Steyn on Britain and Europe
All this week I'm marking the tenth anniversary of my bestselling book America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It with some excerpts and some of the early reviews and interviews. You can find the first part of this anniversary series here. For this second episode, here's how my book actually begins. Page one:
That was extremely rude about Mr Amis, as his friend Christopher Hitchens noted. I can't really remember why I decided to open the book by clobbering a novelist I rather enjoy. The fact that 99 per cent of all those hysterics raging against the exclusive and relatively sane nuclear club of the 1980s are entirely relaxed about a world in which North Korea and Iran have nukes (and coming soon Sudan and Somalia and Isis) is a point worth making. But, in making it, I think I was just casting Mr Amis as an all-purpose leftie tosser.
If so, I did him an injustice. Not long after America Alone came out, I woke up one Saturday to discover that The Times of London had published a review of my book. This was flattering in that the book had not been published in the UK, and so a review was of little practical use to British readers. Even more flattering, the eminent reviewer was Martin Amis. The flattery ended in the opening paragraph:
Oh, well. Given the first page of the book, Mr Amis was sporting enough to take its thesis seriously, and overlook the writing, mostly:
Amis understood very clearly the book's demographic argument:
Mr Amis was more punctilious than the totalitarian thugs of the Canadian Islamic Congress whose triple-jeopardy suits before the Canadian, Ontario and British Columbia "Human Rights" Commissions alleged that I had compared Muslims to mosquitoes. No, I didn't. But in the Dominion of Canada quoting imams accurately is apparently a crime - or at least it was until we succeeded in getting the hate-speech law repealed. Nevertheless, even with direct quotes, Amis understands the need to step gingerly on this turf:
Martin Amis was kind enough to preserve his review of America Alone between hard covers in his anthology of the 9/11 years, The Second Plane - and to bring up its thesis to the Prime Minister:
When I interviewed Tony Blair earlier this year I asked him if continental demographics had yet become "a European conversation". He said: "It's a subterranean conversation." And we know what that means. The ethos of relativism finds the demographic question so saturated in revulsions that it is rendered undiscussable.
Most of Amis' fellow London liberals felt it should have remained "undiscussable" and "subterranean", and the novelist soon found himself having to write pieces headlined "No, I Am Not A Racist". As I subsequently wrote in my book Lights Out: Islam, Free Speech and the Twilight of the West:
In the decade since his review of my book, the list of the unsayable has got considerably longer. Nonetheless, at a time when virtually the entire left has decided to welcome Islamization as just another vibrant patch in the diversity quilt, I remain grateful for one of the few men in English letters to grasp the stakes:
A great sayer of the unsayable, Mr Steyn nonetheless fails to ask the central question. Will the culture of choice be obliged to give ground to the culture of life?*
Itself profoundly retrograde, Islamism may force retrogression on us all.
~Judging from the emails, readers and viewers enjoyed our reprise of Part One of Michelle Malkin's ten-year-old interview with me re America Alone. So here's Part Two:
~For a musical accompaniment to our anniversary observances, don't forget to swing by our Song of the Week department.
If you haven't read America Alone during its first ten years, well, you're missing a treat. It's still in print in hardback and paperback, and personally autographed copies are exclusively available from the SteynOnline bookstore.
*For American readers, "culture of choice" and "culture of life" are not references to abortion, although the choice of words is interesting. Mr Amis is applying the terms more broadly re the contradiction between the primal impulses of a self-sustaining society and the do-your-own-thing live-in-the-moment ethos of a dying west.
from America Alone: The End Of The World As We Know It, October 11, 2016
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