THE SPINE FEBRUARY 10, 2008
Yes, I do believe that the moral achievements of Western culture are under siege. And that they are under siege from the extremists of contemporary Islam who are helped by the cowardly moderates of contemporary Islam. In northern and western Europe, for example, once bastions of intolerance, there have emerged patterns of social inclusion of once historically marginal groups. These people are now so integrated into the community that many of them had actually achieved leadership positions in them, and the community itself has the distinctive character of openness and non-doctrinaire liberalism. This is what threatens the extremist Muslims who came to these societies knowing what they were and who are now embarked on a shrill and violent effort to turn them to millennial outposts of an embattled faith. I'd make a deal with them, if you could possibly make a deal with them at all, and it would be: you stay in your orbit of the world and we'll stay in ours.The fact is that the rights of majorities to sustain their values and culture in their own societies have been ignored in contemporary politics and even in political theory. You raise the topic in polite company and you're likely to be dismissed as a Le Penist. It is very fashionable to worry about the disappearance of hundreds, maybe thousands of waning languages and cultures all over the world. The U.N. has many projects trying to rescue them, and other NGOs, too. But raise your voice in behalf of Christian Europe and you are look at as a kook.Still, it's not so surprising that the archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Rowan Williams, the head of the Anglican Church or the Church of England (which is mired in internal conflict and in ideological wars in America and Africa), should be in the lead of a movement to undermine both secular values and Christian morality in Britain. The Anglicans have for years lacked the confidence of their historical convictions. Already in the thirties, the Church put forward as leaders even apologists for Stalin like the Reverend Hewlett Johnson, the "Red" dean of Canterbury Cathedral, its headquarters, so to speak, as the Vatican is the seat of Catholicism.British history since the middle of the nineteenth century has been a compromise between tolerant Protestantism and John Stuart Mill. Now, Williams and his ilk have no confidence in a secular politics that is bolstered by Christianity (and, in a small way, by Judaism.) They know that migrant Islam in England (and in other countries of Europe) has neither interest in nor sympathy for the compact between church and society. So the archbishop has proclaimed that English law should make room for Shariah law for British Muslims. Read about this in the New York Times and, for example, in the Telegraph, Times of London, and the Guardian.I imagine that Williams would exclude the cruel bodily punishments prescribed in Shariah. But what about multiple marriages, treatment of women and children, loyalty to the British state? Imagine--not so hard to imagine!--the National Council of Churches on Riverside Drive issuing its own protocol to sanction Muslim religious law in American society. Then what about Mormon tradition?The Anglican Church is a mischievous church. Its mischief has now gone too far.