The Pagans Are Wrong and the Christians Are Right

TRIGGER WARNING: Ultra-sensitive readers may feel microagressed by some or all of the views expressed in this article. Please go immediately to your nearest safe space to regain your composure via the use of stuffed animal, play dough, chocolate milk, and videos of puppies, kittens, and bunnies.

Attacks on statues and monuments around the developed world have grown ever stronger since my last posting, with ever increasing incoherence—and irrelevance—as far as a certain death in Minneapolis goes. The latest to catch my attention was someone painting DICKENS RACIST on the great writer’s home, a stupidity perhaps exceeded only by painting RACIST KING on Robert the Bruce’s statue at Bannockburn. If, as Forrest Gump assures us, “Stupid is as stupid does,” there are a whole lot of idiots flailing around.

And yet, if we move beyond their obvious stupidity, the mobs’ attacks on all things Western does have a certain internal logic; everything worthwhile and much that isn’t across the planet—in religion, culture, technology, politics, economics, and all else—ultimately came to us from Europe, or, if you are obsessed with DNA, from the whites. The global civilization which allows goods, services, and latterly pandemics to travel freely and quickly across the planet is built upon the foundations of the Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch, British, Russian, and other colonial empires. In token of this, the United Nations have set themselves the goals of providing peacekeeping, food security, and medical assistance for the entire world. As Kipling put it so pithily in his poem, The White Man’s Burden, “the savage wars of peace, fill full the mouth of famine, and bid the sickness cease.” With very few exceptions (Japan, Thailand, Bhutan, and the Islamic monarchies, who nevertheless attempt to justify themselves in Western terms) the world’s governments are entirely based on Western ideas (even if these are honored in the breach). Ironically, such groups as ISIS were forced to reinvent Islam as a Western ideology, and the nationalisms that created such artificial countries as India and Indonesia were European inventions. Even our friends in Antifa and BLM, by embracing Marxism, have sold themselves to a European idea. In a word, try as they might, without scooping out their own brains, they cannot escape their own Western nature—they are incapable of thinking outside of what is ultimately a European matrix.

Orthodox. Faithful. Free.

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Thus, to understand our current crisis, the first thing to realize is that all of us in the Americas and Australasia, as well as many elsewhere, are also Europeans. The Italian organization Identità Europea has a plank in their manifesto which is written as an aspiration, but is in fact a current reality hidden from most of us: “By encouraging a EUROPEAN IDENTITY we do not intend to promote a ‘western culture’ which absorbs and dissolves all diversities in a leveling attempt. On the contrary, our aim is to enlarge this identity beyond the European boundaries, thus recovering that large part of our continent ‘outside Europe’—from Argentina to Canada and from South Africa to Australia—which looks at the old continent not as a distant ancestor but as a real homeland.” As Otto von Habsburg put it, Europe extends from San Francisco to Vladivostok.

To be sure, the Europe that expanded over the globe (spearheaded by such heroes as Columbus and da Gama, Cabot and Cartier, and Bering and Cook) was very different from the superannuated Mother Continent of today, just as her daughter countries are no longer what once they were either. Nevertheless, the question remains: what was it about Europe that allowed it to conquer the world, rather than be conquered by it? This is not merely the obvious question of why the Muslims did not succeed at Tours and Vienna, but the more complex one of why the Chinese, say, or the Aztec or the Inca did not colonize Europe instead of the other way around?

Black nationalists and white supremacists alike believe that DNA is everything. But if that were true, the descendants of the men who followed Charlemagne and Godfrey de Bouillon would have the confidence and energy of their ancestors, in which case, at least according to this reading, we would not be having this discussion. But the truth is more complex. In the recently deceased Jean de Raspail’s universally execrated novel, The Camp of the Saints (about a massive but “peaceful” invasion of the West by impoverished Third-Worldsters), there is an Indian character, Hamadura, who is the former deputy for Pondicherry in the French Parliament. He declares: “…to my way of thinking, being white isn’t really a question of color. It’s a whole mental outlook.” Here, white is obviously a code word for European. But we are still left with the question of what is the European “difference” from the other peoples of the world.

In his Liturgical Year, Dom Prosper Gueranger offers a solution to the question:

In our own times, the mere sight of a Christian army, though composed of but a few thousand men, struck terror into the heart of an immense Empire of the East: its Ruler who counts four hundred million subjects, and calls himself the “Son of the Celestial Empire,” was so overcome by fear, that, without offering the slightest resistance, he fled from his palaces and Capital. Yes, this is the superiority given by Baptism to Christian Nations; for it would be absurd to attribute this superiority to our civilization, seeing that civilization itself is but a consequence of Baptism.

Lest one think that this learned abbot was being “triumphalistic,” his pride in European power came with a chilling caveat: “And we, the western nations, if we return not to the Lord our God, shall we be spared? Shall the flood-gates of heaven’s vengeance, the torrent of fresh Vandals, ever be menacing to burst upon us, yet never come? Where is the country of our own Europe, that has not corrupted its way, as in the days of Noah? that has not made conventions against the Lord and against His Christ? that has not clamored out that old cry of revolt: Let us break their bonds asunder, let us cast away their yoke from us? Well may we fear lest the time is at hand, when, despite our haughty confidence in our means of defense, Christ our Lord, to whom all nations have been given by the Father, shall rule us with a rod of iron, and break us in “pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

Hilaire Belloc made precisely the same point with his much-misunderstood phrase, “The Faith is Europe, and Europe is the Faith.” With it came a warning: “We have reached at last, as the final result of that catastrophe three hundred years ago [the Protestant revolt], a state of society which cannot endure and a dissolution of standards, a melting of the spiritual framework, such that the body politic fails. Men everywhere feel that an attempt to continue down this endless and ever darkening road is like the piling up of debt. We go further and further from a settlement. Our various forms of knowledge diverge more and more. Authority, the very principle of life, loses its meaning, and this awful edifice of civilization which we have inherited, and which is still our trust, trembles and threatens to crash down. It is clearly insecure. It may fall in any moment. We who still live may see the ruin. But ruin when it comes is not only a sudden, it is also a final, thing. In such a crux there remains the historical truth: that this our European structure, built upon the noble foundations of classical antiquity, was formed through, exists by, is consonant to, and will stand only in the mold of, the Catholic Church. Europe will return to the Faith, or she will perish. The Faith is Europe. And Europe is the Faith.”

The great tragedy that befell Europe and all the rest of the world is that she expanded over the planet just as the catastrophe to which Belloc referred was gathering steam. The resulting waves of unrest and revolution became part and parcel of the global matrix the colonial powers established, and which the United States and Soviet Union jointly maintained after World War II. So it was that alongside Christianity and technology, Marxism and the rest were also exported. Even the anti-Western nationalisms that arose in what is now the Third World were created by the alumni of Western-style education, and they have no more connection with their own national traditions than they do with those of Europe. The same is true for the sorts of synthetic ideologies invented by Marxists at American universities, and under whose banners the current destruction is taking place. So again, make no mistake—one may destroy as many statues of dead white European males as he likes, but he will be unable to escape their dominance because he cannot escape his own mind. What then, to do?

All of us who are Catholics must regain the courage and confidence of our forebears to be able to chant with Roland at the Pass of Roncesvalles, “The pagans are wrong and the Christians are right!” We must place, as they did at their best, the salvation of souls above all other considerations. We must embrace our brethren in religion across the globe and our own nation as our brethren in the Faith, even as we attempt to evangelize that nation and that globe. The sicknesses assailing humanity at the moment are not amenable to any cure save that which comes from the Sacraments. As with our fathers, by turns we shall have to be tough and hard, and at others soft and welcoming—our tactics dictated solely by what we judge to be most successful in safeguarding and spreading the Faith, which alone raised our ancestors from the swamp and forest, and allowed them to dominate the planet. But we must always remember that that dominance, not unlike the peace we have enjoyed until recently, was neither a tribute to our excellence nor an end in itself. As Europe and her daughter nations gradually lost the Faith, so too did she lose her political and cultural dominance, which were successively replaced with her worst products. We were the salt of the earth, and we have lost our savor. If we do not regain it, still worse awaits us.

Photo credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images News


  • Charles Coulombe

    Charles A. Coulombe is a contributing editor at Crisis and the magazine’s European correspondent. He previously served as a columnist for the Catholic Herald of London and a film critic for the National Catholic Register. A celebrated historian, his books include Puritan’s Empire and Star-Spangled Crown. He resides in Vienna, Austria and Los Angeles, California.

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