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Christendom Come Back!

The Last European (miqu77 / Shutterstock.com)

The Wall Street Journal is not known for its inhospitable attitude to immigrants coming across open borders, but today, its columnist Bret Stephens makes an open appeal for a return to European Christendom. Excerpts:

Europe is dying because it has become morally incompetent. It isn’t that Europe stands for nothing. It’s that it stands for shallow things, shallowly. Europeans believe in human rights, tolerance, openness, peace, progress, the environment, pleasure. These beliefs are all very nice, but they are also secondary.

What Europeans no longer believe in are the things from which their beliefs spring: Judaism and Christianity; liberalism and the Enlightenment; martial pride and capability; capitalism and wealth. Still less do they believe in fighting or sacrificing or paying or even arguing for these things. Having ignored and undermined their own foundations, they wonder why their house is coming apart.


“It is commendable that the West is trying to be more open, to be more understanding of the values of outsiders, but it has lost the capacity for self-love,” a prominent German theologian noted about a decade ago. “All that it sees in its own history is the despicable and the destructive; it is no longer able to perceive what is great and pure. What Europe needs is a new self-acceptance, a self acceptance that is critical and humble, if it truly wishes to survive.”

That’s Joseph Ratzinger, better known as Benedict XVI. He’s out of fashion, which makes him that much more worth hearing.

Amen to that. Could Europe even produce another Joseph Ratzinger today? Read the whole thing. It is incredibly harsh on German chancellor Angela Merkel, as it ought to be, given what the column reports she has done with the Turks.

A continent whose native population is not growing is dying. This is a mark of a lack of civilizational confidence. But as Stephens avers, European populations may be going, but they aren’t going to go gently. Far right parties are gaining as the mainstream politicians fail to manage the problem they are creating.

A few years back, a French friend who is — how to put this? — connected to the state security services told me that the government has an extensive plan for dealing with a broad and extended crisis emerging from rioting in the banlieues — rioting, that is, that’s beyond anything the country has yet seen. I can’t remember his exact phrasing, but it was clear he was talking about civil unrest that looks a lot like civil war. I suspect that when the small element of the refugee population that is sympathetic to ISIS gets settled and becomes active in Europe, and other young men within the community of recent migrants become frustrated when they cannot find work, the French and other governments who have such security plans in place will be given cause to use them.

Islam in the Middle East may also be a dying civilization, but it still has immense force, and self-confidence. You cannot resist something with nothing. This is Europe’s problem.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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