There was a low turnout for the Charlie Hebdo anniversary observances in Paris. It's hard for the dead to retain their cool, and, as someone said six months ago, like, been there, done that. You can't play "Imagine" every week, or it might not seem so special, might it? So, until the next atrocity, life in France has returned to normal:
In Marseille on Monday a 15-year-old Turkish-Kurd boy wounded a Jewish teacher in a machete attack in broad daylight, boasting to the police that he had acted in the name of Isis. It was the third such attack in three months in the Mediterranean city and the teacher spoke later of the 'hate in the eyes' of his assailant as he rained down blows. On Tuesday Jews were advised by Zvi Ammar, head of Marseille's Israelite Consistory, to 'remove the kippah during this troubled time until better days...as soon as we are identified as Jewish we can be assaulted and even risk death.'
I think, deep down, Zvi Ammar knows that there won't be "better days", not for Jews in Marseille - not absent broad societal determination to confront the vague, unspecified troubles that afflict "this troubled time". Across the water in Corsica:
It began on 24 December when a fire crew were attacked by a mob when they were lured to a predominantly Muslim housing estate in a suburb of Ajaccio, the island's capital. On Christmas Day a crowd of several hundred Corsicans descended on the estate chanting 'Arabs Get Out!' Some of the protestors broke into a Muslim prayer hall and burned copies of the Koran.
The above is from Gavin Mortimer's dispatch for The Spectator on how France is becoming "a religious battleground":
A church in Fontainebleau was targeted by arsonists, the latest in an increasing number of attacks against Christian places of worship. According to Liberation, there were 591 acts of arson or vandalism against religious buildings in France in 2014, of which 467 (79 percent) were Christian.
It takes two sides to have a religious battleground. Perhaps the bleakest aspect of Michel Houellebecq's novel Submission is (without giving too much away) the way the lead character makes a sustained, serious effort to recover the lost faith of his forefathers. But he can't do it: There is no way back. And ahead lies only Islam.
~Speaking of vandalized churches, at St Chad's Church in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, where parishioners have worshiped for over a millennium, the Virgin Mary has been beheaded:
A police spokesman said of the incident at St Chad's Church: 'An unknown offender used a hammer-type weapon to smash windows in the church at around 10.30pm on December 29, causing around Â£1,500 of damage. A statue of Mary was decapitated and the head removed from the scene.'
But don't go jumping to conclusions:
The suspect is a white male in a black jacket.
Hmm. For an alternative theory to that of Her Majesty's Constabulary, see here.
Meanwhile, the number of weekly congregants at the Church of England has fallen to an all-time low: 760,000. In the tension between the gaping nullity of contemporary multiculturalism and the boundless confidence of an imported supremacism, the ancient stone edifices at the heart of every English town and village will seem ever more alien, and a rebuke to those who squandered their inheritance. And in their impotence and inchoate rage the vandals will lash out at them even more.
~On the other hand, in America the new state church is cracking down on apostasy. It is not enough to fine those small-business owners who do not wish to host same-sex weddings, they also have to undergo mandatory re-education:
A civil fine and penalty in the amount of $10,000 be imposed upon petitioners and that petitioners be directed to cease and desist from engaging in discriminatory practices and establish anti-discrimination training and procedures at the farm.
...because some animals are more equal than others. Needless to say, the New York Supreme Court upheld this decision in all its particulars. [UPDATE: Thank you to those New Yorkers who suggest I point out that, in the Empire State, the Supreme Court is an appellate court but oddly is not the supreme appellate court. From the non-supreme Supreme Court the case will likely be appealed to the even more supreme New York Court of Appeals. You wouldn't have all this confusion if you'd stuck with the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.]
~Thank you for your continuing kind remarks about me and my cat's new cat album, Feline Groovy: Songs for Swingin' Cats, which is doing quite nicely. I was touched by this comment over at iTunes from Joseph LeBusbe:
For the past few years Mark Steyn's singing voice has defined Christmas time for my family as his two remarkable and highly recommended Christmas albums are played nonstop throughout the holidays ("The Christmas Glow Worm" is both my and my five year old daughter's favorite - my wife, oddly, prefers "A Marshmallow World"). As fellow cat and music lovers, we now welcome the opportunity to play this fine and creative new album all year round. Thank you Mark!
Ah, I remember when my little girl liked "Christmas Glow Worm". Make the most of it, Joseph. A few years on, and she'll be trading her Steyn tracks for Macklemore and worse. Feline Groovy can be yours in seconds via iTunes, but, if you prefer it in old-fashioned physical form, complete with me and Marvin on the cover, you can order it from Amazon.