Listen to Gideon Rachman of the London Financial Times, who chastizes Mark Steyn and Ajaan Hirsi Ali even more than I did:
The collapse of Europe
If you happen to be passing though Malibu next month, why not pop into an intriguing-sounding conference at Pepperdine University on "The Collapse of Europe". One of the early sessions is entitled - "Eurabia: Is Muslim domination of Europe inevitable?"
My answer to this is "No" it's not inevitable. In fact, given that the Muslim population of Europe is just 4% at the moment, I would say it's highly unlikely. But don't trying telling that to an audience of American conservatives. The idea that Europe is about to be submerged by the Muslim hordes seems to be almost recieved wisdom over there. It is certainly a notion that has launched a great many books. There is “Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis” by Bat Ye’or; “While Europe Slept – How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within” by Bruce Bawer; “The Death of the West” by Pat Buchanan; and “The Cube and the Cathedral” by George Weigel.
I was depressed to see that Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born Dutch politician is taking part in the Pepperdine conference. She is a highly intelligent and courageous woman, so it's a shame to see that she is mixing with buffoons like Mark Steyn, who is giving the keynote address at the conference.
Steyn is the author of the most successful recent book about the alleged Muslim takeover of Europe. “America Alone” earned its author a place in the New York Times best-seller list and praise from President Bush.
Mr Steyn argues that – “Europe has all but succumbed to the dull opiate of multiculturalism.” Indeed “a fearless Muslim advance has penetrated far deeper into Europe than Abd al-Rahman” – a Muslim general who made it to the outskirts of Paris in 732. With apparent relish Mr Steyn predicts a “Eurabian civil war”. The weak-kneed elites will succumb to militant Islam. But an “unreconstructed minority” will turn to “neo-nationalist strongmen”. The poor old Europeans can’t win. It’s either appeasement or fascism.
It is alarming stuff. So it is comforting to recall that Mr Steyn has been disastrously wrong about many things in the past. I've just looked up a piece that he filed from Iraq in June 2003, in which he confidently informed his readers that everything was fine - "a vast number of bureaucrats are running around Iraq with unlimted budgets in search of a human catastrophe that doesn't exist." This is vintage Steyn - jeering, complacent and utterly stupid.
Steyn's Iraq epic ended with him sitting in an Iraqi cafe, watching a BBC television report suggesting that there was a crisis in Baghdad's hospitals. Once again, Steyn knew better. He sneered at:
"the blazing lights of round-the-clock CNN and BBC camera crews filming their reporter yakking away in front of a telegenic moppet whose acute tonsillitis is somehow all Rumsfeld's fault. These days, I always laugh my head off at BBC World reports. And, in that Ramadi cafe, I was touched to find that, even though most of them hadn't a clue what he was going on about, within half a minute, the rest of the crowd was roaring along with me."
Ah Iraq - if only the rest of the world could see the funny side. In fact, I have a suggestion for Mr Steyn. When he has finished lecturing the inmates at Pepperdine, perhaps he could repeat his trip to Iraq and see if it's still as hilarious as the last time.