Muslims, Democracy, Europe, And Demographics

One of Mark Steyn’s readers asked him a fascinating question:

“(Mark), I am a devoted fan of yours, but I do have a fundamental question regarding your repeated articles on demography. Is demography or democracy the stronger force? Which will triumph in the end? C’mon Mark, please address this in a future article. I am dying to know your opinion.

In your earlier essays, you praised the war in Iraq and commented favourably upon Muslims in India and other outposts of democracy. You strongly endorsed the Bush Doctrine, which is devoted to enhancing our security by liberating the Muslim masses, starting with Afghanistan and Iraq. President Bush has stated several times that freedom (political, economic, and personal) is the ultimate defence against Islamic radicalism. By planting the seed of democracy in the cradle of civilization, the Muslim world can be transformed, thus enhancing our security at the same time. President Bush therefore identifies Muslims as malleable, yearning to breathe free like all people around the world. Your support of President Bush presumably includes his optimistic view that the elixir of freedom can change Islam for the betterment of all. Meanwhile, in your more recent demography essays you present a pessimistic view of Islam, based on comparative fertility rates and unassimilated immigrant populations in the West. Muslims are now shown as incontrovertible and unchangeable – you imply that Muslims are culturally resistant to the lure of freedom. They are more likely to form a parallel society in our midst, while undercutting our values and eroding our civilization. Certainly, the recent Euro-cartoon fiasco does nothing to inspire confidence.

It comes down to this – if demography is everything, then why bother liberating Iraq? Why allow Muslim immigration to the West? Why allow Mosques to be built or their religion to be propagated? On the other hand, if the Islamic world embraces freedom and change, then presumably we have nothing to fear from their culture or their relative numbers within our society. What is it, Mark? Is demography really everything? Or, will democracy transform the Muslim masses?”

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Mark gave his own answer, which was essentially a referral to this column, and here’s the one I’d give:

A democratic Iraq or for that matter, a democratic Saudi Arabia is infinitely preferable to a dictatorship. Over the long haul, the freedom that democracy brings will be a positive force that will stifle terrorism and be a moderating influence.

However, democracy is not a magic elixir that cures all ills — nor will turning an Islamic state into a democracy simultaneously turn it into Sweden. That’s because some cultural habits die hard. This is why European nations that have rapidly increasing Muslim populations may run into issues while Muslim nations that democratize may benefit substantially.

For the Muslim nations, democracy may not fix every problem, but it will likely mean more freedom in a myriad of different ways. For a European nation that is already light years ahead of most Islamic nations in terms of freedom, having large populations full of Muslims who’ve had their views of the world shaped by living in backwards, repressive nations can mean big problems. That’s especially true in the West because multi-culturalism and political correctness tend to make many Westerners very reluctant to defend their own culture or denigrate those of other nations — even when they deserve it.

In other words, democracy can make Muslim nations more free while at the same time, adding large numbers of Muslims to already free nations can make them less free. That’s why believing that bringing Democracy to the Middle-East can be a very good thing is consistent with believing that Europe’s exploding Muslim population in Europe may be a big negative.

*** Update #1 ***: This is a sharp post by Raposa in the comments section. Maybe he should get himself one of those fancy new “blog” things we’ve heard so much about lately =D….

Gee, here we have Iran threatening one of our allies and also ourselves with an incipient nuke.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably have to say it again and again. Could you imagine trying to deal with Iran at all while working around Saddam? Bad as it is with terrorists blowing up bombs, could you imagine the loss of credibility if Saddam was still thumbing his nose at us while we tried to get Iran to cooperate? And Iran has even more oil to dangle in front of people as blackmail or bribes.

I mean, the Iran president is already a screaming looney. Could you imagine what he’d have done already if he was convinced we wouldn’t do anything to him in return?

Say we had to invade Iran to stop them from turning Israel into a glass sheet. We’d have troops stuck in Iraq and Saudia Arabia doing nothing but getting shot at as they flew around enforcing the ‘ceasefire’. We’d have to figure out a way to approach Iran that avoided a large section of nearby strategic territory. And, crippled and mangled as it was, Saddam still had some weapons and soldiers left and could have decided that then would be the perfect time to make a nuisance of himself.

If we hadn’t addressed the problem of Saddam, we’d’ve had no credibility at all. We’d also be in a bad position to address any other threats in the area.

We never bothered before because it didn’t seem important. The Middle East seemed to just be at its normal simmer, and it was far away and didn’t matter much. Some people heard the wake up call. Others, I guess, hit the snooze button and went back to sleep.”

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