Apostasy: The West’s Only Hope?
Edward Gibbon would be amused. Charles the Hammer would be disgusted. Augustine of Canterbury would be aghast. London, one of the great capitals of Christendom, now has a Muslim mayor.
In 732, Charles Martel blocked the spread of Islam into Gaul and the heart of Europe at the Battle of Tours. In those days, Western culture seemed something worth defending. Severely outnumbered, the French Christians, under the determined leadership of Charles Martel, soundly defeated the Saracen armies. Christendom was saved and never threatened again in Europe until seventeenth century attempts to sack Vienna, which were also repulsed. That was how Christendom once responded to the Islamist threat against Western culture, which Matthew Arnold characterized as “the best that has been thought and said.”
Gibbon mused in the fifth volume of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire what might have happened had victory been with the invaders.
Perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet.
Gibbon was, perhaps, being facetious. For, a little further along he considers that
their [Athens and Rome] moral and political writings might have gradually unlocked the fetters of Eastern despotism, diffused a liberal spirit of enquiry and toleration, and encouraged the Arabian sages to suspect that their caliph was a tyrant and their prophet an impostor.
Sadiq Khan, the new London mayor, has accomplished (with inescapable irony) in one election what Muslim armies of the eighth and seventeenth centuries were unable to do. And, the new mayor has wasted no time inserting himself into American politics with the canard of Islamophobia, claiming in an interview with Time “If Donald Trump becomes the president I’ll be stopped from going there by virtue of my faith, which means I can’t engage with American mayors and swap ideas.”
Khan has learned well during his stint in the British Parliament’s Labor Party. His comments indicate he knows how shallow Brits and Americans are. It does not matter what someone actually said, only what you feel someone said. Trump’s suggestion of a moratorium on immigration was limited to Syrians and immigrants. Sadiq Khan is neither.
There are many, even in London, concerned about Khan’s coziness with Islamist extremists such as Suliman Gani, a jihadist imam in south London. Khan appeared on stage with Gani nine times according to Khan’s opponent in the mayoral race, Zac Goldsmith. As Goldsmith remarked, “that doesn’t happen by accident.” Sadiq Khan, a lawyer, also defended Zacharias Moussaoui, one of the masterminds behind 9/11. He did not have to do that. Further, Khan defended the extremist rhetoric of known Islamist Azzam Tamimi. According to Ariella Mendlowitz of Breaking Israel News,
When Dr. Tamimi told a crowd that publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad would “cause the world to tremble” and predicted “Fire…throughout the world if they don’t stop,” Khan dismissed the threats as “flowery language.”
“Flowery” is a loathsome choice of adjective for such incendiary rants, especially in light of what happened in Amsterdam, Paris, Garland, and San Bernardino. Tamimi makes Trump look like Mr. Rogers; which makes Khan’s attack on Trump suspect. However, he was careful to limit his fifteen minutes of post-election fame to criticizing Trump. Khan hasn’t the courage, or the clout, to make the same spurious claims against the Republican Party, which also supported a moratorium on Syrian immigration.
Perhaps fortunately for Sadiq Khan, David Cameron, now more socially liberal than just about anyone except Bruce Springsteen, ushered the Trojan Horse Scandal out of England’s political living room before the mayoral election. An independent investigation of public schools in Birmingham found that Muslim students were bullying Christian students and conducting pro-Islamic chants at the schools. Some claimed these actions were orchestrated by Islamic groups in England seeking advantage in an era of tolerance and diversity. The British schools watchdog, The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), has been accused by Colin Hart, director of the Christian Institute, of ignoring the “bullying of Christian pupils” by their Muslim peers. According to The Telegraph, official investigations by the UK’s Office for Education into the Trojan Horse scandal revealed several instances of anti-Christian intolerance, including anti-Christian chanting by Muslim students. Yet, as Hart noted in his letter to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, “none of these are noted in the Ofsted reports on those schools.”
Cameron and his “conservative” MPs remain eloquently silent on the matter. While never missing an opportunity to ostentatiously proclaim “British values” for Muslims, they accuse the more sober minds of England and America of Islamophobia and homophobia. As far as I know, no one has asked Khan what he thinks of the report issued by the Office for Education. He seems quite comfortable playing the Islamophobia card when it benefits him. It remains to be seen if Sadiq Khan will be equally vigilant about Christophobia.
What Khan’s Victory Means
Sadiq Khan hails his victory as the first Islamic mayor of a major capital in the West as an achievement for tolerance and diversity, a manifestation of the triumph of progress. He should be more perspicacious in assessing what his victory really means. In my view, Khan’s election signifies two related developments in the West.
First, Khan’s election denotes how complete the apostasy of the West really is. A Muslim in the executive office of a major Western capital is only possible because faith and religion don’t matter to the people there who have embraced atheistic secularism. A century ago, no Muslim, be he Turk, Arab, or Persian could have held such a position in any city of Western Europe or Russia. But, that was a time when Europeans still felt the power of religious fervor. England was aglow with the bright lights of the Catholic Literary Revival. Newman’s oratory, in Birmingham where Muslim students are now free to bully their Christian peers, was thriving. Notable conversions were taking place, such as those of Chesterton, Lewis, and Knox. Faith and religious tradition were still taken seriously and maintained a formative influence upon the culture.
Today Europe, assiduously cleansed of its Christian past by the mercenary leadership of the EU, is in the throes of a liberalism that is clinically insane. They have exchanged reality with a counterfeit which they believe is true, and which they believe they can manipulate to their own advantage. It is not the liberalism of Greece and Rome. It is the liberalism of Giambattista Vico (1668–1744) qua Marx.
In his Introduction to Christianity, then Cardinal Ratzinger observed “against the scholastic equation ‘Verum est ens’ (‘Being is truth’) he [Vico] advances his own formula, ‘Verum quia factum.’ We can only know what we ourselves have made.” It is here, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, “that the dominance of the fact began” and man’s mind turned away from belief to scientism. The result is a radical anthropocentrism that proscribes Christianity’s claims about reality because those claims are rooted in knowledge that is speculative. Such speculative enquiry, though aligned with reason, is outside the closed, tangible world of facts.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI goes on to explain that man eventually discovered a “pure fact” does not exist. So, history (factum) also became identified with the past, what is ultimately only speculative. “Verum est factum” became “Verum est faciendum.” Truth is what is makeable. Beginning with Marx, the project of philosophy became making a better world. Man’s concern is what “can and must be done.” What is invisible, the ground of belief, is supplanted entirely by what is visible. The Pope Emeritus explained the situation thusly.
The most impressive attempt so far to incorporate the attitude of “belief” into the attitude of practical knowledge is to be found in Marxism. For here the faciendum, the self-created future, simultaneously represents the purpose or meaning of man, so that the bestowal of meaning, which in itself is accomplished or assumed in belief, seems to be transposed on to the plane of what can be made.
Man’s raison d’etre, now extricated from Christian belief, is assessed only in terms of measurable progress.
A diabolically ironic result of this circumstance is that, Muslims can be welcomed into positions of leadership while Christians (at least authentic ones) are precluded from meaningful leadership positions in today’s Europe just as they are in the Middle East. Christians’ complaints of being mistreated because of their faith fall on deaf ears, while Sadiq Khan’s identical complaints, which amount to nothing more than political gamesmanship, are reported in Time.
The Muslim world makes no room at the table for Christians. A Christian couldn’t even get on the ballot in places like Islamabad, or Tehran, or even Istanbul. The notion is inconceivable, in both the Occident and the Orient. This is because in the Muslim world an idea of God still defines the culture. And, Islam’s adherents are fiercely protective of that culture (as Christians were, once upon a time). The West finds this endearing, though anachronistic, among people of the East. Such adherence to Christian culture is nearly illegal in Christendom. A growing number of Englishmen, it seems, would rather be ruled by a suspect Muslim than a Christian.
This isn’t the first time England has made quizzical choices in governing itself. In 1688, after Catholic King James II had a son, the English were terrified of a Catholic dynasty. So, they forced James II into exile and installed the Protestant Dutch nobleman William III of Orange instead. Again, in 1714, the English were horrified by the possibility of a Catholic becoming king after Queen Anne died without an heir. So, they maneuvered to bring William I, a German-born nobleman, from Hanover to be their King. William knew no English and the English knew no German. So, in a comic twist of irony, the business of England had to be conducted in the language of their nemesis—France. It seems the English are less concerned with who they allow into office than who they keep out.
Will Islam Suffer the Same Fate as Christianity?
Another reason why Sadiq Khan should be far less sanguine about his election is the ethos underlying England’s inordinate efforts, vociferously urged by PM David Cameron, to turn itself into a hospitality center for Muslims.
England (and America) has no interest in providing safe space for Muslims to practice their faith freely. Rather, they seek to dissolve Islam in the corrosive acids of an amoral society, as they have done with Christianity. All religious traditions must surrender to “the faciendum,” what is makeable. The best way to achieve this is to bring them close.
Assimilation into British society, and the West generally, means tacitly entering into a Faustian bargain because assimilation equates to apostasy. Meaning is to be found in progress alone. Unlike Christians, however, Muslims are showing a stubborn unwillingness to honor their side of the bargain. David Cameron and all liberal devotees of the future are undeterred. Sadiq Khan is their poster boy for progress. But, they welcome Muslims in order to secularize them. This is the only reason a Muslim mayor in London is possible; enough Londoners believe Khan has been thoroughly cleansed of the beliefs of his religious tradition. They believe he, too, is a faithful member of the new world order. They also believe Khan’s example will bring more “conversions” to the church of progress.
This is of primary importance to people like David Cameron and Barack Obama because Islam remains for them the only really potent force from the past left to challenge the regime of progress (never mind the dark shadow of the Chinese military beginning to stretch east across the Pacific). Islamists committed to re-establishing the caliphate have shown an unsettling ability and willingness to inflict great harm on innocent people anywhere in the world. Ever the optimists, the prophets of progress insist these unenlightened prisoners of the past will be converted to “our” way of thinking if we just smile, welcome them, and show them how nice everyone is once they abandon belief in God.
Sadiq Khan might not be as docile as Cameron and other liberals would like to believe. The importance of his faith to him seems to be on a sliding scale. When speaking to British crowds during his campaign, Khan downplayed his Islamic identity. When speaking to Time after the election, Khan’s “faith” suddenly became central to his identity. He is evasive when asked about his associations with known Islamists, characterizing those associations as somehow being a part of his fight against extremism.
England’s, and Europe’s, only hope is that the burgeoning Islamic population within its borders does apostatize; or, that it at least downgrades its religious tradition to something like the Roman religion, which was little more than an assortment of rituals that didn’t require real belief.
In the meantime, perhaps Brits ought to ponder the following verse from George Herbert’s poem The Church Porch.
O England, full of sinne, but most of sloth!
Spit out thy flegme, and fill thy breast with glorie.
Thy gentry bleats, as if thy native cloth
Transfus’d a sheepishnesse into thy storie;
Not that they all are so, but that the most
Are gone to grasse, and in the pasture lost.