil, but oil in fact just gives them the cash to fund the export of the ideology. The Iranians export ideology, with huge success all over the planet. We donít! You see that in the stupid report in the National Post today, where basically people say a big portion of Islam is self-segregating, but why is this a problem any more than the Mennonites are? Well the big problem is that Islam is your primary supplier of new Canadians whereas Mennonites are a minor contribution to Canadian demography. What that report is saying is that as long as guys donít blow up skyscrapers, as long as theyíre not flying planes into skyscrapers, theyíre not a problem. Thatís an absolutely idiotic way of looking at it. The fact is that a big chunk of Islam has figured out that the smart thing to do is not to fly planes into skyscrapers, but if the Western world is so decadent and decayed it will give you the keys to those skyscrapers in ten, twenty, thirty yearís time. So why bother flying planes into whatís going to be your own property if you play your cards right? When youíre up against an ideology and you donít fight back on ideological grounds, you are going to lose. You talk about these kids in Palestinian schools who are being raised in a death cult. You look at people who are far from that particular part of the world, and studying in Saudi funded schools in Virginia. Theyíre also in a sense being engineered not to be functioning members of Western society. Why arenít we in the game? You look at the amount of useless money the United States government throws away on so-called intelligence so large amounts of CIA bureaucrats can sit around monitoring emails from outer space all day long. If you took a tiny proportion of that budget and used it to wage a serious ideological pushback against this, in every corner where Islam has made progress in recent years it would do such enormous good. But unless weíre in the game, unless weíre fighting this on the ideological front, weíre going to lose.
JVM: Youíre suggesting a sort of cultural imperialism?
MS: I donít think of it as ďimperialismĒ.I think of it more in terms of broad cultural confidence. For one thing, if you push ahead to 2030, by about 2030 about a third of the world is going to be Muslim. A third of the worldís population will be Muslim. They will have, a part from a few Saudi sheikhs whoring in Mayfair, almost none of the worldís wealth. So it will have huge incentives to spill [over] its bounds in Niger or Yemen and pour across the frontiers into Europe and anywhere else and take what it can get. The idea that the global order we enjoy today of the free market system, the prosperity, the longevity, the health, and cultural indulgences we enjoy today would survive in that world is absolutely insane. Weíre not talking about a long time away. If you were born at the turn of the century, by the time youíre thirty year old man, the world you know will be kaput unless we understand that these things we value like property rights, like freedom of expression, arise from a relatively narrow tradition in human affairs and that a big chunk of the world, unless theyíre sold on its virtues very quickly, are not going to be interested in them when theyíre dominating the planet in twenty years time.
I will publish the second part of the interview next week. Hope you enjoyed it!