Layze Ameeze de tayze ameeze sont mayze ameeze.”

A drunken redneck recited this at me late one night in 1965, at Andy’s Lounge.  Andy’s was one of Charleston’s last “blind tigers”—a speakeasy, complete with gambling and homely B-girls, that defied even the closing laws that the other scofflaw establishments observed.  I went there often to enjoy the diversity of the clientele.  The green-teethed drunk, whom I had just met, was giving me the business about being a student.  “Whatchyou studyin’ anwyway?”  I wisely did not say Greek, knowing what response that would elicit, and answered, “French.”

“I know some French,” he replied, shooting a crafty look in both directions, before delivering his well-rehearsed line, which I initially mistook for some bit of rustic mysticism, like “larroes catch medloes.”  By the time I realized what he was saying, the conversation had moved on to “You look like you a Jap or maybe a Jew, and what’s a Jew-Jap doing in Charleston, anyway?”  I was annoyed at the time, but in retrospect it seems a reasonable question.

To this day I have no idea if the French really believe that the friends of your friends are really my friends, but I certainly do not.  Nor do I subscribe to the bit of American political wisdom that dictates that the enemies of my enemies are my friends.  It is quite possible that these secondhand allies are even worse than my firsthand enemies.  To put it more abstractly, neither “friend of friend” nor “enemy of enemy” is a category that can be converted automatically to “friend.”

Now that a great quarrel has opened up between Muslims and the opponents, not of Islam per se, but of “radical” Islamist terrorists, conservatives are tempted, as they always are, to make friends with the enemies of their enemies.  Nearly 30 years ago, in the first little squib I wrote on the Islamic question, I described some petty dustup between Muslims and Jews over the public display of non-Christian religious imagery.  “A plague on both their houses,” I wrote, not intending to condemn the proponents of either religion but only those who wanted to make the United States the cockpit for their jarring sects.  If you are permitted to practice a minority religion in a country that has welcomed you, good manners and common sense, if nothing better, should tell you to avoid making trouble for your hosts.

In the post-American United States, however, we are taught to hate all distinctions, not only in religion but in class, ethnicity, and sex.  It is the liberal creed to make everyone to be something he is not.  Years ago, when I used to attend a lot of conferences, one colleague of mine was always saying things like “Suburban gardeners are really the new farmers” and “The Midwest is really the same as the South in most essentials.”  As a libertarian, he really could not help himself.  There are many political currents, here in the land of the liberated, but nearly all of them are one or another kind of liberal.  Such people find it all too easy “to sit in the seat of those who are scornful of petty distinctions” (grammatical or otherwise), not just the Marxists who call themselves liberals but also the libertarians and the classical liberals who insist on misdescribing themselves as conservatives.

In America it used to be said that “anyone can grow up to be president.”  No one would have taken this literally.  If a potential president had not been born to wealth or position, he would at least have been endowed with some intelligence or virtue or knack that would elevate a Sam Grant or Lyndon Johnson above his humbler fellows.  In 2008, fortunately, the American dream was realized, and a complete anybody-nobody was sent to the White House for no better reason than the fact that his skin color did not match the paint on the presidential palace.  Americans were then expected to praise the wit, eloquence, and genius of this anybody-nobody who excelled Washington in courage, Jefferson in erudition, and Madison in constitutional expertise.

In this same post-America, boys can really be girls: Not only do judicial decrees permit them to “marry” other boys, but they may now, simply by dressing themselves up and acting out, use women’s bathrooms and insist on being addressed as Miss.  Muslims, we are told, are much like Christians, who are hardly different from Hindoos or Buddhists, and recently arrived immigrants, with the mud of the Rio Grande still clinging to their serapes, are really better Americans than the rest of us who are too inclined to take everything here for granted.

Hardly a month goes by that we do not hear of a political or human-rights activist who is saving our souls by his messianic example.  A few months ago, an otherwise intelligent friend told racial realists that “We are all Robert Parker now”—Robert Parker being code for the name of a troubled racialist guru who went out of his way to court trouble in a foreign country where he had no legitimate business.  (Good manners and common sense, if nothing better, ought to tell a grown man not to stir up trouble in other people’s countries.)  Now, according to the Marxist-conservative-liberal press we are all obliged to say—usually in a French as bad as what I heard from the redneck in Andy’s Lounge—“Je suis Charlie.”

The simple answer to all these equations is no.  I am not Muslim or Hindoo (nor are they I), a farmer or a foreigner, a girl or an activist who gets the ten seconds of fame he is looking for, and I am certainly not Charlie Hebdo.  To quote my personal hero from the cartoon world, “I am what I am, and that’s all that I am, says Popeye the Sailor-man.”  That dwindling number of people who accept the doctrine of vicarious atonement already have a savior and have no need of anti-Christian satirists or anti-Christian racists to stand in for them.

These preposterous equations would not be tolerated by sensible people, if they had not been hearing all their lives the old wheeze, “People are pretty much the same all over the world.”  On one level, this is obviously true.  We all have, unless we are deformed, two arms, two legs, two eyes, a nose, and a mouth, and our societies share a large number of common features from weather prediction to age-grading, from blood revenge to marriage patterns that verge on monogamy to some authority for dispute resolution that goes beyond the balled-up fist or a knife in the back.  But these physical and social norms are not all that is meant by “the same everywhere.”  There is also included in this formula an indifference to distinction, a naive belief that things in Spain or Hispaniola are pretty much the same as they are in New Madrid, Missouri, that cultural differences are largely a question of detail.  We are told that music is the universal language—a statement that could be made only by someone who has never heard Chinese or Iranian music—and American pop music has gone around the world and back.  If America is, as Ben Wattenberg used to say, “the first universal nation,” then American pop culture, we are assured, will convert Islamic terrorists to a religion of hedonism.

To someone convinced that boys can be girls and that ethnic and cultural peculiarities are distinctions without a difference, it is a small world after all.  But, while some very silly Christians may sing such songs or like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company, Spaceship Earth and the One Big Planet ideology are anything but Christian.  At the heart of Christianity is a recognition of reality with all its wealth of distinctions.  There is a hierarchy of angels and a scale of nature, and Christians who long for a peaceful world government must not have read the account in Genesis of the Tower of Babel.  Man himself is not an abstraction but a complex creature, a hairless ape with a soul and intellect from his Creator.  Christians are not even monotheists, in the conventional sense in which we speak of “the world’s great monotheistic religions.”  Our worship of the triune God and our belief that Christ is God incarnate are, as He warned us, a stumbling block to radical monotheists who regard any attempt to bridge the gap between God and man as a foul blasphemy.  This is the theological reason (there are many others, principally envy) why Muslims hate us.

Chesterton was eloquent on the ferocious desert-born monotheism of the Muslims in which the merely human—particularly the human sense of freedom—is crushed by its perception of its own littleness and insignificance.  Ironically, that is precisely the effect of the rather different sort of monism that has monopolized philosophical discourse since the 17th century.  In the various forms of unitarian, deistic, anti-Christian thought, the merely human, alienated from Creator and creation, culture and religion, is supposedly free to pursue his own destiny; but he is not.  Man by himself and reliant on his own resources is as powerless before the quasidivine forces of nature as he is in the face of the demonic world ruler adored by Muslims.  There can be no mediation between man and God, because since the Enlightenment—the defining movement of post-Christian civilization—the enemy has been identified as the incarnate Christ.  On this point, the editors of Charlie Hebdo shake hands with their murderers, and it is out of this hatred of Christ, shared with Muslims, that the most significant enlightened French thinkers—Montaigne, Montesquieu, Voltaire—all wrote multicultural fantasies in which wise orientals were shown to be superior to European Christians.

The European world is under siege, but it is not a war between Christians and Muslims.  Here, by accident, the President and his spokespersons have deviated into a part of the truth.  The war in Europe and North America—though not in Africa and the Middle East—is being waged by Muslims and anti-Christian secularists of the type who produced and read Charlie Hebdo.  When I heard the news of the attack, my first reaction was, again, A plague on both their houses!  The Muslims will rape, rob, subjugate, and kill Christians, but if they abide by precedent, they are too smart to kill off their only tax base but not smart enough to know how to corrupt the children of committed Christian parents.

By means of terrorism and coercion Muslims reduced the Christian population of North Africa and the Middle East to a tiny fraction of what it had been before the savages began their never-ending waves of rampage.  In more recent years, the devastation of the Christian heartland has been aided and subsidized by the United States and her gallant democratic ally in the Middle East.  Still, Egypt and Syria are about 10 percent Christian; Lebanon, over 40 percent.  Before the United States and her Shia and Kurdish allies exterminated or expelled them, Iraqi Christians made up about seven percent of the population.  Now they total perhaps one fourth that.  Mission accomplished, President Bush!

The secularist liberals, by contrast, will not kill our bodies or rape our women and children, and this is largely because, anti-Christian as they are, they have never entirely escaped the contagion of Christian morality.  They are already, however, corrupting our children’s imaginations, undermining their faith, and prostituting both sexes through their popular entertainment and advertising.  The United States, being preeminently a nation of hypocrites, claims to have a large Christian majority.  These are the people who take their kids to Disney World, entertain themselves on movies made by James Cameron and the Coen Brothers, and fill their bookshelves with best-selling trash, celebrity memoirs or the latest nonsense from Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.  Catholic women kill their babies with the same zest as atheists and liberals, and Southern Protestants are actually more prone to divorce than the general population.  Whatever else this country is, it is not a “Christian nation.”

In the motherland of our religious hypocrisy, England (including more pious Wales), something close to 60 percent say they are Christian, though only a tiny fraction makes any effort to attend church on a regular basis.  How many friends and relatives have you known who said they were Christian but felt they could worship on the golf course or in front of the TV?  In France, where skepticism and candor are part of the culture, about 44 percent claim to be Christian, though only a minority of them fulfill their obligation to go to Mass.  Overall, then, Muslims have been more effective in reducing our numbers; secularists, in destroying our faith.

The staff of Charlie Hebdo, far more anti-Christian than anti-Muslim, reaped what they had sown.  In the struggle for the soul of France, they always sided with the enemy.  Making obscene and tasteless jokes at the expense of Islam, they opposed the very immigration restrictions and cultural traditions that might have retarded the fall of France.  Instead, they preferred to take cheap shots at people who at least believe in something.  (In this, Pope Francis has been, for a refreshing change, at least partly right.)  Good manners and common sense, if nothing better, should have told them not to abuse the religion of the very people they so ardently welcomed into the country.  A Christian would not have killed these tawdry little pornographers, and a Christian will not rejoice in their murder.  On the other hand, believing Christians have no need to mourn the death of men and women who devoted their lives to degrading their fellow creatures.