So many of our present woes are due to thinking that we know things. To our four Jills in the jeep, let's add one Jim, apparently back at the steering wheel in the current war: James Baker, renowned foreign policy "realist" and the man Beltway wags are currently referring to as "the acting secretary of state." The "realists" think that "containment" and "stability" are wise strategies. In fact, they're the absence of strategy. The fertility rate in the Gaza Strip is one of the highest on Earth. If you measure the births of the Muslim world against the dearth of Bishop Kate's Episcopalians, you have the perfect snapshot of why there is no "stability": With every passing month, there are more Muslims and fewer Episcopalians, and the Muslims export their manpower to Europe and other depopulating outposts of the West. It's the intersection of demography and Islamism that makes time a luxury we can't afford.Mark Steyn the inimitable once again writes on the demographic decline of Europe and the influx and high birth rates of Muslims, justly hand-wringing at the apparent trend. Although there is a fundamental weakness in any demographic argument that simply takes todays' figures and projects them in a straight line into the future, Steyn is far from alone in his concern, joined by Pat Buchanan, Tony Blankley, and Melanie Phillips, for starters.
Steyn relates this trend, among other things, to a brief interview in the New York Times, given by the incoming Episcopal Bishopess, Katharine Jefferts Schori. Schori boasts of the demograpic decline of her denomination:
How many members of the Episcopal Church are there in this country?
About 2.2 million. It used to be larger percentagewise, but Episcopalians tend to be better-educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations. Roman Catholics and Mormons both have theological reasons for producing lots of children.
Episcopalians aren’t interested in replenishing their ranks by having children?
No. It’s probably the opposite. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.
The Shakers, who practiced celibacy, and the Skoptsy, who castrated themselves, went the Bishopess one better, and are long gone.
Steyn relates the demographic trend to sexual indulgence cut loose from the family and reproduction, quoting from the actress Scarlett Johansson:
In a bit of light Bush-bashing the other day, she attacked the president for his opposition to "sex education." If he had his way, she said, "every woman would have six children and we wouldn't be able to have abortions." Whereas Scarlett is so "socially aware" (as she puts it) she gets tested for HIV twice a year.Although no doubt there lingers in the Bishopess's ethical teaching some lingering notion of sexual restraint, her "stewardship" and Scarlett's "social awareness" lead to the same result, demographic decline of the practitioners.
Well, yes. If "sex education" is about knowing which concrete condom is less likely to disintegrate during the livelier forms of penetrative intercourse, then getting an AIDS test every few months may well be a sign that you're a PhD (Doctor of Phenomenal Horniness. But, if "sex education" means an understanding of sexuality as anything other than an act of transient self-expression, then Scarlett is talking through that famously cute butt.
If Steyn is pessimistic, the military commentator Ralph Peters is apocalyptic. He thinks Europe's current quasi-pacifism is a blip on a bloody screen, and the next terrorist bombing or three will uncork the bottle and release a genie of ethnic cleansing:
WE don't need to gloss over the many Muslim acts of barbarism down the centuries to recognize that the Europeans are just better at the extermination process. From the massacre of all Muslims and Jews (and quite a few Eastern Christians) when the Crusaders reached Jerusalem in 1099 to the massacre of all the Jews in Buda (not yet attached to Pest across the Danube) when the "liberating" Habsburg armies retook the citadel at the end of the 17th century, Europeans have just been better organized for genocide.
It's the difference between the messy Turkish execution of the Armenian genocide and the industrial efficiency of the Holocaust. Hey, when you love your work, you get good at it.
Far from enjoying the prospect of taking over Europe by having babies, Europe's Muslims are living on borrowed time. When a third of French voters have demonstrated their willingness to vote for Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front - a party that makes the Ku Klux Klan seem like Human Rights Watch - all predictions of Europe going gently into that good night are surreal.
I have no difficulty imagining a scenario in which U.S. Navy ships are at anchor and U.S. Marines have gone ashore at Brest, Bremerhaven or Bari to guarantee the safe evacuation of Europe's Muslims.
Peters, in short, does not do a linear extrapolation. His history does not proceed in straight lines, but rather crooked ones. Whether Peters's particular scenario turns out to be accurate or not, he's almost certainly right that it's not simply a matter of Muslim breeders and ex-Christian libertines and semi-Christian environmentalists doing their respective things. As human beings are involved, there will be horror in the mix. Unwilling to do the practical now, such as limiting immigration and abandoning a feckless multiculturalism, Europe will be faced with bloodier events and starker choices in the future.
Peters points out that we may fare better. We are blessed with a better class of immigrant, an acquired skill at assimilating outsiders, and I will add, for the moment (outside of San Francisco and the Episcopal Church) less reluctance to breed.
Whatever the outcome, it is this story, not our ill-managed foray into Iraq, however important it is, and whatever its outcome, that is the story of our time. And in the next chapters, it will not be the Schoris or the Johanssens who will inherit whatever future there is.