Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | October 19, 2009

Mr. Obama, Go Commemorate that Wall!

It’s one of those events for which you remember where you were, like 9/11 or the Challenger disaster.  You remember seeing it on TV and experiencing remarkable thoughts and emotions for days, like the terrible assassinations of the late 1960s or Hurricane Katrina hitting the Gulf coast.  Where were you when the Berlin Wall came down?

I was on watch in a fleet intelligence center in Norfolk, Virginia.  My section had the mid-watch – the overnight watch – and as we had driven in to work, some of us had heard on the radio about something big going on in Berlin.  Big crowds of protesters.  We had been following the events of the previous months with great interest, of course.  What would it all mean for the military posture of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, analysis of which was our principal daily job?  The Soviet armed forces had had a surprisingly small spring exercise in 1989.  Soviet military activity in general had been on the decline, and little or nothing was going on in the East European nations of the Warsaw Pact.  The military reactions we had looked for when Poland essentially declared her independence from Moscow, and when Austria opened her border to East Germany and the emigrants began to pour across it, never materialized.

We had watched the crowds of protesters in previous weeks during the “East German Monday” demonstrations that started in September.  We had watched as Erich Honecker, builder of the Berlin Wall and a long-time face of the Cold War, was replaced in October by the East German politburo.  The West recognized it then as something of a desperation move, but there were few who understood the magnitude of what was happening.  As my watch section drove to work that evening, we understood that there was a mass of people out in both East and West Berlin, but we had been asleep all day; it was when we got to work and saw our intelligence traffic that we realized East Germany had issued the authorization that day, 9 November 1989, for its restive people to freely visit West Germany.

CNN ran 24/7 in our watch center, and we stood and watched it that evening as Germans from both sides of the Wall began tearing it down with their own hands.  For most of us, the Wall had been there our entire lives, the symbol of Marxist oppression and totalitarianism.  It seemed fitting – inspiring – amazing – to see the people themselves pulling it apart and climbing over it.  I don’t think there was a dry eye on our watch floor.  This was it.  The Wall was coming down, removed in pieces, like a pile of garbage, like a big clean-up operation, by a determined people.  The oldest person on our watch floor was a crusty first-class petty officer, a Russian linguist, in his forties, and even his eyes were suspiciously moist.  “Guess I’m out of a job,” he said with a watery chuckle.

The Berlin Wall that had been there since before we had sentient memories was coming down.  The West had won.  It was very hard to concentrate that evening.  The defense “internet” was hardly past the toddler stage, in 1989, but using the inefficient procedures of the time we were all asking each other, across the country and around the world, “Are you seeing this???”  Someone out there, from the Air Force, I think, asked “Can we go home yet?”  The CNN reporters kept saying “I can’t believe I’m seeing this,” and trying to balance sober commentary and historical perspective with the sheer, unadulterated sentiment of “YEEEEEE-HAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Never again would Berlin be the Soviet Union’s hostage, a geopolitical football, the human guarantee of the West’s behavior.  What was broken was not the “Germans,” or the “Russians,” or any other people out there:  what was broken was the back of predatory Soviet Marxism, that which had held people enslaved, imprisoned, silent, and terrified, and had perennially sought new territory over which to extend its brutal control.  Berlin was one of the oldest pressure points of the Cold War, her status hammered out through decades of armed posturing and painful uncertainty – and now she was free.  This was it.  We dared to say it to ourselves that night, marveling and barely comprehending the import of it:  “The Cold War is over.”

 Reagan had gone to Berlin and said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” – and here it was, coming down.  Of course, he prepared his battlespace before making that demand; it was not only the words that mattered.  But the words did matter.  No American president had uttered them before.  American leadership was crucial in the liberation of Berlin in 1989, and the restoration of Germany in the following years.  It was the NATO alliance that made it possible, and American leadership that made NATO viable and effective.

Maybe you had to be in the US armed forces back then, to have the powerful memories of life in that bipolar world of competing superpowers, blocs, and thousands of nuclear warheads at the ready 24/365.  Or maybe you had to be in the armed forces to recognize the fall of the Berlin Wall as such a watershed.  However it is, I am just about the contemporary of President Obama, and I find I don’t understand at all his decision to not attend Germany’s commemoration next month of the twentieth anniversary of the Wall coming down.  It’s one of the biggest, most important global events in my lifetime – if I could, I’d go to Berlin myself and put on a uniform and march in a parade.

Yet for Obama it seems not to matter much at all.  Oddly enough, he was born only a few days before East Germany began building the wall, on the night of 13 August 1961.  He did spend the 1980s in a different way, dabbling in the Nuclear Freeze movement while he was at Columbia, going to Harvard Law, and becoming a community activist in Chicago.  Perhaps the liberation of Eastern Europe from the Soviet yoke does mean less to him than it does to many of us.  It’s entirely possible, in light of his many criticisms of the United States, that he believes we were at fault for whatever was going wrong in Europe between 1945 and 1989 anyway.  Perhaps his view is, as the more left-leaning of Western leftists argued in the 1970s and ‘80s, that the Berlin Wall was erected because we were too bellicose and threatening, and gave the Communists of East Germany no choice.

Obama may also be solicitous of Russian feelings.  Russia’s leadership, at least, has not repudiated the evils of the Soviet era to the extent that it bears up well under criticism from Eastern Europe.  East Europeans in an OSCE forum this summer got a resolution passed to commemorate the victims of Nazism and Stalinism on the same day – 23 August – and Moscow reacted badly to that.  (The Russians, in fact, accused the Europeans in OSCE of denying the USSR’s role in defeating Hitler, and went so far as to get Israel to make a joint declaration decrying any such denial as being equivalent with Holocaust denial.)  Obama may view it as offensive to Russia to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall – accepting, in other words, Vladimir Putin’s view of the matter.

Obama’s distinctive air of isolation from the memories and sentiments normal to average Americans seems to be thrown into particular relief here.  Having staged a jarringly Riefenstahl-esque speech in Berlin during his campaign, he now eschews the commemoration there of an event that vindicated the tenets of true Western liberalism.  1989 eclipsed 1917, 1933, and even 1945, and it is troubling indeed that Obama doesn’t have the visceral sense that it merits commemoration, for its own sake, regardless of any other consideration.

I for one would like the people of Germany, and of Europe in general, to know that this casual dismissal of a watershed anniversary is not representative of American sentiment.  9 November 1989 did matter, tremendously, and it still does.  An American president should be there to join the celebration.  There are plenty of us over here who believe that.


  1. […] one possible answer to the question implicitly posed by JED in her terrific Green Room & Opticon special, “Mr. Obama, Go Commemorate that […]

  2. and if he went, you would find something to kvetch about in that. or in his remarks. or that he was making the event all about him. or something else.
    at least, if you have to take this and make Obama -bashing central to an otherwise happy story, discuss his reasons for not attending.

    • Oh tosh! He is not exactly averse to giving speeches, to say the least. It is within his ability to give a soaring speech about the triumph of freedom and the great, constant fear that was taken off the world. If he could bring himself just once to stuff the one world pablum and give credit to the people who brought this VICTORY about then no one would kvetch about the speech. His ratings would go up; some would grumble about that.

      I feel confident in saying that he does not want to give that kind of speech. First, he hasn´t made up his mind whether all of that was a good thing. And it´s a story in which the Effendi himself and his buddies are not going to be much in evidence, them being on the wrong side of history and all that. Why dwell on it?

  3. Thanks, JED, for a wonderful retrospective.

    My favorite Berlin Wall story is about Solidarity, back in my graduate school days. I was chatting with a professor about the early protests, and he said, “Do you really think that if the Soviet Union withdrew from Poland the Poles would renounce Communism?” I said, “Yes,” and he shook his head in disbelief.

    When the Wall fell I wrote him a brief note. No answer.

  4. I recall being dumbfounded when I saw that the Wall was being taken down, but I cannot recall where I was. I can better remember where I was for certain people’s deaths. And OJ going on a joy ride – haha!

    Perhaps my favorite book is The Hunt For Red October. It’s only one of two books I’ve read twice (The Fist Of God by Frederick Forsythe the other). One of the things that made October so great was that the Cold War was still very much ongoing when I read it. The tension and suspense was almost palpable. (The movie came out just before the Wall fell and it too benefited from being released during the Cold War).

    If October had been written after 1989, it surely would have been much less gripping than it was. So I have to say that I agree with Putin on this one. The fall of the Wall was a terrible tragedy. What’s the big deal about a city being brutally oppressed by communist thugs when one of the side benefits is a great book?? I think Obama should go to the celebration – to propose the Wall be erected again!

    Side note to the side note J.E. – the book was published by the US Naval Institute. It’s the only fiction they’ve published. I believe the reason was that all other publishers thought the book was too technical for readers and thus not a seller. The USNI published it precisely *because* it was so technically flawless. You may know all that already though.

  5. Few of us regret the passing of the wall that scarred the face of Berlin and divided family from family – and in its wider extension, divided the European family.
    The end of the 80s finally saw the end of two wars – WWII, of which the Iron Curtain was a political legacy, and the Cold War – the division of Europe into opposing blocks, each allied to the two rival super-powers.
    In a very real sense, Eastern Europe finally took back ownership of itself and its destiny in 1989.

    Europe, Europa, mankind’s most wonderful and diverse creation, now has control of it’s own destiny and making a rather good job of it. It’s peoples most certainly do not want a return to the cold war. They are, within the imperfect but evolving institutions of their European Union, looking forward to the future and its many challenges, free, proud, and democratic.

    Sadly, some Russians armchair generals and their right-wing American counterparts still hanker after the simplitudes of the bad old times. They are seemingly locked into the cold war psychology of opposing blocks. Luckily, most of the American and Russian political classes have also moved on.

    Europeans have moved on too. They own themselves now. We don’t own them. Neither do the Russians. Some of our cold-warriors are in denial of the post cold-war world. They still see Europe only in terms of some eternal confrontation with the USSR. Sorry to tell these people, the Europeans mostly don’t give much of a thought to the Russians or US – any more than most normal Americans obsess with foreigners.

    I suspect this commeration of the fall of the wall has more to do with sticking it to the Russkies than any great love of freedom or democracy.

    There are unresolved issues in the respective “backyards” of Russia and the US – South and Central America, and the Caucasian territories. Neither country (particularly their armchair generals) can fully accept the autonomy of these regions – or elections which produce results which are inconvenient. Getting the respective cold-war empires out of their respective backyards would truely be a cause for celebration.

    • “I suspect this commeration of the fall of the wall has more to do with sticking it to the Russkies than any great love of freedom or democracy.”

      Your suspicions are your own problem. It WAS a victory for freedom and democracy.

      As for sticking it to the Russkies – what so special about them? America didn´t force the Soviet Union to subjugate and impoverish half of Europe and it didn´t do the same to “its” half. The environmental cleanup bill for East Germany alone went into the hundreds of billions. That the Russkies are gone is an absolute good.

      There would be nothing wrong with Obama going there and reminding people how much America sacrificed to get that done. And it was a lot. America deserves credit. So why stick it to the US instead, which is what you are all about? We have feelings too. If the Germans can face their ugly past, surely the Russians can listen to a speech or two.

      But of course Obama could find a way to make a speech without miffing the Russians, great subtle orator that he is. The problem is, he cannot find a way to make that speech without denigrating US. Obama is simply not onside. Obama couldn´t give a positive speech about this victory any more than Mikhail Gorbatchev could. Though Gorbi at least inadvertently had a hand in it.

  6. RE — I did indeed know that, having read Red October probably about the time you did. I went to my first working duty station in Adak, Alaska in 1984, and everyone there was reading this amazing book. You see, we were in the “SOSUS” system Clancy wrote about. It’s now call IUSS (Integrated Undersea Surveillance System). Clancy didn’t get everything right, but he did feature the Navy in realistic, if not technically perfect, situations. (And we were glad to know our “OPSEC” — operational security — was good enough that Clancy and other writers never got EVERYTHING right. Clancy did a good job, though.)

    Funny, I was actually at the world premier of the Red October movie in Norfolk, VA. It was premiered to a packed-house Navy audience, of course, and all the admirals were there. We Navy folks had to attend in dress blues.

    And with all that, incredibly, I’m still glad the Wall fell. 🙂

    Margo — I loved your story about the professor. How very unsurprising. One of the most remarkable things about Reagan was that he was such a contrarian about the prospects of the Soviet system. All the way up to the fall of the Wall, most in the West held onto their idea of Soviet collectivism as the wave of the future, an inherently powerful trend against which we were vainly fighting a rearguard action. It was extremely unusual, even on the conservative political side, to see the system as weak and unsustainable — in particular, seeing it so because of the enmity toward it of the people forced to live under it.

  7. peterwise, I am going to “adjust” some of your viewpoints to be more intellectually accurate, as I see things.

    I don’t quite agree that “Europe, Europa” is mankinds greatest creation. I’ll consider the USA as a greater creation, but that’s just a semantic difference of opinion between you and me.

    I’m not so sure that “Christian” Europe quite has the control over it’s own destiny that you imply. Or that it’s going to be democratic for too much longer. The European Anglos are declining and the European Muslim population is exploding. As Mark Steyn has told us repeatedly, it’s a demographic certainty that Muslims will outnumber “traditional” Europeans soon enough. Sharia law (or some similar version therein) is not unlikely. Especially given the radical nature and current non-assimilation of the Muslims there today.

    “Europeans…own themselves now.” I’m not so sure about that either. You assert that niether we nor the Russians own them. First, I object that you group together the USA and the Russians as having “owned” Europeans. If we “owned” Europe, it was most certainly a benign ownership, coupled with vast amounts of benefits. Including protection from the predatory Soviets/Russians. We protected Europe from the USSR/Russians throughout the Cold War. The USSR/Russians never had to protect Europe from us, as there was no chance that we were ever going to “attack” Europe, either militarily or through intimidation.

    Also, Russia fuels Europe with its energy supplies. Russia uses that fact to threaten, intimidate and otherwise scare Europe to Russia’s liking. So I disagree with the assertion that Europe “owns itself” now. At least not to the degree it would probably like.

    You also assert that Russian and the US “can’t fully accept” the autonomy of the countries in their respective “backyards.” I object again to the implication that Russia and the US are morally equivalent here. The US hasn’t invaded Venezuela and claimed some of it’s territory like Russia did with Georgia. Can you even imagine the USA usurping the territory of another country? We’ve fought and won wars over the past century and, despite winning them, have taken no land (unless you count the land used to bury those who were not fortunate enough to return).

    And your term “empire” is unfair as well. It implies an expansionist nature. Russia, yes, that’s a fair term. America, no, unfair term. Hegemon is a fair term for America. Benign hegemon is a better one.

    So there, now you have an assessment of Europe as I see it, in relation to how you defined, and see it. I’m sure you’re ecstatic.

    J.E., I was a little disappointed that the October movie departed from the book at the end (the book had an old US sub exploded to trick the Russians that the wreckage was that of the Red October while the movie had the Red October accidentally torpedoing itself). Neverthess, quite a good movie. I loved the Russian sub captain (Stellan Skarsgaard). And that’s pretty cool that you saw the premiere.

    • You sure don’t “do irony”.

      Using the phrase “intellectually accurate” as a preface to relying on the former disc-jockey, Mark Steyn, as an authority for your views on Europe is simply hysterical.
      Steyn is hardly an authority on anything – least of all Europe and Europeans – which he hates, and which seem to drive him into an incoherent rage. You probably don’t know it but your pal Mark was sacked as a columnist in the reputable daily, the Irish Times, for stating as fact statistics which he had made up and then lying about his sources. His lies have been repeatedly debunked by demographers.
      The facts are that the (4%) Moslem minority in Western Europe displays similiar demographics to non-Moslem immigrants. Most immigration (85%) into WE is non-Moslem from Eastern Europe and Asia. The most significant statistic about Moslem immigrants into WE is that the vast majority quickly become, not fanatics, but apostate. Birth rates of immigrants generally are higher, but after a generation or two they revert to population norms, where economic factors rather than religion are the most significant determinant.
      But we have seen it all before. In the mid 19th century mass immigration of high birth rate Irish Catholics into the Protestant US was seen as heralding the end of civilization as the indiginous culture was swamped by these “barbarians” and their Romish superstitions.
      And Steyn’s incitement has a more recent echo in Europe. The mainly impoverished, high birth rate Jews driven westward from pogroms in the east in the late 19th and early 20th century were on the receiving end of similar Steyn-like incitement from extreme right-wing newspapers and politicians. We know where that led.
      You can’t dine al-a-carte on hatred.
      If you are worried about the Islamification of Europe – don’t be. Reputable demographers say that even if the rate of immigration from Islamic countries doubled (it has in fact decreased as a percentage of total immigration in recent years), and even if they all remained practising Moslems (80% don’t), and even if the 1st generation birth-rate was maintained (It doesn’t – it reverts to population norms), the percentage of European Moslems would still be less than 10% in 2060. It is more likely to be somewhat smaller a percentage of the total than the present 4%.
      If its Christianity you’re worried about, I have some things which might be more deserving of your attention. The abortion rate and incidence of teenage pregnancy are more than three times as high in the US as in the EU. Ditto rape. Our homicide rate is twice the EU average (5th commandment). Crimes against property (including violent crime) is twice the US rate (6th C). (However, the French might possibly have a small lead in adultery).

      The people of the EU consider Russia a reliable energy provider. The EU pays the market rate and the Russians supply the gas. That’s business. If the Ukranians believe that they are entitled not to pay the Russians for their gas and the Russians disagree, that’s also business. I suspect that Russia will be a more reliable energy source than Venezuela and Nigeria – the current source of much US oil. In any case, Europe is diversifying its energy sources. The landscape is becoming dotted with wind-farms, and the French, already with 80% nuclear electricity, are embarking on the next generation of nukes to meet the planned transition from gas-autos to electric or hybrid vehicles.

      As for comparing the US and the USSR. From a European perspective, the comparison is indeed unfair. We have been a good friend of Europe and European democracy. However, the peoples of Iran, Iraq, and a dozen Carribean, Central and South American countries might see things differently, they had their governments subverted by the CIA, and US-friendly ruling-elites and despots imposed and maintained. We are currently reaping the fruits of that short-sighted policy.

      • A bit off topic, but those windfarms are nothing to emulate. They are the grave of billions in subsidies to get a source of electricity that is ugly, expensive and unreliable. Solar is just as bad – in Germany alone subsidies by 2013 will amount to 77 billion Euros for a source that provides just 0,7 % of electricity. That´s not diversification. Meanwhile the Financial Times Deutschland recently wrote that the wind and solar industries are losing jobs because the equipment is increasingly imported from Asia. Here´s a lesson for all of us: If you can´t sustain an industrial base, you can´t sustain an industrial base. Declaring them “green” jobs changes nothing.

        I´m for nuclear power, but alas France is the only country embracing it. The others keep living the lie until the last possible moment (no, Americans aren´t better in this respect).

      • And who is stopping America from building nuclear power plants or “diversifying” by exploiting domestic sources of oil and gas? Something that would never occur to, say, Norway or France? It is not conservatives. This is another area where the liberals under Obama have met and surpassed the worst expectations. Even allowing for the fact that most people are nimby´s.

      • US abortion rates are not “three times as high” as in Europe, not even if you exclude Eastern Europe, where they are higher than in the US. It is true that the US has a significantly higher ratio of abortion than Western Europe. If the breakdown of the family and traditional values is farther advanced in the US – even if it is concentrated in certain strata of the population – then it is only right and natural that the US has vocal pro-life social conservatives. Conservatives, not liberals or libertarians, play the role of trying to diminish social entropy. And it is an important role.

  8. Ritchie, you don’t understand. We’ve got to maintain that airtight seal, and not let any disorganizing facts breath on our ideology. So Europe rejoiced when the Soviet troops went home, but keeps wanting our troops to stay there? Doesn’t affect the huge fact of our moral equivalence–well, maybe not completely equivalent, but pretty much. So united and energetic Europe wasn’t able or motivated to stop genocide in Kosovo–much less Congo, Rwanda, Darfur, etc.? They’re still a force, and we’re a spent one.

    We’ve just seen a demonstration of the mindset (and I do mean set) that makes Obama feel that the German celebration is no big deal–or maybe even something that shouldn’t be indulged, since it might get us back on our empire-building track.

  9. Margo — thanks for straightening RE out. 🙂

    There’s an aspect of whistling past the graveyard to any European bravado there may be about “liberation” from US dominance.

    But I’m not convinced there’s so all-fired much of that bravado out there. Outside of the rarefied EU heights in Brussels, there’s a lot of editorial concern in Europe about Putin’s Russia. I’m seeing plenty of concern about the trend of Obama’s security policy decisions too, and an emerging sense that between Obama’s USA and Putin’s Russia, it’s the latter that has the coherent strategy and the momentum.

    One thing we’re always divided over in the US is what Europe’s freedom from Russian domination means to us. There is always an isolationist contingent that thinks it doesn’t matter to American security whether Eastern Europe (including the Balkans) is a source of vulnerability and instability to the rest of the continent. But it does matter on multiple levels.

    Fortunately, the Europeans in their individual nations don’t tend to elect unrealistic “Arcadia-Europe” believers to high national office. They may be ambivalent about the relationship with the US, but they generally tend to understand that Russia is a security issue for European sovereignty, trade, and access to resources. Of course they want to deal with Russia on a positive, constructive basis: so do we. But that doesn’t mean they don’t recognize that it MATTERS that Russia’s idea of security involves being able to hold Europe at risk with nuclear weapons.

    It’s better for Europe to not be dominated by Russia — or threatened by Iran — and it’s better for us. I don’t buy that Europeans, in general, truly don’t perceive any real threat from these quarters. I’m sure some don’t, just as some Americans have a committed view of the world that declares it to be threat-free. But by their words and deeds, the leaders of Europe appear to clearly think otherwise.

    • There is almost no mainstream editorial concern about European security being under threat from Russia – and less still from Iran. This is wishful thinking to support your obsolete world-view.

      There is editorial concern at the erosion of democratic freedoms within Russia. A very different thing. There is also the recognition that the Russians, having gone through a period of decline as an international player, have prioritized regaining some of their old prestige and influence on the international stage. This priority undoubtedly has the support of a majority of Russians. Those on the far-right in the US who saw us remaining in perpetuity as the single predominant post cold-war world-power find the re-emergence of Russia an uncomfortable and unpalatable fact. They need to get real. Anyhow, there’s a new kid on the block that may soon surpass both of us – China.

      I have little doubt that once the Russians have regained their self-confidence, democracy and civil society will again become priorities for her people. There are already signs of this as the new president establishes his position and Putin fades into the background.

      If you want to know what leader most concerns European editors these days – it’s not Putin – its the comic opera escapades of Berlesconi. But at least he’s more fun than the rather colourless Russians.

      • Exactly. Berlusconi is irrelevant. That editorials prefer to focus on sideshows instead of actual problems only proves that “editorial concern” does not always correspond with reality but follows convenience.

        In purely rational terms, Bush was no threat to Europe – certainly not more than Russia or Iran, and he was more diplomatic and considerate than they – but it was a nice diversion and good business to beat up on him and not on them. And they spent an inordinate amount of lot of time on it.

  10. One further comment,

    Europeans have their own interests and their own perceptions as to what is or is not in their best interests. They willingly listen to advice from friendly sources – even if that advice is critical. However, most folks, and Europeans are no different in this regard, pay little heed to outsiders whom they consider have little real interest in their welfare. This is particularly so when the outsiders are people who have consistently displayed a visceral disdain and hatred towards them.
    The vestigal neo-con fringe with their anti-semitism (Arabs are semites too), their invented war between civililizations, and Europhobia, are the very last people who would have any influence with Europeans. In fact, they have done much damage to trans-Atlantic relations.

    Oh, I almost forgot. What do you mean by European “Anglos”? Is this code for “nice” white people, or just the English speakers (of various races) of the British Isles? – (but presumably not the gaelic speaking minorities in Scotland and Ireland!). I am mystified because the tiny proportion of Europeans who speak English as their everyday language has hardly changed in one hundred years (It’s about 65 million). Presumably Obama and I – who both have a certain amount of Irish celtic blood – notwithstanding the fact that we both speak English – are disqualified from the “Anglo” category!

    • Right. Europeans “consistently displayed a visceral disdain and hatred towards” America, have done so for decades, do not have our best interests at heart. bring nothing to the table and expect to be listened to.

    • Yes, let´s call everyone racist even when they were clearly talking about culture, not language or skin color. Don´t play stupid. You are able to make an intelligent argument – even when you are wrong – why not leave it at that?

  11. Boy, I had no idea that I needed such a strightening out. Thanks Margo. Maybe it’s time to put down Cat In A Hat and Curious George and start listening to Keith Olbermann.

    peterwise, you seem suffer from the “hate” of Steyn that Steyn allegedly holds for Europe (“His lies” “incitement” his “hatred”) . A former disc-jockey? Yeah, so? It seems like you’re trying to be dismissive of him with the comment. He was 18 when had that job. I worked at Burger King when I was 18 to make a couple of bucks in college. That’s certainly not something I’d put on the resume, but it doesn’t define me today. And as for Steyn being sacked from The Irish Times for intellectual improprieties, I’ve never heard anything about that. I tried to find some info on it, but found nothing. Do you have a link to a story? Until I see something, I’ll remain dubious.

    To answer your question about whether or not I’m concerned about Christianity – I’m not per se. I’m an atheist. I’m concerned about the West. I’m concerned that the society, thought and culture that was spurned from the Enlightenment is being eroded and replaced by something that is much less concerned about my liberty – or my life, than I (or you) would prefer.

    When I said European “Anglos” I used an improper word. I was not referring to “nice white” people. I should have said something along the lines of “traditional” Europeans – meaning, roughly, those who descended from Christianity (and the Enlightenment). I was separating them from those who descend from Islam. I don’t have any problem with a Muslim who respects Western culture and, you know, at least doesn’t want to all non-Muslims to be killed. Despite your citing of supposedly reputable demogrophers saying that all will be well, I’m not convinced. It looks to me like “Muslim” Europe is outgaining “Christian” Europe. I have little doubt that once the “Muslim” part becomes the majority, it will be a path towards the opressiveness that we see in much of the Muslim world today. Except maybe worse, as there will be almost no “West” to counterbalance it anymore. Even if a majority of Muslims are not terrorists, Muslim “enclaves” (if you will) permit the terrorists to live and move freely. And plan an operation without much risk of someone kicking the door down to arrest them. I find it disconcerting that it is the 2nd generation of Muslims in Europe that are the radical ones. Most of the 1st generation Muslims are perfectly respectable citizens.

    I get the impression that you think I’m some sort of neo-con bigot or nativist or whatever the right term is. I’m not. I couldn’t care less about someone’s religion, color, sexual orientation, gender. I merely don’t want my (or anyone else’s) Enlightement inspired “life, liberty or happiness” to fall victim to anyone or anything. More over, I want *everyone* to have these freedoms that you and I enjoy today. I fear though that many will lose these rights in the not too distant future.

    • Dear Richie,

      You seem to have little idea of the reality of Europe. Not surprising when you get your information from the likes of Steyn. Guilty as charged – I find him utterly despicable. He has tried to condone the terrible massacre of Moslem men and boys at Srebrenica (which he calls a “cull”) on the grounds that it was the responsibility, not of the Serbian butchers, but of European politicians who were “doing nothing to stop the Moslem takeover of Europe”. Steyn also stated as fact that the 4% of French women who are of Moslem immigrant background produce an average of 8 babies each (as against the French population average of just under 2 – similar to women born in the US). The average number of births per woman at home in Algeria and Morocco – the countries of origin of the vast majority of these women is just above 2.5 (Typical of Moslem and Non-Moslem countries of comparable economic development such as Latin America). Obviously, Steyn’s figure is grotesquely false. But it is this false statistic upon which his claim of an Islamic takeover of Europe depends. He has continually been challenged to provide sources for his statistics. He has, of course, never been able to. (Incidentally, I will try to find an internet source for the sacking of Steyn by the Irish Times).
      Western Europe is not going to be taken over by the Moslems, or Russians for that matter. This is an inconvenient fact for the extremist fringe in the US that is trying to sell its “war of civilizations” and revive the cold war. Europeans aren’t buying.
      Most immigration into Western Europe (and the reason why the net population of the EU is increasing) is due to the movement of people from the former East Block countries into the much more prosperous “Old Europe”. Immigration from the Moslem world (particularly, North Africa) is a decreasing percentage of the total imigrant population. And as I said, most of them become, not radicals, but apostate – like yourself! The 4% of Europeans who call themselves Moslem is probably going to actually decrease slightly as a percentage of the European family because of the factors already mentioned in my previous post, and whoever told you that 2nd generation Moslems in the EU are inclined to embrace radicalism of any kind or in any significant numbers is talking nonsense. European Islamic fanaticism seems largely confined to Britain because of factors peculiar to that country and its fraught relationship with its former colony, Pakistan.
      Europe has always had Jews and Moslems. It has a significant number of sub-Saharan Africans too. All have contributed to what is Europe. A visit to Venice will impress upon the traveller the wonderful influence of Arab architecture on this pre-eminent symbol of European culture. It is part of what Europeans are.
      The spectre of the fall of Western Civilization is an image in a darkened glass promoted by an extremely small and nasty group of extremists who were roundly rejected by the US electorate last November. We have seen their kind before. Their victims were not the Arabs but another semitic people. The predecessors of today’s agent-provocateurs also used false and inflammatory allegations that the native “Aryan” (Anglo?) population were about to be innundated by the Semitic hoards to stir up fear and hatred. It took the sacrifice of the “great generation” to vanquish that poison. Thankfully, we have been able to do it through the ballot-box.

      • In your last paragraph you are insinuating that American conservatives, Republicans or the Bush administration – possibly all three? – would have liked to commit genocide against Muslims at home and abroad? Get a grip, man. The only backlash even after 9/11 was against “racial profiling” – which by the way is done in Europe as a matter of course. And that is one instance where Europeans are more sensible than Americans.

        Western Europeans also would never have elected someone like Barack Obama. I concede that. No chance.

      • Steyn sometimes is too hard on Europe. From my experience in southern Germany, it is a stolid but very civilized and wealthy place. It is an economic and technological powerhouse. You can live (and eat!) very well and if the place is overrun by muslim fanatics, it is not evident in most places where you can go about your business without ever seeing any unassimilated minorities. I know quite a few Germans with an immigrant background and they are nothing to worry about.

        I guess you can see the big “but” coming.

        At least two members of the Dutch parliament had to go into hiding for things they said about Muslims. Jews in Berlin or Paris are instructed to cover their identity when they go out. In Germany, muslim rallies wave Hezbollah flags on al Quds day, a terrorist organisation, while an Israeli flag is confiscated by the police because it “threatens public order” (and in that environment, it is literally true).

        Only yesterday, the German-Turkish lawyer and author Seyran Ates had to “remove herself from the public” after receiving death threats for writing a book – in Germany! – about the need for muslims to come to grips with homosexuality and arranged marriages. This is not the first time she had to become invisible; in 1984 she was shot by a muslim while working in a sanctuary for abused turkish women.,1518,656996,00.html

        As for Britain, I wouldn´t know where to start. These are just a few examples of creeping surrender; another one will come along next week. Steyn writes about these a lot, but he isn´t making them up.

        Twenty years ago, this would have caused a national outcry. Now it is happening all the time. People shrug and look the other way. I call that a trend. Sure, the majority of muslims has nothing to do with the violence and threats of violence. I know a few of them myself. But that is Steyn´s point: minorities get things done if they have the will. Fear of the domestic muslim reaction already influences legislation and foreign policy. It is probably a bigger factor than whoever is currently in the White House.

        Now look over the Atlantic? When is the last time anyone in the US had to go into hiding for speaking his mind?

        The most anti-American nutters, the Code Pinkers, Churchill, Ayers, Wright – they prosper. Same for their opponents, even if their guy isn´t in the White House. The extremes are out and in the open in America. Being divided isn´t pretty, but it is healthy to have a full spectrum of opinions and convictions and being able to be heard. By contrast, what goes on in Europe happens below the surface, in a kind of creeping, consensual change. And with none of your “editiorial concern”.

  12. I would tend to doubt much of what peterwise is saying. For one thing, Steyn has made it a point
    to indicate how Srebenica was a failure of European will. As for radicalism only happening in the UK, how about the Citroen bonfire of the last few years, the
    Danish cartoon protests, the series of terrorist plots
    stopped in Germany, He has spoken out against the
    corrupt oligarchies of Arabia and Egypt and favor of
    democratic movements in Afghanistan and Iraq, The intellectual and political culture is suffused with anti Semitism, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

  13. I wonder if there is a citation on the “8 babies per Muslim woman” claim attributed to Steyn. I don’t recall ever seeing him make such an assertion. As far as I know, he has pointed out only that the female Muslim population of France has a higher birthrate than that of native-born Frenchwomen of indigenous French heritage, which is true. He has also noted that even with the higher fertility of Muslims factored in, most European nations are reproducing at less than the population replacement level.

    Apparently the Irish Times dropped Steyn’s column in 2005 due to an editorial decision about his tone, and the response of IT’s readers to it. There is nothing to suggest Steyn ever worked for or was dismissed by the IT. He worked in Canada while establishing his career as a columnist and author.

  14. Incidentally, peterwise, on what do you base your claim that Steyn has tried to “condone” the massacre of Muslims by Serbs? A citation of words to that actual effect is necessary for me to give any credence to that charge.

    If all Steyn did was point out that the consortium of US and Western European powers failed to STOP the massacre at Srebrenica in the summer of 1995 — he was absolutely correct about that. I was at the allied HQ in Naples throughout that period, and can attest that it was political dithering, and a dysfunctional UN chain of command incapable of making the necessary decisions, that failed terribly to intervene against what the Serbs were doing.

    NATO got some backbone and intervened more effectively after the Serbs were driven back with the air assault in September, and the Dayton accords were concluded. But it took the events of that gruesome summer to galvanize the West. It shouldn’t have; but that has nothing to do with Mark Steyn.

    Perhaps you can provide a citation on the claim that Steyn said this happened because “Muslims are overrunning Europe.” I simply don’t believe he said that. I’ve never seen any evidence that he is unaware of the long history of Islam, and the conflict of Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism with it, in the Balkans.

  15. The 8% birthrate came from a short film which appeared in 2007 (It is still, I believe, to be found on U Tube) which Steyn quoted with approval in the Spectator magazine (Which was owned at the time by Steyn’s friend and then employer, the convicted fraudster Conrad Black). I was incorrect in ascribing the origin of the lie to Steyn – he merely repeated it.
    In his book ‘America Alone’ Steyn posits a Moslem majority in the EU by 2020. The present number of (nominal) Moslems in the EU is between 13 and 16 million. To become a majority by 2020 that number would need to swell to more than 200 million in 11 years. Not even the ludicrous birthrate of 8 babies per woman would suffice for such an outcome.
    Steyn uses the word “cull” when speaking of the massacre in Srebrenica in his book. The word “cull” means selective killing to control of animal populations. The use of that word in the context in which he uses it in his book says it all.
    Steyn was sacked by the Irish Times for twice making emotive claims about Moslems in the EU which were based on purported incidents which were found never to have happened. The editor, Geraldine Kennedy, fired him and replaced him with Charles Krauthammer as its resident right-wing hysteric.

    For clarity:
    1. The current percentage of Moslems in the EU is 3.6 – 3.7%.
    2. Approximately 5% of French Moslems regularly attend a Mosque (This is rather less than the equivalent percentages of Catholics and Jews). This level of apostacy also means that most of the 13 -16 million Moslems in the EU are actually Moslems (literally) only in name.
    3. Given that the number of Moslems has drastically fallen as a percentage of the immigrants into the EU, and that the birthrates of all immigrants (including Moslems) reverts to the mean after a generation, the percentage of Moslems in the European population is actually falling, year on year.

    Finally, we might agree on one thing. I am a citizen of one liberal democracy (the US) living in another (France). I believe that liberal democracy is not a value free concept, or a code-word for “anything goes”. It connotes a positive system of values which include respect for individual autonomy of both men and women, respect for private property, the primacy of freedom of expression over religious sensitivities, the right of all those within the power of the State to decide who will exercise that power, the separation of church and state, and the non-endowment of any religion. These values are still contested in our own country by some so-called Christian fundamentalists (religious zealots have much in common with each other).
    These values are a comparatively recent arrival in the Western world. Many have yet to arrive in the Islamic world. One sure way to retard the evolution of these values in the East is to metaphorically keep beating Moslems over the head while at the same time completely ignoring the values we ourselves espouse in our dealings with them.
    However, we in the West should insist that all persons who come here to live within our societies should integrate into our liberal democratic ethos – and not become ghettoized in a society apart with separate rules. But we cannot preach integration and practice exclusion.

    Incidentally, someone mentioned that Obama would never have been elected in Europe (presumably because he is black). Perhaps, perhaps not. However, I remember the behind the scenes remarks when Lieberman ran for the non-job of Veep that his first loyalty was to Israel and not the US. This ‘polite’ but endemic US anti-semitism certainly damaged the Democratic ticket. On the other hand, supposedly anti-semitic France has a half Jewish President and Foreign Minister (When the Germans were making Hitler their Chancellor, the French were electing Leon Blum – he survived the Vichy gang Hitler installed to run occupied France – and was elected Prime Minister again after the war – The first of many including Mendes-France and Fabius). In contrast, there is only one French legislator with roots in the Maghreb (which goes to show the unlikelihood of a Moslem takeover of France – even ignoring the demographics).

    I think we can rest easily in our beds.

  16. peterwise, Mark Steyn’s book America Alone does not give a projected date by which Europe might be majority Muslim. That claim is simply untrue. I have the book and have read it. In a foreword to the 2008 trade paperback edition, Steyn cites a REVIEW of the book from Britain’s New Statesman that contained the following sentence:

    “America Alone is a guidebook to a continent called Eurabia, circa 2020.” (p. x of the Introduction)

    But Steyn in fact posits no date for when Muslims become a majority in Europe.

    I can find no reference in the book to a “culling” process related to the Srebrenica massacre. Perhaps you have a page number or at least a chapter citation.

    Steyn never worked for the Irish Times. His column was syndicated to it. The Irish Times dropped his column. It did not “sack” Steyn. I do not believe the charge that Steyn made non-factual comments about events involving Muslims, but if you can provide citations that hold up I could very well change my mind.

    If you can provide a link to the video you refer to or the citation of it you attribute to Steyn, that would be helpful. I remain unpersuaded about the allegations against him.

    • 1. The quotation from “America Alone” is “……….. if you can’t outbreed the enemy, cull ’em”. The “enemy Steyn refers to are Moslems without distinction, and he is making the point that unless Moslem population growth is curtailed by deportation of Moslems, or barring further Moslem immigration to Europe, they will be “culled” by genocide. He refers to the Srebrenica massacre as the first example of this “necessity”.

      2. Perhaps you might “posit” (as you say) a different implication of “Eurabia, circa 2020” given that much of Steyn’s “Protocols of Allah” (aka America Alone) dwells ad nauseum on grossly inflated statistics on Moslem immigration and birth-rates. It is telling that you have not challanged the alternative (and correct) statistics I have presented to you. This is because they are the truth.

      3. Congratulations, The Irish Times didn’t employ Steyn in the legal sense – no more than any newspaper employs commentators. So perhaps instead of using the legally incorrect colloquialism that he was “sacked”, I should have said that editor Kennedy unilaterally repudiated the contract between her newspaper and Steyn’s agent because of Steyn’s breach of the implied term of his contract not to lie. Is that better?

      I presume that you will now trawl througn he net to provide authorities for the constant stream of unsupported assertions which you present as fact? I won’t hold my breath.

      The question which many in Europe are asking is whether the consensus that underpins democracy is breaking down in America. As you will appreciate, democracy depends not only on the right of the majority to govern, but also on the minority to accept that right. Our country now has an angry and extreme minority that neither accepts or acknowledges the legality of the present elected government, the legitimacy of the President elected by the plurality of our people, or even the right of people of a different colour or language background to participate as true Americans in “their” country. Europeans notice this tiny minority and give it more importance than it merits because it dominates large sections of our media, and because it regards Europe and Europeans with unrelenting hatred.
      I keep telling my European friends not to worry, the statistics show that the “birthers”, and the “give me back my country, dude” types are a small angry minority whose fevered views have been roundly rejected by the vast majority of Americans, and that most of our mainstream politicians are sensible and level headed people – much the same as those in Europe and the rest of the Western World.

  17. Thanks a lot J.E. for straigtening things out re: the claims of peterwise and his Steyn assertions. I’ve been skeptical and am now more so. I’ll keep an eye on this space though to see if peterwise sends any links or citations.

  18. OK, I have located the passage with the word “cull” in it. I will provide an extensive excerpt here so readers can compare Steyn’s actual words with the character peterwise attributes to the proposition.

    The passage starts on p. 4 of the 2008 trade paperback edition of America Alone. Under the subchapter heading “The Math of the Map,” Steyn propounds the following:

    “Demography doesn’t explain everything, but it accounts for a good 90 percent…”

    Steyn spends a paragraph discussing why the global economic takeover by Japan predicted in the 1980s hasn’t happened, attributing it to the aging of the Japanese population. (He refers to the predicted threat as the “Yellow Peril,” obviously a would-be clever allusion to the alarms about Japan raised in US newspapers a century ago.)

    “What happened in the 1990s was what Yamada Masahiro of Tokyo’s Gakugei University calls ‘the first low-birth-rate recession’,” Steyn explains.

    “It’s not the economy, stupid. It’s the stupidity, economists–the stupidity of thinking you can ignore demography. Japanese society aged, and aged societies, by their nature, are more cautious and less dynamic: old people weigh exposure to risk more than potential for gain.

    “Another example: will China be the hyperpower of the twenty-first century? Answer: no. Its population will get old before it’s got rich.

    “Another: why did Bosnia collapse into the worst slaughter in Europe since World War Two? In the thirty years before the meltdown, Bosnian Serbs had decline from 43 percent to 31 percent of the population, while Bosnian Muslims had increased from 26 percent to 44 percent. In a democratic age, you can’t buck demography–except through civil war. The Serbs figured that out–as other Continentals will in the years ahead: if you can’t outbreed the enemy, cull ’em. The problem Europe faces is that Bosnia’s demographic profile is now the model for the entire continent.

    “The literal facts of life are also what underpinned the so-called ‘cartoon jihad’ of early 2006. It was a small portent of the future: the publication by one Danish newspaper of various cartoonists’ mostly very mild representations of the Prophet Mohammed was the pretext for weeks of protests, lawsuits, death threats, rioting, torching, razing, and killing by disaffected Muslims from Calgary to Islamabad, London to Jakarta. On September 11, 2001, not many of us thought it would soon seem perfectly routine to hear news announcers read headlines like: ‘The Danish cartoon death toll is up now to nine.’ ”

    This is the context in which the Bosnia passage occurs. We can note that Srebrenica is not actually mentioned, nor need it have been: there were massacres inflicted prior to 1995; they were the catalyst for the original interventions by the WEU, NATO, and the UN, which started in 1992. I’m not sure where the specific invocation of Srebrenica comes in, in relation to this passage.

    But of course, the other and more significant comment is that it is clear Steyn is not condoning the massacre of Bosnian Muslims by Serbs, but suggesting that demographic shifts explain it. People can certainly disagree over that proposition, but it is a wild overreach to accuse Steyn of condoning slaughter, or of claiming that what explains it EXCUSES it. He quite clearly does not do that here.

    I’ve been rereading America Alone, and have yet to find any statistical references in it that contradict what peterwise has outlined. So I remain unmoved by the claim that Steyn uses grossly inflated statistics, as well as the one that the Irish Times dropped his column because he lied. An actual example to support either of these claims, with a link to verifiable material, would go a long way.

    None of this means I agree with everything Steyn says. I suspect he overestimates what FUTURE statistical developments will look like, in at least some cases. He does not, however, suggest that there will be a Muslim majority Eurabia by 2020. He doesn’t posit a date for that shift at all, but based on the population trends he does invoke, I would deduce that he doesn’t think there will be an absolute majority of Muslims in Europe before at least 2050.

    He does make the explicit point that the overwhelming preference of Muslims for settling in the major cities is likely to give them a majoritarian political presence in some parts of Europe, well before they are anywhere near representing the literal majority of the population. That is an intelligent analysis, which I would set against the comment at the end of the Bosnia paragraph about Bosnian demographics being the model for the entire continent. In my view that’s an overstatement, and one that assumes no interruption of or deviation from the current trajectory. Many things could intervene to slow down or obviate an extrapolation of “Bosnia” to the entire continent. It looks to me like a worst-case warning, rather than a most-likely one. Steyn apparently sees that differently, but it’s a difference of interpretation and analysis, not of facts.

  19. J.E., Many thanks for doing the research about all this. I don’t know if peterwise is playing “fast & loose” with his “facts” figuring no one would investigate their veracity. But if so, your investigative efforts will surely make one think twice about doing so in the future here. Which does a service to us all.

    Steyn often phrases things that, if one chooses to take them out of context (like peterwise with “cull”), Steyn could look like a bigot or a racist. However, I doubt Steyn has ever printed anything that, if taken in its proper context, could be considered bigoted/racist/whatever. I’m pretty sure that’s not his nature and I’m also pretty sure he’s not that dumb.

    I have an unrelated and pretty unimportant question J.E. – what determines whether you post something here or over at Contentions?

    • Ritchie, maybe you should read through the posts and comments again. You might come to understand who it is that is neither factually correct nor willing to own up when she’s shown to be inaccurate.

  20. J.E., Why don’t you want to be factually correct? And when are you going to own up to your inaccuracies?

  21. RE — I think you understand that the point here isn’t to “show up” peterwise, but to not let tendentious or unfounded allegations stand. Blackening a pundit’s reputation with such allegations functions as a means of avoiding substantive discussion altogether, and is unhelpful.

    If commentators from the left ever made tendentious or unfounded allegations about left-wing pundits or political figures, I wouldn’t want those to stand either. But for whatever reason, you just don’t see them making allegations of that kind.

    I’m not worried about fuster’s comments. He has never disproven any fact I have used in a post. If you’re interested in where he imagines himself to have “caught” me, check out my Slim Pickin’s post from 02 October. You’ll see the exchange that followed, and what fuster bases his allegation on.

  22. Or simply look at the post after this one, the one that repeats that’s no not a way to legislate universal health insurance coverage.

    However, that’s not really the point.
    Learn to graciously give ground when you’re wrong.

  23. I do understand that the point isn’t to stand up peterwise. That’s certainly not my intention (my mistake if things came out that way). I too just like to see unfounded allegations rectified. While on the topic, how’s this for a coincidence –

    On Sunday Steyn posted this on National Review Online. The title: “Think Globally, Cull Locally.” If there’s any question about Steyn’s usage of the word “cull” and his willingness to even put it in the title, this should clear things up for any doubters of his intentions.

  24. RE — the contentions cut-off is topics that can be covered briefly, in about 500 words or less. My typical post here runs to 1200-1500 words, much too long for contentions.

    fuster, your implication that you proved me to be wrong about anything in the insurance mandate post is incorrect.

    All any of us have right now are the competing opinions of legal scholars and politicians. You have demonstrated only that some people think there’s no constitutional issue with levying an individual insurance mandate. We knew that already. The issue won’t be settled for practical purposes unless a bill is passed and challenged in court.

    For theoretical purposes, even that will not settle it — and that would be true even if the decision went my way. People who disagreed with the decision would have an unending right to their disagreement.

  25. RE — no, you didn’t come off as wanting to show up peterwise (at least not from where I sit). I did want to make it clear that that’s not the agenda here, though.

  26. I don’t feel cut off in the least. In spite of your special pleading for Mr. Steyn, and attempts to put a less malign interpretation on his arguments, the message is clear. Steyn hates Moslems, and his weapon is to produce false statistics to create hysteria and fear.

    Western Europe, nor any city, or region, of Western Europe will ever have a Moslem majority is 2050, or ever, on present demographical trends. Moslems, as a percentage of the Western European population are declining slightly. The trend of Moslems to become non-observant will probably accentuate that decline over the coming decades. Contrary to your lame attempt to rescue your argument, it is not “reasonable to deduce” that parts of Western Europe will have a Moslem majority. The real figures suggest otherwise.
    The only parts of Europe that will have a Moslem majority in 2050 are the parts that already have a Moslem majority – European Turkey and small regions in the Balkans. These have been Moslem for centuries (Steyn’s figures for the Balkans are also incorrect – but that is another story).
    However, I dn’t think that all the figures in the world will stop you believing what you want to believe. The Europeans have seen it all before when false and inflated figures as to Jewish immigration from the East and jewish birthrates were used by right-wing extremists to stir up hate and hysteria.
    (I do agree that some of the comment here is too long – including mine – mea culpa.)

  27. Do you really call it special pleading, peterwise, to quote someone correctly and in context, and analyze his statements on that basis?

    Apparently you do. Meanwhile, I would request that you go through my 12:03 AM post above and explain where I said it is “reasonable to deduce” that there will be a Muslim majority in Europe by 2050. Hint: I in fact said no such thing.

    • I apologise for (apparently) incorrectly paraphrasing your argument. I am heartened that you now don’t find it reasonable to deduce that some European cities will have Moslem majorities in the future. That is some progress at least.

  28. Incidentally, peterwise, the reference by Ritchie Emmons to Contentions, and my explanation on post length, relates to another blog I post at called “contentions’ (linked from my blogroll on the right).

    The exchange wasn’t about the length of any of the comments here, which can be as long as the spirit moves you to make them. Probably. I suppose WordPress has a limit of some kind, but I doubt any of us will ever reach it.

  29. Steyn doesn’t like Political Islam, which amounts to various flavors of SAlafism, Wahhabi and Deobandi for one. He does find the west susceptile to Islamism, mostly because of it’s acommodationist tendencies, not by Islam’s unique nature

    • You better explain that to Steyn. He sees Islam as one big hive of terrorism – much the same as his extreme right-wing predecessors portrayed the Jews in another time. Almost none of the Moslems of Europe belong to any of the sects you mention. The overwhelming majority are from mainstream Sunni and Shia Moslem societies. Most become unobservant of any Moslem practice within a short space of years.

  30. “I am heartened that you now don’t find it reasonable to deduce that some European cities will have Moslem majorities in the future. That is some progress at least.”

    ?? Some European cities may well have Muslim majorities in the future. Some of them, like Brussels (20%), Amsterdam (24%), and Marseilles (25%) already have very large Muslim minorities.

    (These figures are from the website “Islam in Europe” and are cited here, with source links: )

    It would be as silly to say that European cities can’t turn into Muslim-majority cities as it would be to say American cities with large Latino populations can’t become Latino-majority cities.

    Los Angeles, for example, had a smaller percentage of Latinos in 1970, with 17.1%, than the Muslim percentages of any of the European cities listed above. But in 1980 the Latino population was 27.5% of Los Angeles, in 1990 it was 39.3%, and in 2000 it was 46.5%. It would be nonsensical to assert that LA can never possibly become a majority-Latino city. If it doesn’t do so in next year’s census, the trend suggests it will by 2020.

    Notably, although LA may not yet be a majority-Latino city, it would also be absurd to assert that Latinos are not a significant political factor in LA. Of course they’re not a monolithic bloc, any more than Muslims in Europe are — but, like Muslims in Europe, there is some truth to some generalizations about their sociopolitical character and impact.

    Also like Muslims in some parts of Europe, Latinos and their heritage are embedded in the cultural DNA of southern California. Its “Americanness” is as much theirs as it is that of white or black immigrants from the American East, or Asian immigrants from across the Pacific.

    None of that means it’s vicious or mean-spirited to predict that LA will have a Latino majority in either the 2010 or the 2020 census. Neither is it so to suggest that some European cities may become majority Muslim in this century.

    The “Islam in Europe” site has a piece referencing a professor from the Catholic University of Louvain who predicts that Brussels will have a Muslim majority in 15-20 years. The piece, originally in Le Figaro (and yes, I know its editorial slant is center-right) also cites the caution of a local Muslim parliamentarian that this may be an overestimate. It looks like a pretty balanced piece.

    See it here:

    The implication that it’s evidence of hatred or hysteria to conclude that there may be Muslim majorities in some European cities within a few decades just doesn’t hold up.

  31. You are still flailing around trying to rescue yourself and Mr. Steyn.

    To repeat. The present real-life demographic trends which I have outlined in previous posts strongly suggest that no European city or region of Western Europe will have a Moslem majority by 2050, or ever. The present trends point to a contrary conclusion – that Moslems as a percentage of the Western European population are beginning to slowly but surely decline.

    Nothing whatsoever in the two sources you have provided contradicts what I have argued, or supports what you or Mr. Steyn have argued.

    With the greatest respect, when you are in a hole you should stop digging.

  32. The difference between us, peterwise, is that I’m not claiming any statistics I’ve cited prove conclusively that something is or isn’t going to happen. In the situation we’re discussing, that’s certainly the more empirical approach.

    Looks like we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

  33. Yes, we will just have to disagree.

    Now, I have a boat to bring back from Belle Ile for wintering here and I have a weather window tomorrow.

  34. […] meant every word.  The Wall came down, two years and five months after Reagan’s speech.  Fittingly, it was torn down by the German […]

  35. […] meant every word.  The Wall came down, two years and five months after Reagan’s speech.  Fittingly, it was torn down by the German […]

  36. […] meant every word.  The Wall came down, two years and five months after Reagan’s speech.  Fittingly, it was torn down by the German […]

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