Johann Hari has always been one of our favourite Islamophobes. Unlike many self-styled defenders of Enlightenment values he is in fact capable of rational thought, plus he has an understanding that there is such a thing as imperialism, which always helps. And, to be fair, he does take a stand against the more egregious examples of anti-Muslim bigotry.
His piece in the next issue of The New Republic about a cruise sponsored by the right-wing magazine National Review gives an entertaining – if rather scary – insight into the Islamophobic hysteria that has gripped US conservatives:
“I am standing waist-deep in the Pacific Ocean, indulging in the polite chit-chat beloved by vacationing Americans. A sweet elderly lady from Los Angeles is sitting on the rocks nearby, telling me dreamily about her son. ‘Is he your only child?’ I ask. ‘Yes’, she answers. ‘Do you have a child back in England?’ she asks me. No, I say. Her face darkens. ‘You’d better start’, she says. ‘The Muslims are breeding. Soon, they’ll have the whole of Europe.’
“… So, you’re a European, one of the Park Avenue ladies says, before offering witty commentaries on the cities she’s visited. Her companion adds, ‘I went to Paris, and it was so lovely.’ Her face darkens: ‘But then you think – it’s surrounded by Muslims.’ The first lady nods: ‘They’re out there, and they’re coming.’ Emboldened, the bearded Floridian wags a finger and says, ‘Down the line, we’re not going to bail out the French again.’ He mimes picking up a phone and shouts into it, ‘I can’t hear you, Jacques! What’s that? The Muslims are doing what to you? I can’t hear you!’
“… The idea that Europe is being ‘taken over’ is the unifying theme of this cruise. Some people go on singles’ cruises, some on ballroom-dancing cruises. 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.”