Friday, February 17, 2006

The prolific will inherit the earth

These excerpts are from a recent Mark Steyn piece in The Australian (the whole thing is here). Ignore the pro vs. anti abortion vitriol and consider Steyn’s facts and logic. If you’re an American and have small children (or grandchildren) it’s worth the read. Especially if your expectation is that, when they’ve grown, your offspring will have the same rights, freedoms and liberty you’ve enjoyed.

But here's one we know the answer to: Why is this newspaper [The Australian] published in the language of a tiny island on the other side of the earth? Why does Australia have an English Queen, English common law, English institutions? Because England was the first nation to conquer infant mortality.

By 1820 medical progress had so transformed British life that half the population was under the age of 15. Britain had the manpower to take, hold, settle and administer huge chunks of real estate around the planet. Had, say, China or Russia been first to overcome childhood mortality, the modern world would be very different.

What country today has half of its population under the age of 15? Italy has 14 per cent, the UK 18 per cent, Australia 20 per cent - and Saudi Arabia has 39 per cent, Pakistan 40 per cent and Yemen 47 per cent. Little Yemen, like little Britain 200 years ago, will send its surplus youth around the world - one way or another…

In attempting to refute Vale's argument, this newspaper praised the nation's maidenhood for lying back and thinking of Australia and getting the national fertility rate up from 1.73 births per woman in 2001 to 1.77, "well above rates in developed nations such as Italy, Spain, Japan, Germany and South Korea".

Well, pop the champagne corks! ... The countries cited are going out of business. Seventeen European nations are now at what demographers call "lowest-low" fertility - 1.3 births per woman, the point at which you're so far down the death spiral you can't pull out.

In theory, those countries will find their population halving every 40 years or so. In practice, it will be quicker than that, as the savvier youngsters figure there's no point sticking around a country that's turned into one big undertaker's waiting room: not every pimply burger flipper is going to want to work himself into the ground to pay for new shuffleboard courts at the old folks' home.

In 2005, some 137 million babies were born around the globe. That 137 million is the maximum number of 20-year-olds who'll be around in 2025. There are no more, no other sources; that's it, barring the introduction of mass accelerated cloning (which is by no means an impossibility). Who that 137 million are will determine the character of our world.

The shape's already becoming clear. Take those Danish cartoons. Every internet blogger wants to take a stand on principle alongside plucky little Denmark. But there's only five million of them. Whereas there are 20 million Muslims in Europe - officially. That's the equivalent of the Danes plus the Irish plus the Belgians plus the Estonians.

You do the mathematics. If you want the reality of Europe in a nutshell, walk into a supermarket belonging to the French chain Carrefour. You'll be greeted by a notice in Arabic: "Dear Clients, We express solidarity with the Islamic and Egyptian community. Carrefour doesn't carry Danish products." It's strictly business: they have three Danish customers and a gazillion Muslim ones. Retail sales-wise, they know which way their bread's buttered and it isn't with Lurpak.

That's Vale's second point. If a society chooses to outsource its breeding, who your suppliers are is not unimportant.

"I've heard those very silly remarks made about immigrants to this country since I was a child," says [Democrat Lyn] Allison.


"If it wasn't the Greeks, it was the Italians or it was the Vietnamese."


Those are races or nationalities. But Islam is a religion, and an explicitly political one - unlike the birthplace of your grandfather it's not something you leave behind in the old country. Indeed, for its adherents in the West, it becomes their principal expression - a Pan-Islamic identity that transcends borders.


Instead of a melting pot, there's conversion: A Scot can marry a Greek or a Botswanan, but when a Scot marries a Yemeni it's because the former has become a Muslim. In defiance of normal immigration patterns, the host country winds up assimilating with Islam: French municipal swimming baths introduce non-mixed bathing sessions; a Canadian Government report recommends the legalisation of polygamy; Seville removes King Ferdinand III as patron of the annual fiesta because he played too, um, prominent a role in taking back Spain from the Moors.


When the fastest-breeding demographic group on the planet is also the one most resistant to the pieties of the social-democratic state that's a profound challenge. Yes, yes, I know Islam is very varied, and Riyadh has a vibrant gay scene, and the Khartoum Feminist Publishing Collective now has so many members they've rented lavish new offices above the clitorectomy clinic. I don't claim to have all the answers, except when I'm being interviewed live on TV. But that's better than claiming, as most of Vale's disparagers do, that there aren't even any questions…

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