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Baby Talk: Mark Steyn Strikes Back for Islamophobia
Originally published in Empire Burlesque on Sunday, 16 August 2009
The fact that Muslims are a small minority in Europe, that their birthrate is falling, that Islam is not a monolithic mass, that Muslims are human beings who behave just like the rest of us without violence or conflict on a daily basis across the world -- none of this means anything to those whose blood runs hot at the sound of those Mandingo tom-toms beating in their minds.
In that august forum of serious, respectable conservatism, "The Corner," Mark "Mandingo" Steyn has responded to the post here yesterday taking him and his fellow Islamophobes to task for the "psychosexual panic" they evince in the face of their self-concocted vision of a "takeover" of Europe by prodigiously breeding Muslims. It goes without saying that Steyn (and a few of his fanboys in the comments section here) make no genuine reply to the substance of the piece, which drew heavily on a long, detailed essay on Islamophobia by Pankaj Mishra in the Guardian.
Instead, Mandingo comes up with what he obviously believes is the "smoking gun" to prove that a monolithic, undifferentiated, hive-minded Muslim horde is procreating its way to domination over the cowardly "pantywaists" of white Europe. And what is this killer evidence? (And "killer" is certainly the right term; for as we reported here yesterday, Steyn is on record as saying that Europeans will soon figure out how to "buck" the Muslim demographic surge: "If you can't outbreed the enemy, cull 'em.") Anyway, Mandingo's proof of Muslim overbreeding is -- brace yourself:
Lists of the most popular names for newborn boys.
Yes, Steyn -- the scholar's scholar, statistician extraordinaire -- has perused the popular names for babies in two whole European cities, and has discovered -- gasp! -- that they are headed by "Mohammed," and also have other Islam-derived names among the top ranks. This, he says, should convince "even the squishiest multiculti pantywaist" that there is sure enough an evil Ay-rab in the woodpile out there, and that, as he put it in one of his shaky-kneed screeds, it's "the end of the world as we know it."
Now, I would never put my meager learning up against an intellectual giant like Herr Professor Mandingo, but I would like to offer a few layman's observations on these earth-shattering revelations.
First, Herr Professor does not seem to realize that, as general rule, those of Muslim heritage tend to draw their children's first names from a small pool of historic Islamic names; and that variations of "Mohammed" are far and away the top choice from this small pool. Hence, in a list of baby's names, you will find a preponderance of a few Islamic monikers skewing the statistics.
At the same time, it is now the general fashion among those of Christian heritage in Europe (and the United States and Canada) to draw upon a far larger and more diverse pool of first names for their children. A few generations ago, most of these too would have come from a small pool of historic Christian names: saints, apostles, Biblical figures, etc. Now, they come from everywhere -- when they are not simply made up out of whole cloth. In other words, if it were the fashion today for Europeans of Christian heritage to name their children after, say, the four evangelists, then those same lists would be teeming with Matthews, Johns, Lukes -- and even Marks. I myself am a fairly prodigious breeder of offspring, and my four children have names drawn from Russian literature, Celtic myth, a Jane Austen novel and the Jewish scriptures. And this is typical of millions of other parents of Christian heritage.
Second, Professor Mandingo and his allies and acolytes also seem blissfully unaware that not every little baby named Mohammed is going to grow up to be one of the zealous, monolithic Muslims of their imagination. That boy is more likely to grow up to be a largely if not wholly secular guy, at home in the culture of the nation where he was born. (The same goes for girls too, of course, but as Steyn's little two-city lists deal only with boys, we'll confine the discussion to males.) And if he does grow up to be a practicing Muslim, again he will not be a member of some mythical zombie-like monolith, but will have to find his own individual path in a faith that is every bit as variegated, diverse, fractured and conflicted as Christianity, if not more so. But Mandingoism blinds its adherents to the fact that Muslims are actual, individual human beings, with all the inherent complexities and conflicts thereof. They can only see a dark, undifferentiated mass spreading like an oil slick over the pristine marble surface of European "civilization."
Finally, there is the embarrassing fact that Muslims constitute a miniscule minority in Europe: as Mishra pointed out only yesterday, "Muslims account for only 3% to 4% of the EU's total population of 493 million." In the UK, there are an estimated 2 million people who call themselves Muslim, out of a total population of around 61 million. And many if not most of the "statistics" on the "Muslim takeover" of Europe used by the Mandingoist panic-merchants are, to use strict academic nomenclature, bullshit. As the BBC reported this month, in a story about a YouTube video (already seen by 10 million viewers) detailing the supposed "Muslim demographic time-bomb":
And yes, in the feverish, night-sweating brainpans of the Mandingoists, they really do believe that them hot Muslim mamas and those big Islamic bucks are breeding 14 times faster than their white compatriots, who have had the vim and vigor drained out of them by all that sissy-mary multiculti nonsense.
Well, as Ronald Reagan once said, facts are stupid things. Lies are so much more fun -- and more profitable. (Go write a book about "The Non-Threat of a Muslim Europe" and see if any wingut welfare outfits like Regnery Publishing will write you a check.) The fact that Muslims are a small minority in Europe, that their birthrate is falling, that Islam is not a blank, seething, monolithic mass, that Muslims are human beings who live, work, love, strive, suffer and play alongside and with their fellow compatriots without violence or conflict on a daily basis across Europe and the world -- none of this means anything to those whose blood runs hot at the sound of those Mandingo tom-toms beating in their minds.
But, despite everything, we must give Mark Steyn his due. In his baby-name riposte, he does step up and manfully admit that we should "take it as read" that he and Martin Amis and other allies "are all xenophobic racist rightwing nuts suffering from psychosexual panic." I think that here, at last, Herr Professor is standing on solid factual ground.
Chris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column is republished here with the permission of the author.
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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on August 17, 2009.
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