If you don’t visit his website every so often, you ought to. Since the splendidly robust Conrad Black got fitted up in America for nicking a bit of office stationery (the other 44 charges having been dismissed, 2 on appeal), and the rather more cautious Barclay Brothers took over the Telegraph Group, Mark Steyn has been largely absent from the British press. I think it’s a damn shame, mainly because the current lot of intelligent columnists we have in Britain pussyfoot around when it comes to Islam. True, they live in an overcrowded island with an ineffective police force, so a degree of self-preservation is rational. Steyn, on the other hand, lives in the mountains of New Hampshire where defence of one’s property and person is not a subject for debate.
That Steyn overstates his case goes without saying; he is a polemicist, and hates nuance. Indeed, he thinks that it is endless nuance and hand-wringing liberal guilt that has landed us in the tricky situation (which he would call the almighty mess) that we find ourselves in with Islam. But he writes with such passion and good humour. I met him once at a London political event and he is very much the same in the flesh – quick-witted, self-confident and amusing.
Here he is, presenting a free speech prize to Lars Hedegaard at the European Parliament. Hedegaard won’t mean much to you and me, being a Marxist and a journalist who writes in Danish. He is uncomplimentary about Islam's effect on his country. He found himself opening his door to a ‘postman’ recently, who contrived to miss him from point-blank range with a pistol. It would be fair to say that his life insurance premiums are now unaffordable.
Steyn's speech is less about Hedegaard, and more about the attitude of the Left in Europe to Islam. It is right on the button and often darkly comic:
Two years ago, as part of Lars' conference on Islam and humor, I shared a platform in Copenhagen with the Swedish artist Lars Vilks. They have a tradition in Sweden of roundabout dogs - canine scultptures that pop up mysteriously on Swedish roundabouts - and Lars Vilks decided to do a drawing of Mohammed as a roundabout dog. He wound up with a fatwa on his head. And one night he came home to find the jihad boys had firebombed his kitchen. As they escaped across the field heady with the thrill of their glorious victory, they noticed that in the course of setting Mr Vilks' home alight they'd also accidentally set their trousers on fire, and, after some effort to extinguish their smoking pantaloons, were forced to discard them. Unfortunately, in abandoning their pants and scampering off through the icy night in their jihadist underwear, they neglected to remove the charred driver's licenses and other identifying documentation, from which police were able easily to track them down. When Mr Vilks told this story in Copenhagen, the whole room was roaring with laughter. Muslim terrorists are like Yosemite Sam in the Loony Tunes cartoons, forever shoving the stick of dynamite in their own pants – until one day Yosemite Ahmed manages to get it right. After the bombing of the British Conservative Party conference in 1984, the IRA taunted Mrs Thatcher: "You have to be lucky every day, we only have to be lucky once." Those jihad incompetents with the smoking trousers would modify the line: We only have to be competent once, and no matter how many years roll by they'll keep trying. Over four years after Mr Vilks' drawing, seven men were arrested in Waterford, Ireland for plotting to kill him. I don't know how many of you know Waterford. It sits in a beautiful spot on the southern Irish coast, the oldest city in the country, population about 45,000. And yet in an Irish city of 45,000 you can find seven men willing to kill a Swedish artist. At the height of the so-called Irish "Troubles", you'd have been hard put to find seven residents of Waterford willing to participate in a plot to kill a British cabinet minister. But in the new multicultural Waterford you can find seven men willing to kill some guy halfway across Europe over a four-year-old drawing.
After that conference with Lars in Copenhagen a couple of years ago, I took the train over the water to Malmö in Sweden. Malmö was one of the first Christian cities in what was then Denmark. It's now on course to become the first Muslim city in Sweden. I sat and had a coffee in a nice little place in a beautiful medieval square in the heart of town. Aside from a few modernist excrescences, it would not have looked so different in the early days of the Lutheran church. I got lucky, and fell into conversation with a couple of cute Swedish blondes. Fine-looking ladies. I shall miss Scandinavian blondes when they're extinct. At dusk, and against their advice, I took a 20-minute walk to Rosengard. As you stroll the sidewalk, the gaps between blondes grow longer, and the gaps between young bearded Muslim men grow shorter. And then eventually you're in the housing projects, and all the young boys kicking a soccer ball around are Muslim, and every single woman is covered – including many who came from "moderate" Muslim countries and did not adopt the headscarf or hijab until they emigrated to Sweden, where it's compulsory, at least in Rosengard.
.......I would urge anyone to do that twilight walk from downtown Malmö to Rosengard, as the blondes thin and the bearded men multiply. That's Europe's future walking toward you, and most Europeans did not choose to live in that world. In Malmö, in Rotterdam, in Yorkshire and here in Brussels, their betters made the decision for them. A society that becomes more Muslim becomes less everything else – less Jewish, less gay, less feminist, less artistic, less scientific, less free. That's a simple statement of fact, but we shrink from it.
Dammit, read the whole thing.