Middle Israel: Is Europe losing its mind?
Faced with Martin Luther's heresy, Charles V is said to have quipped: "A single friar opposing a thousand years of Christianity must be wrong."
Now one wonders what that Holy Roman emperor, and the rebellious cleric he faced, would say of a Christian leader opposing not one, but two thousand years of Christianity, and not just opposing, but personally flinging open a major Christian country's door to Islamic law itself, as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, effectively said the other week he would do if it were up to him.
On the face of it, that statement was but a thoughtless slip of the tongue by a man closer to God than to the ground. In fact, not only does the man behind it matter - he heads 80 million Anglican believers worldwide - his mindset is part of a broader European refusal to look history's challenges in the eye and storm them.
THAT THE archbishop's idea is bad, not to say mad, was agreed by just about everyone, from Christopher Hitchens to Gordon Brown. For heaven's sake, it takes no theologian, jurist, or English patriot to understand that allowing Shari'a a toehold in her majesty's realms would potentially launder such travesties of justice as honor killings, genital mutilation and forced marriage, and signal the beginning of English civilization's end.
Rowan Williams apparently assumes British Islamists will be grateful in the face of generosity, and in return seek greater harmony with the Christian majority. Sadly, experience elsewhere suggests that upon collecting this unexpected British reward, its recipients would proceed to fantasize about stoning ceremonies for adulterers at Wembley Stadium (which might as well begin with half the royal family).
Why, then, do people like Dr. Williams go out of their way to reconcile the irreconcilable? Because they really think that if they make believe a problem this big is in fact this small, it will actually shrink - first to smallness, then to extinction. Alas, the problem is indeed this big, and with attitudes like his will only grow bigger.
The same syndrome has now emerged in Kosovo.
WHETHER THAT Balkan province does or does not deserve statehood can be logically argued both ways. The problem is about consistency. If Brussels deprives Serbia of Kosovo - a non-nation that never was a state and doesn't have its own language or heritage - then it must give no less to Spain's Basques, Cyprus's Turks, France's Corsicans and Italy's Lombardians, not to mention Britain's Scots, whose contribution to mankind, from Thomas Carlyle and Adam Smith to David Livingstone and James Watt, was at least on a par with Kosovo's.
Obviously, then, it isn't conviction that makes Europe accept an independent Kosovo, but expediency. This, say delusional Europeans, is what will keep the neighborhood quiet, not because it is just, but because it creates the impression that the problem - in this case Balkan chauvinism - is small, it's merely about throwing a bone to this guy, or a flag, an anthem and a UN seat to that.
Of course Europe will pretend it is driven by principle. After all, a previous Serb government indeed engaged in unspeakable atrocities. Yet that government is long gone, voted out of power in a democratic election, so why punish the Serbs with a territorial amputation? According to this principle, Europe must back Chechnya's secession from Russia, for the Chechnyans were ethnically cleansed by Stalin, before being bombed into the Stone Age by Yeltsin. But who cares about principle, justice, clarity or even just consistency? We're talking Europe, the civilization that worships weakness so devoutly it took the American-led NATO to attack Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansers.
It is this postmodern Europe that produces a BBC reporter who lumps together Rafik Hariri, who rebuilt Lebanon, and Imad Mughniyeh who destroyed it, as "war victims" who are both "regarded as great national heroes."
And it is this relativist zeitgeist that makes a European UN undersecretary-general fresh from Gaza lump together its bombardments of the Negev with Israel's retaliations as a "cycle of violence." Sure, why bother looking into who started, who fights for what or how? From where we Europeans are, it's all one messy hodgepodge anyhow.
Curiously enough, the very Brussels which is the wellspring of all this scorn for judgment, truth and morality, is now itself part of a rapidly disintegrating country. Needless to say that the logic that sets Kosovo loose must also, at some point, result in Belgium's Flanders and Wallonia also parting ways, and all this while the lowlands overflow with Islamist immigrants and neo-fascist natives. How ironic that all this is brewing just where thousands of so-called Euro-crats developed entire careers trying to show that any problem has at least two sides, that what to one seems black and white is to another white and black, that what to one seems just is to another unjust and vice versa, and that life is no longer divided into day and night, for Europe has placed history under the government of one continuous twilight.
No, it isn't history's conventional tensions between church and state, community and society or tribe and nation that threaten to tear Europe asunder; those Europe has met in the past and defeated. Rather, it is the encounter between Europe's anti-modernists - whether medieval theocrats or romantic nationalists - and the postmodernists who will do anything to avoid calling a spade a spade. To them, we offer a reminder from an ancient Asian who, while inspiring the very universalism and peace European postmodernists admire, never feared looking evil in the eye and giving it a piece of his mind.
His name was Isaiah and this is what he said:
Ah, those who call evil good
And good evil;
Who present darkness as light
And light as darkness;
Who present bitter as sweet
And sweet as bitter.
Ah, those who are so wise -
In their own opinion
So clever -
In their own judgment
Ah, those who are so doughty -
As drinkers of wine,
And so valiant -
As mixers of drink
Who vindicate him who is wrong
In return for a bribe
And withhold vindication
From him who is in the right.