Johann Hari's travelogue of the National Review cruise is a fantastic read and it's hard to pick the standout section. Andrew Sullivan focuses on a tiff between Norman Podhoretz and William Buckley. The running theme of total panic about Muslim birthrates might be even weirder.
This is the Muslims Are Coming cruise. Everyone thinks it. Everyone knows it. And the man most responsible for this insight is sitting only a few tables down: Mark Steyn. He is wearing sunglasses on top of his head and a bright shirt. Steyn's thesis in his new book, America Alone, is simple: The "European races"–i.e., white people–"are too self-absorbed to breed," but the Muslims are multiplying quickly. The inevitable result will be "large-scale evacuation operations circa 2015" as Europe is ceded to Al Qaeda and "Greater France remorselessly evolve[s] into Greater Bosnia." He offers a light smearing of dubious demographic figures–he needs to turn 20 million European Muslims into more than 150 million in nine years, which is a lot of humping–to "prove" his case.
But facts, figures, and doubt are not on the itinerary of this cruise. With one or two exceptions, the passengers discuss "the Muslims" as a homogenous, sharia-seeking block–already with near-total control of Europe. Over the week, I am asked nine times–I counted–when I am fleeing Europe's encroaching Muslim population for the safety of the United States.
At one of the seminars, a panelist says anti-Americanism comes from both directions in a grasping pincer movement–"The Muslims condemn us for being decadent; the Europeans condemn us for not being decadent enough." Midge Decter, Norman Podhoretz's wife, yells, "The Muslims are right, the Europeans are wrong!" And, instantly, Jay Nordlinger, National Review's managing editor and the panel's chair, says, "I'm afraid a lot of the Europeans are Muslim, Midge." The audience cheers. Somebody shouts, "You tell 'em, Jay!"
It's unclear how much this phobia was building among NR's high-toned audience before Steyn's book came out. If his work is responsible, well, then, damn. At one point he claims that the population of Yemen will outstrip Russia's in the not-too-distant future.