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Hitchens on Steyn

Posted by Richard on February 12, 2007

In the new issue of City Journal, Christopher Hitchens reviewed Mark Steyn’s new book, America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, and the review really is a must read. I haven’t read Steyn’s book yet, but I’ve heard good things about it. Hitchens approves of it ("a welcome wake-up call"), but is far from uncritical and goes well beyond just reviewing. He points out the book’s flaws, bolsters its weaknesses, and offers some policy recommendations of his own.

This is not to deny Steyn’s salient point that demography and cultural masochism, especially in combination, are handing a bloodless victory to the forces of Islamization. His gift for the illustrative anecdote and the revealing quotation is evident, and if more people have woken up to the Islamist menace since he began writing about it, then the credit is partly his. Muslims in one part of England demand the demolition of an ancient statue of a wild boar, and in another part of England make plots to blow up airports, buses, and subway trains. The two threats are not identical. But they are connected, and Steyn attempts to tease out the filiations with the saving tactic of wit.

I still think—or should I say hope?—that the sheer operatic insanity of September 11 set back the Islamist project of a “soft” conquest of host countries, Muslim countries included. Up until 9/11, the Talibanization of Pakistan—including the placement of al-Qaida sympathizers within its nuclear program—proceeded fairly smoothly. Official Pakistani support for Muslim gangsters operating in Afghanistan, Kashmir, and India went relatively unpunished. Saudi funds discreetly advanced the Wahhabist program, through madrassa-building and a network of Islamic banking, across the globe. In the West, Muslim demands for greater recognition and special treatment had become an accepted part of the politically correct agenda. Some denounced me as cynical for saying at the time that Osama bin Laden had done us a favor by disclosing the nature and urgency of the Islamist threat, but I still think I was right. …

Of course, these have not been the only consequences of September 11 and its aftermath. Islamist suicide-terrorism has mutated into new shapes and adopted fresh grievances as a result of the mobilization against it. Liberalism has found even more convoluted means of blaming itself for the attack upon it. But at least the long period of somnambulism is over, and the opportunity now exists for antibodies to form against the infection.

Hitchens doesn’t care much for the "somewhat slapdash" 10-point program with which Steyn ends his book. Instead, Hitchens offers his own eight steps to counter Islamism, and I urge you to read and think about them. In particular, his opening point regarding "one-way multiculturalism" and "creeping Islamism" proposes the long-needed showing of some cultural backbone that’s essential to the moral and intellectual defense of Western Civilization.

Hitchens’ recommendations regarding India — "the other great multiethnic democracy under attack from Muslim fascism" — and the West African states threatened by the jihadists make a lot of sense to me, too. And I’d never even thought about the seismological implications of Iran’s nuclear program. Go read the whole thing.

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