I’ve been offering samplings of Mark Steyn’s America Alone over the past few weeks, and today I’m up to chapter five, “The Anything They’ll Believe In: Church vs. State.” There’s just so much meat in this chapter that I’m going to cover only the first part today and save the latter half for another time.

Steyn writes about how Islamists have selectively assimilated into Western culture. What he means by that is they pick and choose what they will adopt as it suits their purposes. He says they have done an excellent job of mastering the following aspects of the West: legalisms, victimology, and the entitlement culture. They sue in court to get special treatment. For example, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled “that the state prison system has failed to justify denying a Muslim inmate special feast-day meats, such as oxen and camel.” While American soldiers have to stomach typical MREs, Muslim prisoners can sue for camel.

The prison system in Britain is now remodeling the bathrooms because “Muslim inmates have complained that the toilets face Mecca and that therefore they’re obliged to ride sidesaddle, which can be very uncomfortable.” Wait a minute. Aren’t they prisoners? Since when do prisoners get special requests? Are we even aware this is happening or will we awaken to a new reality someday?

With respect to the entitlement mentality, Steyn notes, “While it’s not true that every immigrant on welfare is an Islamic terrorist, the vast majority of Islamic terrorists in Europe are on welfare, living in radicalized ghetto cultures with nothing to do but sit around the flat plotting the jihad all day at taxpayers’ expense.”

He then takes aim at the concept of the “moderate Muslim.” If you thought he was being controversial with his earlier statements, he definitely challenges political correctness on this topic:

Still, as we always say, the “vast majority” of Muslims oppose “extremism.” These are the so-called “moderate Muslims.” One is tempted to update the old joke: a ten-dollar bill is in the center of the crossroads. To the north, there’s Santa Claus. To the west, the Tooth Fairy. To the east, a radical Muslim. To the south, a moderate Muslim. Who reaches the ten-dollar bill first?

Answer: the radical Muslim. All the others are mythical creatures.

He goes on to explain why that joke is on target:

The “moderate Muslim” is not entirely fictional. But it would be more accurate to call them quiescent Muslims. In the 1930s, there were plenty of “moderate Germans,” and a fat lot of good they did us or them. Today, the “moderate Muslim” is a unique contributor to cultural diversity: unlike all the visible minorities, he’s a non-visible one—or, at any rate, non-audible.

Steyn then quotes a Muslim apostate who, he says, makes an important distinction: “there are moderate Muslims, but no moderate Islam.” It is true that millions of Muslims simply want to live quietly without causing trouble to anyone. The problem is that “all of the official schools of Islamic jurisprudence commend sharia and violent jihad. So a ‘moderate Muslim’ can find no formal authority to support his moderation.”

Further, why should any moderate Muslim challenge the establishment? What help will he get from the West?

The Iranians declared a fatwa on Salman Rushdie and he had to go into hiding for more than a decade while his government and others continued fawning on the regime that issued the death sentence. The Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh spoke out and was murdered, and the poseur dissenters of Hollywood were too busy congratulating themselves on their courage and bravery in standing up to Bush even to mention their poor dead colleague in the weepy Oscar montage of the year’s deceased. To speak out against the Islamists means to live in hiding and under armed security in the heart of the so-called “free world.”

Steyn doesn’t stop there. He pinpoints the underlying problem that allows this abject cowardice to flourish. What is that? I’ll come back to it in a future post. Return here for the answer.