America Alone

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Given that I don't care for political books, I find myself always wandering down strange by-ways when it comes to reading them. America Alone by Mark Steyn is one of those--a book-length diatribe? rant? discussion? neocon apologia? I don't know what to call it; however, I do know that I enjoyed it for the most part and it raised in me an awareness of certain points that I either chose to ignore or was deliberately keeping at arm's length because the implications of them were too frightening to deal with on an everyday basis.

Steyn's primary thesis in the book is that Islam, far from being a religion of peace and love, is in fact a religion wrapped up in a legal philosophy encased in a political system. It is, indeed, a transnational identity that eschews the boundaries of state and government and sets its priorities quite differently from the rest of us. Frankly, that is something I have admired in Islam. Above all else is service to Allah, period. This is more important than state, region, nationality, or any other variable you can think of. It is, in fact, the incarnation of "Seek ye first of the kingdom of God and His righteousness."

The problem with modern Islam is that it has been more or less willingly hijacked by extremist sects that we fund, and of recent date, fund more richly through our reliance and purchase of Saudi oil. (Let's not consider the other politically undesirable despots and monomaniacs we support through this reliance--I'm thinking of Hugo Chavez, amongst others.) Wahhabism, an extremist and some might say anti-Islamic islam was born, fostered, and continues to be nurtured and exported from Saudi Arabia in the form of huge endowments and grants to mosques and madrasses the world over.

Steyn makes the analogy that while the wahhabi's of the world are a very small part of Islam, the present Muslim approach to them is akin to that of the German people who had nothing to say in his rise to power. Of course, like most of the book this is a generalization, one can find Islamic groups that protest the hijacking of their faith in such an extremist manner; however, they seem to be small and relatively little known. If you search on Google you can find anti-terrorist Islamic groups. Reading some of these sites one gets the impression of a wan sort of main-line protestantism of Islam. That is we encounter clearly "We support the separation of religion and state." But one needs to examine this sort of statement in the light of Steyn's thesis about the nature of Islam to understand how radically it differs from "People for the American Way" and other such anti-Christianizing groups. A statement of this sort from a Muslim site repudiates the political, transnational goals that seem to be part and parcel of wahhabi Islam.

I'm no expert and not qualified to give anything other than an opinion on this book, which I found by turns amusing, frightening, and aggravating. Aggravating because Steyn conflates all sorts of disparate interests into one "progressive" package--pandering to Muslims is done by people with "granola mobiles" or tendencies toward feminism, homosexualism, or other common appurtenances of the "liberal" agenda. So while raising awareness of legitimate concerns regarding apparent Muslim trends, he spends a good deal of time taking potshots at people holding liberal ideas and values.

Nevertheless, the central statements of his thesis are interesting and compelling, thought hardly news. Europe is slowly being extinguished under a tide of high Muslim birthrates and immigration and a literal death spiral in the birth rates of developed nations. Now, in one sense, this is an example of one's chickens returning home to roost; however, given the wahhabi attitude toward the cultural accretions of groups other than Muslims, one must wonder seriously about a Louvre in the control of even a "moderate" Islamic state. What happens to the Parthenon, the Roman Ruins, and even Chartres under the benevolent enlightenment of the wahhabi regime.

Of course, these thoughts are secondary entirely to the societal and human toll of this cultural transformation. One does begin to wonder. However, Steyn's book, roundly trounced by one of the Princes of Arabia is certainly worth taking a look at. You might be surprised, chagrined, annoyed, offended, or experience all of these at once. But hopefully, you might come away with additional information and additional matters to explore to become more cognizant of the implications of some of our societal and personal choices. The whole book, although not intended to, does reinforce the concept that no sin is entirely or even mostly personal. Every personal choice affects the society around one. And this was one of the notion behind the renaming of the sacrament "reconciliation." The harm of our sins goes far beyond ourselves, disrupting and tearing the fabric of society to such an extent that i becomes unrecognizable, indeed, eventually it dies of this soul-sickness. But then, "The wages of sin is death." Personal and societal.

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You should definitely take a look at Philip Jenkins' new book "God's Continent," which critically examines both liberal and conservative hype surrounding Islam in Europe (debunking a few of Steyn's arguments along the way.)

Dear Elliot,

Thank you. It would be nice to hear from the other side.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 12, 2007 6:50 AM.

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