In rebuttal: Squashing debate like mosquitoes
Mark Steyn, For the Calgary Herald
Published: Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Naseem Mithoowani, Khurrum Awan, Muneeza Sheikh and Daniel Simard write that “some clarifications are in order” re: The Calgary Herald’s coverage of their complaint to at least three of Canada’s many “human rights” commissions about an excerpt from my book, America Alone, published by Maclean’s.
So, in that spirit, let me clarify one point of their column,”Debate denied over Maclean’s Muslim article,” which ran Saturday. They cite the following quote as an “extract from Steyn’s article”: “The number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes.”
That line certainly appears in my text, but they’re not my words. Rather, they were said by a prominent Scandinavian Muslim, Mullah Krekar, to a respectable Norwegian newspaper. The imam was boasting at how Islam would outbreed Europe: “We’re the ones who will change you . . . Just look at the development within Europe, where the number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes. Every western woman in the EU is producing an average of 1.4 children. Every Muslim woman in the same countries is producing 3.5 children.”
This is the nub of Messrs Mithoowani, Awan, Sheikh and Simard’s complaints against Maclean’s: They’re objecting to a Canadian magazine quoting accurately the statements of leading Muslims. And at least two of Canada’s “human rights” commissions, to their shame, have accepted their absurd proposition that accurately quoting leading Muslims is somehow “Islamophobic.”
The complainants were not “denied debate.” They could — as many Maclean’s readers (infidel and Muslim alike) did on the letters page — have had all the debate they wanted in the weeks after the article appeared. Instead, they waited five months before going in to see Maclean’s editors, which is only marginally less ridiculous than me wandering in and demanding a right of reply to the Calgary Herald’s rotogravure special on the Relief of Mafeking. They then demanded, among other ludicrous conditions, money for their “cause.”
They and their friends at the Canadian Islamic Congress are seemingly not interested in stimulating debate, but only in shutting it down, by making it more trouble than it’s worth for editors to run articles on one of the central questions of the age: Islam’s relationship with a dying West. In using quasi-judicial coercion to squash debate, they make one of the central points of my argument — that a proportion of Islam is inimical to western traditions of freedom — more eloquently than I ever could.
It is puzzling to me, even granted the cobwebbed modishness of these misbegotten creations of the Trudeaupian Seventies, why the Canadian and British Columbia “Human Rights” Commissions regard it as within their jurisdiction to regulate the editorial decisions of privately owned magazines. But any Canadian interested in freedom of expression should be deeply concerned by the commissions’ willingness to hear this “case.”
Mark Steyn is a syndicated columnist and author of the best-selling book, America Alone. Excerpts from his book, which were published in Maclean’s, are now the subject of two human rights complaints lodged by the four men whose column on this issue was published Saturday.