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Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

It takes a lot of arrogance to project one's own negativity onto a man like Steven Mosher. It's clear the author was not listening to him, but merely weaving another theory based on left-wing prejudices. In any case, I'm pleased to see that Steven Mosher has done a verbal smackdown of her self-indulgent report in the pages of First Things.

Neil Schultheiss

Toronto, Ontario

Mar 17 2008 - 8:21pm

Web Letter

Am I missing something here? Is Kathryn Joyce European? Does she live here? Has she lived in Europe for a meaningful length of time--say, five years or so? Has she witnessed first-hand the changes in Europe over the past twenty-five years?

If not, why on earth listen to anything she has to say?Isn't there an editor at The Nation? You know, one who smokes too many cheap cigarettes, drinks too much bourbon, and is cynically jaundiced about life? Didn't he sit her down and say, "Kate, my girl. You sound as self-righteous as Nurse Ratched and as paternalistic as all those you fulminate against. Have you ever thought of settling down and having a few kids yourself? It might do you good."

If, as I fear, such an editor does not exist at The Nation, I am sure that someone like Mark Steyn could help you out. Anyway, that's just one cynical European's point of view.

Jacques Arden

Stratford upon Avon, England

Mar 13 2008 - 5:35am

Web Letter

I am a secular humanist because I have no choice; I belong to the group of the undesired. I am an immigrant child that challenges this so-called native essence.

If anything is a comeuppance or deserved penalty, it is that those who have emigrated to Europe from unwanted lands have done so because they have never been allowed to really undergo their own development. All because Europe has colonized them or US-America has never allowed governments who would oppose its interests.

Another sad part is that even the citizens of these so-called rich countries have been exploited and not given a part in the exploits of colonialism and neocolonialism. Otherwise, why would have so many given up their right to have large families? Come on, we know many relinquish this right because they know they cannot provide adequately. It is as if the citizens of rich countries have enough of ideas and democracy but proportionately little from its country’s wealth.

Apparently, the master race idea has not gone away. Too late! There are going to be more Obamas and the like. Look at Latin America and northern Africa. So many look like him.

Isn´t everything related? However, I must say I am proud of so many Americans (including African-Americans) who choose to see in Obama his character and not his race. The world is browner and darker and lately more gray than ever.

If the Christian conservative right wants to change that, they will have to reallocate wealth. Maybe they should start by making sure that the purged wealth returns to society, taxes are really paid or some form of compensation is offer to the victims.

Lastly, I am very happy to hear that Catholics have finally been accepted as full-blown Western-Europeans. It took a while. Jesuits should be next, or perhaps muslims. You know they have been in Europe for more than fifteen centuries.

Javier Ortiz

Düsseldorf, Germany

Mar 12 2008 - 8:45pm

Web Letter

Kathryn Joyce's article does not come up to The Nation's usual standards. The writing is competent, but there is a conspicuous lack of attention to the actual debate. Ms. Joyce puts scare quotes around a lot of terms used by the right-wingers she interviews, thereby indicating to the reader that she thinks these right-wingers are bad, scary people. Fair enough; but that's not an argument on the facts.

The salient questions are these:

Is it true that the already-low (sub-replacement) birthrates of Europe are only as high as they are because they are elevated by the above-replacement-level birthrates of recent Muslim immigrants, which counterbalance the nearly non-existent birthrates in long-time European families? (Apparently so.)

Do children of long-time European families usually grow up to have enlightened attitudes regarding government and society? (I'd argue: yes.)

Do children of non-integrated and marginalized Muslim immigrant families generally grow up to have enlightened attitudes regarding government and society? (From what I read: not usually!)

Do welfare state policies economically require a working-age population larger than the retired population to function? (Economists say: yes.)

Do liberal government policies politically require a solid majority of the population favor them, if they are to continue? (In a democracy? Of course!)

How, then, does the combination of no births among longtime European families, and above-replacement births amongst Muslim immigrant families, which together average out to below-replacement levels... how does that not represent a threat to enlightened social policies in Europe?

Perhaps children of immigrants will suddenly begin to adopt Western, Enlightenment ideals. But I see no sign of it; at present, the kids are more radical than the parents.

Perhaps some new economic reality will make welfare-state arrangements cheap enough to be afforded by a working population outnumbered by its retirees. But I doubt it. So what remains?

Well, perhaps the European couples (who hold liberal and pluralistic ideals) will start having more children and passing these views on to them? (In the US, despite the occasional rebellion, there is a strong correlation between parents' political and social views and their children's.)

Sure, perhaps DINKs will give up being DINKs. But there's no sign of it.

Tax incentives intended to promote such a baby-boom seem, to me, a less onerous (more liberal) way to address the problem than, say, kicking out all the immigrants! ...or drastically reducing healthcare services and income to retirees.

Barring such solutions, it really does look like Europe has a demographic problem. Kathryn Joyce, nice person though she may be, makes it difficult to consider her an honest writer if she isn't willing to admit as much. (Perhaps she was too busy applying scare quotes.)

R.C. Hamrick

Marietta, GA

Mar 10 2008 - 4:51pm

Web Letter

Hello?! Ms. Joyce did indeed mention the Soviets' pro-natalist policies. But of course, the Wesbrook Pegler apologists for anti-Semitism swarming the letters section are too busy trying to spin Joyce's article to bother with actually reading it. One suspects that they had tried to do so, but stopped when they realized that she was holding a mirror up to them--and the visages of racist dictators stared back.

Tamara Baker

St. Paul, MN

Feb 24 2008 - 6:13pm

Web Letter

While Ms. Joyce does a fine job of documenting the unsettling nature of the “profamily” movement, she deftly avoids addressing the underlying trends and concerns that help to fuel it.

European birthrates have been declining for decades while immigration rates have been rising. A large majority of that immigration comes from societies that are outside the liberal Western tradition. Wherever you wish to place the blame, the expanding immigrant population of Europe has been slow to assimilate the core values and societal foundations that we take for granted in the West.

The proponents of the “profamily” movement, in their racial and religious zealotry, miss the point entirely. It matters not whether the child has brown eyes or blue. But it is critical that the child is taught the fundamental concepts of tolerance, equality and consensual government.

While Ms. Joyce raises the alarm to the foibles and prejudices of Western religious conservatives, she might do well to consider that a France governed by imams or a Britain under Sharia law would be even less to her liking.

David Gray

Atlanta, GA

Feb 22 2008 - 3:25pm

Web Letter

This particular movement doesn't just want to see more babies of the "right" kind in Europe; it wants to bring back a patriarchal family with mothers without earnings. It would be quite possible to raise fertility by adopting the reverse arrangement: just let all those men in the video stay at home with their many babies! It would work every bit as well.

That this is not their proposal is interesting and informative. But in some sense I get the idea that this movement offers white women the choice of being oppressed right now (for those who'd rather not give birth to a very large number of children, quite possibly in poverty) or of being oppressed later by the Islamic society that is projected to take the place of what is viewed as a feminist folly.

I smell false framing and the attempt to make us not see other options, including the one I suggested in my first paragraph.

J. Goodrich

Boston, MA

Feb 21 2008 - 6:09am

Web Letter

This article reminds me of the one Joyce wrote about the Quiverfull movement and how Christian fanatics and Christian women must dedicate their wombs to Jesus and produce so many babies that it can become a detriment to their health. I mean, eighteen babies is a whole decade spent being pregnant! I personally think a lot of these women are being brainwashed, I mean religion will do that to people. I read an article in Bitch magazine about women who escaped from their husbands and the whole baby repopulating scheme, and they all say that they were manipulated, mistreated and basically used for their wombs. I hope, for the people of Europe, that this trend does not spread over there, because it is certainly backwards and dangerous. It is inherently racist, and yeah, you can say "what's wrong with making babies?" but when you are using women and brainwashing them, and mistreating both the mother and children, that this becomes a problem society needs to worry about. (I read how one husband would just pocket the welfare checks from his kids and wife and force them to live in a trailer and eat very little food, while he lived in a modern house, bought himself a nice car and ate only the best food.) There's a difference between "Oh, honey, let's have a few kids, we love children and love each other and want to care for a family" versus "Hey, woman, you're gonna have my eighteen kids because we have a command from Jesus that we need to populate the earth with white people, so our kids can be God's warriors and purge all those sinful brown people from the earth so the kingdom of god may come" (or whatever).

N. Catherine

New York, NY

Feb 18 2008 - 8:34pm

Web Letter

The possible link between anti-abortion forces and anti-Semitism needs to be put in a wider context than one finds here.

Historical conservatism, which began in the eighteenth century in opposition first to the Enlightenment and then to the even more threatening French Revolution, early on picked up anti-Semitism for a variety of reasons. Papal and other church pronouncements against the Enlightenment began to include Jews among enemies of Christianity, along with Freemasons and Protestants. Few remember that Edmund Burke, in his classic attack on the French Revolution, included "Jewish jobbers" among the proponents of revolution. Joseph de Maistre was free of public anti-Semitism, but his colleague Louis de Bonald quickly found Jews to be important among the foes of Christian civilization. From that time on conservatives have either welcomed anti-Semitism or have found it difficult to avoid. Not until William Buckley some years ago excommunicated anti-Semites from his brand of conservatism has conservatism lacked an anti-Semitic core. It has been particularly strong in integrist Catholicism, that form of Catholicism which is traditionalistic and hostile to modernity in all its form. No surprise then that anti-abortion partisans who are also passively or actively anti-Semitic turn up again and again. Anyone who denies that abortion is a form of genocide can expect some sort of anti-Semitic rant sooner or later.

Can conservatism really purge itself of anti-Semitism? Pace William Buckley, the temptation to blame the Jews is too attractive, now that Freemasons and Marxists are a thing of the past.

When a conservative or Republican in America denounces "liberals" you can be sure 85 percent of the time that he means Jews also. Well, perhaps 60 percent of the time.

Norman Ravitch

Savannah, GA

Feb 18 2008 - 10:34am

Web Letter

Naming Jesus the honorary king of Poland sounds like a splendid idea to me. I'd rather have him as honorary king than Mohammad as caliph. As for Fr. Paul Marx, consider this.

Michael Roderick

Saint Albans, WV

Feb 16 2008 - 8:32pm

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