Apocalypse now?

<strong>America Alone: the end of the world as we know it</strong>

Mark Steyn <em>Regnery Publishi

America Alone is a guidebook to a continent called Eurabia, circa 2020. Its old European shell looks familiar; "most of" the old cathedrals and boulevards "still stand" in Rome, London and Paris. But the Islamic National Republican Coalition has just won the French elections - only the latest nation-sized domino to fall to the Islamists. Alcohol is already banned in the Netherlands and Denmark. The continent's women are veiled. The gay clubs are long since shut and shuttered, "relocated to San Francisco".

The "mass evacuations" of white people began five years ago, as the "supposedly Greater France" began "remorselessly evolving month by month into Greater Bosnia". As they flee, the last Europeans curse the memory of mass immigration and multiculturalism. They now realise that 7/7 and France's 2006 car-burning banlieues were merely "the first stage of the Eurabian civil war". The continent that defined modernity is condemned to "societal collapse, fascist revivalism" and a descent into "the long Eurabian night". America is left alone, the last country to resist being "reprimitivised".

This is not presented as fanatical fodder for a party political broadcast fronted by Jean-Marie Le Pen. It is the straight-faced prediction of a book that has slithered on to the New York Times bestseller list and captured the imagination of the American right. Mark Steyn, an uneducated former disc jockey turned pundit, is today being greeted as a sage by the likes of Dick Cheney.

Steyn's story is based - very loosely - on demographics. His argument is simple. Europe's "white" population (a label he initially shies away from, but later embraces) is having fewer children. So to keep their social-democratic economies spinning, Europeans are importing Muslim immigrants, who are breeding rapidly.

From this reading of the demography - "it doesn't explain everything, but it accounts for a good 90 per cent" - the rest of the narrative flows. An unassimilated, culturally confident Muslim mass will slowly become the majority, and demand that the demoralised multicultural "natives" integrate with them.

Steyn's prose has a jangling musicality; like Ann Coulter, he writes in a demonic demotic that makes you chuckle even as you retch. But this cannot hide the gaping holes of logic and fact in his argument. To fulfil his headline predictions, Steyn needs to turn 20 million European Muslims (not including those in Turkey) into more than 200 million European Muslims in just 13 years. Europe's real demographics are described in a similar book by a slightly more scrupulous author. Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of the Washington Times and DC grande dame, last year wrote The West's Last Chance, predicting that an enfeebled Europe would collapse before the Muslim hordes. But after studying the figures, he admitted: "For almost every western European country, their populations do not even begin to decline until at least 2025 . . . In fact, for the next few decades, they continue to go up, even without any new immigration . . . The numbers only begin to move decidedly down about 50 years from now."

Steyn's thesis requires an implausible triptych: the current Muslim birth rate must hold steady through five decades of life in the west; all Muslims must become communitarian Islamists bent on sharia law; and no natalist policies must be launched from European governments in the meantime.

But number-crunching and mockery are not a sufficient response; it is hard to comment on Steyn's work without noting in it issues of race. Of course, Steyn insists: "To agitate about what proportion of the population is 'white' is grotesque and inappropriate. But it's not about race; it's about culture." Yet it quickly becomes clear that, for him, "culture" is merely a thinly veiled homologue for "race" - and then the mask slips entirely. He writes: "Those who pooh-pooh the United States' comparatively robust demographics say they reflect nothing more than the fecundity of Hispanic immigration . . . In fact, white women in America still breed at a greater rate - 1.85 or so - than white women in Europe or Canada." So after saying it is "gro-tesque" to count out "white" babies, he does just that. "White" is not a culture; it is a skin colour.

Indeed, if Steyn's "warnings" have a historical precedent, it is the hysteria among even liberal Americans such as Jack London in the early 20th century that anticipated Chinese immigrants would outbreed white Americans and take over the US. London's solution was extermination; what is Steyn's?

Islamism (distinct from Islam) is indeed a fascistic menace, but Steyn offers a masterclass in how not to fight against it. True, he calls for Muslim moderation - but only after concluding that Muslim moderation is a contradiction in terms. He warns early in the book that "the religion [of Islam] itself is a political project - and in fact an imperial project". So why call simply for more moderate Muslim imperialism?

Steyn's true response to Islamism is to make democratic societies more like the one the Islamists want to build. "The Muslim critique of the west - that we're decadent vulgar narcissist fornicating sodomites - is not without more than a grain of truth," he writes, saying that the destruction of Europe's feminist and gay rights advances wouldn't especially bother him. He agrees that secular Europe is spiritually barren, decadent, depraved. At times, it's hard to see why he opposes Islamism at all.

Europe cannot defeat the far-right poison of Islamic fundamentalism by turning to a parallel far-right mythology of its own. We have seen in the past invented conspiracies like the Protocols of the Elders of Mohammed peddled by Steyn. It is a startling indictment of the intellectual standards of the American right that they have welcomed this Eurabian fiction with anything other than cheap, repulsed laughter.

This article first appeared in the 12 March 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Iraq: the hidden cost of the war