On Steyn and Warshawsky

By

One of my favorite correspondents had some interesting observations about Steven Warshawsky's article on Mark Steyn's new book, and has given me permission to share them. He suggests  that there is more room for long term optimism than Steyn allows.

I like Mark Steyn, but Steven Warshawsky's AT review of "America Alone" displays the typical conservative weakness for analysis.  For example, Warshawsky. notes:

...according to a recent poll (cited by Steyn), only 8 percent of Muslims living in Great Britain consider themselves British first, whereas 81 percent consider themselves Muslim first.

But isn't there something wrong with the question?  Wasn't this the same question that used to be addressed to Catholics —— are you loyal to the Pope/Vatican or to the American Constitution?  Isn't it the same question that left—wingers increasingly address to Jews, regarding Israel? 

Of course, the Southern Baptists who challenged Kennedy's credentials as an American never posed the same question to themselves: do we consider ourselves Christian first or American first?  I don't doubt that most Christians, faced with this alternative, would choose faith over country, but would still be prepared to die for their country. 

It's always a problem with "them other guys," but since all Americans, virtually by definition, had loyalty problems (or they wouldn't have come here in the first place), this type of question isn't truly dispositive.  I suspect that you could ask the same or similar questions of Muslims in the Middle East and get a similar pattern of response —— indeed, you could get a similar pattern of response from, say, Shia and Sunni respondents within the same country, say, Iraq.  They would all say they are Muslim first, but that would not stop them from wanting to kill a significant proportion of the other identically responding Muslims in the survey. 

What we need is a measure of depth of hostility to cultural values, and I'm aware that there have been studies that have produced significantly disturbing findings in that regard.  We need to sharpen our focus on that area, note the differences between British/European data versus American, sift it all for possible relevance, etc.  We may come to the same conclusions, but it will be on a firmer foundation.

But the heart of the problem for Steyn is demography, and he shows a marked weakness of analysis in this area.  Warshawsky writes:

Steyn reports that Western women in Europe have an average of 1.4 children, whereas Muslim women have an average of 3.5 children.

But Steyn and Warshawsky are neglecting some very interesting data.  What they don't tell their readers is that some very important Muslim countries have demographic profiles that mirror those of Western European countries, i.e., they have birthrates in free fall that have already fallen past replacement level.  Prominent among these countries is Iran, and with the economic and cultural problems facing these countries it is unlikely that they will see a turnaround any time soon.  The countries with the highest birthrates (places like Yemen) are not the ones who are flooding the West with immigrants.

There is another parallel to all this that's worth noting.  In the United States I believe it is the Hispanic segment of the population that has the highest birthrate.  Indeed, the birthrate among Mexican—Americans, while gradually falling toward more typically "American" levels, is now significantly higher than the birthrate in Mexico, which is currently in the same type of free fall as the Iranian birthrate.  So, we see that a similar pattern is apparent when immigrant populations in both Europe and America are compared to the "home" populations. 

Why would the immigrant birthrates be higher than those in the "home" countries?  One reason, especially in America, might be that greater economic opportunity is more supportive of traditional childbearing aspirations. 

In Europe, on the other hand, economic opportunity might be supplemented (as it is to a lesser extent in America) by welfare state support which affords a higher standard of living than is available in the "home" country.  Thus we have a perverse situation in which the welfare state mimics greater economic opportunity for immigrants while nevertheless fueling discontent.  A perfect example of this perverse situation can be found in the Palestinian areas, such as Gaza and the West Bank.  Welfare, in the form of international aid, has created a parasitic society with a birthrate far higher than most Muslim countries could possibly support on their own resources.

While I'm far from disputing the "clash of civilization" analysis, nor some of the recommended measures/solutions, a fuller view of the data accompanied by a more penetrating analysis affords greater flexibility in developing responses and strategies.

Clarice Feldman   11 12 06

One of my favorite correspondents had some interesting observations about Steven Warshawsky's article on Mark Steyn's new book, and has given me permission to share them. He suggests  that there is more room for long term optimism than Steyn allows.

I like Mark Steyn, but Steven Warshawsky's AT review of "America Alone" displays the typical conservative weakness for analysis.  For example, Warshawsky. notes:

...according to a recent poll (cited by Steyn), only 8 percent of Muslims living in Great Britain consider themselves British first, whereas 81 percent consider themselves Muslim first.

But isn't there something wrong with the question?  Wasn't this the same question that used to be addressed to Catholics —— are you loyal to the Pope/Vatican or to the American Constitution?  Isn't it the same question that left—wingers increasingly address to Jews, regarding Israel? 

Of course, the Southern Baptists who challenged Kennedy's credentials as an American never posed the same question to themselves: do we consider ourselves Christian first or American first?  I don't doubt that most Christians, faced with this alternative, would choose faith over country, but would still be prepared to die for their country. 

It's always a problem with "them other guys," but since all Americans, virtually by definition, had loyalty problems (or they wouldn't have come here in the first place), this type of question isn't truly dispositive.  I suspect that you could ask the same or similar questions of Muslims in the Middle East and get a similar pattern of response —— indeed, you could get a similar pattern of response from, say, Shia and Sunni respondents within the same country, say, Iraq.  They would all say they are Muslim first, but that would not stop them from wanting to kill a significant proportion of the other identically responding Muslims in the survey. 

What we need is a measure of depth of hostility to cultural values, and I'm aware that there have been studies that have produced significantly disturbing findings in that regard.  We need to sharpen our focus on that area, note the differences between British/European data versus American, sift it all for possible relevance, etc.  We may come to the same conclusions, but it will be on a firmer foundation.

But the heart of the problem for Steyn is demography, and he shows a marked weakness of analysis in this area.  Warshawsky writes:

Steyn reports that Western women in Europe have an average of 1.4 children, whereas Muslim women have an average of 3.5 children.

But Steyn and Warshawsky are neglecting some very interesting data.  What they don't tell their readers is that some very important Muslim countries have demographic profiles that mirror those of Western European countries, i.e., they have birthrates in free fall that have already fallen past replacement level.  Prominent among these countries is Iran, and with the economic and cultural problems facing these countries it is unlikely that they will see a turnaround any time soon.  The countries with the highest birthrates (places like Yemen) are not the ones who are flooding the West with immigrants.

There is another parallel to all this that's worth noting.  In the United States I believe it is the Hispanic segment of the population that has the highest birthrate.  Indeed, the birthrate among Mexican—Americans, while gradually falling toward more typically "American" levels, is now significantly higher than the birthrate in Mexico, which is currently in the same type of free fall as the Iranian birthrate.  So, we see that a similar pattern is apparent when immigrant populations in both Europe and America are compared to the "home" populations. 

Why would the immigrant birthrates be higher than those in the "home" countries?  One reason, especially in America, might be that greater economic opportunity is more supportive of traditional childbearing aspirations. 

In Europe, on the other hand, economic opportunity might be supplemented (as it is to a lesser extent in America) by welfare state support which affords a higher standard of living than is available in the "home" country.  Thus we have a perverse situation in which the welfare state mimics greater economic opportunity for immigrants while nevertheless fueling discontent.  A perfect example of this perverse situation can be found in the Palestinian areas, such as Gaza and the West Bank.  Welfare, in the form of international aid, has created a parasitic society with a birthrate far higher than most Muslim countries could possibly support on their own resources.

While I'm far from disputing the "clash of civilization" analysis, nor some of the recommended measures/solutions, a fuller view of the data accompanied by a more penetrating analysis affords greater flexibility in developing responses and strategies.

Clarice Feldman   11 12 06