My Stand: Liberal Democracy Is Good

John Derbyshire reviews a new book called Christianity Is Good and Islam Is Bad, or some such thing, from his unique position as a Western chauvinist atheist. (Via). He is, as usual, engagingly wrong.

Both Derbyshire and the author share the fundamental misapprehension that because things are as they are today, so they must necessarily be. Max Weber, quite a perceptive observer of culture, thought that the values of East Asians were unfriendly to capitalist development. And so they were, until they weren’t.

The standard, non-revisionist version of history holds that about a thousand years ago, the Arab and Muslim world was a place of (comparative) tolerance and learning. Meanwhile, Europeans frolicked purposelessly in the mud, occasionally pausing to burn witches. Then things changed. Someday they will change again.

The English and the French, the French and the Germans, Protestants and Catholics, are not mortal rivals forever, even though many generations of each believed deeply otherwise. Same with Muslims and Christians.

Derbyshire makes a second fundamental error when he writes:

There are now tens of millions of Muslims living in Christian nations; and this is the case because our nations allowed the tens of millions to enter. We need not have done so. Wise men as long as forty years ago were sounding the alarm about the gross folly of opening our territories to such numbers of strangers with whom we had nothing in common.

Here, Derbyshire is joining a proud conservative tradition of fearing foreigners more than they appreciate the American system. It is clear now that the Vietnam war-era domino theory was not true— in fact, capitalism was better than communism. Similarly, our system allows people from different backgrounds to come here and to thrive. Muslims in America, like the Irish and Italians and Jews before them (and the blacks who were dragged here against their will), are entrepreneurs, Congressmen, students, workers, and just about anything else that Protestants can be.

There’s never been any population unassimilable to the US.

The Amish may be the exception, but they pose no threat to Mr. Derbyshire.

UPDATE: I thought about this, and wondered if I was overselling Derbyshire’s craziness.  So checked back over the original essay to see if he’s is really saying that expulsions would be a good thing, and I’m pretty sure he actually is.


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