If we're still driving cars despite thousands of automobile accident deaths per year, we don't really set the value of human life so high that attacks in Paris (130 victims) and San Bernardino (22 victims) objectively warrant the massive media attention, revolutions in foreign policy, and proposals to shut the borders completely to Muslims that they evoke. Such events get such attention because of statistical illiteracy.
Since I believe Islam to be false, I would be a poor lover of my fellow
men if I did not wish for it to disappear, that is, if I desired that
millions of people remain forever imprisoned in a web of errors. But
inasmuch as the word "Islamophobe" implies irrational, uncritical
feelings of hatred and disgust towards Muslims as an opaque Other, I do
not feel that way at all. I have traveled in Muslim countries like
Turkey, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, have been on
warmly friendly terms with many Muslims (some nominal, but some
In foretelling a steep decline of Islam under open borders, I am
anticipating developments of which my head and my conscience approve,
but towards which my heart and imagination are ambivalent.
Immigration usually doesn't lead Muslims to apostasy, but still sharply increases their rate of apostasy:
In America, 77% of those raised Muslim, are still Muslim,
according to Pew. That's a fairly high retention rate, but Islam in the
West still loses about one-fourth of each Muslim-born generation. At
that rate of member loss, less than half of the descendants of Muslims
would still be Muslim after three generations. Germany's assimilation of
Turkish migrants seems to illustrate how this process plays out. Less than 2%
of the German population self-identifies as Muslim. Almost twice as
many people in Germany are of Turkish descent, and there are also
substantial numbers of Arabs. Since Turkey's population is almost exclusively Muslim,
it seems that Islam must have lost roughly half of the natural increase
of its emigrants in Germany to apostasy. Germany is a relevant case
study because its great Turkish immigration mostly occurred around half a
century ago, so it's had time for assimilation to play out across a
couple of generations.
This is asymmetric:
What about conversion the other way? In America, there are probably a few hundred thousand converts to Islam in America, mostly in the black nationalist Nation of Islam,
most famously exemplified by Malcolm X. The Nation of Islam is an
interesting instance of the special political purposes that a Muslim
religious identity can serve, and might foreshadow future uses of Islam
as a vehicle of radical politics in an open borders world. But it
doesn't seem indicative of an ability of Islam to make many converts, in
general. There may be 100,000 converts to Islam in Britain.
Historically, Islam has never made major advances by migration, or by
conversion from below, as Christianity has often done. Stagnation or
decline has been its fate where it was politically subordinate. Islam
spread by conquest, not missionary work. It is still strongest in the
historic heartland where it was established by Arab conquerors in the
7th and 8th centuries. That's not to say that the Middle East and North
Africa became Muslim through forced conversions. Forced conversions to
Islam were not the norm. Rather, first Arab, and later Turkish,
conquerors, became the power elite, permitting Christianity, Judaism,
and sometimes other religions, such as Hinduism in India, to persist
among the subject populations. But non-Muslims enjoyed various
disadvantages, such as paying a special tax called the jizya, could not proselytize, sometimes suffered political violence, sometimes had their children kidnapped to become janissaries,
and in general, enjoyed few or no rights and comprehensively inferior
treatment. In the very long run, this made it hard for Christian and
other minority communities to flourish...
There are, as far as I know, no historical examples of substantial
Christian populations converting to Islam except under Muslim rule.
While this is a great piece, Nathan grossly overstates the incompatibility between Christian doctrine and religious violence:
The Old Testament, to be sure, contains some hair-raising passages that
seem very much opposed to religious freedom, but that's part of the
Mosaic law, which St. Paul's epistles clearly and insistently establish
is not comprehensively binding on Christians, but has been superseded,
fulfilled, replaced by the higher ethical teachings of Jesus. The early
Church never used violence.
Yes, St. Paul did "clearly and insistently establish" that the Mosaic law "is not comprehensively binding on Christians." But he focuses almost entirely on dietary requirements, circumcision, and the like. If Paul (or Jesus) meant to spearhead a culturally novel rejection of religious violence, he would have explicitly said so. And to make "The early Church never used violence" true, you would have to torturously gerrymander both who counts as "the Church" and when counts as "early."
To be fair, this reservation only makes Nathan's case stronger, as he himself realizes:
If people think Christianity authorizes the murder of apostates, that
might make people more relaxed about Muslim immigrants. After all,
Christians obviously get along fine as citizens of liberal societies, so
if they can do that in spite of being theoretically required by their
religion to kill apostates, might we not expect the same happy result
from assimilating Muslims into liberal societies?