A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘eurabia

[DM] Some news links: fertility, population aging, migration, demography is not destiny, Eurabia

Over the past week, I’ve come across some interesting news reports about different trends in different parts of the world. I have assembled them in a links post at Demography Matters.

  • The Independent noted that the length and severity of the Greek economic crisis means that, for many younger Greeks, the chance to have a family the size they wanted–or the chance to have a family at all–is passing. The Korea Herald, meanwhile, noted that the fertility rate in South Korea likely dipped below 1 child per woman, surely a record low for any nation-state (although some Chinese provinces, to be fair, have seen similar dips).
  • The South China Morning Post argued that Hong Kong, facing rapid population aging, should try to keep its elderly employed. Similar arguments were made over at Bloomberg with regards to the United States, although the American demographic situation is rather less dramatic than Hong Kong’s.
  • Canadian news source Global News noted that, thanks to international migration, the population of the Atlantic Canadian province of Nova Scotia actually experienced net growth. OBC Transeuropa, meanwhile, observed that despite growing emigration from Croatia to richer European Union member-states like Germany and Ireland, labour shortages are drawing substantial numbers of workers not only from the former Yugoslavia but from further afield.
  • At Open Democracy, Oliver Haynes speaking about Brexit argued strongly against assuming simple demographic change will lead to shifts of political opinion. People still need to be convinced.
  • Open Democracy’s Carmen Aguilera, meanwhile, noted that far-right Spanish political party Vox is now making Eurabian arguments, suggesting that Muslim immigrants are but the vanguard of a broader Muslim invasion.

[WRITING] Thoughts on debunking and writing and educating and creating

The other week, someone on Facebook shared an infographic cartoon that really grabbed me.

One of the earliest blog-like postings I’ve ever written, and argably my biggest still, was my 2004 post “France, its Muslims, and the Future”. In that essay, dashed out in the space of a couple of days in the spring of my grad school year at Queen’s, I put paid to the Eurabia conspiracy theory. There was simply no plausible way that Muslims were on a trajectory to becoming the majority population in France, never mind Europe, in anything like a human lifetime; there were simply not enough Muslims, not a large enough difference in fertility, and not enough interest among the diverse Muslim populations of France in an unprecedented merger. That done, I ended my essay on an optimistic note: “Now, on to issues worth real debate, like how to best integrate French Muslims into wider French society.”

Now, anyone who has followed the Western discourse about Muslims and their numbers in the West in the intervening fourteen and a half years should know that this did not happen. If anything, the prevalence of Eurabian conspiracy theories has grown, not just becoming mainstream throughout the West but finding strong echoes elsewhere in the world, in South and Southeast Asia for instance. Muslim demographic conspiracy theories have become more normal.

I am not saying that my one blog post alone, mind, could have done it. I used facts that were publicly available, using arguments that were reasonable, joining as any number of people better positioned than I ever was who also made and shared these facts and arguments. These have been shared again and again, seemingly to no avail. Why? The belief in a Muslim conspiracy, aided by decadent traitors, has nothing to do with facts, is not disprovable, is not meant to be disproved. Rather, this belief is a matter of a political stance.

After I saw that cartoon at the start of this post, I was reminded of a passage from Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1946 Anti-Semite and Jew, in which Sartre talks about the fundamental lack of good faith in the bigot, how their very arguments are used to justify their prejudice without regards to actual facts.

Never believe that anti‐Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti‐Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past. It is not that they are afraid of being convinced. They fear only to appear ridiculous or to prejudice by their embarrassment their hope of winning over some third person to their side.

As I concluded in a recent Quora answer, it is really not worth debating anything with these people. People who will believe whatever the hell they want to believe will do so regardless of how much truth you give them. If it’s worthwhile continuing the debate, it is for the sake of other people looking at the debate, to prove to these others that you at least are not acting from the position of the prejudiced bigot looking to justify untrue things. If no one is watching, at least no one who is uncommitted, I would recommend discontinuing the debate. Life is too brief to waste in sterile discussions.

Of late, I’ve really been thinking a lot about why I might want to write non-fiction. (Fiction is another issue entirely; more on that later.) I really, really am tired of getting involved in sterile dialogues. I’ve been writing on the Internet for two decades, starting back on Usenet in 1997, and I have grown so tired of the greater-than sign “>”, metaphorically and otherwise; I have grown very tired of the proliferation of unending and sterile exchanges that the greater-than sign indicates, growing in number with each exchange to the point of pushing the text that passes for dialogue far to the right, far away. I am tired of only replying and counter-replying; I only want to write new things, highlight new issues and new connections, engage with people who are actually interested in real dialogue and learning new things.

(Is this a manifesto? There have been worse.)

Written by Randy McDonald

November 19, 2018 at 11:55 pm

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly re-introduces herself to her readers.
  • Bruce Dorminey shares one man’s theory about how extraterrestrials could use exoplanet sightings to build up a galactic communications network.
  • Far Outliers shares some unusual Japanese words, starting with “amepotu” for American potato.
  • Language Hat takes</a. note of an effort to preserve the Kiowa language.
  • Did the spokeswoman of the NRA threaten to “fisk” the New York Times or threaten something else? Language Log reports.
  • Drew Rowsome notes that, compared to San Francisco, Toronto does not have much of a public kink scene.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel examines the quantum reasons behind the explosion produced by sodium metal and water.
  • Understanding Society takes rightful issue with The Guardian’s shoddy coverage of Dearborn, Michigan, and that city’s Muslims and/or Arabs.
  • Unicorn Booty notes that Canada is, at last, starting to take in queer refugees from Chechnya.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes the embarrassing support for Jean-Luc Mélenchon for Venezuela. Was opposing the US all he wanted?

[URBAN NOTE] Four notes on changing cities from Germany, from Frankfurt to Hamburg to Berlin

  • Bloomberg’s Steven Arons and Gavin Finch observe that Brexit may let Frankfurt emerge as a truly global financial centre.
  • Der Spiegel‘s Alexander Smoltczyk describes how north German port Hamburg is starting to inch towards a bigger global role.
  • Deutsche Welle reports on how, after the G20 meeting, far-left and anarchist groups in Berlin are facing a crackdown.
  • Global News shares Joseph Nasr’s Reuters article reporting on the incomprehension of Arab refugees in Hamburg at that city’s G20 rioters. Why are they doing it?

Written by Randy McDonald

July 10, 2017 at 5:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait is skeptical that the Trump-era EPA will deal well with global warming.
  • Discover’s The Crux considers the challenge of developing safer explosives for fireworkers.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper considering the (real) possibility of Earth-like worlds orbiting neutron stars.
  • Language Log notes an odd use of katakana in Australia.
  • The LRB Blog considers the possibly overrated import of George Osborne’s move into the newspaper business.
  • Marginal Revolution notes one observer’s suggestion that China could sustain high-speed growth much longer than Japan.
  • The NYR Daily shares Eleanor Davis’ cartoon journal of her bike trip across America.
  • Peter Rukavina does not like the odd way Prince Edward Island made its library card into a museum pass.
  • Starts with a Bang’s Ethan Siegel notes the odd galaxy MACS2129-1, young yet apparently no longer star-forming.
  • Strange Company explores the strange death of 17th century New England woman Rebecca Cornell.
  • Unicorn Booty looks at how early Playgirl tried to handle, quietly, its substantially gay readership.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at one Russian proclaiming Russia needs to stop an imminent takeover by Muslims.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Centauri Dreams looks at evidence that Ceres’ Occator Crater, an apparent cryovolcano, may have been recently active.
  • Crooked Timber’s John Quiggin wonders what would have happened had Kerensky accepted the German Reichstag’s proposal in 1917.
  • Dangerous Minds looks at some fun that employees at a bookstore in France got up to with book covers.
  • Cody Delistraty describes F. Scott Fitzgerald’s utter failure to fit into Hollywood.
  • A Fistful of Euros hosts Alex Harrowell’s blog post taking a look at recent history from a perspective of rising populism.
  • io9 reports on a proposal from the Chinese city of Lanzhou to set up a water pipeline connecting it to Siberia’s Lake Baikal.
  • Imageo notes a recent expedition by Norwegian scientists aiming at examining the winter ice.
  • Strange Maps links to an amazing graphic mapping the lexical distances between Europe’s languages.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russia is on the verge of a new era of population decline, and shares a perhaps alarming perspective on the growth of Muslim populations in Russia.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • City of Brass notes the lie that is Eurabia.
  • Crooked Timber considers Creative Commons licenses as a crude kind of anti-spam technology.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at Ontario’s interest in pioneering a guaranteed minimum income program.
  • Far Outliers looks at the history of Korean prisoners of war in the Second World War in Hawai’i.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the death of Nancy Reagan.
  • Language Hat starts a discussion about the cost of designing fonts.
  • Language Log notes the difficulties of some Westerners with learning Chinese compared to Western classical languages.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the complexity of the new European Union-Turkey deal on Syrian migrants.
  • Discover‘s Neuroskeptic notes that we are far from being able to upload content directly to our brains.
  • Strange Maps notes how, in Turkish, different cardinal directions are associated with a different colour.
  • Is Buffalo strongly anti-gay? Towleroad considers this finding, from a social media analysis.

[LINK] “Can Lorin Stein Translate Michel Houellebecq Into a Great Writer?”

Cody Delistraty introduces his readers to a new criticism of Michel Houellebecq as a writer of note. I would just add that it’s important to distinguish between “attention-getting” and “good”.

Few would call Houellebecq, who holds the Prix Goncourt, France’s highest literary honor, a “bad writer,” but in France he is known for his narrative inventiveness while his style is generally accepted as second-rate: something readers put up with in order to get to his ideas. And yet in Submission, his latest novel, his style is so distracting that the Parisian weekly L’Express called him out as “a poor writer but a good sociologist,” adding, “a good writer would not use ‘based on’ in lieu of ‘founded on,’ ‘however’ in place of ‘on the other hand,’ and ‘wine vintage’ when he wants to mean ‘vintage.’ ”

Houellebecq is a classically French intellectual in that the Idea comes above all. By systematically draping ideas over characters, he has created a text that is essentially a political treatise disguised as a novel. For instance, near the end, François gets into a dialogue with a former academic colleague, whereupon they proceed to discuss everything from the social instability caused by mass secularism to the supposed evolutionary benefits of polygamy—all this for multiple chapters, unrelieved by an explanation of feelings or a description of the setting or any of the other details that a reader of fiction might reasonably expect.

Characters, too, are created and erased at will. Myriam, François’ romantic interest, comes onto the scene near the middle of the novel, then disappears when she moves to Israel, never to be mentioned again except for three sentences in the final act. It’s clear that Houellebecq invented Myriam predominately as a comparison to the sexually submissive wives that François’ male friends are gifted after Mohammed Ben Abbes, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, wins the 2022 French presidential election. Nabokov famously said his characters are his “galley slaves.” Houellebecq’s characters are his way to claim his stories as novels and not academic texts.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 21, 2015 at 9:46 pm

[DM] “On Joe Daniel, Syrian refugees, Eurabia, and the Canadian elections”

I have a brief post at Demography Matters noting the dip of Toronto MP Joe Daniel into Eurabian conspiracy theories. At least, I conclude, the embrace of nativist and xenophobic myths by immigrants shows that integration is working. (Ha ha.)

Written by Randy McDonald

September 24, 2015 at 3:58 am

[DM] “On ‘Why the Muslim ‘No-Go-Zone’ Myth Won’t Die'”

I respond at length to David Graham’s essay in The Atlantic debunking the myth of ubiquitous Muslim-run “no-go zones” in western Europe.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 21, 2015 at 4:59 am