Bravery and Cowardice; France and the World
January 8, 2015 8 Comments
Yes, those cartoonists were very brave men. But they shouldn’t have had to be. If Europe really believed in free speech those cartoons would have been published in every major paper, not in one brave lonely paper. I carry no brief for their cartoons, most of their work I’ve seen, I find disgusting. Free speech is like that. As I said yesterday, “Free speech is inherently the right to offend, otherwise it has no purpose.” So I didn’t follow their work, but I supported their right to publish it, just as Voltaire said.
And so right now Europe, and especially France, is all fired up about the Islamic threat, or at least its terrorist component. Even enough in a few cases to overcome its PC scruples. That’s good, if Europe is to survive, it needs to. But how long will it last? A week, a month, a year? I’m not optimistic. We (and the Anglosphere) have been actively engaged for more than fourteen years. Where are the French, the Spaniards, to a point the Germans, and the Italians?
Waiting, I guess for John Bull, and Uncle Sugar to save their rights (that we provided them, in the first place) once again. Well, if we learned (relearned, really) nothing else in Afghanistan, it’s that we can’t make people free, they have to do it themselves.
And that’s the one thing Europe can’t seem to do. It can’t seem to care about anything or anyone enough to guarantee anything, especially long-term.
There was an interesting article in Commentary magazine last week. It started with noting that Europe was having trouble deciding what to do with abandoned churches.
This lack of religious belief may well also be related to why Europeans are choosing to have so few children. According to the CIA world factbook EU countries have an average birth rate of just 1.55 children per woman, and in countries such as Italy, Germany, Greece, and Austria that goes down to about 1.42 births per woman. And these are figures which are undoubtedly inflated by the higher birth rate of immigrant groups; among native Europeans the numbers are still lower.
For Europeans, it seems the absence of belief extends beyond religion into the realms of other traditional identities. As Annika Hernroth-Rothstein explains in a recent piece for Israel Hayom, Europeans have been increasingly choosing against national identities in general. Rothstein writes of how in Europe in the wake of the Holocaust: “nation-states and national identity have been deemed the culprit and the key to the dark European history that brought on such unparalleled suffering. The old was replaced with the new; a cultural relativism where no tradition, belief or state should stake a claim on any moral high ground. All ideas and cultures became equally unimportant compared to the globalist, multicultural ideal.”
And that is pretty much a cultural suicide note.
In this Europe where there is nothing worth believing in, nothing worth dying for—and perhaps nothing worth living for, given the birth rate—it is little wonder that Europeans now take the view on foreign policy that they do.
Oh, you needn’t expect to be troubled by these cartoons–our so-called free press which endlessly brags about how brave they are, is too terrorized to show them to you. I’d laugh at them but I’m too busy crying at their perfidy.
It’s a pretty sad epitaph, isn’t it? Died of apathy. But for today, we can truly say, perhaps for the last time, in sympathy, “We are all French!” (Thanks to Sarah Churchwell for the reminder.)