Belmont Club

The Right Reverend Rambo

What happens when the state can’t — or won’t — protect you?  In that eventuality individuals tend to arm and shift for themselves.  For those who believe such a thing could never happen in Europe, there’s this from Newsweek:

A prominent Jewish leader has written to the governments of all the EU countries, calling on them to pass legislation giving special licence for Jewish people to carry guns.

In a letter sent to interior ministries around Europe and obtained by Newsweek, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, director general of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe (RCE) and the European Jewish Association (EJA) – the largest federation of Jewish organizations and communities in Europe – writes: “We hereby ask that gun licensing laws are reviewed with immediate effect to allow designated people in the Jewish communities and institutions to own weapons for the essential protection of their communities, as well as receiving the necessary training to protect their members from potential terror attacks.”

Speaking to Newsweek, Rabbi Margolin added that he believes that “as many people within the Jewish community as possible” should carry weapons.

To some extent the massive French police deployments were meant to send a message to the public.  We can still protect you.  But not everyone is convinced. Nearly half of British Jews, responding to a survey taken before the Paris terror attacks, believe the country’s Jewish community has no future. “The figure rises to 58% when asked if there is a future for Jews in Europe.”

You can argue the point in Europe, but to northern Nigerians, any expectation that the state will protect them from the Boko Haram is a cruel joke.  The jury on that is already in. Barbara Nadeau in the Daily Beast writes: “Remember the #bringbackourgirls campaign? The girls are still gone and as the body count rises in Nigeria, the country’s leaders are almost as silent as the global community.”

They’re just letting them die and they’ll keep dying unless they defend themselves. The reason for state inaction is that defending a few thousand poor rural people isn’t worth a war against powerful, multinational Islam — and the leaders of OPEC — to which Nigeria belongs.

Carl Levan, a professor at the school of International Service at American University in Washington and author of Dictators and Democracy in African Development … says that the reluctance to pursue Boko Haram, which flies the jihadi black flag and publicly supports ISIS, stems from the fact that sitting President Jonathan, who is from southern Nigeria, risks an electoral backlash if he comes down hard on his military’s ineffectiveness. “There’s never been much of an attempt to pursue Boko Haram within the criminal justice system,” Levan told The Daily Beast.

Not worth it to the Nigerians, just as confronting so-called Islamic terrorism isn’t worth going to the mat against the so-called Saudis.  There is too much trouble and too little money in it. And like the Jews in Europe who’ve discovered that when moments count, the flics are only minutes away, if the Nigerian villagers expect to be defended they’re going to have to do it themselves.

Ross Douthat writing in the New York Times says that for decades the Western convention has been that it’s ok to make fun of religion, as long as it was directed against Christians and Jews.  But there was no cause for worry, everyone was told, since civility would be enforced by good manners, otherwise known as “self-censorship”.  But in reality, Douthat argues, there were never any good manners, except where Islam was concerned.

In the United States today, Christians are expected to accept that the lives of Jesus and Mary and others are the property of artists and entertainers, not just the faithful, and that they can be rewritten (and, needless to say, frequently sexualized) for the sake of bestselling potboilers, transgressive plays, pseudo-histories, literary “experiments” and Very Important Cultural Events alike. Christians are used to having our sacred scripture challenged not only by academic scholarship, but all across the popular press, where the “discovery” of new scriptures allegedly proving this or that shocking thing about Jesus is a media standby during the Christmas and Easter seasons, along with various other creative exercises in the goading of believers. Christians are expected to accept that both our holiest figures and our earthly leaders will be represented in avant-garde art, not only unflatteringly or satirically, but using prophylactics, urine or excrement. And it’s fair to say, I think, that deliberate offense-giving is considerably more common around those Christian traditions that have historically been more marginal or outsider-ish in American culture — Catholicism, Mormonism, fundamentalist churches — than it is around the Protestantism that used to define the American mainstream … though that’s partially because that mainstream Protestantism has faded in influence and verve, and nobody wants to satirize the increasingly irrelevant….

So if you want to argue that Islam’s treatment at the hands of cartoonists and other critics deserves to be condemned, you need a stronger argument than, “self-censorship around people’s deeply-held religious beliefs is the normal Western way.” It simply isn’t; what’s being invoked here is a special kind of protection for Islamic sensibilities, not a universal rule.

And the reason why Islam enjoys a “special kind of protection” is really rather embarrassing. Fear. Unlike the Christians, Islam shoots back. Intimidation, if truth be told, and not fine tolerance, is behind the liberal good manners towards Islam.  Nothing so civilizes a man’s behavior as the knowledge that a mislaid word will result in a missing tooth — or a missing head.

The contrast between the derision shown toward Judaeo-Christianity and the reverence for Islam has grown too noticeable to miss, to the point where events in Europe have caused European Jewry to remember an old insight. Douglas Murray wrote in the Spectator that “the siege in a kosher shop in Paris proves why Israel needs to exist.”

Israel needs to exist because it is where Jews can get guns, with or without the permission of the EU.  And guns turn you from “hey” into “Mister”. Jews learned from the concentration camp that tolerance comes not from fine words but grows out of the barrel of a gun.

Even the Christians are catching on. Recently Pope Francis made waves by arguing there are limits to unremarked expression during a visit to the Philippines. “Pope Francis says there are limits to freedom of expression, especially when it insults or ridicules someone’s faith.

By way of example, he referred to Alberto Gasparri, who organizes papal trips and was standing by his side.

He said: “If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal. It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

It’s a weak circling of the wagons. But the resurgence of the Caliphate must at the minimum revive a kind of Rum Millet or Roman Nation to shelter and preserve the Christian remnant within the sphere of Muslim dominance. To many Christians now being driven out of lands they have lived for thousands of years, Pope Francis’ objection to the ridicule poured on them must be extraordinarily feeble.  But there may be more to come simply from human nature.  Because “it’s normal. It’s normal,” not to want to hear you mother insulted. It’s normal to want to live.

In early January, Open Doors, an inter-denominational charity, released its annual World Watch List, surveying the fate of Church members in 50 countries. It said 2014 had “the highest level of global persecution of Christians in the modern era,” but added that current conditions suggested “the worst is yet to come.”

There must be groans in all the salons of the West, but the worst may yet be to come for everybody. The decades long project of multiculturalism is producing the exact opposite of its intended result: not the harmonious group of singers on a mountain top buying each other a coke, but a walled town divided into quarters.  The great cosmopolises of the West are being divided into no-go zones.

Perhaps what died in Paris last week was the lazy post-World War 2 European conviction that faith — in the meaning of strong beliefs of any kind — would cease to matter. The idea that religion would first become a superstition, and then a joke did not pan out. In the event it looks like John Lennon was wrong. People can’t imagine there’s no heaven, no matter how you try.

Rather than losing their identity to a mass symbol, the 21st century has seen the rise of affinity groups to which people would rather belong.  People are finding, and in many cases constructing, an identity beyond the one defined purely on the basis of a passport. Allegiance to a state — as represented by the great marble buildings in capitals — is weakening. What does the word “France”, “Britain” or “America” mean today but what our elites have ceased to make it mean?

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