This tenth anniversary of the Mohammed cartoons is a glum day for free speech. But that's no reason for some "social media" billionaire not to make it worse. During her visit to New York for the grand UN dictators' ball, Angela Merkel was overheard rebuking Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for permitting people to post "anti-immigrant" sentiments on social media:
On the sidelines of a United Nations luncheon on Saturday, Merkel was caught on a hot mic pressing Zuckerberg about social media posts about the wave of Syrian refugees entering Germany, the publication reported.
The Facebook CEO was overheard responding that "we need to do some work" on curtailing anti-immigrant posts about the refugee crisis. "Are you working on this?" Merkel asked in English, to which Zuckerberg replied in the affirmative before the transmission was disrupted.
The very small cartel that run "social media" worldwide are increasingly hostile to free speech outside of a limited and largely trivial number of subjects. Ours will be the first civilization to slide off the cliff while watching cat videos.
~I wonder if, by the time Zuckerberg's "done some work" on this, we'll still be able to quote Henryk Broder on Facebook. The author of The Last Days of Europe, Broder was one of the speakers in Copenhagen joining me to mark the tenth anniversary of the Motoons. (You can hear my remarks here, and Douglas Murray's here.) As befits his book title, he was something of a pessimist, especially when it came to Chancellor Merkel and her perplexing enthusiasm for unassimilable "refugees":
~Speaking of the last days of Europe, when visiting foreign cities, I've lately made a habit of touring their old Jewish cemeteries. For one thing, a community in such steep decline that it can no longer tend its graves is a sobering preview of the demographic eclipse Catholics and Protestants will shortly be confronting across the Continent. I also like to visit, if any are to hand, Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries. And oddly enough in Malmö, Sweden the CWGC is responsible for two graves that happen to lie within the city's Jewish cemetery.
As noted yesterday, Malmö is currently accepting up to a thousand "refugees" every 24 hours. Which means that a single day's intake of Muslims now outnumbers what remains of a once strong Jewish community in the city. Their only cemetery (which opened in 1872) has had a rough few years: Mourners have been harassed, the burial chapel has been firebombed, and the overnight ritual of shmirat hamet has required police protection. The new mayor's longtime predecessor was indifferent to the rise in violent anti-Semitic attacks, and apparently happy to see Jews leave. The cemetery sits on the Föreningsgatan in a corner of the main St Paul's graveyard, walled off from the rest. The Christian cemetery has the air of an open city park, pedestrians and bicyclists criss-crossing from one street to the next. But its Jewish neighbor lies behind heavy solid metal gates, reinforced at the back by beams driven into the ground.
Nevertheless, it's well-tended. Even as the Jewish community decays, it will be a while before its cemetery is reduced to the garbage-strewn scrubland of broken stones I toured in Tangiers. I walked to the back of the graveyard, where in the center of a small circle stands a memorial to concentration camp survivors brought to Malmö by Count Bernadotte, many of whom were so weak they died shortly after arrival. On the bench a yard away sat the only other persons in the cemetery - two Arab teens rocking their skateboards back and forth under their feet and eyeing me with a bored half-curiosity.
I asked if they knew where the graves of the Commonwealth airmen were. Which was a silly question on my part, because I doubt they had a clue what the "Commonwealth" was. But they were affable enough, and I explained the tombstones I was seeking looked like all the others, except, in addition to the Star of David, they'd have the badges of their services. And the lads rose, somewhat reluctantly, to assist me.
We soon found the graves, just behind the memorial to the camp victims: Henry George Popper, 19 years old, of the Royal Air Force, and SS Solomons, 32 years old, of the Royal Australian Air Force, both on a Lancaster bomber that was shot down over Sweden on August 30th 1944. They managed to bail out, but the plane exploded above them, and all the crew were found on the ground or suspended in parachutes from trees, dead from the force of the explosion. The inscriptions read:
Han stupade i strid for fosterlandet och friheten.
Which means: He died fighting for his homeland and for freedom.
What were two Jews doing in the skies over Europe in 1944? At that time, RAF and other allied bombers were being downed by German night-fighters guided by ground controllers at radar screens. So the Telecommunications Research Establishment at Malvern developed a method of jamming the enemy's equipment. The only drawback was that it required an eighth member of the air crew - the "Special Duty Operator" or SO - who could recognize not only, in the cacophony of the Continent, who was speaking German, but understood the lingo well enough to pick up on the enemy's quite sophisticated efforts at misdirection. There was no room for the SO in the heated forward section of the Lancaster bombers, so they sat in the back, dressed as best they could to weather temperatures that, at 20,000 feet over Germany, got down to minus 60 Fahrenheit.
Because of the language requirement, many of the SOs were Jews of German extraction, for whom being shot down and captured in the Third Reich meant not a PoW camp but certain torture and death. Yet they, like all the other SOs, cheerfully volunteered for the job. One such was 19-year old Henry George Popper, born Heinz George Popper.
He was a year or so older than the bigger Muslim lad in the cemetery, but he didn't get to loaf around with his skateboard all day. I bid the boys farewell, and, as I headed back to the gate, my eye fell on another headstone: Julius Popper, Esq (1892-1957) and Dr Eugenie Popper (1894-1974). They were the parents of Henry George Popper and they lived in Barking, Essex. Yet they too wound up in Malmö. Eugenie Popper's words on her husband's death hint at the depths of pain with which they lived after the war:
He came the long way to rest in a Jewish spot with our only child.
Henry George Popper is not a famous war hero - just a teenager doing his duty to King and country. Today, all around the cemetery where he lies, thousands of men his age arrive every week in Malmö, supposedly "refugees" from today's war. But, unlike Popper and Solomons, they're not interested in fighting for their country, merely in scramming to the welfare gravy trains of Northern Europe. And if they won't do anything for their own countries, why would Swedes expect them to do anything for theirs? A society that has nothing to die for has nothing to live for, and so Henryk Broder's last Europeans rush to embrace those who will supplant them.
It will not be "a Jewish spot" much longer - nor a European one.
Comment on this item (members only)
Viewing and submission of reader comments is restricted to Mark Steyn Club members only. If you are not yet a member, please click here to join. If you are already a member, please log in here: