Mein Kampf in the Piety Stall
While at church today I happened to glance at the rack of religious pamphlets near the entrance that usually contains little devotional pamphlets like the "Life of St Maria Goretii" or "envelopes for the missions" and noticed someone had left a copy of Mein Kampf among the readings to 'take home for free'. Parishioners, most of whom were Fijians, Filipinos, Koreans or Chinese, browsed through the pamphlets without noticing Hitler's magnum opus. One lady who might have been Korean showed a particular interest in the stack of Devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but neither knew nor cared -- probably the former -- what the publication beside it was. At the end of the mass I told the deacon, a 20-something Australian with a face and build like a boxer -- to get it out of there, something which he did with celerity.
The devil can preach on his own premises but nothing obliges us to give him space in church for free. Yet "Mein Kampf in the piety stall" was the phrase that came to mind on reading how a human rights organization called Cage defended Mohammed Emwazi, AKA "Jihadi John" on British TV as an "'extremely kind, gentle, beautiful young man'". The media is our society's secular equivalent of the piety stall and yet nobody seems to care how many Mein Kampfs are touted on it each day even if the sales are often funded by the taxpayer.
The research director of a human rights group ... appeared to choke up as he told a press conference: "He was such a beautiful young man […] He was the most humble young person that I knew. This is the kind of person that we are talking about.” ....
"When are we going to finally learn that when we treat people as if they're outsiders they are going to feel like outsiders and they will look for belonging elsewhere?" he asked.
It won't be long now before apologies are wrung from the families of those he decapitated. The Western elite is compulsively self-hating. If you thought there were any limits, there are none. Were Jihadi John to charge for the service of bleeding out infidels, the question taken up by the great and the good will be over whether we were paying him enough. After all, he stoops to stain his knife to cut our throat. Yet in justice, Jihadi John and his apologists are at least fighting their own side and are free to toot their own horn.
You can see why the Cage organization would be so fulsome in its praise. After all, Dr. Josef Mengele would be a young, handsome, cultured and brilliant physician and Reinhard Heydrich even more admirable to the Nazis . Six foot three, expert swimmer and fencer, Heydrich was a classically trained and accomplished violinist. Goebbels would have an easier time portraying Heydrich as beautiful and talented than Cage would have defending Mohammed Emwazi. It's all in the point of view.
Evil intentionally leaves its artifacts in the most sacred places of its victims in order to gauge whether there is any resistance left about. If there is no reaction they'll enlarge the abomination. Today Jihadi John will be lionized as beautiful. Tomorrow he will be a victim. By next week the taxpayer will be paying him money.
This is understandable. It is less easy to explain the lack of reaction in Western society. Lately we don't seem to notice anything; we have the responsiveness of a corpse and its interesting to consider how long till we become one. I wondered how long that Mein Kampf sat on that shelf, if one or several Western parishioners who recognized it stifled the impulse to object to its presence under one of the many inhibitions were are lumbered with.
For Australia, like many British-derived societies, has a horror of making a scene. Almost anything is preferable to causing a stir. The thoughts that would have run through an ordinary mind would range from: "I shouldn't disturb the parish office over such a little thing?" "Perhaps its intentionally here to provide an alternative point of view?" "It's a free society, isn't it?" And that classic, "it's none of my business really."
We are conflict-averse. We want to be left alone but by ironic consequence, we will not be. As a whole we have tended to confuse Christianity with passivity, and civility with letting things slide, as if the whole message of the Gospels and the entire content of tolerant civilization consisted of taking punches on the chin and begging for more.
One of the advantages of growing up in the Third World is that one has not yet lost the simplicity of perception that used to be common among Westerners forty or fifty years ago. This makes some immigrants from the Third World like men from the Greatest Generation thawed out after being frozen in ice. People born out of time who understand that culture consists of more than the absence of conviction. If that book had been in a church in 1946 everybody would have noticed.
Before the Christian ideal was corrupted to its modern formulation of "forgiving everything and tolerating everything" it originally embodied the notion of not caring about anything but the truth. In the Philippines there still exists the concept of the "man who has written everything off" (patapon ang buhay) that is remarkably similar to an idea that Stonewall Jackson once described:
Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me....That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.
In other words, without holding up Jackson as the paragon of anything, the former idea of Christian otherwordliness was to never fear the consequences of doing the right thing. You did the principled thing and took what came, trusting that in life there was nothing to really fear but cowardice and evil. "For what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world but suffer the loss of his soul?" It is the complete opposite of passivity. And we have lost the sense of it. We have lost its secular equivalent too.
Today we as a civilization are far more worried about what people will say if we should object to Cage's drivel, to the guilt-mongering of the Left. For so long as we ask: "If I argue shall I be considered bigoted?" "Will we be judged as lacking in civility?" "Will I still be invited to cocktail parties?" And that classic: "who am I to judge anyway?" then we will deserve to perish.
We cannot survive the onslaught of ISIS or Putin unless we make ourselves worthy of life and convince ourselves that we are. Until then we shall be seen for the hollow men we are. Jihadi John has looked inside our great cities and seen its impressive structures inhabited by nothing but chickens. A classmate of Jihadi John, Avinash Tharoor, describes the atmosphere in the British university at which they were educated: "although I never met Emwazi, I wasn’t surprised he had attended my alma mater."
The entrenched nature of Islamist extremism on campus became most apparent during my final year at Westminster. Gay friends told me of derisive comments they overheard from individuals who made no attempt to hide their flagrant homophobia.
A Christian friend who campaigned to be student union president faced intimidation and harassment regarding his beliefs and his appearance. He has a beard, and supporters of his opponent alleged that he was growing facial hair to trick voters into thinking he was Muslim. A female friend of South Asian ancestry told me how she was intimidated in the university library by a group of men who deemed her a “non-Muslim b----” after she declared her support for my Christian friend.
These are just a few examples of what I believe to be a more widespread phenomenon of religiously motivated intimidation experienced by students at Westminster. Several of my peers — the targets of these comments — filed complaints with the student union, but they were met with indifference and vague assurances that the issue would be dealt with. In my frustration at the time, I wrote an article about this discrimination for our university’s newspaper, but I received no response from the university or the student union.
What Tharoor is describing is thousands of copies of Mein Kampf in secular society's piety stall, openly displayed and flagrantly hawked. With everyone, the minister, deacon and the parishioners -- all looking away. A virus is loose in the university and in the media. But we cannot even name it or report it. What to do? That's would have been an easy question to answer if you were one of those men thawed out of the ice. They would act. Gently, rationally, but forcefully. Really, what have you got to lose?
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