A few days ago, we received an email from a friend who teaches at Emory University. “As I am typing this,” she wrote, “I hear the Moslem call to prayer being played across the entire campus over a loudspeaker… . Do you think I could arrange for the Angelus bells every day at noon?” Anyone care to offer odds on that? Muslim students want everyone to know that it’s time to dust off the old prayer rug and tilt toward Mecca: no problem! Boom it out over the entire campus, Mohammed. It is amusing to speculate about what might happen should some Mary Grace Kelly work up the ginger to ask for kindred accommodation for Catholics: “Couldn’t possibly, my dear. Haven’t you heard about the separation of church and state, no school prayer, this is not a religious institution?” Et, we need hardly add, cetera. The likely disparity in the responses is sobering enough. But even if there were not the double standard, what does it tells us that Friday is a campus-wide Muslim call-to-prayers day at Emory?
We were asking ourselves that question when thumbing through Mark Steyn’s new book America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It (reviewed later in this issue by Victor Davis Hanson). “Someday soon,” the jacket copy tells us, “you might wake up to the call to prayer from a muezzin. Europeans already are.” And students at Emory, too. Readers of The New Criterion will be familiar with the outline of Steyn’s argument. Much of it has appeared in our pages (see, for example, “It’s the Demography, Stupid,” from our January 2006 issue). Powerful though Steyn’s individual articles on the subject have been, however, when they are gathered together in a continuous stream, they make for an absolutely spellbinding book. It is also conspicuously depressing. In 1970, he reminds us, the population of the developed nations was twice as big as the population of the Muslim world. By 2000, it was neck and neck. And now? Hint: the birth rate in Europe as whole is 1.38 percent, way below “replacement” level. In Japan it is 1.32 percent. In Russia, it is 1.14 percent. Combine that with a life expectancy of 58.9 years for men and the fact that 70 percent of pregnancies in Russia end in abortion and you have a prescription for civilizational suicide.
America Alone is not only about demographics, however. It is also about cultural confidence, or rather, the lack of cultural confidence in the West and what that portends.
September 11, 2001, was not “the day everything changed,” but the day that revealed how much had already changed. On September 10, how many journalists had the Council on American-Islamic Relations or the Canadian Islamic Congress or the Muslim Council of Britain in their Rolodexes? If you’d said that whether something does or does not cause offense to Muslims would be the early twenty-first century’s principal political dynamic in Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom, most folks would have thought you were crazy. Yet on that Tuesday morning, the top of the iceberg bobbed up and toppled the Twin Towers.
And then what? America Alone is a look at the rest of the iceberg, “the seven-eighths below the surface—the larger forces at play in the developed world that have left Europe too enfeebled to resist its remorseless transformation into Eurabia and that calls into question the future of much of the rest of the world, including the United States.” Is anyone paying attention? Well, yes. As we write, America Alone is number six on Amazon.com. In other words, it is selling like hotcakes. But who is paying attention, or, rather, who isn’t? As we go to press, The New York Times Book Review hasn’t yet deigned to notice it. Will they? That’s another bet we wouldn’t mind having the odds on.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 25 Number 3, on page 1
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