For his Christmas Day column William Kilpatrick wrote:
When Samuel Huntington wrote "The Clash of Civilizations," he was referring to the clash between Western Civilization and Islam. But there is a clash within Western Civilization itself which may determine the outcome of the clash between Islam and the West.
Mark Steyn frames the problem by noting that "the future belongs to those who show up for it." After contrasting the West's dismal birth rate with the Muslim world's impressive birth rate, Steyn concludes that, barring a miracle, the future belongs to Islam, not to self-absorbed Westerners.
That's a bit of an over-simplification, but it's certainly clear that "barring a miracle" the future is post-western. Mr Kilpatrick continues:
In 2004, shortly before he became Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger made a similar observation about the future of Europe:
'There is a strange lack of desire for a future...'
That was a very sharp way of putting it. Alas, the incoming Pope almost immediately became the outgoing Pope, leaving us with a pap-peddling social-justice pontiff with not an original thought in his pretty little head, especially about Christendom's "strange lack of desire for a future". As I wrote over a decade ago in After America, in today's Europe...
Life is a matter of passing the time—or, indeed, of holding the moment: 'Linger awhile, how fair thou art,' in the words of Goethe's Faust, which would make a fine epitaph for the European Union.
This will prove tragic, and bloody. But it is, in a certain sense, understandable: "Holding the moment" is always the easy option; permanence is the illusion of every age.
America, on the other hand, has cut to the chase - indeed, beyond the chase. We have reached that moment in Blazing Saddles when Mel Brooks throws away the script, and the brawling cowboys on one Hollywood soundstage crash through the wall into the next soundstage and start slugging the gentlemen of the chorus rehearsing a dance number called "The French Mistake":
Throw out your hands!
Stick out your tush!
Hands on your hips
Give 'em a push
You'll be surprised
You're doing the French Mistake...
America has literally lost the plot. On the last soundstage, all parts are interchangeable: Men become women, and the grizzled butch coaches of college athletics can't wait to put 'em on the ladies' track team. Women become men, and then pregnant men, and then threaten the hospital for the humiliation of having to give birth in a "maternity ward". Warner Bros gives J K Rowling the bum's rush for being so out of it as to think periods are something women have. In the TERF wars, lesbians are transphobic because they don't wish to date women with penises. At dark on the streets of US cities, wispy, spindly, elderly eternal "college" boys cheer on hefty psycho-trannies with purple hair and hirsute cleavage as they light up precinct houses. Indulgent prosecutors release them without bail - or, if bail is still quaintly required, Seth Rogen or a Joe Biden staffer will cover it. Stories with less helpful narratives - Democrat Congresswomen getting carjacked, or blacks slaughtering blacks every weekend in Chicago, or black criminals (sprung from the big house by woke DAs) mowing down white grannies at a Christmas parade - are instantly memory-holed. Even real people adjust their actual lives to conform with the needs of the greater narrative: Thus the Vice President of the United States, the first in history to announce her pronouns on Twitter, purports to have celebrated "Kwanzaa" during her childhood in, um, a high-caste Indian household in, er, Quebec.
This is a way more surreal finale than Blazing Saddles. In today's America, everything's ablaze:
The same Democrat party that enslaved blacks for decades and then discriminated against them for another century now demands the incineration of the entirety of American history with the exception of its own glorious inviolable self. Kate Smith, for example, never owned slaves or ran a segregated lunch counter or served as a Grand Kleagle, as did Joe Biden's mentor for whom everything in West Virginia is named. But she did ninety years ago make a record with the word "darkies" in the lyric, so she cannot be permitted to sing "God Bless America" to a stadium of kneeling superstars.
America's hideously unwatchable knee-taking corporate sports franchises boycott entire US states over "bathroom bills" but kowtow before a genocidal politburo if one of their lads accidentally puts in a good word for the people of Hong Kong.
Thoroughly Modern Milley and the other beribboned buffoons of the planet's most lavishly funded dysfunctional military take twenty years to lose to goatherds with fertilizer and write off a two-billion-dollar ship because a five-admiral chain of command can't command its men to put out a fire in a timely manner ...or even call the municipal fire department in a timely manner. But they can design third-trimester flight suits for heavily pregnant fighter pilots. And, in a year or so, no doubt for heavily pregnant Navy Seals...
The rah-rah right finds the scale of America's global humiliation in Afghanistan a bit of a downer, but not to worry because it sets up the GOP (Send Money Now to sendmoneynow.com) pretty nicely for the midterms - in the same way that a total catastrophe on D-Day would have made Dewey's numbers look pretty good for November, eh? The "national security" right swivels smoothly from the Fall of Kabul to saber-rattling over Taiwan and the Ukraine, fully confident that the same military that managed to return Afghanistan to the Taliban with more territory than they ever controlled before is now fit and rested and ready to threaten the Red Army on its own turf and a Chinese Communist Party that makes all the most basic American needs, from batteries and microchips to aspirins and underwear.
Pace Mel Brooks, it's not a "French Mistake" but an American one: Emanuel Macron may be a metrosexual globalist dinky boy but he denounces "le wokisme" more vigorously than any anglo leader, because he grasps that it infects everything, and in America and Her Majesty's dominions has already done so.
Covid fits naturally into such a world. What matters is to strike the correct attitude and ignore your lyin' eyes. So half the population staggers around in tatty moth-eaten cloth masks hanging off the ends of their noses agreeing with Fauci that an open southern border taking in millions of maskless unvaccinated persons testing positive at a higher rate than the natives is absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the pandemic, no sir. Also, it's important to follow "the science", even if it was "the science" that created this thing by doing gain-of-function research at the Chinese Communist lab the virus managed to escape from. And you can't blame the Chinese because that would be racist, and racism toward Asians is totally unacceptable, except in US college admissions and daylight sucker-punching in midtown Manhattan. Unvaccinated people are a threat to vaccinated people, and double-vaccinated people are a threat to triple-vaccinated people, and people who submit to annual booster shots are a threat to people who submit to quarterly booster shots, who in turn are grossly irresponsible by going to Christmas dinner at the homes of people with fortnightly booster shots...
As with Kamala's childhood, real life has to be subordinated to the Narrative. So, when a forty-nine-year-old New York Times editor dies of a heart attack, The New York Times announces his sudden death, but not that it came less than twenty-four hours after tweeting gleefully that he's gotten his third vaccine shot and that Omicron should now feel free to "hit me with your wet snot". As at Winston Smith's Ministry of Truth, unhelpful or even mildly interesting details must be omitted, not just for the grandmas of Waukesha but even for actual friends and colleagues.
To come back to where we came in - the dearth of children in the remnants of Christendom - ex-Pope Benedict observed a decade and a half ago:
Children, who are the future, are seen as a threat for the present; the idea is that they take something away from our life. They are not felt as a hope, but rather as a limitation of the present.
Whether that was true then, it has certainly been the guiding principle of the last two years. It has been obvious for at least eighteen months that children have been the principal victims of public health policy over a virus that is statistically harmless to them. The toll on mental health has been enormous, and the damage will be with us for years. It is almost too perfectly symbolic of the inverted demography of the post-Christian west: elderly adults sacrificing their infants to ward off the evil spirits of Omicron. If you wonder why the medical establishment is largely silent on the matter, well, again to go back to where we came in, they are silent on a lot of things, and their administrative bosses have publicly gone along with the notion that a child is "assigned" a "gender" at birth and that anyone can menstruate and that, if you come home and catch l'il Jimmy playing with his sister's Barbie, it's best to get him on puberty-blockers pronto.
Why would you even notice the mental health of the nation's youth when your profession has meekly swallowed the idea that there are no longer male and female genitalia, merely external and internal genitalia? We are one step away from the future foreseen by Betty Comden and Adolph Green in a flop Broadway revue from half-a-century back:
There used to be two organs
A penis and vagina
Those words are out of date now
We call it a penina
We each have a penina
Show me yours, I'll show you mine-a
Oh, nothing could be finer
Than to look at my penina
No more she or he or him and her...
We have extended nihilism to our private parts, to human biology.
William Kilpatrick is correct that it is hard to hold a "clash of civilizations" when one party to the clash is obsessed with flaying misgenderers and torching its entire civilizational inheritance. Our enemies know, even if that LGBTQWERTY flag flying over Washington's lost billion-dollar embassy a month before the Fall of Kabul hadn't advertised the fact to the world, that Woke America is for losers: it's what fills the void when you have trashed your history, right up to the day before yesterday. We do a lot of history at this website, in part because our own moment is so bloody stupid and because the disinclination even to try to understand a man of the past in the context of his times is the apotheosis of a totalitarian triumphalism that will eventually prove violent and murderous.
Mr Kilpatrick is right, too, that we cannot win a clash of civilizations until we have settled matters on the home front. So, at the dawn of another Year Zero, I renew my old credo: Unless you're prepared to surrender everything, surrender nothing - and don't waste your time with alleged rock-ribbed politicians who have surrendered far too much already. And, if the many "successors to Rush" are running a poll on who's your favorite superhero, remember that guys in long underwear flying around the sky have no actual corporeal existence, so switch off the radio and cast your eye further afield - to Central Europe, say, where party leaders have many interesting policies, less evasive rhetoric, and no desire to go over the falls in America's wake.
In the meantime, China, Russia and the mullahs have the advantage on us: They do not take refuge in fatuous platitudes belied by a thousand years of history that "diversity is strength". They laugh at our Blazing Saddles finale: Like so much of contemporary America, it makes no sense! Cowboys versus chorus boys! And the chorus boys are winning...
~We had a very busy Christmas weekend at SteynOnline, starting with the Christmas Eve edition of The Mark Steyn Show on GB News with Mark's rock chums Randy Bachman and his son Tal joining him for some live music of seasonal bent. Afterwards, Steyn hosted a special programme of Christmas lessons and carols that proved so popular with listeners it may become an annual event. On Christmas Day, following Mark's traditional Christmas cornucopia, Rick McGinnis offered his film for the season: Remember the Night. For his Boxing Day Bonanza, Steyn presented six live hours of musical diversion. And we closed out the weekend with the monthly anthology edition of The Hundred Years Ago Show.