Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Europe at War--But Who is Fighting?

I have been wondering about what I personally can do to stop the ISIS-inspired attacks in Europe. The recent atrocities in France and Germany have shaken and reminded me that B.A. and I and our friends in Europe are all potential victims. However, the murder of Father Jacques Hamel, a small town priest in his eighties, has enraged me against helplessness.

"If we can't do anything, don't tell us," I am wont to rage unfairly at journalists. My own journalism is about doing and finding out more. This is why I stay away from "Kasper said this" and "Marx said that" stories. A much more interesting churchman is young Ks. Jacek Międlar, who believes Catholicism is the very foundation of his country (for which, incidentally, there are incredibly strong arguments) and harangues enormous crowds of Polish nationalists. Ks. Międlar obviously believes Poles can do something against Islamist violence, and part of it is physically to keep Islamists out.

This, however, is a less obvious solution for western Europe, which has unwittingly let Islamists in and somehow incubates new ones, usually the European children and grandchildren of Asian or African or Caribbean immigrants. There is a mentality among some young men that delights in, and is inspired by, ISIS snuff films. I read somewhere or other (no link, sorry) of a young man in a London university classroom horrified because fellow students were sniggering over a beheading playing out over a smartphone. (Did he have the guts to shout at them? To denounce them before their professor? To call the police?) Meanwhile, it is coming out only now that the Bataclan terrorists actually mutilated their wounded victims. These terrorists were born, raised and "radicalized" in France and Belgium. Belgium--land of Tintin and Snowy, Captain Haddock and Professor Calculus. 

Such young men and women are already here in Europe, and their recruiters and hate preachers are already here too. Who knows who they are? It's not like they wear uniforms, or when they do wear uniforms, we are told not to assume that they belong to the army. 

"If you see something, say something" is rather meaningless when, if I were to say, "When in Scotland, dress as Scots do" to the brace of women covered in black cloth pushing prams up Nicholson Avenue, I could be arrested. Worse yet, some self-pitying Edinburgh teenager could hear the women's version of the story and swear to avenge affronted Islamic womanhood upon the Scottish infidels. Meanwhile, the kneejerk British (and British-Canadian response) to women dressed in embarrassing and offensive clothing (like a burkha or a shirt reading F*** off,  Europe) is to silently judge them and otherwise ignore it. (I think, however, I would scream like a banshee if I came across young men having a chuckle over another human being having his or her head lopped off.)

So what can we do? This morning a friend sent me an email suggesting I sign up to the Pray the Rosary again ISIS. Yes, that would be something. But the Ottoman Turks were not turned back at the Battle of Vienna by prayer alone. Fifteen thousand Europeans (1.3- 5 thousand of them Poles) lost their lives and, more importantly, deprived twenty thousand Turks of theirs. Still, there was a religious aspect to this--according to our old friend Wiki:

Because Sobieski had entrusted his kingdom to the protection of the Blessed Virgin (Our Lady of Częstochowa) before the battle, Pope Innocent XI commemorated his victory by extending the feast of the Holy Name of Mary, which until then had been celebrated solely in Spain and the Kingdom of Naples, to the entire Church; it used to be celebrated on the Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity of Mary and was, when Pope St. Pius X intended to make room for the celebration of the actual Sundays, transferred to 12 September, the day of the victory.

Still, that was in 1683, and we (in Europe) are not looking at a struggle involving large armies of soldiers engaged in hand-to-hand combat (or are we?), but emergency services coping with sneaks who walk into places where they have been welcomed, where they grew up. One imagines politicians coldly pondering how to calm their restive, frightened, angry  countrymen and get them to accept the fact that their fellow countrymen are being murdered and to carry on regardless. "At least it wasn't you, right?" 

I really, honestly, want something to do to stop wicked people from killing babies, children, men, women, lay, priests and religious out of their own sense of self-righteousness. I want to do something to stop their teachers from whipping them up to such disgusting evil. 

I have always wondered at Christians who somehow think we ourselves share in Islamist violence. One of my Catholic theology professors told me and my classmates that he almost quit teaching his field on 9/11. This made absolutely no sense to me then and  it makes no sense to me now--unless  it is a way of coping, of feeling that one is somehow responsible for the violence, and so one has power over it. Imaginary guilt is apparently easier to bear than abject helplessness. 

Well, I am not helpless. I am just out of ideas. If I were gifted at languages--not a tone-deaf dummy who has to pound them into my greying brain and clumsy tongue--I would learn one of the enemies' languages and get a job in intelligence. If I were a young man, I would join one of Europe's armies. If I were a young woman, I would have as many children as I physically could and bring them up to love, cherish and defend Christendom. 

When I was a theology student, I wrote frankly about the Muhammad Cartoon Crisis, which no doubt impressed or embarrassed my fellow students, but that's about the extent of my influence . Horrified by the failed Cologne train bombing--and left-wing coddling of Islamist terrorism--I eventually wrote Ceremony of Innocence. That has given a few thousand (I hope) people a day or two's entertainment, but I can't imagine it has done much to save lives or turn teenagers from the path of bloody, self-righteous violence. Amazed by the passionate speech of Ks. Międlar, I told the majority-American readers of Catholic World Report about it. But other than praying and demanding that Catholic bishops in Europe ensure the safety of their priests, nuns and elderly parishioners who go to morning mass, I don't know what to do next.

Update: Here is David Warren on the subject of the murder and our leaders' pussyfooting.

Update 2: For those who can read French, here's a snapshot of modern life in a small French town via Le Figaro.
"Europe, wake up!"


  1. Two thoughts:

    When I was a sidewalk counselor in college, the priest who trained us would make his sidewalk counselors each take a full day off from counseling every month or so to just pray in front of the abortion clinic, to remind them that prayer was their most powerful weapon. I find that very comforting to think about in situations where I feel helpless to do anything. Not only can we always pray and sacrifice, but it's the best possible thing we can do. (Not that we shouldn't also act when we can of course! :)

    Also, I'm very munch convinced that the European problems with ISIS and terrorism are very much rooted in the loss of culture and religion. We need a restoration of them just as much, if not even more, then we need military strength, to defeat the evils of modern day. And you are definitely doing your part in that!!

  2. Thank you! I do hope so. And I wish children-of-migrants were more thoroughly grounded in the history and high culture of the European countries their parents settled. (Heck, I wish the children-of-natives were more thoroughly grounded in it.) Some London-based jihadist once sneered that British culture was just "East Enders and take-away" (a soap opera and fast food), which shocked me very much. Had he never looked up at to see the cathedral spires or heard of the "little boats" who rescued the Army at Dunkirk?

  3. This blog, written by an American, might make a fun start.

  4. I see that the French bishops have extended an invitation to all for fasting on Friday. This reminds me of Mark 9:29 about the driving out of demons--"This kind can go out by nothing but prayer and fasting."

    It also echoes Sr. Lucia of Fatima's emphasis of the importance of the Holy Rosary as central to "the two means to save the world... prayer and sacrifice":

    The two means to save the world are prayer and sacrifice. Look, Father (<< it seems Sr Lucia is addressing the Holy Father in a letter?), the Most Holy Virgin, in these last times in which we live, has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Holy Rosary. She has given this efficacy to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all, spiritual, in the private life of each one of us, of our families, of the families of the world, of the religious communities or even of the life of peoples and nations, that cannot be resolved through the prayer of the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve through the recitation of the Holy Rosary. Through the Holy Rosary we will save ourselves. We will sanctify ourselves. We will console Our Lord and obtain the salvation of many souls. Finally, devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Our Mother, consists in considering Her as the seat of mercy, of goodness and of pardon and as the sure door through which we are to enter Heaven.