A conservative columnist and author told a local audience last week that if Western nations want to weather the brewing storm of radical Islam, they must display more confidence in their own cultures. More than that, he stated simply, they must produce more babies.
Mark Steyn, author of America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, spoke at Har Zion Temple in Penn Valley, where he reported that low birth rates were threatening the future viability of nations like Spain and the Netherlands, as well as increasing the likelihood that the ensuing generations of adherents to radical Islam will "overrun" Western Europe.
"There is simply no precedent for managed decline of an advanced society," said Steyn, who in between a series of one-liners that drew chuckles from the crowd, offered a stark warning, saying that "at the peak of its prosperity and stability, the Western world has put its future up for grabs."
Roughly 400 people attended the program sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and by the Boston-based media-watchdog group CAMERA: The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
Steyn's columns appear in The New York Sun, The Washington Times and numerous other publications, including Australian, British, Canadian and Israeli newspapers, most of them right-leaning.
According to his Web site, the native of Canada who now lives in New Hampshire, is "of Jewish descent, but was baptized a Catholic, confirmed an Anglican and currently attends a small rural American Baptist Church."
Without saying so explicitly, Steyn hinted that the failure of young families to have more kids is a symptom of a larger cultural malaise, one brought about partly by an embrace of secularism and a rejection of traditional values, in which the needs of society at large are subjugated to individual whims and desires.
In the nearly two-hour-long program, Steyn asserted that a lack of commitment to core values and identity in Western Europe is a marked contrast to the the zeal and confidence shown by radical Islamists. (He eschewed using the term Islamo-facists.)
He also said that the failure of France, Spain and other countries to assimilate Muslim immigrants into the host culture -- coupled with the Saudi bankrolling of radical mosques and clerics -- has helped foster both radicalism in Europe and a growing threat of terror attacks.
The pundit further contended that residual guilt over the Holocaust has made the problem more acute because it has produced a widespread European antipathy toward exhibitions of nationalism and use of military power.
" 'Never again' has led to the kind of passivity and inertia that led to the Holocaust the first time around. In the progressive mindset, there are no enemies -- there are only friends whose grievances haven't been accommodated."
America Better Off
As evidenced by his book's title, he thinks America is in a different situation, particularly because it's done a much better job of incorporating immigrants into the mainstream culture.
Steyn said that, until recently, he deeply admired the Bush administration and felt that its approach to international affairs was a welcome departure from European agendas.
He then added, however, that Bush misrepresented reality by insisting at the Annapolis conference that the bulk of Palestinians desire peace. In contrast, he said the populace has, by and large, shown a commitment to conflict and Israel's destruction.
During a lengthy question-and-answer session, the speaker was asked about prospects of real reform in the Muslim world.
He replied: "My greatest fear is that the reformation of Islam has taken place -- and that jihad is it."