Westernization vs. Islamization: My Bet with Jonathan Cast
By Bryan Caplan
My recent “Steelmanning the Iraq War” defends a view I do not hold. It concludes:
In the darkest days of World War II, Winston Churchill told the British people, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.” I admire these sentiments, but I know that our enemy is not yet at the gate. There is a far worse course than doing nothing: Invading Iraq in anger, then abandoning it in frustration. But our best option is to excise Muslim tyranny now when it’s weak, instead of waiting for this political cancer to spread.
On Twitter, Jonathan Cast argued in earnest for the view that I defended as an intellectual exercise. When I opined, “The most realistic hope is just gradual Westernization via consumer culture and the Internet. No guarantee, but I’ll bet on it,” Cast objected: “Bet Europe gets Islamicized before the Middle East gets Westernized.” While neither of us persuaded the other, we managed to hammer out the following bet.
Cast wins if:
1. None of the laws currently on this webpage are repealed (unless they are replaced with a substantively identical or stricter law) before January 1, 2030.
2. At least one of the following countries officially BANS conversion from Islam: UK, Germany, the Netherlands, or Sweden before January 1, 2030.
Otherwise, I win.
The stakes: Cast has pre-paid me $100. If he wins, I pay him $200 plus twelve years worth of interest at 3%, which comes to $274.
In case of ambiguity (particularly on the “substantively identical or stricter” provision), we’ve agreed to let noted rationalist Rob Wiblin arbitrate.
Commentary: I’m very confident I’ll win on #2. At this point, I’d give conversion bans less than a 20% probability. On #1, I assign a 60% probability that Cast is right. But that’s primarily because I think that Westernization will be mostly de facto rather than de jure. After all, Virginia didn’t legalize cohabitation until 2013!