Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Legal furor in Canada over book and articles about population growth among Muslims v. low western birth rates

There is litigation in Canada (specifically Ontario and British Columbia) over an upcoming book from Regnery publishing, a conservative book publisher in Washington DC well known for some hard-hitting titles. At issue is Mark Steyn ‘s “America Alone: The End of the World as we Know It” which allegedly (and this is confirmed by comments on Amazon) argues that lower birthrates in the West relative to Muslim birthrates threaten political stability in Europe and maybe even in the U.S. The book is scheduled to be published early in 2008 and is available for pre-order from Amazon for less than $12.

According to Barry Brown, of The Washington Times, in a story run New Years Day, Jan. 1 on p A9, “Muslims sue over book’s birthrate warning: Call prediction of population conquest of West hate speeh,” the Canadian Islamist Congress has filed a formal complaint against Maclean’s magazine for running an excerpt from the book, here.

A quick search of the website shows that Steyn contributes regularly on religious and philosophical issues (including fundamentalist Christianity, too).

There is also a provocative book review in Human Events, written by Austin Bay, here.

There is an unfortunate metaphor about “reproducing like mosquitoes” that particularly incurred some wrath. Some Muslims are maintaining that all of this in Canada amounts to “hate speech.”

The litigation does not seek monetary damages in Canada, but wants Maclean's to publish a rebuttal.

Some commentators, like Philip Longman (his 2004 book “The Empty Cradle”) have long been warning about the lower birthrates in the West. These are associated not only with an increasing share of women in the professional (and even military) workplace and delayed pregnancies, but with cultural values, aided by technology, that emphasize adult self-expression over bearing and raising children, in comparison to the values of poorer countries. Even so, technology can assist with fertility. Furthermore, in the United States the birthrate has risen to about the replacement rate; and there are aggressive programs in some countries (France and particularly Russia) to improve birthrates. Many observers claim that mandatory paid maternity and paternity leave would help. However, the United States, without mandating such a benefit, has a higher birthrate than many countries that do. On the other hand, China has tried to reduce its birthrate with its unevenly enforced “one child per family” policy, which some people makes the new generation of Chinese more self-absorbed (“little emperors”).

Furthermore, birthrates in immigrant populations (Muslims in Europe) may well be higher than among native populations in western countries.

Update: Jan 16, 2008

There are many media stories that U.S. birthrates are the highest since the early 1960s. US birthrates are higher than in many European countries because of immigration, and because Americans are more likely to "like kids." However, Hispanics have higher birthrates than European descendants in the United States. The AP story by Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer, is "Against the trend, U.S. births way up," link here.

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