PJ Media's Victoria Taft raises rather an interesting question. As we now know, at dawn on Saturday October 7th the Gaza representatives of the world's most influential media organisations were at the border alongside the operatives of Hamas - and then crossed into the Zionist Entity with them to get world-scoop photographs of incinerated Israeli tanks and the plucky jihad lads infiltrating Kibbutz Kfar Azza. So:
The question arises: Did the AP, CNN, the New York Times, and Reuters know about the Hamas terror attack in advance?
If so, that would mark a striking acceleration of our media's descent into depravity, and embrace of barbarism. What's the Washington Post slogan? "Democracy Dies in Darkness"? So do women and children, in large numbers.
It affords no pleasure to have foreseen a lot of what's happening now, to have been received by princes, presidents and prime ministers who all purported to take the great existential question seriously, and then to see it all unfold remorselessly, unimpeded. C F Magnotta, a fellow New Englander and a brand new member of The Mark Steyn Club, writes:
Dear Mark Steyn,
This is the first club membership of my entire life. Thank you for this opportunity to ask a question.
Since twenty years ago has gone by now and it is officially almost certainly too little and/or too late time-- any new ahead of your time ideas or epiphany perhaps which you would like to share with us at this juncture?
One of your many well wishers and appreciators of your Light in this darkness. Plus so tres entertaining.
Thank you, CF. I'm not sure it's a "new ahead-of-your-time idea", but it certainly qualifies as an epiphany. I have never thought it likely that we could retain the blessings of our civilisation without the foundation on which they were built. But, after discussing it with Douglas Murray a few years back, I think it is well past time to be more explicit about it. Thirteen years ago, in Maclean's, I wrote a fulsome column on Ayaan Hirsi Ali that nevertheless noted "I have an unbounded admiration for her personally, but a not insignificant difference philosophically, of which more momentarily..." This was the momentarily:
Which brings me to my big philosophical difference with Ms. Hirsi Ali: in 2006, she was one of a dozen intellectuals to publish a manifesto against radical Islam and in defence of 'secular values for all.' Often in her speeches, she'll do a heartwarming pitch to all of us—'black, white, gay, straight'—to stand firm for secular humanism.
My problem with this is that, in Europe and elsewhere, liberal secularism is not the solution to the problem but the vacuum in which a resurgent globalized Islam has incubated. The post-Christian, post-modern multicultural society is too vapid to have any purchase on large numbers of the citizenry. So they look elsewhere. The Times of London recently interviewed a few of Britain's many female converts to Islam, such as Catherine Huntley, 21, of Bournemouth ('I've always been quite a spiritual person') and Sukina Douglas, 28, of London ('Islam didn't oppress women; people did').
Well, while Mohammed recruited Ms Huntley and Ms Douglas, the good Lord has now very belatedly gained Ayaan Hirsi Ali:
Why I Am Now a Christian
I congratulate Miss Ali on her newfound faith. She writes:
We can't fight off these formidable forces unless we can answer the question: what is it that unites us? The response that 'God is dead! seems insufficient. So, too, does the attempt to find solace in 'the rules-based liberal international order'. The only credible answer, I believe, lies in our desire to uphold the legacy of the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Solipsistic hedonism - which is what "secular humanism" boils down to for many of its adherents - is never going to cut it against harder, cruder forces. So this short post-Christian liberal humanist moment is just that - an interlude. Ayaan is right: what has to be saved is Christendom - a word that none of the people who rule our world could utter with a straight face. And, as many viewers of the show referenced above pointed out, Douglas Murray's hope for his fellow unbelievers that a nostalgia for hymns and the language of the Book of Common Prayer and the beautiful old buildings will prove sufficient is unlikely to succeed. (Miss Ali also veers a little too close to betting on "cultural Christianity".) I love the ancient churches of medieval Continental villages, but on what basis, given their emptiness Sunday after Sunday after Sunday, can you object to their conversion into mosques?
As for progressive liberal atheism, here is what I wrote in National Review a year or so before that essay on Ayaan - that's to say, a decade and a half ago:
The Swiss minaret ban and the leaked climate e-mails are really the same story — or, more precisely, are symptoms of the same disease. In The Times of London, Oliver Kamm deplored the results of Switzerland's referendum, consigned it to the garbage can of right-wing populism, and for good measure dismissed my analysis of Euro-demographics ("This is nonsense," he pronounced magisterially). Instead, Mr. Kamm called for a "secularist and liberal defense of the principles of a pluralist society."
That's not the solution to the problem, but one of the causes.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for liberalism and pluralism and whatnot. And, in the hands of a combative old bruiser like Christopher Hitchens, they're powerful weapons. But most people are not like Mr. Hitchens. And so in much of the post-Christian West "a pluralist society" has subsided into a vast gaping nullity too weak to have any purchase on large numbers of the citizenry. In practice, the "secularist and liberal defense" is the vacuum in which a resurgent globalized Islam has incubated.
It is only human to wish to belong to something larger than oneself, and thereby give one's life meaning. For most of history, this need was satisfied by tribe and then nation, and religion. But the Church is in steep decline in Europe, and the nation-state is all but wholly discredited as the font of racism, imperialism, and all the other ills. So some (not all) third-generation Britons of Pakistani descent look elsewhere for their identity, and find the new globalized Islam. And some (not all) thirtieth-generation Britons of old Anglo-Saxon stock also look elsewhere, and find global warming. "Think globally, act locally" works for environmentalism and jihad. Adherents of both causes are saving the planet from the same enemy — decadent capitalist infidels living empty consumerist lives. Both faiths claim their tenets are beyond discussion. Only another climate scientist can question the climate-science "consensus": You busboys and waitresses and accountants and software designers and astronomers and physicists and meteorologists are unqualified to enter the debate. Likewise, on Islam, for an unbeliever to express a view is "Islamophobic."
As to which of these competing globalisms is less plausible, I leave it to readers: Barack Obama promises to lower the oceans; Hizb ut-Tahrir promises a global caliphate. The Guardian's ecopalyptic Fred Pearce says Australia will be uninhabitable within a few years; Islam4UK says Britain will be under sharia within a few years. I'm not a betting man but if I had to choose . . .
In Switzerland's defense, it was pointed out that Saudi Arabia prohibits not just church spires but churches. But this argument went nowhere, except to give detractors an opportunity to tut that the Swiss had chosen to become an Alpine Saudi. To progressive opinion, it's taken as read that "multiculturalism" is a one-way street: It seems entirely reasonable for a Wahhabist to say an Anglican church in Riyadh would seem, gee, I dunno, just somehow kinda un-Saudi, whereas it is entirely unacceptable for Heidi's grandfather to say a Deobandi mosque in Lucerne is un-Swiss. In contemporary Western discourse, a commitment to abstract virtues — secularism, pluralism — must trump any visceral sense of ethnocultural allegiance.
That's a very shifting patch of sand to draw a line in. Recently, the writer Barbara Kay testified to the House of Commons in Ottawa about a Jewish teacher at a francophone school in Ontario. Around 2002 she began to encounter explicitly anti-Semitic speech from Muslim students: "Does someone smell a Jew? It stinks here." "You are not human, you are a Jew."
Had Anglo-Saxon skinheads essayed such jests, Oliver Kamm's warriors of secular pluralism would have crushed them like bugs. But when the teacher went to the principal, and the school board, and the local "hate-crimes unit," they all looked the other way and advised her that it would be easier if she retired. Sixty out of 75 French teachers at the school opted to leave: A couple were Jewish, a few more practicing Catholics, and most of the rest were the liberal secularists on whom Oliver Kamm's defense of the West rests. The francophone children withdrew, too. And now the principal and most of the students and faculty are Muslim.
Maybe it would have wound up like that anyway. But having nothing to stand in your way except liberal progressives certainly accelerated the process. And as it went at one schoolhouse, so will it go on the broader horizon: If you believe in everything ("liberal pluralism"), you're unlikely to stand for something.
~from National Review, December 21st 2009
~Many readers, listeners and viewers have inquired about how to support Steyn's long-delayed trial in the DC Superior Court and his rather newer one against Ofcom in the English High Court over their throttling of honest discussion of the Covid and the vaccines. Well, there are several ways to lend a hand, including:
a) signing up a friend for a Steyn Club Gift Membership;
b) buying a chum a SteynOnline gift certificate;
c) ordering a copy of my latest book The Prisoner of Windsor (you won't regret it); or
d) snapping up one of the limited-edition SteynOnline Liberty Sticks.
With the first two methods, one hundred per cent of the proceeds goes to a grand cause - and, in the last, a significant chunk thereof save for the shipping costs. And, in all cases, you or your loved one gets something, too.
The SteynOnline Liberty Stick is going fast - a lot faster than the lousy Mann vs Steyn defamation suit. The Liberty Stick features both Magna Carta and the US Constitution - and, given the way things are going, once both documents have been thoroughly expunged from the Internet, Steyn's Liberty Stick may be the last discernible trace that they ever existed. Every stick is signed and numbered by Mark - and is made right here in the USA, in Minnesota. You can find them here.