By Jonathon Van Maren
As I might have expected, my rather bleak outlook on the orgy of murder in Paris and its aftermath has found quite a number of detractors on the Internets, especially my stipulation that the post-Christian West has little in the way of any opposing ideology to combat Islam. Terrorists devoted to human sacrifice are up against a multicultural society too busy quibbling about how to do away with the last vestiges of its Christian heritage to notice that things are on fire. Great music, though.
Mark Steyn put it quite succinctly in his most recent column, displaying an entirely appropriate contempt for what has emerged as a secular attempt at a response:
A man drags his piano, decorated by a “peace” symbol, by bicycle to the Bataclan theatre, and proceeds to play John Lennon’s “Imagine”.
What kind of parochial solipsist would think that an appropriate response a day after mass murder?
Answer: Apparently everyone in the western world, because, of course, it “went viral”.
It is somewhat reassuring that most of those standing around him are media hacks desperate for something to photograph. One would like to think that, were a crowd of survivors and grieving relatives present, they would smash the piano into kindling, save for the peace-symbol lid, which they would thwack the pianist over the head with.
Steyn dealt with Lennon’s drivel in his prophetic book America Alone several years ago:
“Imagine there’s no heaven.” No problem. Large majorities of Scandinavians and Dutchmen and Belgians are among the first peoples in human history to be unable to imagine there’s any possibility of heaven: no free people have ever been so voluntarily secular.
“Imagine all the people/Living for today.” Check.
“Imagine there’s no countries.” Check. The EU is a post-nationalist pseudo-state.
“Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion, too.” You got it.
And yet somehow “all the people/Living life in peace” doesn’t seem to be working out.
That’s because those up against the drug-addled dreams of Lennon and his fellow hippies are not interested in peace. They are interested in proselytizing, something that the West was once interested in, too. I was quite surprised several years ago when the atheist Ayaan Hirsi Ali stated that Christians should be proselytizing Muslims, and brought it up with Steyn during one of our interviews. With a cynical chuckle, he noted that the only reason I was surprised was that it seemed an atheist was more of a muscular Christian in today’s West than the Archbishop of Canterbury.
And it’s true. More recently, the so-called “scandalous” idea of the German Evangelical Alliance—that evangelizing Muslim refugees should be a high priority for German Christians—was condemned in a position paper by the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland as profoundly anti-Christian. “A strategic mission to Islam or meeting Muslims,” the paper reads, “to convert them threatens social peace and contradicts the spirit and mandate of Jesus Christ and is therefore to be firmly rejected.” So there you have it, then.
I find myself more in line with the position of Rev. Douglas Wilson, who responded to the Paris massacre by highlighting, far more eloquently, what I was trying to get across:
The massacre in Paris has brought two things, already obvious, into high relief once again. We are observing, in slow motion, a collision between two very diseased cultures. The diseases are quite different but seem, in some respects, to be made for each other. One disease is listless and the other aggressive. One has no organizing principle, no arche, and the other has the wrong organizing principle. One is idolatrous and polytheistic and the other is idolatrous and monotheistic. One believes that no gods should be honored in the public square while the other believes that only one should be, but that is a false one. One used to be Christian, and must become Christian again, while the other must become Christian.
For examples of just how pathetic the response of those who wish to live in our secular utopia without reading the approaching expiration date have been, one only need look at the pipsqueak bravado of the late night comedy hosts. John Oliver of HBO’s Last Week Tonight began his post-Paris tirade by promising the viewers what our generation most craves: “A moment of premium cable profanity.” As if that was anything new.
“If you’re in a war of culture and lifestyle with France, good f—ing luck,” he chirped. “Because go ahead, bring your bankrupt ideology. They’ll bring Jean-Paul Sartre, Edith Piaf, fine wine, Gauloises cigarettes, Camus, Camembert, madeleines, macarons, Marcel Proust and the f—ing croquembouche. You just brought a philosophy of rigorous self-abnegation to a pastry fight, my friend. You are f—ed.”
Yeah, you heard the man. The opponents of Western secularism have brought their machinegun-toting philosophy to a pastry fight. There’s two bankrupt ideologies here, but one of them is willing to up the ante. But this is the sort of drivel that so impressed the desperate media that hundreds of laudatory columns immediately spilled forth.
Perhaps Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau symbolizes the West’s castrated dithering best. After promising for the duration of the recent election campaign to pull Canada’s fighter jets out of the coalition mission against the genocidal thugs of ISIS, many expected that he’d reconsider in light of the fact that Stephen Harper was clearly right in his analysis of the ISIS threat. At the G20 meeting, world leaders could talk of nothing but how to respond to the Paris massacre—except for Justin Trudeau. Even CTV reported from Turkey that it seemed like Trudeau was “at a different summit,” with Justin only commenting that Canada was “with France,” whatever that means, and refusing to take questions. Even traditionally friendly media could barely hide their contempt, noting that Trudeau was ignoring what was going on, preferring to talk about climate change and youth unemployment. His plans to abandon the fight against ISIS have not changed.
As I read the various news reports recounting the Paris massacres in bloody, minute, detail, one discovery chilled me the most. In the Bataclan Theatre just before the shooting began, the Eagles of Death Metal began an anthem that seemed to echo the request of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonist, who begged the people of the world not to pray for Paris:
Don’t say a prayer for me now
Save it ’til the morning after
No, don’t say a prayer for me now
Save it ’til the morning after.
And then, the band launched into a rendition of their song “Kiss the Devil.”
Kiss the Devil:
Who’ll love the Devil?
Who’ll sing his song?
I will love the Devil and his song
Who’ll love the Devil?
Who’ll kiss his tongue?
I will kiss the Devil on his tongue
Who’ll love the Devil?
Who’ll sing his song?
I will live the Devil and sing his song
As these words shrieked through the theatre, gunfire began. Many fans thought, at first, that it was all part of the show—until the death metal of ISIS began ripping through the bodies of the thronging men and women. The cheering ended, the shouts turned to panic and fear, and the dying began.
A gruesome, horrifying picture of death in every sense. The eunuchs of late night TV can hurl their profanities, and the more healthily-endowed hollow-chested leaders of dying Western countries can thunder their bravados, but none of that will begin to heal a civilization that has lost its way.
The orcs are on the hunt, and the hobbits are busy with drink and play. The poet William Butler Yeats summed it all up many years ago in his poem The Second Coming.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Conviction. A meaningful word. I pray that someday very soon, we in the West will remember what it means.