Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mark Steyn's Badge of Honour

Well, they finally went and did it. My only question is: Why did it take them so long?

The Canadian Islamic Congress has filed a "human rights" complaint with both the BC and Ontario Human Rights Commissions against Maclean's magazine for publishing a piece by journalist Mark Steyn in its Oct. 23, 2006 edition, entitled "The Future Belongs to Islam" ( The CIC complaint claims that “the article subjects Canadian Muslims to hatred and contempt,” and that Steyn is "flagrantly Islamophobic".

I find this a tad odd - if any tone best characterizes Steyn's piece, it is resignation, not fear. True, "Resigned to the Inevitable Impact on Western Civilization of Demographic Realities, in Particular the Relatively High Birth Rate of Muslims, a Fair Number of Whom Recognize Only the Legitimacy of Sharia Law" doesn't have quite the same ring to it as the tidy term "Islamophobic" - but if anything should require accuracy of language, it's a lawsuit.

About that lawsuit. "Hatred" and "contempt" are very strong words. What is most notable about them in this context is just how rare it is to ever hear them used by (non-Muslim) Canadians to describe their feelings about any ethnic or religious group, let alone Muslims. The truth is that, though some Canadian Muslims seem not to have noticed, most Canadians simply do not have hatred of ethnic or religious groups in their psychological repertoire, and a hundred Mark Steyns wouldn't be able to change that even if they wanted to.

But of course, there is one group of people in Canada for whom expressing "hatred" and "contempt" for entire groups of people - Jews, Americans, homosexuals, "westernizing" Islamic women, anyone who finds their hatred and contempt disturbing - is simply a regular feature of discourse. (No wonder they are so prone to believe that others are as easily moved to such feelings as they are: no one's more worried about their car being stolen than the car thief himself). They are the folks who live in the pleasant, middle-class suburbs of cosmopolitan cities like Toronto or Montreal, who vote, watch whatever they want on TV, write letters to the editor, and send their children to state-funded universities, enjoying every blessing of pluralist liberal democracy, but who then excitedly invite the loathsome likes of Riyadh Ul-Haq over from Britain to lecture in their mosques and community centres. Sheikh Ul-Haq says things like this:

On Jews:

“They’re all the same. The Jews don’t have to be in Israel to be like this. It doesn’t matter whether they’re in New York, Houston, St Louis, London, Birmingham, Bradford, Manchester. They’re all the same. They’ve monopolised everything: the Holocaust, God, money, interest, usury, the world economy, the media, political institutions...they monopolised tyranny and oppression as well. And injustice...May Allah give all Muslims, individuals and leaders, especially, and our governments the understanding and the sense to see through their propaganda, their, and deceit and to view them as they really are and thus treat them accordingly”. (

And of course, one only needs two or three minutes in a cab with a Muslim cabdriver, or a dip into any mosque, or a glance through a typical Muslim community newsletter, to encounter similar, if not identical, expressions of "hatred" and "contempt". I wonder if Maclean's, on behalf of everyone who cherishes liberal democracy, could countersue?

Even more bizarre is the fact that the whole point of Steyn's article - that the demographic trends indicate the inevitable, and relative speedy, Islamification of Europe - is not only acknowledged by innumerable Muslims, but serves as a source of exultation for them. Yet no doubt following out the tribal logic of sharia law itself, the CIC has one standard for Muslims, and quite another for non-Muslims like Steyn. So when Steyn says it, it's a human rights violation, but when a champion of Islamic terrorism says it, or your average Mohammed down at the mosque, it is absolutely fine.

Listen, for example, to Muhammad Abdel-Al, leader of the Palestinian terrorist group coalition (Islamic Jihad, Hamas, etc.), the Popular Resistance Committee. "In Europe", he says, "there is no need for war because if people keep on joining Islam in these countries then Islam will become the majority, which I think is the process that is taking place now, so there will not be any necessity to have war with [non-Muslims]". He adds that the rising popularity of the boy's name "Mohammed" in Britain is proof that Islam will "one day enter every house in Europe...Islam is on the rise and cannot be stopped no matter what your crusader governments do". (

This is just what Steyn said in his Maclean's article. It is the same thing said by Muslims from Bradford to Barrie. So why is it only a problem when Steyn says it?

Well, that's easy, isn't it? Because "believers" are good, and "unbelievers" - well, they deserve to die, and where they can't be made to die, they must be silenced. It's so simple. And since decapitation isn't currently permitted under Canadian law, a human rights commission will have to do in the meantime. The Koran rather speaks for itself:

"Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): 'I am with you: give firmness to the believers, I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers, Smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger tips of them'."
(Koran 8:12)

"The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet and alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the hereafter theirs will be an awful doom; Save those who repent before ye overpower them. For know that Allah is forgiving, merciful."
(Koran 5: 33-34)

"These twain (the believers and the disbelievers) are two opponents who contend concerning their Lord. But as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them, boiling fluid will be poured down their heads. Whereby that which is in their bellies, and their skins too, will be melted; And for them are hooked rods of iron. Whenever, in their anguish, they would go forth from thence they are driven back therein and (it is said unto them): Taste the doom of burning." (Koran 22: 19-22).

Maclean's magazine, and Mark Steyn himself, ought to wear this suit as a badge of honour, simply because the Canadian Islamic Congress itself has a far less than honourable record in trying to rid the Canadian Muslim community of those who promote just the kind of "hatred" and "contempt" they claim to be so concerned about. In fact, it is quite easy to believe that CIC members are just as prone to refer to Jews as pigs, to secular democracy as illegitimate, to unbelievers as unworthy of respect or friendship, and to suicide bombers as "heroes", as are hundreds of others in their communities.

If the day ever comes that Canadians begin to view Muslims with "hatred" and "contempt", I predict it will have a lot less to do with Mark Steyn than with the ridiculous spectacle of self-appointed Islamic community leaders, whose theology appears to idealize a theocracy which would abolish civil rights, constantly complaining about how their civil rights are being violated - by magazine articles.

Both Steyn and Maclean's deserve kudos for furthering the discussion about Islam and the west; and if Canadian Muslim leaders believe that Steyn has gotten something wrong, I invite them to meet his comments with facts and logic, not a cowardly attempt at silencing him by running to a Human Rights Commission.


dude said...

I must say Tal: reading this piece caused me an uncomfortable New World Order – (Islam style) feeling. Some kind of futuristic hatred fueled by ignorance. I wonder though if you or Steyn or anyone for that matter has looked into the subtler yet equally as unsettling tide of extreme fundamentalism that is sweeping the United States. If it is true that for every action there is an equal or greater reaction; are there population growth studies in regards to this matter? Will we eventually have a balance of unfortunate extremism? While it is important to expose and have open dialogue about inordinate extremism at any cost, I would hope that we don’t just adhere ourselves to the obvious, inciting additional terror our already fear based society.

Tal said...


Obviously, not every piece can cover every problem - or even two problems...

Dianne said...

Hi Tal

Thank you for sharing this, more people need to know about it. I think I've only heard one person read some of that on TV and I think it was Glen Beck. It makes us wonder just how do we handle people who see nothing wrong with such violence, I don't unnderstand the lack of logic. Dare I say it's like dealing with cavemen.

I appreciate and look forward to your blogs. You should be writing for a newspaper or better yet, you need your own show! Seriously, you are a great writer and thanks again for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

I think the problem in part is that we're afraid of discussing these issues, because the accusations of hatred and racist get thrown about so easily, and in the West we're very sensitive that. But shouldn't we be having some sort of debate on whether the sort of world sharia law would create is the kind of world we want to live in? I know we live in an age when no-one's right or wrong but can't we at least express a preference anymore?


Anonymous said...

I think there are 1 billion muslims in the world. That's 1/6 of the world's population you're tarring arbitrarily with a fundamentalist brush. It's like equating all Americans with Bush since they voted him into power, which is to say logically flimsy and bigoted. I doubt that all members of the CIC are anti semites. This is obscene. Along with the selective reading of the Koran - have you missed the sections on the equality of man, the parts that refuted racism 1400 years ago, the bits on the pursuit of truth and knowledge. You haven't read it at all - those segments you found were evidently derived off of an anti-islam website. Is it possible to compare the way the muslim prophet treated captors with Abu Ghraib and say that the society which produced the latter is superior?

What you're missing is the strategic emergence of this anti-Islamic fervor. Your feelings aren't objective truth. They have been stoked up at a strategic time in society when the West is pursuing what Chomsky has called the greatest natural treasure of all time - oil - in order to maintain its dominance. And to control that resource is to control its rightful owners - the Arabs. And to do so without guilt you have to feel that they are inferior to you.