I’m honoured to be Mark Steyn’s reader of the day, chosen for pointing out that he “delights in weaving a sick fantasy for his audience”!
Steyn is author of the jaunty and thuggish rant, America Alone, a book that George Bush loved and to which Michael Gove, Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, gave a gushing review:
No writer I can think of manages to combine utter bleakness about mankind’s prospects with a genius for one-liners like Steyn… Steyn has done us all a service… ensuring that questions some would prefer to pass over are posed in a way it is impossible to ignore.
So what does Steyn tell his eager audience to expect from its European allies in 2030? A whole lot of trouble. The continent will be in flames, he believes, overrun by ‘darker forces’, with ‘Native Europeans’ beset by a Muslim youth that has fused Western licentiousness with European fanaticism.
Non-Muslims will face three choices: fight, surrender or flee:
Well, my view of Europe in 20 years’ time is that you’ll be switching on the TV, you’ll be looking at scenes of burning and conflagration and riots in the street. You will have a couple of countries that are maybe in civil war, at least on the brink of it.
You will have neofascists’ resurgence in some countries and you’ll have other countries that have just been painlessly euthanized in which a Muslim political class has effectively got its way without a shot being fired — and large numbers of people, particularly young people, have left those countries and have moved on to whoever will take them.
You know, the Dutch are going to Australia, Canada, and New Zealand and some of them, no doubt, would have liked to have gone to the U.S., but the U.S. doesn’t really have a legal immigration program. So, if you need to get out in a hurry, it’s no good going to the U.S. embassy.
In the FT, Gideon Rachman argues that yesterday’s conference walkout during Ahmadinejad’s speech will be bad for Ban Ki-Moon:
Rather than walking away from a conference that was obviously turning into a farce, Ban Ki-Moon – the UN secretary-general – has thrown his prestige behind the meeting This looks like a bad mistake. With the Obama administration in power, the US is clearly keen on the idea of re-engaging with the UN. Obama has made Susan Rice, one of his closest aides, ambassador to the UN – and given her a cabinet position. But the Geneva conference will play into the hands of all the UN-haters in America.
So how have the UN-haters reacted? By pretending the walkout didn’t happen. Take the National Review’s coverage. Steven Groves and Brett D. Schaefer, from the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, are sending back dispatches from Durban II, reflecting the importance of the event to the American right.
Yesterday, Groves and Schaefer reported that Ahmadinejad “rose to great applause from many of the government delegates and, shamefully, from some of the NGOs. Some protestors did rush the stage wearing clown wigs, but they were removed.” They then provide a brief account of the Iranian President’s speech and note that he “concluded his remarks to great applause among a portion of the delegates.”
That’s right. The bit in the middle – a classic piece of summit drama, with Europe’s delegates storming out – doesn’t even get a mention! Mark Steyn, meanwhile, argues that the conference marks the “mainstreaming” of Ahmadinejad, an act that exceeds Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler:
It is in the face of far more public and more explicit eliminationist threats. And, unlike Chamberlain’s generation, this crowd will not be able to plead that what was being planned was so unprecedented it was beyond their capacity to imagine: Every time Ahmadinejad denies the reality of the last Holocaust, he reminds the Merzes [the Swiss President] of the world that the apologists for those planning its sequel won’t have the excuse that they didn’t know it was coming.
Steyn, who sees his role as “explaining” Europe’s decline to the American public, delights in weaving a sick fantasy for his audience. European countries are overrun by immigrants. They are thus desperate to abase themselves to any Muslim leader, whatever the cost.
When the facts – a noisy European boycott, for example – don’t fit. He, like Groves and Schaefer, simply airbrushes them out. As the saying goes: if the facts don’t fit the story, change the facts.
Update: For those of your interested in a primer on Steyn’s world view, see Jules in the comments below, or this post from last year…
Update II: I should note that Groves and Schaefer have now acknowledged the EU walkout. I still can’t understand how they missed it from their contemporaneous post on Ahmadinejad’s speech, but there is a reference to it in their latest dispatch.
Update III: Welcome, visitors, from Mark Steyn’s website, where he has bestowed on me the honour of ‘reader of the day’. To pay back the favour, I’ve collected together some of the greatest hits from a man who dreams of Europe in flames, ‘darker forces’, and ‘white flight’. Read the whole thing.
I’ve been at the Brookings Institution in Washington today for its conference on the transatlantic relationship.
In the chair, Daniel Benjamin, who runs Brookings’ Center on the United States and Europe, and who wrote The Age of Sacred Terror and The Next Attack: The Failure of the War on Terror and a Strategy for Getting it Right with the Council on Foreign Relations’ Steven Simon.
In The Next Attack, Benjamin and Simon argued that:
It is unlikely that even in his feverish reveries, Usama bin Laden could have imagined that America would stumble so badly and wound itself so grievously. By occupying Iraq, the United States has played into the hands of its opponents, affirming the story they have been telling to the Muslim world and adding to their aura as true warriors in defence of Islam…
There is, as has so often been said, a war of ideas going on, a battle for hearts and minds. Unfortunately, America has wound up on the wrong side.
Of course, this was pretty predictable. Every effective terror movement in history has been fuelled by the adverse reaction of its host society. The Bush administration has simply proved particularly obtuse and self-destructive- a fact for which Al Qaeda is appropriately grateful. In 2004, bin Laden mischievously quoted an unnamed British diplomat speaking at Chatham House (!) to support his assertion that ‘it seems as if we and the White House are on the same team shooting at the United States’ own goal’.
Benjamin and Simon’s policy prescription for the US can be summed simply as: stop scoring own goals. They call for a ‘deep and dramatic’ engagement with the Islamic world and point to Turkey’s relationship with the EU as a model. It has moved from military repression to relative liberalism, they suggest, albeit a liberalism that has an Islamic hue.
‘These changes, as well as the speed with which they have taken hold, are nothing short of remarkable,’ they write. ‘That they have happened at all is due to one thing: the prospect of membership in the European Union. The transformative potential this prospect has held has been clear to American policy makers for years, and, wisely, they have supported Turkey’s bid consistently and vocally.’
Of course, US support for Turkish accession to the EU is somewhat problematic. George Bush pushed this line in 2004 despite attempts from the French and others to warn him off. ‘Including Turkey in the E.U. would prove that Europe is not the exclusive club of a single religion, and it would expose the clash of civilizations as a passing myth in history,’ he said.
It’s hard for Europeans to be lectured on this issue by a man who believes that the US is in the midst of a Christian revival prompted by the ‘confrontation between good and evil’ (his words) that America finds itself in. Or from a guy who said this in 2001:
Oh, I know there’s some voices who want to wall us off from Mexico. They want to build a wall. I say to them, they want to condemn our neighbours to the south in poverty, and I refuse to accept that type of isolationist and protectionist attitude.
And then signed a bill to build a 700 mile fence along the Mexican border in 2006 – part of a desperate attempt to shore up his approval rating with the shrinking portion of Americans who represent his base.
But I digress. (more…)