Spencer’s point is simple but effective: If Christianity is the root of western malaise towards the Islamist threat, how on earth did Europe ever resist becoming Muslim?
The ringing peroration of Derbyshire’s review is his declaration that while “Islamia has sunk into the grip of a poisonous ideology—the ideology of jihadism—the Christian West (Spencer actually says ‘Judeo-Christian,’ but that is just a lagniappe) has been seized by an even more destructive ideology: globalization.” (Not a lagniappe at all, but that is a discussion for another time.) He claims that “a great enabler of globalization has been the Christian tradition. If all men are brothers, heathens only a little less enlightened than Christians, they why should not a Pakistani, or a Somali, or for that matter a Mexican, come to live in the U.S.A.?”
One may wonder, given this line of reasoning, why Catholic Europe, at the apex of its self-conscious religiosity, didn’t throw open its doors to the jihadist invaders instead of resisting them. One may wonder why the United States, governed in the main by Protestant Christians for the most part throughout its history, maintained relatively sane immigration policies until the 1960s. Were the Sixties, when immigration controls were effectively ended and globalization gained immense momentum, a time of some great Christian revival? In reality, Christianity has no inherent connection at all with open-borders insanity and globalization. No less prominent a Christian than St. Thomas Aquinas expressed the mainstream Christian view when he said that “after his duties towards God, man owes most to his parents and his country. One’s duties towards one’s parents include one’s obligations towards one’s relatives, because these latter have sprung from [or are connected by ties of blood with] one’s parents…and the services due to one’s country have for their object all one’s fellow-countrymen and all the friends of one’s fatherland.” An open-borders globalist? Not quite.
As for Derb’s point about whether you’d rather have Hitchens or Bishop Muskens as a wingman in your fight against shari’a, the answer is clear — but what does it prove?
That truth, of course, is not coterminous with the desiccated and vacuous Christianity that prevails in so many places today. Derbyshire gets off some of his most engaging shots by playing up that hollow shell as the real thing: “If there were a proposal to impose Sharia law in your town, who would you rather see riding to your aid: Christopher Hitchens, or Bishop Muskens?” – that is, the befuddled Dutch bishop who recommends that Christians in the Netherlands, not hitherto known for speaking Arabic, begin to refer to God as “Allah” to please and pacify their Muslim neighbors. Answer: I’d fight alongside Hitchens in a heartbeat, if he would deign to fight alongside me, which is the real question. In my book, as Derbyshire notes, I call for an alliance with atheists, among others, but for his part I am not sure whether Hitchens would identify me as part of the problem or part of the solution. And there’s the problem: we know we’re under attack, but we have to figure out who or what the enemy is in order to be able to fight properly. Is it religious people? Religion itself? Islamic jihad? Christian theocracy? Determining the answer is the purpose of my book.
But John Derbyshire also wonders whether or not “the humane forbearance of the Prince of Peace, and the moral universalism that His teachings imply, bear the seeds of self-destruction,” and whether the followers of that Prince really have the strength to withstand the onslaught: “If—to put faces on the abstractions—Roger Cardinal Mahoney [sic] and his parishioners were to engage in a waste-lot rumble with Abu Ayyub al-Masri and his parishioners, on which party would Robert Spencer put his money?” On Al-Masri, of course. But aren’t you stacking the deck here a bit? What if Richard Coeur de Lion were to happen upon this waste-lot rumble? Charlemagne? St. Louis IX? Dietrich Bonhoeffer? Walter Ciszek? Alexander Solzhenitsyn? John Paul II?