Saturday, June 14, 2008

TVO Agenda: Mark Steyn v. Muslim Critics

I just watched this program last night (it originally aired on May 6, but of course we don’t get TVO here in B.C.). It’s not altogether edifying and does at points degenerate into a shouting match, but host Steve Paikin does an admirable job of attempting to create some semblance of a “debate” between Mark Steyn and three of critics — Naseem Mithoowani, Khurrum Awan and Muneeza Sheikh, the three Osgoode Hall Law School graduates that filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission against Macleans Magazine. Steyn, by the way, doesn’t even have the common decency to refer to them by name on his blog, but simply dismisses them as “The Sock Puppet Three” or scoffs at them as being “Sock Puppet Nellies.”

Some things to bear in mind when listening to Steyn’s by now familiar Islamophobic polemic can be found in a pretty good critique of it by John Gordon Miller. For example: “The article quotes demographic studies showing that 16 European countries, with a total population of 234 million, now have fertility rates of 1.8 or more. Half are above 2.0. Despite near-panic about “inevitably” declining population, then, some European countries are growing quite strongly. They tend to be in northern Europe, from Sweden to France.” Oops. That doesn’t quite mesh with Steyn’s essential premise, now does it? Nor does the fact that, as Miller points out, “Many of these, of course, are social democratic countries with child-care supports (France, the Netherlands and Scandinavia, contrary to Steyn’s assertion that such states discourage “the survival instinct”).

Another problem arises with Steyn’s assertion that “the successor population is already in place” because, as Miller notes, “Aside from France (10%) and the Netherlands (5.4%), the Muslim populations of the rest of the countries of Europe are all under 4 percent, and countries like Italy and Britain have Muslim populations roughly equal to Canada’s 2.5 percent. The idea that Muslims in Europe will be in a position to demand special concessions like Sharia law in the near future is unlikely.” There are many more gaping holes such as this in his argument to be found, so go read the whole thing (I’d suggest sticking to the contradictory facts however as the journalistic prescriptions are questionable at best).

Update: I wasn’t going to bother with the first part of the show because I felt Steyn’s views had already had a pretty good airing here over the last few days, but here it is now for full context.