God and conquerors

I just finished reading a very bad book, although I owe it thanks for leading me down some interesting intellectual paths.  The book is Derek Wilson’s Charlemagne, which came my way through my book club (and it’s because of the book club that I actually finished a book I normally would swiftly have abandoned).  The book’s failure lies, not in its subject matter (natch), but in the writing, which is confused, facile and unable to support its fundamental principle that Charlemagne is the founder of modern Europe.

In fact, as one of the book club members pointed out, Charlemagne was the founder of of something much more important than some amorphous “Europe”.  Instead, Charlemagne inaugurated Christendom.

But for Charlemagne’s commitment to creating a federation of formerly Pagan territories owing allegiance to the Papal view of Christianity, the world as we know it would never have existed.  He stood as the bulwark to the pressures if Islam from the south and west, and anarchy (in the form of Vikings, Saxons, Magyars and Bulgars to the north and east).  Further, since anarchy is explosive, but not lasting, there’s no doubt but that the Islamic pressure, which matched Charlemagne in single-minded devotion to a religious idea, which have been the ultimate victor.  The book’s author managed not to touch upon any of this.

The book’s failures aside, it did get me thinking about today’s religious wars and, more specifically, about the nature of religious wars.  As you know, I was raised in a completely liberal environment (San Francisco and Berkeley in the 60s, 70s and 80s).  Although I’ve conquered that liberalism intellectually, I still have some nice knee-jerk reactions left in me.  One of those kicked in when I read about Charlemagne systematically overthrowing pagan people (Celts to the west, Saxons to the north, etc.), and forcing Christianity on them.  It just seem to be so wrong that some imperialistic Christian bully would deprive those sweet tree-worshippers of their indigenous religious beliefs.  After all, aren’t we all supposed to worship Mother Gaia now?

Fortunately, reason kicked in.  Those tree-worshippers were anything but sweet.  For almost all of them, human sacrifice was the name of the game.  Whether drawing “volunteers” from their own ranks or committing mass slaughter against their enemies, these tree-hugger pagans engaged in brutish practices that we now pretend never existed.

We can get some glimpse into these practices, however, by looking at what marauding, Christianizing Europeans found when they met Native Americans on our shores.  Contrary to what is taught in public schools, many of the native tribes were not merely benign hunters and gatherers, or noble, PC warriors.  Instead, as Danny Lemieux explained in an email correspondence with me:

I love reading about the history of that period [early European contact with North America], especially given the involvement of my French forebears.  A wonderful read on the subject that links that past to our present is Phil Marchand’s book Ghost Empire: How the French Almost Conquered North America.  It’s an easy, entertaining and highly thoughtful book.  A good movie on that period is the Canadian Black Robe, which came out right about the time of “Dances with Wolves” but was xxxx-times better. Another excellent (but very long read) is the very authoritative Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766 by Fred Anderson, probably the leading authority on the French & Indian War.

The descriptions of what the Indians used to do to other tribes and captives are horrific.  They went well beyond cannibalism, and included forcing captured women to roast their babies live on spits before making them eat them, flaying prisoners alive, and consuming the flesh from living prisoners (the likely origin of a particularly bloody scene in Michael Crichton’s book State of Fear, warning about where the eco-environmental Gaia movement is taking us.)  Ghost Empire has a very interesting and sad discourse about how the Hurons tried to change their ways and modernize themselves in the original settlement of Detroit under the leadership of the black robes.

As Danny’s last sentence indicates, many of the Indians were grateful for an alternative to the horrors of their own religious and tribal practices.  It is reasonable to believe, therefore, that a significant number of the pagans that Charlemagne subdued were equally grateful for a respite from the horrific demands of the own societies.  After all, as Danny explains:

A forgotten trait of the Carthaginians is that they were worshippers of Baal (another name for Satan). Carthage had a large bronze statue of Baal with outstretched hands under which a large fire was built during an annual ritual. First-born babies were placed on those hands and roasted alive. The Carthaginians were loathed by other Mediterranean cultures (including the Jews). When the Romans finally defeated them, they found piles and piles of children’s bones.

As Chesterton put it, the Romans were pagans but they understood the difference between good and evil. They made sure no structure of Carthage remained standing. Shortly afterwards, Roman Society degenerated and was on its last legs until revitalized by Christianity. For the Druids, it was the Burning Man and other ceremonies. Ditto for the Aztecs. Might I suggest that we have a similar phenomenon at work in our society today, or am I being too un-PC harsh?

And then, suddenly, there was Christianity.  I’m not blind to the nuances of Christianity.  I understand them intellectually, although they do not resonate with me spiritually.  In that way, I’m pretty much like the smart pagan after his first lecture from the missionary.

The one thing, though, that all pagans understood right away, whether or not they grasped the greater subtleties of Christianity, was the fact that the days of human sacrifice were over.  What came through loud and clear was that Christ had offered himself as the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind.  You no longer needed to slaughter your babies, burn your youth, or behead all of your enemies to placate the invisible forces that dominated the world.  Instead, through the miracle of transubstantiation, you only needed to drink the wine and eat the wafer.  What a blessed relief!

Of course, the acceptance of Christ and the abandonment of pagan brutalities did not end the horrors of life in the pre-modern era.  (Although our periodic convulsions, whether in Germany, the Soviet Union, China or elsewhere remind us that man is always prone to horror.)  Life in Europe then was undoubtedly Hobbesian: “The life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”  Whether for the benefit of the state or the church, people who ran afoul of the authorities were routinely burned, flayed, beheaded, dislimbed, disemboweled, blinded, etc.  Nevertheless, under Christianity’s civilizing rule, it was still better than before.  Christianity also paved the way to the abolition of slavery, the end of child labor and the civil rights movement.  It was a slow process, but it was definitely a process.

So here I am, coming out in favor of an imperial urge to spread religion.  Why, then, am I so opposed to Islam’s same impulse?  The answer is simple.  All religions are not created equal.  Just as Christianity was superior to the paganism that preceded it, so too is it superior to the aggressive Islamism that now seeks to dominate.

Christianity increased the rights of man, and this is true even in times when men’s rights were limited almost beyond our modern conception.  Sharia Islam aims to decrease the rights of man, and destroy the rights of women.  We would trade the intellectual freedom and equality that are the gifts of Charlemagne’s Christendom and receive, instead, a stifling doctrinal world, with feudal practices.  It’s a bad deal and we are right to resist it.  No PC thoughts should pollute our will.

Madame Bookworm reads the future

I’ve predicted in this blog that, if America continues to coddle Iran, Saudi Arabia will give Israel access to its air space, although it may well lie about that fact later.  Iran’s bluster was fine with the Arab Muslim nations as long as they thought the U.S. would ultimately slap down any Iranian pretensions to regional hegemony.  With that clearly not the case any more, the game is changing and the players are taking new (and, if I do say so myself, predictable) positions on the board:

The head of Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence service, has assured Benjamin Netanyahu, its prime minister, that Saudi Arabia would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets flying over the kingdom during any future raid on Iran’s nuclear sites.

Saudi Arab is not the only one to reconsider the world order now that America is a suddenly a weak sister.  Perhaps the rest of the world will drift away from Marxism and coddling Muslim extremism as America becomes a mere spectator and — worse — a spectator that tends to cheer on the bad guys.

Like the teenager who can act wild, knowing that Daddy will ultimately be there to protect her, Europeans (and others) could afford to be weak and silly, knowing that America would come along and clean up their messes.  With Daddy in a coma, Europeans have to stand on their own, and I think their choices are going to be quite different than they were before.

More dust settling, this time in Rotterdam

Sometimes, you have to be poised on the edge of the volcano to realize the threat you face.  Until you get there, you might just think you’re climbing a beautiful mountainside.  Bruce Bawer, a gay man living in Europe, reached the edge of the volcano and wrote While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within.  Now, Paul Lucre, a gay American man of Puerto Rican descent also realizes he’s not just on the side of a pretty European hill but, instead, is gazing down into a boiling cauldron of Islamist anger, this time in Rotterdam.

What’s fascinating to watch is Lucre’s struggle to understand why the combination of Islam and European welfare, instead of leading to happy Muslims, leads to angry Islamists.  He finds it bizarre that the Muslims continue to live in segregated communities, instead of realizing that, from the Muslim point of view, they’ve achieved jizya without any effort:  the non-believing community voluntarily works and pays to support the (in Muslim minds) Muslim overlords.

Nevertheless, as the victim of a physical anti-Gay attack, Lucre is beginning to realize that the European model is not working.  Perhaps European anti-immigration forces are not necessarily White Supremacists and perhaps the American notion of a melting pot is a good thing:

This [the chaos and Muslim violence in Rotterdam] angers working-class white friends of mine, who admire Geert Wilders. These aren’t jack-booted, shaved-head racists — these are people who have given me shelter. These are people who have taken me, an openly gay Hispanic, all over the Netherlands as their guest so that I may learn more about this country I adore. They’re what we call “good people” back in Brooklyn, and they’re responding to Wilders.

My sympathy for the young Dutch Muslims then only goes so far. My parents were born in Puerto Rico. My mother insisted we not speak Spanish at home, and she refused to enroll us in bilingual education programs. We embraced American values in return for a share of the American dream. That Muslim immigrants here don’t aspire to become Dutch — and live according to Dutch rules and values — shocks me.

People are starting to figure things out.  Their Leftist hypotheses don’t work in the reality.  True, Europe chugged along for decades under a socialist model, but it was able to do so only because (a) a strong dollar and strong American military supported it and (b) it had a primarily homogeneous population.  Take away those two factors, and you have a looming disaster.  The only question remaining is whether a sufficient number of Europeans will be able to stare down into the volcano’s heart and then have the wisdom and ability to pull away from that abyss.

Hat tip:  Bald-Headed Geek

The scariest video I’ve ever seen

To the extent that this video may be the production of a pro-Muslim organization, it could also be seen as a boast, not a warning.  Regardless of the intentions behind it, those of us who cherish a Judeo-Christian, Western civilization must sit up and take notice — although I’m not sure that, in the end, there’s anything we can do anymore.  Taking notice may just mean sitting there and watching the end of the world as we know it.

I prefer clarity to agreement *UPDATED*

Charles, at LGF, is concerned that the “extreme right white supremacist” (his phrase) BNP party in England is gaining political ground.  If you check out the party’s blog, though, racial purity a la the Nazis or the KKK is not part of the party’s platform.  As far as I can tell, it wants to close Britain’s open borders, back off from European union control, and clamp down on out-of-control multiculturalism.  All of these seem like reasonable positions.  After all, under current British policies, traditional Britain is truly vanishing.  The place is ground zero for antisemitism, its Muslim influx is unending, Britain is ceding all political control to the EU, and the nation is effectively committing “we hate ourselves” suicide.  Wanting to turn back that tide doesn’t strike me as being the same as being Neo-Nazis:  desiring a totalitarian state dedicated to world domination and the eradication and enslavement of all inferior races.

Charles’ fight with the European far right is totally valid insofar as he is fighting the true neo-Nazis.  The problem seems to me to be the Orwellian one, with the degradation of language pushing people into positions that do not match the facts on the ground.

You see, thanks to the Left, words no longer mean what they used to mean, but the change is often so gradual, we don’t realize it. (That happens without politics, too, with the very old Bethlehem Hospital for the Insane in London morphing into the word “bedlam.”)

Because the Left consciously controls language (“man caused disasters” anyone?), things can get confusing. The easiest example is the way in which Nazis are defined. As their full name establishes (“National SOCIALISTS”), the Nazis were a socialist (i.e., Leftist) political organization. Nowadays, however, they are routinely referred to on the Left as “rightist” so as to conflate them with the Left’s political enemies. In fact, like the Left, they were statists. Unlike the average Lefty, however, they added to their garden-variety belief in state control a poisonous measure of racial hatred.

Linguistically, things are very confusing in Europe, where even the “rightist” political parties (say, the Tories) are to the Left of the American middle. Add to that the fact that, in Europe, there are both genuine neo-Nazis, who want to replicate the Nazis vision of racial purity, AND are concerned moderates who don’t like the political control being ceded to multicultural pro-Islamists, and you’ve got word soup.

For that reason, it would be useful if people who use the phrase “far right” with regard to European politics would define that term.  Technically, “far right,” if we’re measuring it against “far left,” simply means less government, not more. After all, if Marxist-style Leftism is the party that seeks total government control, than its opposite — “Rightism” — must be veering into pure anarchy, without any government control at all. That’s clearly not what Charles means when he speaks of the Right, though.

I think that, by saying “far right,” Charles is stating that the BNP party is racist, a la the Nazis or the KKK (and with visions of lynchings and ovens dancing in its political brain).  The website, however, indicates that it is only “racist” as the Left would define it, meaning anyone who doesn’t like Obama or is concerned about sharia.

Given the abuse language undergoes daily, the way in which words are folded, spindled and mutilated in ways that take them in the opposite direction from their original meanings, it’s entire possible that a lot of the intellectual fights on the conservative side arise because people THINK they mean the same thing, but they actually don’t. As Dennis Prager says, “I prefer clarity to agreement,” and as I’ve noted listening to his show, clarity often brings agreement.

I loath the stench of truly racists politics (e.g., KKK and Adolf worship blended with a desire to have a strong government making these deadly dreams a reality). However, I do think there needs to be a political home for Europeans who are worried about the Islamification of their nations. And as long as governments in Europe hew Left (even those that are called right), I suspect that the governments and their media outlets are going to tar all anti-Sharia people with the same ugly “far Right” brush.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

UPDATE:  Two comments I want to bring up to the post itself:

  1. Poosh

    Hi, I’m a British euroasian (halfbreed!!!!!!!!) and I just wanted to inform you of how badly wrong this post is in regard directly to the BNP. Firstly a racist party that actually wants seats in the UK is NOT going to blurt out its true motives on its public website ffs! The BNP are well known here to be VERY racist and Charles is perfectly right (for once) to be concerned about this. They are not against multi-culturalism, they are against non-whites. It is actually illegal for you to join the police force here in the UK if you are a member of the BNP (I don’t agree with this in principle but it is a disgusting thought that a member of the BNP could be in the police force all the same). There have been hidden-camera footage revealed as well displaying the party’s racism and so forth. It is WELL KNOWN in britan that this is a NAZI party.

    The are, like the Nazi Party however, NOT RIGHT WING. They are left wing – socialists. You need read their manifesto to see them as socialists. The BNP is made up of mostly working class chumps who are looking for a scape goat due to their lowly lott in life – and non-whites are there main scape-goat. I could not believe I was reading the above post, sorry. The BNP’s website is NOT somewhere to see their true colours – as if they’d broadcast their racist doctrines on it! lol. It would only take you mere minutes to see the BNP’s true colours. For example the BNP is a WHITES-ONLY party ffs.

  2. Thank you, Poosh. That’s precisely the type of information I’m seeking. That leaves a question open, though: Where the heck are moderate Europeans and British supposed to go to challenge unlimited immigration (as opposed to more controlled immigration); unbridled political correctness (as opposed to respect for others); the handing over of British sovereignty to the EU; and all the other stuff moderates are reasonable to oppose? The major political parties are joined together in a race to the bottom, and the moderates have nothing to hold onto. That had better change quickly, or the moderates will become radicalized and swell the ranks of the BNP and other racist parties.

UPDATE II: From Mike Devx, who actually did the research:

Well, I downloaded the BNP’s Constitution.  If you want to take a look it’s at the link below on their site.  It’s formatted to be assembled as a booklet, so you have to jump around from page to page on the web…

http://www.bnp.org.uk/Constitution%209th%20Ed%20Sep%202005.pdf

Section 2 – Membership – is clearly racial.  ’Nuff said, for me.  I’ve got no use for a political party that restricts its membership based on race solely to Caucasians of variously described “British descent”.

Seeking to preserve culture is one thing.  You can recognize that your beloved culture is disappearing and resolve to fight to retain it.  That’s legitimate, especially when all of your current political leadership in power is doing nothing, at best, to preserve it.  But these guys have clearly defined a racial component within their own Constitution by allowing only native Caucasian British to be members of the party.

Their activities and statements ceased to be overtly racist at about 2001, it appears.  Having seen the Stealth Candidate Obama succeed at his own deception of an entire country – well, enough of a deception to fool 53% of the people – it’s entirely possible that the BNP remains as virulently racist as their relatively distant past would indicate.

I can’t say I agree with Poosh’s virulent hatred of the <b>current</b> BNP.  Speaking for myself, though, I’ve seen enough to indicate that I would never associate myself with them in any form whatsoever.

Hopefully the BNP is not the only organized party in Great Britain to actively promote and value their traditional culture and values.  If so… then where else are the British people to turn?  They certainly won’t be willing to simply surrender…

That’s good enough for me too.  But I’ll go back to my original point, which is that the mainstream political parties have closed the doors on moderate Brits who are opposed to the fundamental change in the nature of English, from a Christian country tied to traditional British values, to a multiculturalist society with a rapidly growing, and increasingly vocal and powerful, extreme Islamist population.  These people are going to flock to the BNP, despite its ugly racist ideology, because it’s the only game in town.

We aren’t the change we’ve been waiting for?

Even my kids have figured out that the best negotiation is one in which you negotiate in good will from a position of strength.  Barack Obama probably agrees with this principle, but it’s becoming obvious that he’s misidentified the source of America’s strength in any negotiation.  When presidents from prior administrations (excepting Carter, of course) entered into dealings with the Europeans, they understood that the strength that formed the basis for any negotiation was the American economy, American military power, and America’s reputation as world leader.

Our narcissist in chief, however, went to Europe firmly believing and loudly expressing that America’s traditional virtues on the national scene are problems, rather than sources of strength.  Within minutes of setting foot on European soil, he apologized for our capitalism, our military, and our attitude, effectively neutralizing all three power points for effective American negotiation.

In place of America’s bases for negotiation strength (wealth, military power and status), he offered only one:  himself.  He is the change Europe has been waiting for.  Thus, he proclaimed that “I would like to think that with my election, we’re starting to see some restoration of America’s standing in the world.”

It couldn’t be more plain that, in his own mind, he, BHusseinO, is the personification of what little remains of American strength, and his mere existence is the point from which all negotations start.  To this Ivy League educated man (that is, a man who had America handed to him on a silver plated, affirmative action platter), everything else about America is irrelevant or even embarrassing.

Unsurprisingly for anyone not caught up in BHusseinO’s narcissistic delusions of grandeur, the Europeans have spit in Obama’s eye.  Even Obama himself may slowly be facing up to a reality from which a lifetime in affirmative action America shielded him, has had to concede that maybe, just maybe, his perfect wonderfulness is not sufficient to change the world:  “We cannot pretend somehow that because Barack Hussein Obama got elected as president, suddenly everything is going to be OK.”  (That statement was in response to the fact that the Muslim world has not forgiven American its many sins simply because America elected a former Muslim as president.)

Incidentally, speaking of former Muslim, Charles Johnson shows a picture of Bush apparently bowing to the Saudi King.  In fact, he’s not.  He’s getting a medal put around his neck.  As someone who has watched a billion Olympic medal award ceremonies it’s normal for the recipient, if his head is higher than the bestower (or if he feels that his head is higher) to bow his head so that the medal can easily be slipped on.  This is not a bow of subservience, as Obama performed.  It is a utilitarian gesture.

Obama again offends our friends *UPDATED*

I know nothing about US Admiral James Stavridis.  I don’t know whether he attained his high rank because he’s a brilliant military strategist or just another political hack.  I don’t know if he believes in a strong America, or believes America’s best defense is to role over and play dead.  Indeed, as of this minute, I only know two things about him:  (1) He is the person Obama appointed as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and (2) Obama deeply offended America’s NATO allies by his unilateral decision to appoint Stavridis to the position:

US Admiral James Stavridis is expected to take command of NATO forces soon. Obama’s decision to appoint him has astounded many in Europe, but the nominee brings important experience to the Afghanistan mission.

For Europeans at least, President Barack Obama’s choice for the new NATO commander comes as a surprise.

On Wednesday afternoon, e-mails circulating between Brussels and Berlin suggesting that, within the course of the day, Washington would name General James N. Mattis as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. The commander is in charge of all US troops in Europe as well as NATO deployments, including the ISAF security force in Afghanistan.

Traditionally, the United States appoints the supreme commander and the Europeans pick the NATO secretary general. The decision to appoint Mattis appeared to be a logical one. He has long carried the title “Supreme Allied Commander Transformation.”

In the end, though, Mattis didn’t get the appointment. Instead, Defense Minister Robert Gates announced that Admiral James Stavridis would be nominated for the highly prestigious position. The US Senate and the NATO Council must approve his nomination, but it appears likely he will get through. Gates said Stavridis was “probably one of the best senior military officers” in the US.

In Brussels, though, many felt bluffed. “America treats this like it’s purely an American matter — and they didn’t even give any hints about the appointment,” one NATO employee said. “The conspiratorial manner of the personnel search was almost reminiscent of the way the pope is selected,” Stefani Weiss, a NATO expert at the Bertelsmann Stiftung foundation in Brussels, told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

If Stavridis is truly the best person for American interests, so be it — America’s security is certainly my priority.

But didn’t the Obama promise us that, once he was President, he would heal all those myriad psychic wounds Bush had allegedly opened in relations between America and its existing allies in the rest of the world?  So far, Obama has offended the Brits, offended Israel, offended Brazil, offended Poland and the Czech Republic, and now he’s offending Europe en masse.  Remind me again how this is supposed to recalibrate America’s standing in the world?

UPDATE:  I just got word from one of my friends who’s in the know that Admiral Stavridis is probably one of the good guys (not to mention being a blogger himself).  My friend gave me some links to support this conclusion:

Naval Institute Member & Blogger Adm. James Stavridis, USN Nominated NATO’s Top Commander

Stavridis To EUCOM; Willard to PACOM

Newly nominated NATO Commander, Admiral Jim Stavridis, USN discusses his first command at sea

As I said to my friend in response to this information, I’m glad to hear Stavidris is one of the good guys. That means that Obama probably did put America’s interests first, even if it meant offending the Europeans. Still, it’s clear that he could have handled the matter more tactfully.

UPDATE IIAdd France to the list of countires the radiant One was going to charm but, instead, managed to offend.

Why Obama’s European-style socialism is a danger to us all

I’m still developing the same theme I’ve been hammering at for a week, because I think it’s important.  The ideas in this post should be familiar to you, but I’m trying to express them with more factual data and lucidity:

My mother, bless her heart, said something very important the other day. She said that Europeans are much more socially conscious than Americans and that’s why they have all those government programs (i.e., socialism or spreading the wealth). She was clearly trying to say that Americans are mean and selfish, and that’s why they’ve traditionally leaned to keeping their wealth, rather than allowing government redistribution. She’s completely wrong, of course, but wrong in a very interesting way.

What she neglected to consider with her pronouncement is that, traditionally, America and Europe had vastly different social and economic fluidity. While Europe has had an exceptionally rigid class system from which few escape, America has been since its inception a place in which people can “make it.” Every immigrant group (and such is the nature of America that all but the Indigenous Americans are immigrant groups), has managed to assimilate and rise economically.

Census records from the Lower East Side in New York, through which passed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of immigrants from all over Europe, show that within two generations, all of the families that once lived there had moved into the working, middle or wealthy classes. Certainly, individuals may have suffered and failed but, en masse, the immigrants did well. They didn’t need to become the recipients of perpetual government largesse.

In Europe, however, there were no systems by which the lower classes (and that also always meant the poorer classes) could escape their stratum. Whether by accent, education, poverty, or tradition, they stayed there. (And, interestingly, even the educational opportunities socialism provided didn’t much change that. When I lived in England a couple of decades ago, after almost 40 years of free access to college education, most English people did not go on to college and people still gave away their class instantly just by opening their mouths.) Socialism, in other words, was just a totalitarian government substitute for the old noblesse oblige that saw the upper class (or, at least, the socially conscious ones) take care of the poorer orders, all the while ensuring that they stayed in their place.

The intense stratification of that system continues to exist with the new immigrants to Europe. Whether in Germany, Norway, Sweden, England, Italy or France, these new Muslim immigrants are instantly the recipients of government largesse that gives them housing and money — and that essentially tells them to get into their immigrant ghettos, and stay there, preferably feeling grateful to and voting for the government that was so good to them. Its a shock to the ruling class, and one that they can’t seem to understand, that these immigrants, rather than feeling grateful at being stuffed away into ghettos without any opportunities, loath the countries in which they live, and cheerfully envision their bloody overthrows.

My mother agreed with me on all of these points (how could she not?), but then produced her “a-ha!” to prove me wrong: “What about blacks in America (and, she could have added, Native Americans, too)?” To her, they proved I was entirely wrong in describing America’s social and economic fluidity. To me, though, they were just the extra evidence I needed to prove that when, as they do in Europe, a government provides too much for people, it consigns them permanently to poverty and social exile.

As you know, African-Americans (and Native Americans) differed from all other immigrant groups in America because the American system essentially imposed against them, for centuries (and in brutal and horrible ways) a European style stratification that prevented any upward movement. This is true whether one is looking at slavery, relocation, genocidal wars or Jim Crow. I’ll focus from here on out on what happened to blacks when Americans finally wised up to the error of their ways, but you can tell the same story about Native Americans.

Beginning in the 1940s (with the WWII economy) and continuing into the 1950s (with the Civil Rights movement), blacks started the same upward movement as other American groups. That is, once the nation began removing the artificial ceiling it had imposed on them, blacks too made social and economic strides. The strides were slow, because prejudice is slow to die, but they were real, and they created a rising black working and middle class composed of nuclear families. I have no doubt that, had the government continued to educate and police against discrimination, and otherwise left the market to do its work, African Americans would have joined other immigrant groups in realizing the American dream in a generation or two.

The death knell for this laborious, but real, social and economic ascent was the Great Society. The moment comprehensive welfare programs began (around the mid-1960s), government workers fanned out to black communities all over America and made huge efforts to tell blacks to stop working, because the government would pay for them. White guilt was at its apex, and government welfare was its expiation.

Being rational actors, blacks gave up bad, low-paying, often demeaning jobs for free money. And being rational actors, they gave up nuclear families and parental responsibility for even more free money. And so began the terrible slide of the African-American community. Even if you all don’t remember that time, you do remember what finally arrested this slide and helped put African-Americans back on the same, slow upward trajectory that existed before the Great Society: The fact that Clinton, under duress from a real Republican Congress, ended “welfare as we know it.” Once again, African-Americans, being rational actors, were given the incentive to shelter in the strength of the nuclear family and plug into the American Dream.

Obama wants to undo the American Dream and turn us into a European economy, where all benefits flow from the government, rather than individual effort. You can call it “socialism,” or “big government,” or “spreading the wealth,” or whatever else suits you, but the outcome will be the same: People will be locked into government induced poverty in perpetuity, the middle class will become slack, the economy will enter into stagflation, unemployment will rise, and service in every area of American life will fall as people lose their incentive (because they’ve lost the ability) to rise upwards and join in the American Dream.

(I’ve cross-posted this same article at Bloggers for John McCain (aka McCain-Palin 2008), which is a site that I urge you to visit.  It’s committed entirely to advancing McCain to the White House, and has smart, enthusiastic articles about all of the players in the upcoming election.)

This one about Europe snuck in under my radar

I wrote it a few days ago, but it just got published today:

The other day, Mr. Horace Engdahl, a man who normally occupies a rather obscure outpost when it comes to public awareness, bought himself a few minutes of fame by engaging in everyone’s favorite pastime: America bashing. Mr. Engdahl’s statements in this regard were noteworthy only because he happens to be the top member of the committee charged with awarding the Nobel Prize for literature.

In an “exclusive” interview with the AP, Mr. Engdahl pulled no punches when it came to demeaning Americans. In his estimation, “The U.S. is too isolated, too insular. They don’t translate enough and don’t really participate in the big dialogue of literature. That ignorance is restraining.”

This was a rather interesting comment coming from a Swede. Sweden is a lovely country, and the very nice people who live there all seem to speak beautiful English. It’s also a country of only about nine million people, 87% of whom profess the same religion, speak the same language, and share the same ethnicity. Oh! Don’t forget that it’s surrounded on all sides by similar nations (Norway, Denmark, and Finland). I don’t say any of this to insult Sweden. I just think it’s worth pointing out that those who live in insular countries shouldn’t throw snide stones.

We shouldn’t really be surprised at this, however. Democrats and other Americans of the liberal persuasion are desperate to throw the Republicans out of the White House so that they can curry favor with the Europeans they so much admire. I’m afraid they have a tough road to hoe — and an Obama election may not be enough to do it. The fact is that Europeans don’t like us, and they never have.

Because Mr. Engdahl started this discussion about the dislike Europeans (or, at least, Europe’s intellectuals) feel for America, we should look first to Nobel Prize winners when we cast about for examples of European anti-Americanism. In the world of literature, last year’s controversial winner was Doris Lessing, she of the famous “they would murder Obama” attitude. (Ironically, the only place that’s almost happened, at least by tragic proxy, is in England, where a white racist shot — but thankfully did not kill — a black man wearing an Obama shirt.)

Lessing is only the most recent anti-American winner. Two years before her prize, the winner was Harold Pinter, a leftist amongst leftists, who has called George Bush a “mass murderer.” He was preceded by Elfriede Jelinek, another European Communist who deeply hates America.

This year’s winner, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, has not (yet) ascended to the ranks of rabid America haters, but his general theme seems to be a disdain for all things Western. Work your way past the prize committee’s incomprehensible praise for him as an “explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization,” and you can find the meat of his writing, which one reviewer explains the Third World as “a utopian antithesis to the ugliness and brutality of European society.”

And don’t even get me started on the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize.

You can read the rest here.

America and Europe

It’s short, so I’ll quote this post from Power Line in its entirety:

America: Last Refuge for the Left?

Mark Steyn makes a good point:

If Obama is elected in November, at G7 meetings, for the first time since time they began, America will have a more left-wing leader than any other member of the group – Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and Britain (and that’s before Gordon Brown loses to David Cameron). Right-of-center government throughout the western world – except Washington.

American liberals have yearned to match Europe’s supposed sophistication as long as America has existed. Maybe someone should give them the news: adopting Euro-style leftism in 2008 would be a bit like having a go at European fascism in 1945.

The view from across the pond

I like to read British publications, as well as the Spiegel, and whatever other English language versions of European papers strike my fancy.  It’s useful to see what’s going on in other parts of the world and, more than that, to see how the local press views its own events.

One thing I’ve noticed in all these foreign publications in the last week:  aside from whining about their own economic plight, they’re all thrilled to think that America’s dominance is at an end.  This story from Spiegel strikes precisely the note I’m talking about:

THE END OF ARROGANCE
America Loses Its Dominant Economic Role

By SPIEGEL Staff

The banking crisis is upending American dominance of the financial markets and world politics. The industrialized countries are sliding into recession, the era of turbo-capitalism is coming to an end and US military might is ebbing. Still, this is no time to gloat.

I found that last sentence quite amusing, because the Spiegel Staff is so obvious gloating. After 60 years of being dependent on America — to rescue them from the Naziism they imposed on themselves, to protect them from Communists, and to support their economy by providing all the military they needed — the Germans (and most of the rest of Europe) are just too delighted with America’s current economic woes.

I will only say, Twain-like, that I suspect reports of America’s death are greatly exaggerated.  And more to the point, the Europeans had better hope that they’re exaggerated, because we are the last bastion of small “d” democratic freedoms, whether the European’s like to admit it or not.  We’re not holding our own as well as we once were, and some Europeans are wising up the hard way, but we’re still the last best hope.

European arrogance towards America doesn’t stop with politics.  How about this from the head of Nobel literature committee:

Bad news for American writers hoping for a Nobel Prize next week: the top member of the award jury believes the United States is too insular and ignorant to compete with Europe when it comes to great writing.

[snip]

As the Swedish Academy enters final deliberations for this year’s award, permanent secretary Horace Engdahl said it’s no coincidence that most winners are European.

“Of course there is powerful literature in all big cultures, but you can’t get away from the fact that Europe still is the center of the literary world … not the United States,” he told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview Tuesday.

Well, I guess you’re going to be the center of the literary world if you designate yourself as the center, but tautologies seem to be too sophisticated a thought for Mr. Engdahl.

As for me, I’m a woman of simple tastes, and make a point never to read recent examples of Nobel Prize winning literature, since they seem better suited to a man of Mr. Engdahl’s dubious sophistication:  unmoored to common concepts of grammar, narratively challenging, and morally vacuous.  But that’s just me.

The candidate for thee, but not for me

In an amusing article that compiles examples of American and European media hysteria about Obama’s world tour (think Madonna and the Beatles, only bigger), Denis Boyles makes an interesting point about the European fixation with an Obama (read:  black) Presidency:

Anyway, the gist: Europeans really really want Obama to be the next U.S. president, just as they wanted John Kerry to be the current president. The Daily Telegraph’s poll last May showing Europe’s overwhelming preference for Obama — findings repeated today by Gallup — are everywhere in the coverage of Tour Obama 2008. Seven of every ten Italians, two-thirds of all French and Germans, and half of Britons sober enough to be able to respond to a poll question would vote for Obama to be president of the U.S.A. if they could.

However, if you asked the French, the Germans, the British and the Italians if they’d vote for a black candidate to govern their own countries, the results would be different, even if the candidate were the black JFK du jour. Those million Germans in Berlin will all be long gone before a man or woman of African descent becomes chancellor, prime minister or president of any European country. The French had a hard enough time voting for a chap of Hungarian descent; the odds of them voting for a “rat” — as they quaintly call their North African immigrants — are impossibly long.

American voters have their eyes wide shut *UPDATED*

Terry Sater writes about the fact that, coddled by loving euphemisms, Americans are marching headlong into the same dreadful socialist experiment that failed all over Europe — a failure that took place within the lifetime of every single American voter.  This is not a case of a few centuries or even decades having dimmed the lessons.  We saw socialism die, and we’ve seen the havoc it still creates in Europe.  Nevertheless, lulled by PR-approved phrases such as “Fairness Doctrine” and “Universal Healthcare,” we’re on the verge of voting in a completely Leftist government, beginning with the White House and ending with Congress.  I urge you to read his editorial and to email it to your friends.

UPDATE:  In the above post, I included a throwaway line about the havoc of Europe.  DQ appropriately challenged that conclusory statement, pointing out that many Americans think that Europe runs perfectly.  I happen to believe the contrary is true, based on reading European newspapers, having been to Europe myself recently, and speaking to Europeans here in America.  However, a combination of laziness and business meant I never took DQ up on his request that I enlarge on that conclusion.  Fortunately, Danny Lemieux did a lot of that work for me in a comment to this post, which I’m reprinting here:

Don, Americans go to Europe as tourists. They enjoy the tourist areas where people, on a day to day basis, look happy and prosperous. You can see happy people just about anywhere in the world. Americans eat great food (because it is different) that many ordinary Europeans will never enjoy, use efficient rail systems that drain public finances, and never have to worry about negotiating their ways through the regulatory mazes that define day-to-day life in those societies.

I happen to think Paris is one of the most beautiful and happy places in the world. I love visiting there.

What American tourists will never see is that I have solid upper-middle-class relatives in Paris, living in affluent neighborhoods, who must park their cars on their tiny lawns in locked compounds for fear of getting their cars torched or stolen, have bullet proof glass on their first-floor windows to prevent (prevalent) home invasion, whose daughters are terrified of being gang raped by Muslims “youths” (“un tournant”) and who, either foolishly or because their tax system leaves them relatively little disposable income, have failed to save for their retirement because their government promised to take care of them in their old age…when it is becoming quite apparent that their government can’t… and won’t. One of the reasons (foolish as it may be) that European governments are frantically allowing swarms of Muslim immigrants to invade their countries is because they need laborers to keep the economy going as European baby boomers retire, having left behind far-to-few children to take their place.

For the most part, Europe is no longer democratic. Ordinary people long ago lost their ability to make themselves heard, other than by rioting. Their governments are ruled by distant, unelected aristocratic elites, most of whom reside in Brussels. Freedom of speech? Forget it. Right to self-defense? Forget it. The right to own property? For far too many Europeans, forget it? As my astute daughter observed, they are simply regressing to their historical comfort zone, one defined by landlord and serf relationships.

Europe is a cesspool of age-old mistakes that get repeated over and over and over again. Americans just don’t know how good we have it here because we so-called “sophisticated” Americans have never had a proper frame of reference.

So, I will always love to go to Europe as an American visitor, but I go with no illusions about what it is and where it is going.

Sweden joins the ranks of nations committing suicide *UPDATE*

Charles Johnson of LGF periodically gets into spats with the people at Gates of Vienna because of their (possible?) ties to organizations that have the whiff of neo-Nazism about them.  As for me, I don’t know where the truth lies in those arguments.

I do know that Europe in the 20th (and, apparently, in the 21st) century has always been distressingly binary, not around the center (as America is, or used to be), but around the poles.  For example, we now look back on the British ruling class of the 1930s with incredible disdain, because so many supported Nazism.  What we forget is that they supported it because they feared Communism more.  They didn’t see a third way out of those two -isms.  Instead, they just picked what, at the time, seemed the least horrible.

I see the same thing occurring in Europe now, where many people, across myriad European countries, are appalled by and afraid of their governments’ (1) embrace of unhindered immigration; (2) hostility to their own national cultures; (3) pan-Europeanism (which destroys the long-time bonds holding people together within a nation); and (4) obesiance before radical Islam.  Faced with this top-down destruction of their own countries and cultures, people in the various European countries are seeking an alternative around which to rally — and neo-Nazism, with its focus on white, European culture is there, ready made.

The problem with this European habit of rallying around the extreme is that it muddies the waters.  People who have an accurate understanding of the situation, and are capable of analyzing correctly what’s going on, seem to soil themselves by embracing the most extreme solution, instead of simply pushing back against their own governments’ and elites’ stupidity.  Of course, given how deeply entrenched and broad-reaching the stupidity is, maybe the only possible push-back is to head as far away from the government position as possible straight into neo-Nazi land, so as to get a running start.  This is why all the alternatives in Europe begin to seem very frightening.

This is a very long intro to an important post that Fjordman wrote at Gates of Vienna regarding the rising tide of rape in Sweden.  Fjordman is not advocating a neo-Nazi solution.  He is, however, giving a solid analysis of the perfect storm:  a government that hates itself, aided and supported by women who hate men, all of whom are steeped in Marxist ideology, and all of whom give their full support to the concept that immigrants (read:  Muslim immigrants) can do no wrong.  To me, the following paragraph just about perfectly sums up the insanity that has taken over the once rock-solid Swedes:

The effect of radical Feminism is to treat all men as criminals, except those who really are criminals, who should receive soft treatment. All men are rapists, except those who actually are. They are victims of “society.” Despite the fact that Muslim immigration has triggered an unprecedented wave of anti-female violence, women still vote disproportionately for pro-immigration parties, and yell “racism” at men who suggest it’s not a good idea.

Fjordman is the boots on the ground — he’s giving a first-hand view of the same problems that Bruce Bawer and Mark Steyn discuss to such good effect in their books about Islam in Europe.

One really cannot blame the Islamists for doing what they’re doing in Europe.  Like the redoubtable George Washington Plunkitt of Tammany Hall, they’re not really doing anything wrong.  Instead, as Plunkett always said, “I seen my opportunity and I took it.”  The Islamists are using to good effect the fact that the nations of Europe are holding a knife to their own throats.  Indeed, the Islamists would be fools not to seize such a juicy opening.

More years ago than I care to count, when I was in high school and took my Achievement exam (that was the one with the written essay, wasn’t it?), I remember distinctly being asked to comment on Walt Kelly’s famouse “We have met the enemy and He is us” phrase.  Back then, unaware of the fact that Kelly created that phrase as a slap at capitalism (because it went on an earth day poster decrying the destruction of the forests), I muddled on about how we can be our own worst enemies, etc.  I wish I could revisit that essay now.  Kelly is right in a way he never knew:  the enemy is us because we are handing to our enemy, ready-made, the instrument of our destruction.  It is we — not the nuclear, not the hijacked plane, not the IED — we who are our enemy’s secret weapon.

Hat tip:  Danny Lemieux

UPDATE:  By the way, the increasingly loathsome Patrick Buchanan is another animal altogether.  Rather than observing today’s social ills, he is embarking on a course of historical revisionism aimed at whitewashing the Nazis.  This guy is, plain and simple, a neo-Nazi trying to revitialize a dangerous, grotesque and violent political ideology because he thinks it was a good thing in the past and got a bum rap.  Tell that to the 6 million.

Keep the faith

J. R. Dunn has a wonderful antidote to political despair.  I have some optimistic predictions of my own:

I think the current gas crisis, coupled with the holes being punctured into Global Warming, and China’s status as No. 1 C02 polluter, will create a popular ground swell that will force the Demos’ hands (1) on ANWR and offshore drilling, (2) on enabling oil refineries to go forward, and (3) on building nuclear power plants a la the French.  The fact that the Saudis have promised more production is a harbinger of change.

I think that McCain will win.

I think the Democrats will continue to have a majority in Congress, but it won’t be the veto-proof blow-out the more pessimistic predict.

I think the Democratic convention will be an even better spectacle than the 1968 Democratic convention.

I think that England can no longer be saved, but that the rest of Europe is getting panicky and, in keeping with historic traditions, will ultimately react quite violently to the threat it perceives within it (meaning the rise of radical, as opposed to slightly secularized, Islam).  This may actually not be an optimistic prediction, because the backlash could be horrific.

I think that, having converted my own home to a Capitalist economy, I’m going to have a better summer than usual.

I am keeping the faith.

By the way, my negative prediction is that Africa will actually be the next great bloody battlefield (as opposed to an ideological walk-over) in the War between Muslim and Christian.  As Islam drops down from the North, and the rising tide of Christianity rises up from the South, they will meet in the middle with an Armageddon-like clash.  It will be the Sudan played out on a very large scale.

For once, it really is about the children

(This is the first in what I hope will be a series of very civil essays examining marriage.  Suek got me started with this idea based on a comment she wrote saying that, well, we need to figure out what marriage is all about.  Planned future essays will involve separating the religious aspect of marriage from the civil strand, examining polygamy and polyandry, the effect of feminism on marriage, the Hollywood culture and marriage, and, possibly, the economic benefits that flow from marriage.

I am not writing these posts to oppose gay marriage.  I am writing them because I still want to do what the courts have prevented me from doing:  I want to take a good, analytical look at our social institutions and determine how proposed changes will affect them.  The changes may be good, bad or neutral.

Please do not take this post as an opportunity to engage in attacks against gays or even against gay marriage.  On the other hand, please do use this post as an opportunity to give your views about the core nature of marriage in American society.)

Long-time readers know that I tend to be suspicious of Democratic initiatives that start off with something being “about the children.” Illegal immigration should be allowed because it’s about the children of illegal immigrants. The corollary is that deporting illegal immigrants should be disallowed because it’s about the children of illegal immigrants. Socialized medicine should be created because it’s about the children.

For every Democratic initiative, children are the wedge. If you’re against the Democratic viewpoint, you’re obviously a monster who is against children. This is not reasoned argument. This is emotion-based demonization of the political opposition, and I don’t like.

Some things, however, really are about the children, because children are central to the issue. I’ve been worried — not adamantly opposed to, but worried — about gay marriage because I’m unclear whether its existence, which takes marriage away from its procreative function, will affect the children.

I’m no fool, of course. I know that not all heterosexual marriages result in children. Heck, I don’t even know if half of the heterosexual marriages end in children. However, I’m firmly convinced that the heart of marriage, going back into the dim recesses of pre-recorded time, is about a man’s ability to recognize his own children without a DNA test.

Marriage, regardless of the society or the time in which it was created, either gives the man an assurance that the child from his wife’s body is in fact his, or it forces him to accept that child as his (placing on him the burden to police his wife’s access to or desire for other men). This worldwide, time-long societal construct, which has men either know that a child is actually theirs or be forced to pretend that it is, places on men an overriding obligation to provide for that child, so that the state doesn’t have to.

The socialist state, of course, flips that pattern on its head, by substituting the State for the father. (Just the father, not the mother, because of the direct biological connection of pregnancy, childbirth and lactation.)  We’ve now seen “the socialist state as father” play out three times, and none of the results have been pretty.

In America, the test case for socialized fathering, starting in the 1960s, was the African-American community. Up until social workers with the welfare state actively convinced African-Americans that they’d do better to place their faith in government than in African-American men, the community was making great strides. Despite racism in the North and Jim Crow in the South, black families were nuclear and were seeing solid economic progress. Crime rates were only slightly higher than among white families who were similarly situated economically.

Thus, while life in a very- to semi-racist country was not easy, it was getting better. What changed all that was the Nanny State. Well-intentioned social workers, trained in Marxist doctrines of reallocation of wealth, poured into the black communities, and bullied, cajoled and blackmailed families into applying for welfare. And the deal with welfare was that you got more of this “free” money if (a) there was no bread winner and (b) you kept having children. Being economically reasonable people, the women kicked their men out and kept having babies. And being equally reasonable, the men got free sex and no responsibility. Sounds good.

Except it wasn’t good. It was awful. It turns out that men aren’t useful just to bring in the money. Instead, it’s actually very positive to have them around, serving as a role model of male maturity for both boys and girls. Children need those models. And if they’re absent, they’ll start seeking them wherever there is an alpha male. In the ghettos, sadly, that alpha male was likely to be the corner drug dealer or the gang banger — and the latter could hang around being tough because he didn’t have to work to bring home the bacon for his one wife and his children.

As to that latter point — his children — the situation worsened as the women started having children by multiple fathers. When a mom does that, no one father has an interest in providing for that family, since he knows that, even though he may earmark funds for his child, those same funds will inevitably benefit the other man’s (men’s) children as well. In any event, the Nanny state provides, absolving him of all responsibility.

What happened to African-Americans was not some fluke, unique to America. Precisely the same thing happened in England, as Tom Bethell details in an article that discusses myriad areas in which Britain — which has traveled quite far down the path on which Obama wishes to place America — has collapsed. It’s a long and excellent article, with a lengthy discussion about the effect the welfare state has on families.  I’m going to quote from that section at some length here, since it so precisely parallels what we in America, with our “Great Society,” did to blacks:

The ruling-class embrace of semi-capitalism has brought about the rise in prosperity, but this has been accompanied by mounting social chaos. One of the main indicators is the rise of family breakdown (or non-formation) and out-of-wedlock childbearing. The key enabler of this change has been the transfer of tens of billions of pounds to fatherless households. Only a society wealthy enough to collect and redistribute revenue on this scale can sustain widespread illegitimacy. Without the tolerance of wealth-creation, redistribution on this scale would not have been possible. Traditional families and moral standards were undermined in consequence.

Melanie Phillips, a Daily Mail columnist and a refugee from the left (formerly she was with the Guardian newspaper), wrote recently that the “overclass” has “deliberately and wickedly created over the years a legal and welfare engine of mass fatherlessness and child abandonment, resulting in a degraded and dependent underclass and a lengthening toll of human wreckage.”

A couple of sensational crime stories were in the headlines when I was there, illuminating this “welfare engine of mass fatherlessness.” The rot beneath the surface became conspicuous.

One involved a 15-year-old girl named Scarlett whose hippie mother had taken her to the drug infested beaches of Goa, a former Portuguese colony on the coast of India. The mother then headed off to other Indian beaches with her other children, leaving Scarlett behind. A few days later the young girl was raped and murdered on the Goan beach.

The amazing part of the story was that the mother had nine children by five men, lives in two trailers in Devon, and receives government “benefit” (welfare) for each child, adding up to about $50,000 a year. Having saved about $14,000, she was able to take eight of her children on a six-month holiday to India, and return, sadly, with seven of them.

The mother was shocked to find that the Goan police seemed to be protecting the guilty parties, but then (when the tabloids got hold of the story and ran with it) was even more shocked to find that, instead of being regarded sympathetically, a few residual bluenoses and moralists in England viewed her conduct with some opprobrium.

The second case involved a nine-year-old girl called Shannon who was reported missing by her mother and then found, 24 days later, hiding in the house of one of her numerous step relatives. She may have wanted to escape from the chaos at home, but one of her step-relations was charged with kidnapping. Shannon’s mother, it turned out, had seven children by five different men. The shocking detail in her case was that she referred to Shannon and another of her children, born a year earlier, as “twins.” She actually thought that they were twins because they had the same father.

The truth is that decades of intervention by social engineers who either do not understand the importance of fatherhood and family, or, more likely, think they ought to be undermined, is reducing British society to something barely recognizable.

As for Scarlett’s mother, her “whole lifestyle has been one from which the words responsibility or judgment have been excluded,” Melanie Phillips commented. People have been increasingly encouraged to think “they have an absolute right to live exactly as they want without anyone passing judgment on them.” Further, “our deeply irresponsible overclass has put rocket fuel behind the exponential growth [of broken family life] through tax and welfare incentives.”

Now we have an “N” of two, both showing the devastation the Nanny state creates when it makes fathers superfluous, whether in African-American communities or traditional white British communities.  Let’s add a third “N” — this time, the whole of Europe (h/t:  Danny Lemieux):

There is one marital breakdown and one abortion in Europe almost every 30 seconds, a report that claims to chart the collapse of family life said yesterday.

In a survey of life in the 27 European Union countries, the Institute for Family Policy said that pensioners now outnumbered teenagers, and more people were living alone.

The report, The Evolution of the Family in Europe 2008, which was unveiled in the European Parliament in Brussels, described the European birth rate as “critical”.

It said that almost one million fewer babies were born in the 27 EU countries last year than in 1980. There were six million more over65s than under14s in Europe last year, against 36 million more children than pensioners in 1980.

The institute said: “Europe is now an elderly continent.” Almost one in every five pregnancies ends in abortion. The marriage rate fell by 24 per cent between 1980 and 2006. Two out of three households have no children, and nearly 28 per cent of households contain only one person.

The report urges national governments to set up a ministry for the family.

That’s kind of “N” squared, isn’t it?  Family hasn’t just been damaged, it’s been destroyed entirely.  With the government inserting itself as a wedge between man and woman (essentially by emasculating men), and with its ability to infantalize both men and women by making it unnecessary for them ever to grow up and take responsibility either for themselves or for another, Europe has simply disintegrated entirely.  It’s citizens are no longer capable of or interested in fulfilling their primary biological functions.

I want to see marriage restored to preeminence in America, not just because I’m a stubborn reactionary, but because I think it’s an absolutely necessary thing for a high functioning society, with a thriving “next” generation.  If gay marriage will reignite the excitement about marriage for everyone, then I think gay marriage is a good thing.  However, if it devalues marriage, I have a problem.

Fundamentally, I’m a pragmatist, and I don’t think marriage is about true love (which should be available to all), or financial benefits (which should be available to all who wish to partner permanently in a society), or about registration at Williams-Sonoma (which should definitely be available to all).  Marriage should be about children:  having them and raising them in a way that is best for them and best for the larger society.  (Incidentally, as a pragmatist, if gay marriage is a wash, neither helping nor harming a fatally wounded institution, I also think citizens, not courts, should be in favor of it.)

Everything old is new again

I am a huge Georgette Heyer fan. I consider her one of the most amusing, sophisticated novel writers ever, and think it’s a shame that she got labeled as a pure romance writer, a genre that puts her in the “I browse that section wearing sunglasses and a scarf” category of books at any Barnes & Noble. In fact, her historical novels, written about the years between 1775 (or so) and 1820 (or so) are examples of meticulous historical research. In her own times, she was recognized as one of the people in England most knowledgeable about the Regency period and, by extension, about the Napoleonic wars that served as a 22 year background to that era.

A side note here: Although the historical distance makes it a bit hard to tell, England’s stand against Napoleon was incredibly important, not just for England’s control of trade and Empire building (which was a selfish reason for England to stay in the world), but for Europe’s freedom. While Napoleon definitely had good points (he broke open the ghettos that confined European Jews), he was also a megalomaniac who was trying to establish a new Napoleon-controlled Empire stretching from Spain to Russia. It would have been a police state as surely as any other “empire by conquest” and his defeat was, overall, a good thing. Now back to Georgette Heyer….

One of Heyer’s books, A Civil Contract, is a romance that has as its backdrop England during the last year of the Napoleonic war, from his imprisonment at Elba to his ultimate defeat at Waterloo.  As the book nears its end, Heyer discusses the Duke of Wellington’s campaign against Napoleon in the weeks immediately before Waterloo, and, more interestingly, the attitudes prevailing in London at the time amongst high society, the politicos (with both the liberal Whig views and the conservative Tory views on display), and the mercantile class.  Even then, it seems, liberals were anti-War!

Read this lengthy passage about the fatigue and disinterest that set in amongst large swaths of the population during a long war, as well as the anti-War party’s longing for defeat at any cost, and see if it doesn’t ring a bell.  (Adam is the book’s lead male character, and he is an ex-Army officer who had fought under Wellington in earlier campaigns.):

[H]is brief sojourn in London had made him realize that between the soldier and the civilian there was a gulf too wide to be bridged.  It had been no hardship to cut his visit [to London] short.  The [social] season was in full swing; the looming struggle across the Channel seemed to be of no more importance to the ton [England's high society] than a threatened scandal, and was less discussed.  To a man who had spent nearly all his adult life in hard campaigning it was incomprehensible that people should care so little that they could go on dancing, flirting, and planning entertainments to eclipse those given by their social rivals when the fate of Europe was in the balance.  But England had been at war for twenty-two years, and the English had grown accustomed to this state, accepting it in much the same spirit as they accepted a London fog, or a wet summer.  In political circles and in the City [the merchant class] a different and more serious point of view might be taken, but amongst the vast majority of the population only such families as had a son or a brother in the Army regarded the renewal of hostilities as anything more than an inevitable and foreseeable bore.  Except that Napoleon had not abdicated in March of 1802, it was the Peace of Amiens all over again.  It was disagreeable, because taxes would remain high, and one would once more be unable to enjoy foreign travel; but it was not disastrous, because whatever he might do on the Continent Napoleon would not overrun Great Britain.  Life would go on, in fact, just as it had for as long as most people could remember.

To Adam, who, until so recently, had had no other real object than to defeat Napoleon’s troops, such apathy was as nauseating as it was extraordinary.

I don’t know why, but having just read Heyer’s words, the following comment at the Commentary Blog (h/t Danny Lemieux) put me in mind of the above passage about European malaise when it comes to self-preservation.  The two things are not the same, of course, since the Commentary post, by Peter Wehner, focuses, not on England during the Napoleonic era, but on the European and Leftist attitude about Bush’s failed multilateralism (even when evidence shows she’s been multilateral), or their complaints that she’s insisting on help, rather than functioning unilaterally.  There’s something about the damned if you do, damned if you don’t tone, the carping, and the general inability to recognize real danger, however, that seem sunchanged after two centuries:

Last week I was in London attending a Global Leadership Forum, sponsored by the Royal United Services Institute, the Princeton Project on National Security, Newsweek International, and Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP. The attendees–from both the United States and Europe–included academics, scholars, journalists, diplomatic advisers and others who inhabit the foreign policy world. The event was well-organized, the conversations wide-ranging, and there was a genuine effort to hear from a diversity of voices (hence my invitation). But there is no question that the dominant outlook of most of those in attendance was left-leaning, which itself made the trip illuminating.

I came away from the gathering (portions of which I missed) with several broad impressions. One was that multilateralism has become virtually an end in itself. What matters to many Europeans and liberal-leaning Americans is the process rather than the results. What almost never gets discussed is what happens when one’s desire for multilateralism collides with achieving a worthy end (for example, trying to stop genocide in Darfur or prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb). The child-like faith in multilateralism as the solution to all that ails the world would be touchingly innocent if it weren’t so terribly dangerous.

There were the predictable assertions made about how the United States, under George W. Bush, was “unilateralist” and that, in the words of one former Clinton Administration official, “multilateralism was a dirty word” in the Bush Administration. This charge is simplistic and demonstrably untrue–and one could cite as evidence everything from the lead up to the Iraq war (in which the United States went to the UN not once but twice, and gained unanimous approval of Resolution 1441); the war itself (which included support from the governments of Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, Norway, El Salvador and many other nations); the E3; the Quartet; the Six Party Talks; the Proliferation Security Initiative; a slew of free trade agreements; and more. In fact the Bush Administration was criticized by Democrats for being too multilateralist in their dealings with North Korea; it was said by John Kerry, among other liberals, that we should engage in bilateral talks with North Korea rather than rely on the Six Party Talks.

Another impression I had was that many (if not most) Europeans and American foreign policy experts are caught in a time warp, acting as if we are still in 2006. They simply want to wash their hands of Iraq. They hate the war, are seemingly impervious to the security and political progress we have seen in Iraq since last summer, and they want the next Administration to downplay Iraq as an issue, which they believe has “obsessed” the Bush presidency. What they don’t seem to understand is that ending U.S. involvement in the war won’t end the war. In fact, if Obama or Clinton follow up on their stated commitments, it is likely to trigger mass death and possibly genocide, revitalize al Qaeda, strengthen Iran, and further destabilize the region. The irony would be that the plans laid out by Democrats, if followed, would increase, not decrease, Iraq’s dominance of American foreign policy. An Iraq that is cracking up and caught in a death spiral is not something that even a President Obama or Clinton could ignore.

You can read the rest here.  I know the analogies aren’t at all perfect, but the miasma of defeatism and hostility seems to transcend time.

Another sign that conservatives are not out of step *UPDATED*

One of the Democratic selling points — and it was certainly one that Monsieur John Kerry tried to hit hard — is that American conservatism is out of step with Europe, and that Democrats, with their advanced European attitudes, will help us be friends again with the rest of the civilized world. This sales pitch hasn’t changed despite the fact that the European electorate, when given the chance, has lately been ousting its liberal leaders in favor of more conservative ones. As of a few days ago, that change had happened in Germany, France and Italy. Yesterday, it began to happen in England. Although the Labour government is still in power, local election results show that the average Brit in the street is disenchanted with Labour. The bloom is off the Tony Blair rose:

Labour woke up to its worst result at the ballot box for four decades on Friday morning as voters staged a mass local election protest against Gordon Brown’s government and the worsening economic situation.

As results continued to come the picture deteriorated for Labour. By mid afternoon Labour had lost 283 seats, while the Conservatives had won 232 seats and gained target councils such as Nuneaton & Bedworth, Bury and Southampton.

North Tyneside turned blue at 11.30 on Friday morning in an emblematic victory for the Tories, who have struggled to make inroads in northern metropolitan areas in recent years. “We’re back in business in the north…the wheels are spinning no more,” said Eric Pickles, shadow local government minister.

The results in the south were also bad for Labour, which on Friday lost Reading – its last council in the region – to no overall control.

Mr Brown on Friday described the results as “bad” and “disappointing” and said it was imperative for the party to listen to the electorate. The Tories have so far gained 12 councils, while Labour has lost nine and the Liberal Democrats had gained one.

I’ll be the first to admit that European conservatism is different from American conservatism. The latter’s focus, at least in theory, is on smaller government, lower taxes and a strong defense. European conservatism can better be characterized as Socialism-lite (which is certainly true for the Tory party), it clings to its weak defense position, and it tends to have a White Supremacist tinge that is, to say the least, disturbing. Nevertheless, it’s not as hostile to America as the long-prevailing Leftist European orthodoxy has been, and it certainly has a somewhat more free market agenda. From that point of view, a McCain victory, rather than a Hillbama victory, is the thing most likely to align us more closely with Europe.

UPDATE:  Apparently the discontent with Labour has infected London, which is finally fed up with “Red” Ken Livingstone.  Boris Johnson is not a conservative as we in America understand it, but he is a conservative, not to mention witty and (despite being very, very white) articulate.  (Hat tip:  JL)

A reminder that European democracy is something of a myth

In America, we think of historical Europe as a place were voiceless mastered were ruled by high-handed aristocrats. We assume that those days are over, wiped away by war, revolution, and the simple passage of time. The European Union, however, periodically provides timely reminders that Europe is still ruled by high-handed authoritarian figures who ignore the masses, ostensibly for the latters’ “own good.” As it happens, this new aristocracy isn’t one of blood, though; it’s a political class made up of well-attired Leftists:

European Union countries agreed in Lisbon to approve the union’s new constitution Wednesday, and today Denmark’s parliament is expected to do the same, reports Politiken newspaper.

The news was released via the Liberal Party’s newsletter and indicated a majority of political parties are ready to ratify the treaty for Denmark. There was no press release or conference held for the move, which will effectively put an end to any possibility for a referendum.

Many experts had previously expressed their belief that a majority of Danes might vote against the treaty if a referendum were held. Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a staunch supporter of the EU treaty, will now be spared any difficulties from such an occurrence.

The original treaty was recalled for revision three years ago, after referenda in the Netherlands and France voted against ratification. But experts also say that Denmark’s current move to ratify the treaty without a public vote goes against tradition and poses a democratic problem.

‘Politicians with the “yea” parties have an obligation to put the treaty debate up for discussion,’ said Marlene Wind, head of the University of Copenhagen’s Centre for European Politics. ‘They haven’t done that, and now their failure to get the EU issue on the agenda almost looks like a scandal.’

And if you wonder why I accuse these new tyrants of being Leftists, look at who is defending this move that will destroy individual freedoms around Europe:

Michael Aastrup Jensen, the Liberal Party’s EU spokesperson, denied that the treaty was slipped in behind the public’s back.

‘All of us in parliament agreed that this was the most talked about treaty ever,’ he said. ‘We’ve had hearings, written blogs and debated it on our homepages, and there’s been over 500 formal parliamentary questions put to the government about it. So I’m not buying the claim that this has been done in silence.’

Note how talking about it is, in Jensen’s mind, just as good as actually letting the little people vote on the damned thing.

If you’d like more information about the new European aristocracy, one as cavalier of the “little people’s” rights as the old one, and one that is every bit as damaging, you should read three books:

Mark Steyn’s America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It

Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within

Melanie Phillips’ Londonistan

And while I’m on the subject of Europe, a word about Poland, a country that continues to distinguish itself in the post-War era with a social conscience that other countries should envy and would do well to copy.  In today’s Warsaw Voice, there is a moving article about the April 15 ceremonies honoring the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto, an act of staggering courage that the Polish President Lech Kaczyński beautifully describes:

“World War II witnessed a lot of heroic deeds,” Kaczyński said. “But the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising stands out even amongst heroic deeds. The ghetto insurgents weren’t fighting for victory but for honor. They resolved to fight in what was a hopeless situation. Living conditions in the ghetto are best summed up by the fact that 100,000 of the initial 450,000 people sent here died from hunger, disease and German oppression within a year,” the president said, referring to the Nazis cramming 450,000 people into an area of less than four square kilometers in the spring of 1941.  (Emphasis mine.)

A speech such as this one constantly reminds us that Europe, like all countries, manages to encompass the best of man and the worst of man.  I can only up that in the upcoming and inevitable culture war between Europe and the radical Islamists the European elitists have invited in, a humane, but strong, Europe emerges, one that is willing to fight honorably the the continuation of a civilized, pluralistic Western culture, rather than the dark side of Europe, one that gleefully slaughters those it classifies as lesser and different.

Mark Steyn weighs in on Crackerquiddick

A political kerfuffle is never over until Mark Steyn has weighed in.  He’s now got a full column on Obama’s “bitterness” remarks and, of course, mixed in with the wonderful word play is a perfect analysis about America’s Guns and God “bitterness,” when compared to Europe’s no-guns, no-God “Eutopia.”

In my book “America Alone,” I note a global survey on optimism: 61 percent of Americans were optimistic about the future, 29 percent of the French, 15 percent of Germans. Take it from a foreigner: In my experience, Americans are the least “bitter” people in the developed world. Secular, gun-free big-government Europe doesn’t seem to have done anything for people’s happiness.

[snip]

Obama and far too many Democrats have bought into this delusion, most thoroughly distilled in Thomas Frank’s book “What’s The Matter With Kansas?”, whose argument is that heartland voters are too dumb (i.e., “moronic muppets”) to vote for their own best interests.

Europeans did “vote for their own best interests” – i.e., cradle-to-grave welfare, 35-hour workweeks, six weeks of paid vacation, etc. – and as a result they now face a perfect storm of unsustainable entitlements, economic stagnation and declining human capital that’s left them so demographically beholden to unassimilable levels of immigration that they’re being remorselessly Islamized with every passing day. We should thank God (forgive the expression) that America’s loser gun nuts don’t share the same sophisticated rational calculation of “their best interests” as do Thomas Frank, Obama, too many Democrats and the European political establishment.

[snip]

I think a healthy society needs both God and guns: It benefits from a belief in some kind of higher purpose to life on Earth, and it requires a self-reliant citizenry. If you lack either of those twin props, you wind up with today’s Europe – a present-tense Eutopia mired in fatalism.

A while back, I was struck by the words of Oscar van den Boogaard, a Dutch gay humanist (which is pretty much the trifecta of Eurocool). Reflecting on the Continent’s accelerating Islamification, he concluded that the jig was up for the Europe he loved, but what could he do? “I am not a warrior, but who is?” he shrugged. “I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it.”

Read the rest here.  As always with a Mark Steyn article, even if you don’t come away enlightened or, at least, thoughtful, you’ll still have enjoyed the read.

Wilders doesn’t need to show his film; its existence proves his point

As I’m sure you’ve heard, Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician has made a 15 minute long film that demonstrates how violent Islam is.  He describes it as a film made with a split screen that has, on one side, passages from the Koran and, on the other side, modern footage of Islamists putting those passages into effect (beheadings, beatings, stonings, de-handings, etc.).  I specifically say “modern” footage, just to preempt anyone who might argue, as Noah Feldman did in the New York Times, that Christianity is just as bad — or, as he even he had to admit, was just as bad about 200 plus years ago.

So far, Geert Wilders has been unable to show the film, since venue after venue (including Dutch television) has refused to touch the project.  Just today, news came down that the web site that was going to host the documentary has now refused to do so.

I’ve come to the conclusion that, at this point, it no longer matters whether Wilders shows his documentary at all.  The response from the West to the documentary’s mere existence makes the point better than any video ever could:

Not unexpectedly, Wilders’s film has Europe’s timid governments, especially that of the Netherlands, wringing their hands with worry and veering toward outright panic. NATO is concerned about attacks against its troops in Afghanistan, especially against Dutch troops serving there, and the Netherlands itself fears a terrorist attack at home or against its interests and nationals overseas. Home to some one million Muslims, the Netheerlands has been put on its second-highest security alert level in anticipation of the film.

Even prior to its release, Wilders’s film has proved poignant. The biggest effect Wilders’ film project has had so far is that it has shown how deeply the Netherlands, and the rest of Europe, has already sunk into cowardice. For instance, the Dutch government, afraid of a violent Muslim backlash rivaling or surpassing what Denmark experienced after the Mohammed cartoons were published in 2006, has twice asked Wilders not to show the film. To be sure, their fears are not unfounded: Some Muslim countries have threatened an economic boycott should Wilders‘s film be released.

Dutch politicians also fear a repeat of the civil violence that took place in Holland itself after film director Theo van Gogh was murdered by a Muslim fanatic in 2004 for his short film showing the oppression of women in Islam. Van Gogh’s gruesome death, some believe, was tantamount to a declaration of jihad against Dutch, and European, society. In the hopes of placating Islamic wrath, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has chosen capitulation. According to a story in the German publication Der Spiegel, he has met with Iran’s foreign minister, who advised him to use an article from the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights to prevent the film’s showing.

It is obvious that Europes’ craven reaction has nothing to do with being good PC citizens and everything to do with rank fear.  And the only reason they could be feeling this type of fear is because Wilders is absolutely right about the fact that the Koran, as it is interpreted in the here and now, is a dangerously violent book.

Wouldn’t it be amusing if, when the video is finally shown, it turns out to be nothing but sweet images of deer wandering in the forest and birds flying above, since Wilders well understands that it was the publicity and the reaction that would make a point better than any footage ever could?

Plucky Danes and the cartoons that won’t go away

I don’t need to remind any of you of the Cartoon jihad rampage that Islamists went on a couple of years ago when a Danish paper dared to print cartoons of Muhammad, most innocuous, but some a little edgy. Actually, they weren’t edgy enough because, as you may also recall, everyone ignored them until a Danish imam took it upon himself to add in some truly obscene Muhammad cartoons, blame them on the Danes, and start the riots. (Apparently it isn’t blasphemy when Danish imam’s do this kind of thing, as long as they’re out to destroy the infidel. All’s fair in, not love, because they have no love, but war, war, war.)

Anyway, the whole thing is in the news because it turns out that, while two years may have passed, Islamists have long memories (witness their continued and active outrage over their expulsion from Spain more than 500 years ago). Some of them, to express that outrage, got together and decided to assassinate Kurt Westergaard, the artists behind the most satirically accurate cartoon — the one depicting Muhammad with a bomb in lieu of a turban. (It would have been just as good if it had pictured any generic Islamist, but it does make a greater point about the religion in this form). Here, see for yourself:

A funny thing is happening in Denmark in the wake of the news that police broke up the assassination ring — European newspapers are being brave:

Newspapers across Europe Wednesday reprinted the controversial cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed that sparked worldwide protests two years ago.

The cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed provoked widespread outrage in the Muslim world two years ago.

The move came one day after Danish authorities arrested three people allegedly plotting a “terror-related assassination” of Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist behind the drawing.

Berlingske Tidende, was one of the newspapers involved in the republication by newspapers in Denmark. It said: “We are doing this to document what is at stake in this case, and to unambiguously back and support the freedom of speech that we as a newspaper always will defend,” in comments reported by The Associated Press. (Emphasis mine.)

Newspapers in Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands also republished the drawing Wednesday as part of their coverage of Tuesday’s arrests.

Perhaps this new bravery is because Europeans have begun to realize in the intervening two years since the last cartoon kerfuffle that radical Muslims don’t go away if you simply yield to their ever increasing demands::

CNN’s Paula Newton said the arrests reinforced growing fears in Europe that radical Islam was trying to suppress free speech.

“More and more Europeans feel that Islam is a threat to their way of life,” Newton said. A recent Gallup poll for the World Economic Forum showed a majority of Europeans believed relations between the West and the Muslim world were worsening. According to the poll this sentiment was strongest held among Danish.

Islamists are blackmailers. In the beginning, as the object of blackmail, it always seems easier to give in, whether the threat is humiliation or, as here, violence. However, that’s a deal with the Devil because the nature of a blackmailer is that he never goes away. He wants more and more and more and he increases his demands until you’re almost sucked dry or are actually dead. Its the rare blackmailer whose greed isn’t such that he can resist the temptation to kill the goose that is laying his golden eggs. For the Islamists there’s actually no downside to killing us Western geese. Whether we’re reduced to total subservience or totally destroyed, they get what they want.

Both Michelle Malkin and the Captain are sponsoring blogbursts to publish the above cartoon, especially since American newspapers, unlike their increasingly threatened European counterparts, are being very coy about the cartoons. It’s a great idea. Remember, as much as they’d like to kill us all, they can’t if we show a solidarity that utterly defeats their arms. Per Ben Franklin: “We must all hang together or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” So, go to it!

Check below the fold for a partial list of bloggers taking a stand:

[Read more...]

This is Europe

Reading this, you can’t tell if it happened in 1938 or 2008:

An American tourist was kicked out of a cafe in Belgium for being Jewish.

Marcel Kalmann, a 64-year-old professor, told the Antwerp Jewish magazine Joods Actueel that he was ejected from the renowned restaurant Le Panier d’Or in Bruges after a waiter saw his yarmulke under his cap.

“We are not serving Jews, out of here,” the magazine reported.

Kalmann also told Joods Actueel that he was mistreated at the police station where he went to file a report and was told the incident would not be considered anti-Semitic. He said he will file reports against both the restaurant and the police.

Kalmann was born in the Auschwitz concentration camp three days before its liberation.

The mayor of Bruges has ordered a police inquiry into the incident and apologized to Kalmann, the European Jewish Press reported.

I’m sure all this will change, though, once President Obama tells people to be nice again.  (That was sarcasm, for those not familiar with this blog.)