End Notes: It Could Be Worse

Evelyn Waugh once wrote that there are three kinds of writers: those who have something to say but don’t know how to write, those who know how to write but have nothing to say, and those who are at writers’ meetings talking about the agony of creation. Analogously, one might say that there are three kinds of professors: those who are eloquent but have nothing to convey, those rich with ideas and all but inarticulate, and those who go off to far-flung summer conferences to read papers to one another.

I have just returned from Palermo and a wonderful meeting sponsored by Fulvio di Blasi on natural law. After I had done my duty, I rented a car and went off with Russell Hittinger to Agrigento, which he had never seen, and where under a lethal sun we toured the ruins of the Greek city that once flourished there. About their weather, Sicilians say, “It could be worse.” They say that about other things as well. And they provide me with my text.

On the flight home I read Oriana Fallaci’s new book, La Forza delta Ragione , in which she passionately laments the Islamization of Europe. Indeed, her preferred designation of the old continent is Eurabia. There are two schools on Islamic terrorism: those who, like the president, distinguish between terrorists and good Muslims, and those who assume that Muslims believe the Koran and are as one with regard to the infidels. Fallaci is definitely of the second school. When an Italian imam says that Rome will be the future capital of Islam, she does not regard this as an empty threat.

Some years ago, from the balcony of my friend’s apartment on Mount Parioli, one could look down at the huge mosque under construction on the banks of the Tiber, just down river from St. Peter’s. Only with much effort were the builders restrained from constructing an edifice larger than St. Peter’s. The mosque has long since been completed and is only one of many scattered throughout the Eternal City. And of course, mosques are to be found all over Eurabia now. Yet it is all but impossible for Christians to have even a modest church in Muslim countries.

Fallaci describes herself as an atheist but a Christian and reminds one of George Santayana. Christian culture remains the glory of Europe even for those whose personal faith has withered. But of course, it is the politicians and, alas, to some degree the Church that facilitate this invasion. Nonetheless, it could be worse. We could be confronting one more of the many armed Islamic invasions and occupations of Europe. For centuries, Sicily was occupied by Muslims. Indeed, the university hall in which I spoke was located in what had once been a mosque. It is all too easy to imagine it falling once more into hostile hands.

It is a feature of our times that such matters are either not discussed or are treated with a superficiality that is worse than silence. Having ceased reading newspapers and watching television, I no longer get a daily diet of sloganeering and demagoguery, but still the sad events of the day have a way of making themselves known, if only by means of the Web. What is essentially a religious war carried on by way of massive immigration is a one-sided affair, since the ground is hardly thick with robust Christians. Indeed, soi-disant Christians kiss the hand of their conquerors. And at home, we see our bishops dancing away from doing their duty with respect to Catholic politicians who make careers out of representing the Culture of Death.

So, with a Sicilian shrug, I tell myself that it could be worse. Perhaps if I keep repeating this mantra, I will come to believe it.


  • Ralph McInerny

    Ralph McInerny was a popular writer, philosopher, and teacher, as well as the co-founder of Crisis Magazine. He passed away on January 29, 2010.

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