April 28, 2016

FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORMED:

Shot:

It’s no secret that Belgians are passionate about cycling – among their local heroes, they count the greatest cyclist of all time in Eddy Merckx. But in the Flanders region of the country, enthusiasm for the sport borders on fanaticsm. So it’s fitting that when the Wielermuseum (cycling museum) in Roeselare, West Flanders, closed for lengthy renovations in 2015, they rented a nearby deconsecrated church to host an exhibition… The centrepiece of the altar, spotlighted by shafts of light streaming through stained glass windows, is a huge iron cross welded together from old bike components – the Croix de Fer, representing the cross at the Col de la Croix de Fer in the Alps, featured in the Tour de France 16 times.

“Cycling is religion in Flanders, Belgium,” London Guardian photo spread, today.

Chaser:

The number of Muslims in Brussels—where roughly half of the number of Muslims in Belgium currently live—has reached 300,000, which means that the self-styled ‘Capital of Europe’ is now one of the most Islamic cities in Europe.

— Soeren Kern, “The Islamization of Belgium and the Netherlands in 2013,” the Gatestone Institute.

Hangover:

Most people reading this have strong stomachs, so let me lay it out as baldly as I can: Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most Western European countries. There’ll probably still be a geographical area on the map marked as Italy or the Netherlands–probably–just as in Istanbul there’s still a building called St. Sophia’s Cathedral. But it’s not a cathedral; it’s merely a designation for a piece of real estate. Likewise, Italy and the Netherlands will merely be designations for real estate. The challenge for those who reckon Western civilization is on balance better than the alternatives is to figure out a way to save at least some parts of the West.

— Mark Steyn, in a January post titled “It’s Still the Demography, Stupid,” quoting the introduction to his original magnum opus Wall Street Journal/New Criterion article a decade ago that became the core of his best-selling book, America Alone.

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