Have you seen me?
European intellectuals. The "God is dead" crowd. Those whose triumphantly eloquent puffery so marginalized Christianity in Europe that the continent is regarded today as a "post-Christian" society. Those who wrote a European Union constitution roughly the size of Encyclopedia Britannica, yet could scarcely be troubled to include a single sentence suggesting that maybe, just maybe, Christian thought had something to do with the ascent of Europe from the barbarism of the Roman Empire to the culture that birthed humanity's greatest achievement in freedom, the United States of America.
Those who have reformed themselves so many times that they no longer have use for such antiquated concepts as morality or a belief in God.
Last seen running from an angry mob of Muslims, who were waving AK-47's and chanting "Death To the Infidel."
We in the West are lovers of many things: money, freedom, Hollywood celebrities, sexual liberation, ideological debates, escapism, and the triumph of the underdog, just to name a few. For most of us, all we really want -- no, demand -- it seems, is the right to gaze upon Jessica Alba in the privacy of our own homes. We wish no other nations harm and consider ourselves to be in the world's debt. We are mostly secular, with Christianity largely occupying only the private realm of our personal beliefs.
Yet within the last six months the West has been twice threatened by followers of the teachings of radical Islam.
First it was the Paris Riots, where disaffected Muslim immigrant youths lit up the October night sky with burning automobiles. Sporadic violence continues to this day.
Now, Muslims the world over are incensed by a series of cartoons published in a Dutch Newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, that depict Mohammed in a less-than-flattering manner:
(Incidentally, any artistic depiction of Mohammed is considered blasphemy under Islamic law -- that is, unless you are a merchant in an Islamic nation, where icons of the prophet are on sale in plain view without a single AK-47 or burning flag in sight. There's also an interesting twist to the cartoon story here.)
But this week, Muslims are not only incensed; they are openly threatening warfare and advocating the killing of anyone who slanders Islam. As is now commonplace, much rioting and rifle-waving has ensued.
And now Europe, once home to the most progressive of secular humanist thought and the continent that gave birth to Nietzsche, Freud, Marx, Sartre, Lennon and McCarntey, and Brigitte Bardot suddenly finds itself besieged by angry mobs of Muslims who accuse its citizenry of blasphemy and demand the imposition of fundamentalist Islamic sharia law.
And like the little kid that Mother dragged home by lobe of his ear, Europeans must be asking desperately, "Wha'd I do? Wha'd I do?"
I don't believe that Muslims fully understand that the disrespectful treatment of Christianity seems to be a badge of honor for us in the West. To wit:
Monty Python's film The Life of Brian
Rapper Kanye West
Aidan Quinn and his bud, "J. C." from NBC's The Book of Daniel, now resting happily in peace
Though these depictions no doubt offend devout Christians, they are dismissed as threats by Western governments and generally accepted under the merits of "freedom of expression" by Western society. Though Christians are vocal in their condemnation of such works, no Western government would consider them to be a crime. And most non-Christians genuinely see nothing wrong with them.
Even if they are offended, modern Christians do not resort to violence when their beliefs are mocked. They write letters and boycott products, to be sure, but the Pope doesn't issue death warrants. Rick Warren doesn't whip up his congregants into a frenzy and send them to torch the NBC TV studios. The reason is because Christians realize that God is beyond the limited realm of man's intellect, and because God's Kingdom extends beyond human governments and even human society. And most of us do not believe that God throws temper tantrums and strikes people down because they anger Him. God's love for us is exemplifed in the concept of grace, purposefully sparing the guilty from the punishment they deserve. Therefore, we do not lash out in vengeance at those who anger us.
Because of this, non-Christians and secularists have walked away from Christianity generally unscathed and no longer have a mortal fear of devout believers in God. (The realm of politics, however, is a very different story.)
Our institutions are filled with the manifestations of divine grace: presumption of innocence in a court of law, massive welfare systems and agencies that serve as advocates for those who cannot defend themselves, and a universally-recognized right to freedom of expression. We have also fought two long and bloody wars during the last century, due in large part to political ideologies that encouraged their followers to destroy those whose beliefs didn't jive with the party line. Rather than lose another 30 million people, we'd rather just let people have their say.
But now we must ask outselves a serious question: Is our way of life worth defending?
Should we throw it all away and meekly surrender to the demands of true religious fanatics with the scent of blood in their nostrils, in the vain hope that somehow we can appease them and temporarily avoid bloodshed? And then bend over and take it again and again until we are living as slaves in our own land?
Will the ultimate fate of the Europeans, who proudly consider themselves too advanced to be weighed down by the shackles of Christianity, be an unconditional surrender to a truly barbaric and repressive group of religious fundamentalists? What tragic irony.
Why aren't Eurpe's intellectuals passionately and publicly defending her ideals? Where are their eloquent arguments for freedom of speech and the superiority of logic and science over religious dogma?
I fear that Europe's hollow secularism will deflate like a flatulent balloon released by a child, madly weaving through the air and finally flopping lifelessly on the ground. I fear this because I do not believe that they understand that freedom -- though it is a natural state of man -- must be constantly defended from those who will, for whatever reason, continually try to take it away.
Europe and the United States -- is this what you want? If not, what are you going to do about it?
As a final endnote to this post I want to make it clear that I do not condone the mocking of religion -- even though I do take some small pleasure in skewering the garishness of the Crouches. Rather, I am resigned to accept such odious speech as a small price to pay for the freedom of the society in which I live. And I trust that God, in his transcendent and compassionate justice, is far more suited to deal with those who mock Him that I.
Welcome Michelle Malkin readers and others from the blogosphere. I updated this essay at 9:45PM CST February 3, and again at 2:45AM CST Feb. 6, to further clarify my thoughts and to better tie in this post with a subsequent one here. If you disagree with my opinion, please feel free to leave a comment.