A person chosen at random from the Rome telephone book would do better than this

(Comments have continued to be posted in this entry.)

The headline in the Telegraph says:

Turkish hosts scold conciliatory Pope

Isn´┐Żt that great? Three months ago the pope was in Regensburg scolding the religion of the Muslims. Now he goes to Turkey for the Muslims to scold him.

Pope in turkey.jpg

The caption underneath the photo of the pope with his chief scolder, Ali Bardakoglu, Turkey´┐Żs official Islamic religious leader, says, ´┐ŻAlmost every paragraph of the Pope´┐Żs speech dwelt on the shared ground between the religions.´┐Ż

Isn´┐Żt that great? Three months ago Benedict was speaking precious words of truth, that Islam is at its sacred core a religion of violence and coercion, and that Christianity is a religion that, while coming from a transcendent source, nevertheless appeals to and is conformable with human reason. Now he´┐Żs acting like a guilty white politician who´┐Żs gone up to Al Sharpton´┐Żs headquarters in Harlem to do homage, talk about the legacy of white racism, and pray with Sharpton for racial reconciliation.

Why did Benedict do this? Because he´┐Żs a dhimmi. And no one forced him to be one. He´┐Żs the pope, he´┐Żs the Man. He has chosen to be a dhimmi.

- end of initial entry -

LA writes:

What is there left to say? I deeply dislike saying this, but Benedict has made himself contemptible, just as Lawrence Summers did. The similarity between the two cases is stunning. It is a permanent lesson in weak conservatism, a permanent lesson to conservatives on how NOT to behave.

James N. writes:

I hold no brief for Benedict, but I´┐Żm not sure he´┐Żs a dhimmi´┐Żat least, not yet.

He, and Bush, and Rice, and many others WANT TO BELIEVE. They are not yet fatally compromised (like Chirac, for example) by the crushing weight of Islam in their own front yards.

They want to avoid what is going to happen (who wouldn´┐Żt? I do, too). The future has a way of being unavoidable, however. So, a combination of weak minds (Bush), weak character (Rice, Karen, Laura), and weak will (Benedict) leads to an embrace of falsehood.

But not dhimmitude. Not yet.

LA replies:

Yes, he´┐Żs not a total dhimmi, like the slavish Chirac, but it seems to me he´┐Żs made the decisive move in that direction, by switching from strongly criticizing Islam to sucking up to Islam.

Remember also that there are different modes of dhimmitude, as discussed by Bat Ye´┐Żor. There is mental dhimmitude, brought about not by outright Muslim military force or political dominance, but by the affirmative eagerness of the mental dhimmi to be ruled. A man who said in 2004 that it would be a grave error to include the Muslim country of Turkey in the EU, because Islam is incompatible with Europe, and who now turns around and supports such inclusion, purely as a response to Muslim anger over the Regensburg speech; a man who said three months ago that Islam is at its core a religion of violence and coercion, and who now, out of an evident desire to placate Muslim anger, turns around and makes love to Islam and praises Islam all over the place, is a mental dhimmi.

Here is part of an e-mail sent to me by Bat Ye´┐Żor in July 2005, in which she explains the mental dhimmitude by which Europe has willingly subjugated itself to Islam, even in the absence of Islamic military and political dominance. Tell me if you think this passage doesn´┐Żt describe the pope. The rest of the e-mail can be read here.

Bat Ye´┐Żor wrote:

Dhimmitude is characterised by the victim´┐Żs siding with his oppressors, by the moral justification the victim provides for his oppressors´┐Ż hateful behavior, and by the destruction of the victim´┐Żs own self by a mental enslavement of love and admiration toward his oppressors. Willfully serving his oppressors, the dhimmi loses the sense of his own rights and humanity. He loses the possibility of revolt because revolt arises from a sense of injustice, and the dhimmi justifies the injustices done against him because he is utterly destroyed as a human being who hates himself in order to praise his oppressors. Perfect examples of this are Edward Sa´┐Żd, Christian janissaries, and dhimmi Churches throughout history till today.

Charlton G. writes:

There is something very disturbing about that photo, symbolically I mean. First there is the contrast in costumes. The Turk looks bold, glittering, manly and vigorous. The pope seems stooped, clothing drooping, colors washed out. Then there is the fact that we have a German coming to Turkey in a sort of obeisance. Historically, it was the Germans who halted the Turks at the gates of Vienna. And then there is the symbolism of Catholicism, which represents all Europeans, in the act of ´┐Żreconciliation´┐Ż to the stern visage of Islam. This is not a pretty picture at any level.

[Deleted Name] writes:

You know I love Pope Benedict, but I am deeply disappointed by the statements he has made in Turkey and I cannot think of any excuses to make for him.

Matthew H. writes:

Your comparison of the Pope´┐Żs sucking up to Muslims to a guilty white politician visiting Sharpton is apt. This highlights the similarity between Muslim dhimmitude and the Mau-Mau dhimmitude we have all submitted to since the Watts riots and the Kerner Commision report.

The fact is that the Pope is, as his Protestant critics have always said, a politician. He is a worldly leader of a largely worldly organization the vast majority of whose concerns are material, not spritual. He knows the truth but also believes that the truth must be trimmed sometimes to accommodate secular power considerations.

Such is the power of the trauma of violence and the threat of violence to warp the human spirit. Such is Islam.

This is disappointing but not surprising.

Jonathan L. writes:

Bat Ye´┐Żor truly is the most insightful analyst of Christian-Muslim relations and how conquered non-Muslims can become so captivated, so psychically violated by their oppressors that they end up willingly supporting them. However, you misapply her insight in both of the examples you cite. Chirac is not a dhimmi- his ego is still intact and what he does he does not to earn the favor of Muslims, but to restore French grandeur. That the French scheme to co-opt the Arab-Muslim world into a French-run anti-American axis is incredibly foolish and destructive does not change the fact that French overtures to Muslims (including ones in France) are completely instrumental.

Pope Benedict, on the other hand, is simply acting in accordance with the ecumenical nature of Catholic universalism (especially in its modern, liberalized form). It goes completely against the grain of this universalism to say there is an alien, dangerous religio-civilization that we must not embrace but perpetually shun and remain on guard against. After the backlash to Regensburg the Pope now pretends that the peaceful coexistence of free equals is possible with Islam, provided we (it is always up to us!) make sufficiently meaningful goodwill gestures (such as accepting Turkey into the EU).

The liberal can continue on this path till his civilization is on the brink of destruction, but as long as he expects that all this will lead to his desired liberal order of mutual tolerance and equality, he is not a dhimmi. A true dhimmi is one who accepts his inferior status in a Muslim-ruled social order and still energetically works toward preserving it (or even bringing it about!).

LA replies:

My understanding (and I´┐Żm open to correction on this) is that while the French opening to the Muslims began with the intent of enhancing French power and glory, it has devolved into surrender to Islam. For example, according to Bat Ye´┐Żor, the Eurabian establishment formally calls for the cultural merging of Europe and Islam, meaning the cultural Islamization of Europe. How, by the most remote calculations, does Islamization enhance French glory and power?

Jonathan writes: ´┐ŻA true dhimmi is one who accepts his inferior status in a Muslim-ruled social order…´┐Ż

That is true, insofar as we are speaking of dhimmis as traditionally understood according to Islamic law. But I was speaking about Bat Ye´┐Żor´┐Żs original concept of mental dhimmitude, which does not involve outright Muslim rule, though, of course, it helps prepare the way to it.

John S. writes:

What the liberal principle also demands is that historical facts not get in the way of advancing ´┐Żecumenism´┐Ż (which seems to have almost become a doctrine of the church) even when those facts ought to lead to a more sober and cautious approach to Islam.

According to this article on Chiesa:

And ´┐Żas an illustration of the fraternal respect with which Christians and Muslims can work together,´┐Ż he cited ´┐Żsome words addressed by Pope Gregory VII in 1076 to a Muslim prince in North Africa who had acted with great benevolence towards the Christians under his jurisdiction. Pope Gregory spoke of the particular charity that Christians and Muslims owe to one another ´┐Żbecause we believe in one God, albeit in a different manner, and because we praise him and worship him every day as the Creator and Ruler of the world´┐Ż.´┐Ż

Pope Gregory VII did speak these words and the person to whom they were addressed, one King an-Nasir, ruled over a dhimmi community of Christians. Pope Gregory´┐Żs letter to the King was in part a token of appreciation for his freeing of some Christian slaves. Great benevolence towards Christians, indeed!

Another thing about Pope Gregory VII: Had it not been for his disputes with King Henry IV, he may have called the first crusade to aid the Byzantine Empire in their defense against Muslim attack. In fact, that was left to his successor, Pope Urban II, to accomplish.

Clearly that part of the historical record, which ought to enlighten us as to what Christianity has been and still is up against, does not fit either with the ´┐Żdialogue and brotherhood´┐Ż theme of the Pope´┐Żs visit to Turkey or with the liberal principle that has guided Church policy vis-´┐Ż-vis Islam since Vatican II.

The history, whether old or recent, of Muslim aggression against Christians must be distorted, played down or deliberately forgotten for the sake of good relations. Philosophical appeals to reason, and the urging, in as non-confrontational a manner as possible, of non-violence in the name of religion will get the Holy Father points from some devoted followers in the West who understand and embrace these ideals, but will at best be ignored by the wider Muslim community to whom his words are addressed. The liberal principle is a failure.

Maureen writes:

Pope Benedict knows exactly what he is doing. The Vatican didn´┐Żt survive 2,000 years by being as stupid as today´┐Żs Western liberal and secular leadership elites.

Pope John Paul´┐Żs bishops have long kept the Vatican informed of the growing Islamic menace. When Pope, he tried many times to heal the 1,000 year old Christian schism with Orthodoxy by making overtures to the Orthodox. His overtures to the Muslims were diversionary´┐Żconciliatory gestures more in the category of feinting his hopes for Islamic reforms while proceeding to his real task of mending the rift with the rest of the Christian Orthodox and Copt hierarchies. If the Muslims accepted his gesture of conciliation, so much the better; but the Pope wasn´┐Żt betting on it.

Putin invited John Paul to visit Moscow and John Paul accepted´┐Żbut the Russian Patriarch Alexei refused to receive him. John Paul tried to visit Cyprus´┐Ża divided Greek-Turkish island located under Turkey, but the Archbishops there also refused to allow his visit. Greek Orthodox priests on Cyprus STILL CITE bitterly the Fourth Crusade in which the Western crusaders, instead of saving their Orthodox brethren, trashed Constantinople and killed fellow Christians, thereby weakening it against the further inroads of the Turks.

Benedict is trying to heal the rift, too. The real dhimmi (based on your definition of colluding with the interests of the enemy Muslims) is Bartholemew, the Orthodox Patriarch, who has been praising the Turks, that is, he is walking a thin line always at risk of being evicted at any time from ´┐ŻConstantinople.´┐Ż His dhimmitude is explicable´┐Żhe does not want to be the last Patriarch to abandon a proud heritage´┐Żthe last Greek Christian to leave the city that was the jewel of the Byzantine empire.

Benedict´┐Żs visit to Constantinople is designed to provoke the Muslims into revealing their true colors to the ´┐Żdhim-whitted´┐Ż Europeans. The more Muslim demonstrations against the Pope´┐Żs visit, the better. Europeans need to see the TV pictures, so that they can connect the dots between Turkey´┐Żs EU membership and the disturbances that the Turks will bring to Christendom.

Benedict and John Paul both hoped to heal the rift with Orthodox Christians. Unfortunately, a likely fatal impediment to healing the rift is the Pope´┐Żs own centuries old claim to being the successor of St. Peter´┐Żthe ´┐Żfirst´┐Ż among all Christian bishops´┐Ża claim hotly contested by the Orthodox Patriarchs who want parity with Rome.

LA replies:

Interesting, maybe some elements of it are true. But I just don’t buy this type of theory. No such strategy required him to act in such a miserable way, going to Turkey and acting like a suppliant, supporting the entry of Turkey into the EU, and, most of all, demoralizing the West by eliminating any basis on which to oppose Islam. And what does he gain by this supposed strategy toward the Eastern Church? Christians in Turkey are one percent of the population. Suppose they become closer with the West. How does that help us? Maureen herself said that the Patriarch is a dhimmi—and indeed he also urges EU membership.

As EG said in the earlier entry on the visit to Turkey:

This all goes back to a hard lesson I learned years ago: A person should be considered a defender of the West and its founding peoples only if he overtly states his position on this. If you need to ´┐Żread´┐Ż into a statement … you are going to be disappointed in the end.

I share EG´┐Żs view. When a civilization is facing cultural extinction, from forces within and without, and when main factor preventing it from defending itself is that the society prohibits any discussion of who the enemy is, for a leader to engage in deep game-playing, pretending to embrace the adversary and not meaning it, as Maureen is suggesting, is the very worst thing. It feeds the very thing that is killing the West: the belief that Muslims are basically like us and must not be resisted.

So, while it may very well be the case that Benedict, from his own point of view, is engaging in various diplomatic ruses, they are ruses connected with some small scale advantage, related to some inside Vatican baseball; they are not ruses designed to strengthen the West against Islam.

LA continues:

Right after Maureen´┐Żs e-mail came two more saying the pope is playing poker.

Gintas J. wrote:

Daniel Larison finds a silver lining: ´┐ŻThe good news, such as it is, is that as the Vatican has become more friendly to Turkish membership a lot of the secular politicians in western Europe have become more hostile.´┐Ż

I wouldn´┐Żt be so silly as to suggest this is part of the pope´┐Żs plan.

Good for Gintas. Yet this is exactly the kind of thing that L-dotter types would leap on to prove that an obvious disaster is really part of a brilliant plan: ´┐ŻOh, that Benedict, he´┐Żs such a smart one, pretending to support Turkey´┐Żs membership just to push the EU God-haters to oppose it. The old fellow is almost as brilliant as our boy Bush!´┐Ż

Another reader sent this headline, ´┐ŻPOPE BENEDICT HONORS TURKISH CATHOLIC PRIEST SLAIN IN FEBRUARY,´┐Ż and added:

Maybe Benny knows what he´┐Żs doing. A little one way and a lot the other….

He goes to Turkey and makes a point of honoring a priest who was slain by a Muslim lunatic radical because he, Benny, quoted a medieval person who said Islam has a violent side.

I´┐Żm sorry, but this is ridiculously strained.

People just don´┐Żt want to face the fact that the pope has let us down as badly as he has. So they´┐Żre looking for some theory by which to make a sow´┐Żs ear seem like silk. Just as they couldn´┐Żt face that Bush is the disaster that he is, and kept portraying every foul-up as the deliberate act of a Machiavellian genius.

[Deleted Name] writes:

I was intrigued by reader Maureen´┐Żs comments about Pope Benedict. She seems to be a knowledgeable person. However, they also reminded me of the way Bush´┐Żs devotees insist that every apparently stupid thing he does is actually a cunning plan.

The Vatican is full of shrewd, cloak-and-dagger stuff, but surely it does more harm than good for the leader of Western Christendom to state publicly that Turkey belongs in the EU.

Speaking of fancy theories of Benedict´┐Żs motivations, John G. has a doozer:

Well, I´┐Żm not big on conspiracy theories, but if I were to advance one re the Pope´┐Żs trip it would be that the Pope sees the EU as the mortal enemy not only of ´┐ŻEurope´┐Ż but also the Church, and he has convinced himself that the sure-fire way to destroy the EU is to push the Turkish membership question. How he could be confident in such a calculation I don´┐Żt know.

Also, as long as we are speculating, the Pope may see Islam less as a true spiritual discipline than as a worldly force, whatever his public rhetoric. And he may have convinced himself that the Church in Europe is going to have to go ´┐Żunderground´┐Ż in the new Eurabia, whatever happens with Turkey, in which case he is just redrawing lines between sacred and profane powers and trying to moderate the latter. Anthropologically, the ´┐Żsecular´┐Ż world turns around its sacred centers just as much as does the City of God, so there is a sense in which treating Islam or any worldly ideology as a serious ´┐Żreligion´┐Ż makes sense, and is polite, even if you don´┐Żt think it´┐Żs a true faith. Remember he has his flock to protect and he may be convinced that the likes of Prodi aren´┐Żt up to it. Maybe he believe we are inevitably returning to the test of faith of a Christian minority before the lions.

Mark P. writes:

Yeah, that´┐Żs great for the L-dotters and Maureen about trying to impute some cunning master-plan to Benedict or Bush.

My first contribution to this site was ´┐ŻIs Bush really a Right-Wing Political Genius?´┐Ż I suggest people read that and compare my predictions to what happened. Boy, did I eat crow on that one.

As Napoleon said, ´┐ŻNever attribute to malice or cunning what can best be explained by stupidity.´┐Ż

LA replies:

Mark, it takes a big man to confess having come up with that one. :-)

A reader writes (by mistake, I previously made it seem that this comment was by me):

I believe that when it comes to these ´┐ŻGenius with a Plan´┐Ż theories, Conservatives should employ Occam´┐Żs Razor´┐Żwhat is the simplest and most likely explanation for the phenomenon? Yes, it MAY be that George W. Bush has a secret plan to defeat our enemies in Iraq, but isn´┐Żt it more likely that he attempted to apply Wilsonian universalist assumptions to Iraq, and the situation spun out of control? Chirac MAY be planning to use Islamic power as an adjunct to restore French fortunes in the world, but isn´┐Żt it more likely that he is simply going along to get along, and hoping that the Islamic crocodile will eat him last? Pope Benedict MAY have some deep plan to unify Christendom against Islam, but isn´┐Żt it more likely that he has decided that the West is past hope as a civilization, and is seeking to prepare the Church for its post-Western future, by accommodating the (I´┐Żm sure Benedict hopes, temporary) winners?

Yes, sometimes humanity does produce geniuses with deep plans, but people like this are rare. Usually a man who appears to be an idiot is an idiot, a man who appears to be an appeaser is an appeaser, and man who appears to be a coward is a coward. Besides, modern people tend to overestimate the efficacy of conspiracies and deep, dark ´┐Żplans´┐Ż. One Churchill snarling defiance of Hitler, one Don John of Austria riding to the sea, one Reagan shouting ´┐ŻTear down this wall!´┐Ż is often worth all the finely calibrated ´┐ŻPlans´┐Ż on Earth. Such overly complicated things usually don´┐Żt work anyway, even when they actually exist…

Dimitri writes:

I greatly appreciate your job of promoting conservatism. And by no means I want you to stop your criticism of our so-called conservative leaders. Your position is necessary and rare in current opinion spectrum. I just want you to be a little less harsh on them and less personal. Because you know, they are not leaders, but they do some necessary job in the permitted area, thus informing public about problems, without actually offering any solution. However, informing is also necessary at the current stage of affairs. I even think that they are not as stupid as you think they are, but they deliberately chose such model of behavior in order to promote information. Just like Muslims pretend to be moderates when they are not allowed to behave otherwise. For example, the pope´┐Żs visit to Turkey attracted the public attention to the position of Christianity in Turkey. Would you know about that without the visit? The war in Iraq, even though having unreal aims, proved for many who did not know that that Islam and democracy are incompatible. Actually, Western public needs to be reminded many obvious things, and any clash with Muslims is such a reminder. Look at Northern Europe (Sweden)´┐Żthey never had to do with Muslims before, and Islamization proceeds there with enormous speed. I believe, it is like vaccination´┐Żthough having unpleasant effects, without it the desease is deadly.

LA replies:
Thanks, Dimitri, I know my tone can be off-putting, at least to some people. I may be wrong at times in the way I approach these things, and if so I´┐Żll bear the consequences of it. But I´┐Żll tell you this. From my side, it feels like a pure and truthful response to what they´┐Żre doing. I´┐Żm not being ´┐Żpersonal´┐Ż because I want to be personal. I am reacting with my mind and conscience to the incredible things happening before our eyes. How should one react to such an act of betrayal such as what Benedict has done? Just discuss it in a mildly critical, watery way (which is the very most that today´┐Żs ´┐Żconservatives´┐Ż would do)? Or try to convey in words the truth of what the pope is doing, which includes not only factual and analytical truth, but also an emotional sense of the badness of it?

Paul Cella writes:

Just now reading through your thread of discussion on the Pope in Turkey. I´┐Żm not endorsing the ´┐ŻPoker-Player-Pope´┐Ż theory, but I would add a couple points in its favor, or at least points that tend toward some caution in condemning the Pope Benedict.

(1) Western press coverage of the Catholic Church is notoriously poor. Fr. Neuhaus at First Things like to recall the time a reporter asked, upon the ascension of Benedict: ´┐ŻIs it common for the Pope to also be Bishop of Rome?´┐Ż I can only imagine that the press´┐Żs treatment of Orthodoxy will be even worse. Most media outlets have told this story as a trip purposed toward Christian-Muslim relations, which is patently false. The trip is about Catholic-Orthodox relations. I don´┐Żt have time to check all the mainstream reports with more trustworthy sources, but I would expect that the gloom of these images might lift a bit without the rubric of ´┐Żreconciliation´┐Ż the press attaches to this story.

(2) Reunification of the Western and Eastern Churches is expressly the object of Papal policy; were this astonishing goal achieved, and the Church breathe with two lungs again, it would´┐Żat least prospectively´┐Żbe a dramatic blow against the rise of Islam. It gets back the the point discussed some days ago; how the West has forgotten its brothers of the East. Even today the Orthodox, more than any other Christian communion, are the first victims of Islam. Even today, the Orthodox remember many of the great battles we lost, and those we won, which we of the West have forgotten. How many in the West even remember the valor of the small band of Greeks and Italians, among them the last Roman Emperor (technically), who perished on the walls of the Queen City of Christendom in 1453? Here is J.J. Norwich´┐Żs rendering of the Emperor´┐Żs final speech to his men, which any man who fancies himself a defender of Christianity ought to read carefully:

He spoke first to his Greek subjects, telling them that there were four great causes for which a man should be ready to die: his faith, his country, his family and his sovereign. They must now be prepared to give their lives for all four. He for his part would willingly sacrifice his own for his faith, his city and his people. They were a great and noble people, the descendants of the heroes of ancient Greece and Rome, and he had no doubt that they would prove themselves worthy of their forefathers in the defense of their city, in which the infidel Sultan wished to seat his false prophet on the throne of Jesus Christ. Turning to the Italians, he thanked them for all that they had done and assured them of his love and trust in the dangers that lay ahead. They and the Greeks were now one people, united in God; with his help they would be victorious. Finally he walked slowly round the room, speaking to each man in turn and begging forgiveness if he ever caused him any offense.

LA replies:

Mr. Cella´┐Żs comment is certainly eloquent, but does not change the fact that the pope who two years ago said the entry of Turkey into the EU would be a ´┐Żgrave error,´┐Ż leading to the unstoppable flow of Islamic influences and people into Europe, has now endorsed that grave error, and that he has evidently done so as part of his Larry Summers-like ´┐Żapology´┐Ż tour following his Regensburg speech. Summers, after saying that it was a reasonable supposition that women are naturally less capable at the highest levels of math and science than men, came under such a withering attack from feminists that he turned around and retracted his statement about women´┐Żs different abilities and proposed a $50 million program to promote the advance of women in the sciences. Benedict, after saying that Europe should not admit Turkey into the EU and that Islam is at its core a religion of violence and coercion, came under such withering attack from Muslims that he turned around and warmly approved the Muslim religion and endorsed the entry of Turkey into the EU.

Chris L. writes:

One thing about the Pope´┐Żs comments is that I have not read that the Pope has said anything about the EU and admitting Turkey. So far it has been second hand accounts from Erdogan that the Pope supported the admittance of Turkey. Remember a similar thing happened with Prince Charles being falsely quoted in another Islamic country. I am willing to wait until the Pope returns from Turkey to see what is said. Of course, it seems near impossible to get a clear, official statement out of the Vatican.

I hold some very guarded optimism that the Catholic Church is inching towards taking a stand against Islam. This move seems to be more about trying to heal the rift with the Eastern Orthodox Church. Visiting the historic center Eastern Orthodoxy is a step in that direction. My hope would be that this is part of a strategy of rallying allies before committing to open conflict.

LA replies:

I think I read that the Vatican confirmed this report. In any case, they did not contradict it. The pope did not contradict it. The Vatican is a large organization and has full access to the media. If the pope´┐Żs position had been seriously misrepresented by the Turkish prime minister or by media, we would have heard about that.

As for looking for allies that can help one in the larger conflict, how does surrendering to the enemy, and then meeting with one´┐Żs prospective ally in the enemy´┐Żs country, a prospective ally who himself has very few numbers and is very weak, and who also urges you to surrender to the enemy (namely the patriarch advocated the entry of Turkey into the EU), help in any prospective fight against the enemy? If the pope had intended to rally Europe to uphold its traditional religion and cultural identify and resist the inroads of Islam, he would have done so. He has not done so.

I´┐Żm sorry to keep doubting everyone´┐Żs hopeful scenarios, but they just don´┐Żt seem plausible to me. This does not mean I have given up on defending Europe and the West from Islam. But it does mean that I have given up any hope that this pope will act as the West´┐Żs champion in this cause.

Why does this matter? One of the great dangers for conservatives is believing that there are conservative leaders out there who are defending our society. Conservatives, being naturally loyal, then put their hopes in the thought that everything is basically ok. But if these leaders are not really leaders, if they are not really conservative, then the conservatives have put themselves to sleep, imagining that the battle to defend our society is being fought, when in reality there is only a continuing surrender. Look at all the conservatives who worshipped at the feet of John Paul II, who in fundamental respects was a man of the left, though with some conservative tendencies, a man who said the West was required to open its borders to the Third World. Again, I agree with what EG said above, that a person should be considered a defender of the West only if he overtly states his position on this. If you need to ´┐Żread´┐Ż his position into his statements, you are going to be disappointed in the end.

LA writes:

A VFR reader, who is a Roman Catholic, was unhappy with the title of this blog entry, ´┐ŻA person chosen at random from the Rome telephone book would do better than this.´┐Ż He said it was shrill and over the top.

I wrote back to him:

I understand your unhappiness with my Rome telephone book crack. I was in fact alluding to William Buckley´┐Żs famous remark that 50 names chosen at random from the Cambridge, Mass. telephone book could govern America better than 50 Harvard professors. My meaning was thus that an average Italian, chosen at random, would NOT have gone to Turkey to kowtow to Muslims, would NOT have spoken (over and over) of what a wonderful religion Islam is, would NOT have treated Islam as a brother religion of Christianity, and would NOT have endorsed the entry of Turkey into the EU.

Did I mean that the average Italian is equal to Benedict in character, piety, intellectual and spiritual formation, and overall qualifications for the papacy? Of course not. I meant that the average Italian would have a normal, instinctive, righteous reaction against kowtowing to Islam´┐Żan instinct notably lacking among the elites of the West and in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

Some devastating commentary from Howard Sutherland (with emphasis added by me):

Christians need a Pope who is a vehement and unapologetic fighter for Christianity and the idea of Christendom. All Christians´┐Żnot just Catholics´┐Żbecause, like it or not, the Pope is the top dog in Christendom, especially in the eyes of non-Christians. I hoped Pope Benedict might be such a Pope; that with the Papacy in hand he would not feel he had to hold himself back. I was na´┐Żve, but a lot of traditionally minded Catholics had the same hope.

I´┐Żm not the only na´┐Żve one, though. While I believe the intended purpose of the Pope´┐Żs Turkey trot is Christian reconciliation, it looks like Christian accommodation´┐Żif not submission´┐Żto Moslem sensibilities. How could a man as sophisticated and experienced as Pope Benedict not see that the trip and all his symbolic gestures would be seen that way, not least by the Moslems themselves? His visit to Constantinople, his visiting Sancta Sophia as a museum and not a church (no pictures of him praying in there), and worst of all his praying along with Moslems in the Blue Mosque all have the effect of putting the Christian imprimatur on the Moslem conquest of the old Christian East, as well as putting Islam on the same plane as Christianity. I don´┐Żt deny that the Ottoman conquest of Byzantium is a fait-accompli, but who could have imagined any Pope would, by his actions, effectively ratify it, essentially saying to his flock that we shouldn´┐Żt pray or work for a reversal of Moslem occupation of historically Christian lands? The Vatican is full of functionaries who are the titular bishops of sees now lost behind the Scimitar Curtain. Will they all now renounce those titles? History is important, even if we try hard to forget it. Moslems still celebrate 1453, while we have forgotten all about it.

Looking at the combination of his endorsing non-European Turkey´┐Żs accession to the European Union and his praying in public with imams in a mosque, I have a hard time imagining what Pope Benedict could have done, short of embracing Islam himself, to make his trip worse for the West.

I hope Pope Benedict will move the Church away from the manic ecumenism and liberal political intrusions of John Paul II. I hope he will, as subtly as he needs to, back the Church away from the cliff-edge of Nostra Aetate, which makes it so difficult for any Catholic to speak the truth about Islam. If he starts on just those two things in whatever time God gives him, he will be a Pope to remember with gratitude. But after watching him perform in Turkey, I don´┐Żt believe he will do any of that

Gintas writes:

I recall a Bugs Bunny cartoon, where he clashes with Yosemite Sam. Bugs draws a line in the sand and says, ´┐ŻI dare you to cross this line.´┐Ż Without hesitation Sam crosses the line. Bugs is surprised, takes a step back and draws another line, ´┐ŻI dare you to cross that line!´┐Ż and Sam immediately crosses that line. It goes on until they are well out of town, and Bugs draws a line that, when crossed, leaves Sam hanging in space, about to fall over a cliff. (Words don´┐Żt do justice to it.) I get the sense many people hope that Western leaders are as clever as Bugs, dealing with someone as stupid as Sam.

Tom S. writes:

If Benedict´┐Żs real aim was Christian reconciliation between East and West, I cannot think of a worse way to go about it than essentially to ratify the conquest of historically Christian lands in the East, and to consign Eastern Rite Christians to permanent dhimmitude. Eastern Christians will feel that once again, just as in the Fourth Crusade, Western Christiandom has failed them in their hour of need. The story of Islamic conquest is also the story of Christian disunity´┐Żis this same old sad story to be played out yet again?

LA writes (February 16, 2007):

Here is a followup on this story.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 28, 2006 09:10 PM | Send

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