Those familiar with their Greek mythology will recall that Cassandra, the daughter of King Priam of Troy, was cursed by Apollo when he gave her the gift of foresight, but without the ability to convince Troy's rulers of it.
Which brings to mind the case of Mark Steyn who, nine years ago in 2006, warned that Muslim growth demographics and an Islamist strategy of a form of colonization through immigration combined with weak, lazy western leadership meant that the future will belong to Islam.
Steyn, a staunch advocate for free speech was, along with the article's publisher Macleans Magazine, immediately hauled before a Human Rights Commission by aggrieved Muslim activists outraged at the perceived offense given to Islam. Fortunately for Steyn and Macleans, 2006 was a kinder, gentler time compared with now, when aggrieved Muslim activists in the west outraged at perceived offense given to Islam are prone to seek recompense through the barrel of an AK 47 or the business end of a dagger.
|The crowd at Indigo (via Blazing Cat Fur)|
It was that subject and other components of the decline of modern western civilization that a crowd of about five hundred of Steyn's fans came to hear him discuss at a crammed session at Indigo Books in Toronto last night. My pal Mitch Wolfe, a writer for Canada Free Press, mentioned to me that he arrived at 4 pm for the 7 pm start. Even so, it was so crowded he was still only able to watch in a densely packed standing section at the rear of the large seating section made up of line after line of occupied folding wooden chairs.
Fortunately, the wonderful blogger Laura Rosen Cohen, and Mark's charming, beautiful assistants Melissa Howes and Kathleen Sweetapple used their influence and I was able to squeeze a seat in just a few feet away from the stage where Indigo's CEO Heather Reisman engaged Steyn in an hour-long discussion. The evening was a stop for Steyn on his book tour for The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, a collection of articles and essays by the provocative pundit spanning the last few years.
It would follow to reason to assume that a night filled with dire warnings and pessimistic prognostications that naturally arise from Steyn's areas of attention would be terribly depressing, yet it was nothing of the sort. Beyond his sharp insight, the secrets of Steyn's success and his great gifts are his sardonic wit, caustic humour, and ability to cheerfully whistle through the graveyard of Anglo-European culture.
One of the first subjects of discussion to come up was that of welfare, with Steyn castigating a system which perpetuates not just dependence on the state, but also encourages an attitude of defeat. It created, said Steyn, an environment that incentivizes (a word that's existence and applicability Heather Reisman paused to verify with Conrad Black, who was seated in the audience) people not to work.
Heather felt compelled to challenge Steyn on that, insisting that most people want to work and of the need for welfare as a springboard. In retort, Steyn offered the example of parts of England where there are generations of the same family on welfare who have grown up without seeing an immediate relative having to go to work in the morning. According to him state policies encourage, rather than help put a stop to that phenomenon.
Inevitably the discussion turned to the influence and dangerous effects of Islam on western society. We now have, as Steyn pointedly observed, schools in Denmark that won't accept Jews because it is unsafe for them, due to the rise of an antagonistic Muslim student population. In France, things are somewhat better, where they will take Jews but on the condition that if they have a Jewish sounding name, they change it to something less likely to provoke the followers of The Prophet.
Steyn noted that in Canada, we have the notorious public school mosqueterias, where Islam alone is accorded the rights to religious services in common spaces during school hours, and where gender discrimination is openly practiced. That information came to light only because the intrepid blogger Blazing Cat Fur, who was in attendance at Indigo last night, exposed it on his blog.
Steyn's assessment resonated with his admirers at Indigo, and the many beyond who listen to his broadcasts, read his published articles and blog, and the many who scoop up his books, which rapidly climb the best-seller lists for non-fiction. But reasserting his position as a modern day Cassandra is the aftermath of recent terror attacks in France and here in Canada, aside from the many many others in an unending stream of Islamist violence. Because despite them and their obvious cause, we still have most of the media, along with political leaders like Barack Obama, David Cameron, and here in Toronto, our own new mayor John Tory, contorting themselves to deny that Islamist fanatics explicitly acting in the name of Islam, with the approbation of a number of Islamic leaders, have anything to do with Islam.
This profoundly bizarre denial and political cognitive dissonance would be comical if it weren't so suicidal. A phrase Steyn used that resonated strongly with Heather Reisman, and she had him repeat, was that "a society that is prepared to tolerate extreme intolerance in the name of liberalism has signed its own death warrant."
That indeed has happened to us. Islam has become more extreme in the last few years with the influence and influx of proponents of that extremist aspect of their religion, particularly Saudi Arabian Wahhabi and Khomeinists from Iran who have come to our shores.
The tragedy of that is that most western Muslims, particularly those who immigrated prior to 1990, are admirable citizens who came to escape such deplorable religious totalitarianism, and now find it has chased them to their adopted homes. A disgusting irony is that Muslim reformers, like my friend Tarek Fatah, have a more difficult time of confronting the vicious aspects of Islam when every time another atrocity inspired by it happens, we get white, western politicians falling over themselves to deny Islam plays any role in Islamic extremism.
There is a crucial element that people who are so quick to decry people like Steyn and others who raise the alarm about the destructive influence of Islamist ideology on the west as mere "Islamophobes" fail to recognize. It's that most of us doing it have the least to lose should Islam eventually win out here.
Speaking for myself, living in an Islamic caliphate would be a practical paradise on Earth.
One thing in favor of Islam is that it's not a race, it's a belief culture and one that's incredibly easy to join. All you have to do is say, "Allah is the one true God and Mohammed is his messenger," out loud and abracadabra, you're in.
You might think I'd miss the drinking, but as someone fortunate enough to sometimes move in rarefied circles, including some very charming Gulf royalty on occasion, I can assure you that well-placed Muslims, in even the strictest religious environs, can booze it up to their heart's content as long as it's done behind closed doors.
As Tarek Fatah will tell you, racism is endemic in Islamic society dominated by "the guardians of the two holy places," with a racist fervor as bad as one would expect from the American south in the 1920's. But I'm a white male, so that won't be my problem. Women may only have half the worth of a man in Islam, but hey, that'll just make me twice as good than I was in decadent, secular western culture!
Things would actually be great for me in an Islamic caliphate. While I'd miss pepperoni on pizza because of Islamic dietary laws, there would be more than adequate compensation in my four Islamic wives taking turns pleasuring me. When that becomes insufficient, I could always increase the size of my harem with slaves, who are still kept in places like Saudi Arabia and Mauritania. And if any of my wives or concubines gave me any guff, I'd have religious license to give them a taste of the old Sean Connery to shut them up and keep them in their proper place.
The Islamic approbation of gays being thrown to their deaths off rooftops and lesbians being raped to straighten them out is something I find rather distasteful. But I'm not gay, so when the caliphate rules, it's not like any of that will affect me directly.
And even the free speech thing isn't going to be a serious problem. People like me will get to say pretty much what they want in the Caliphate with the exception of insulting Mohammed. But really, at that point, why would I want to insult the Islamo Supremo, considering all the privileges his ideology will have bestowed on me?
But the strange thing is that even with all the benefits and privileges that hard-core Islam would give to someone like me and Steyn, we're the ones who speak out about it. Because we don't want to live in a world where women are property that can be controlled and abused by men, where those deemed racially inferior are second-class citizens, and where gays will be discriminated against and even killed because of their sexual orientation.
Another odd paradox of our world is that the stupid, leftist, moral relativists who would suffer most were Islamism to triumph are among its staunches defenders. It should not come as a surprise that idiots of the kind who run the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education are so quick to dismiss concerns about Islamism as "Islamophobia." Useful idiot secular leftists were the first ones that were killed by the Ayatollah Khomeini's regime in Iran after the revolution when they no longer served any useful purpose. But OISE stands as a wonderful reminder of the truth of the quip that if there's one thing we learn from history, it's that we don't learn anything from history.
OISE is relevant to Mark's discussion last night because as an example of the hijacking of our culture by radicals, he used the example of the new Ontario Sex Ed curriculum incubated at that dreadful institution by one of its professors. That professor, Ben Levin, was Kathleen Wynne's hand-picked Deputy Minister of Education and he is, according to published reports, going to plead guilty in court next month to charges related to his creating and distributing child pornography.
The curriculum of which Levin was the architect is the one that Wynne is pushing hard to reintroduce, and it's chock full of material that will turn six and seven year olds into sexual beings; something Steyn finds deplorable.
A friend of mine asked me about that curriculum today and she wondered aloud how a politician could be so horrible as to want such material to be introduced to children so young. My instinct was to say that it's because we're being governed by morons, but that's not the case at all.
In fact we're governed by smart people who want their ideology to stay in power, They figured that the best way to do that is not to teach our children the important works of literature or to make them truly literate in history, but to brainwash them with politicized nonsense while telling them they're all "critical thinkers." We are governed at the provincial and municipal level by manipulative scoundrels and preached to by a vacuous mainstream media who throw out terms "racist" and "bully," in inapplicable instances, at people with whom they disagree in order to silence dissent. And they want a school system to reinforce that. Because the stupider we make the next generation, the better the chances for future governments as bad as Kathleen Wynne's to retain power.
Mark Steyn's ability to predict the future is impressive but not unique. He is well-versed in history, and since history does truly often repeat itself, what comes next can often be anticipated from looking back at what has been.
The challenge ahead is for Steyn's admonitions to heard by those in positions of authority who should listen, and that he ceases to be a Cassandra. But considering so many among us are ignorant of the real nature dangers that face us in the present, expecting them to learn from history may be more than can be expected.
But for those wanting to have a chuckle while appreciating how our society is torn down from within, The [Un]documented Mark Steyn will come as a very entertaining and highly informative, if slightly perverse, distraction.