The people of England, after very considerable provocation, have lately come to fear England’s Muslims. Britain’s leftists have shifted in the opposite direction. From an entrenched hostility to the mores of their own country and out of sheer perversity, the leftists have intensified their attacks on the Catholic Church, while making a point of defending the Muslims, even when the latter act in ways that are downright offensive to ordinary people.
Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain was appreciated by all of her citizens, except the left-wing radicals. Over time, denominational differences in England have faded, and the great majority of Protestants have developed benign attitudes toward Catholicism. The Holy Father had come to Britain to beatify Cardinal Newman, who had been an Anglican priest before converting to Catholicism. His conversion had led to a great deal of controversy at the time and to a strong attack on him by the Rev. Charles Kingsley, the author and Anglican exponent of “muscular Christianity.” Curiously, it was Newman’s reply to Kingsley’s attack, the touching and personal Apologia Pro Vita Sua, that eventually led to Newman becoming a well-liked and well-respected figure among British Protestants. Pope Benedict acknowledged this as well as the common traditions of Anglicanism and Catholicism by including in his homily passages from Newman’s sermons preached when he was still an Anglican.
Many individual Anglicans have recently left the Church of England for Catholicism over the issue of women bishops, and the Church of England is particularly nervous at present because, for the first time, an entire parish—St. Peter’s in Folkestone, Kent—has collectively “gone over to Rome.” There may well be an unseemly wrangle over the use and ownership of the parish church and its assets. The lawyers will soon be hovering and wheeling in the sky. John Broadhurst, the Anglican bishop of Fulham, has also converted, and two more bishops have followed. It was the right time for the Holy Father to make a gesture of conciliation.
The Pope made another such gesture when he removed his hat as he stood next to the Queen while the British national anthem “God Save the Queen” was played. The Queen has no power in either Church or state, but she remains the head of both. It was much appreciated, as was his tribute to Britain’s unique role in defying and resisting the Nazis, for Britain and the British dominions were alone in declaring war against the Nazis in 1939 without first being attacked and keeping up the fight to the very end. For a German pope to pay tribute to this unique gallantry was a touching moment. Prime Minister Cameron has pledged that the cordial relations between the United Kingdom and the Holy See will become even closer in the future.
No, it was leftists who demonstrated against the papal visit—in particular, the newly fashionable atheists, the faction-ridden humanists who now had a cause to unite them, the National Secular Society, which has emerged resurgent from its previous torpor, and the gays militant. They marched in force, though rather moderate force, through London. Some of them even campaigned to have the Pope arrested on his arrival on a charge of conniving at the cover-up of the sexual abuse of boys by priests during the time when he held other positions of authority. They denied that Pope Benedict had immunity from prosecution as a head of state, since they hold that the Vatican is not a proper state. It was all contemptible lunacy, but one should never underestimate the power of the English contemptible lunatic in pursuit of radical nonsense. After all, Pinochet was detained in England on the basis of faulty documents on the say-so of a socialist legal functionary in Spain, using a clause in some fatuous international agreement that the British government had signed without reading.
In left-wing circles, atheism has for the first time become fashionable in a country where at one time the Labour Party obtained its principles from Methodism and its votes from Roman Catholics. Edward Miliband, the new leader of Labour, could have made history by being the first Jewish leader of the Labour Party (the Conservatives have had two), but he calls himself an atheist, though for electoral reasons he now seems to be having doubts about it. God moves in a mysterious way. Miliband’s predecessor but one, Tony Blair, was possibly, like King Charles II before him, a crypto-Catholic. King Charles acknowledged his Catholicism on his deathbed when politics no longer mattered, and Tony Blair when he gave up being prime minister and no longer needed to appease the left.
The atheist revival in Britain is curiously connected to Darwinism in a way that would have horrified Darwin, who refused to allow Karl Marx to dedicate Das Kapital to him because he did not wish to be involved in religious controversy. Britain’s village atheist, Richard Dawkins, bases his entire rejection of God on the grounds that such a belief is incompatible with Darwinism. Given that the great majority of British Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, are happy to accept the evolution of species, it is difficult to see what the Darwinists have to be radical about. Most of the British see natural selection as a reasonable explanation of what we know from paleontology but do not see that it matters very much. This is not enough for the atheists, who have made Darwinism into a kind of religion.
The face of Darwin has long been on the reverse side of the British £10 note along with the birds he saw in his voyage on the Beagle. Now he has been placed on the new £2 coin, face to face with an ape-like human. Indeed, in a dim light it is difficult to tell which is which. No one would deny that Darwin is one of Britain’s greatest scientists, but why does he get two numismatic mentions when Isaac Newton and Adam Smith get only one and other scientists of equal merit, such as Clerk Maxwell (of Maxwell’s equations and demon) or Dirac or Rutherford, get no mention at all? Is it an atheist plot or a subtle attack on American fundamentalism? Probably not.
What is curious is that none of the militantly anti-Christian atheists ever mentions that the only serious opposition to Darwin’s ideas in the whole of Europe comes from the Muslims. Students from Muslim countries taking doctorates of philosophy in British universities in botany or zoology or geology are quite happy to write theses based on Darwin’s work, but they are careful never to use the e-word. They do not wish some Islamic fanatic back home finding evolution in the abstract of their thesis on the internet. In Germany the problem is recognized, and the Germans have persuaded the European Union to assert that every school pupil has the right to a “proper scientific education,” which is code for “not Muslim pseudo-science.” Britain’s Darwinist atheists always ignore the existence of a billion Muslims militantly hostile to their scientific position and portray anti-Darwinism as confined to a few fundamentalists in America who somehow control the Republican Party. They still think of America as akin to Tennessee in the time of William Jennings Bryan (whom they probably see as a right-wing Republican, not a progressive Democrat).
However, they were turned aside from this obsession by the papal visit and the chance to have a silly parade in London. Everyone loves a parade, and the sillier the better.
Their first protest was directed against the cost of the visit, paid for by the British taxpayer at a time when Britain (thanks to Carter, Clinton, and the subprime mortgages) is practically bankrupt. They have a point, but why not cancel the 2012 Olympic Games in London for the same reason? We cannot afford the kind of financial disaster that overwhelmed Greece and Quebec after their Olympics, but you will not find the leftists protesting the cost of this sporting exercise in the survival of the fittest. They only complained about the papal visit.
Their accusation that the Pope covered up the sexual abuse of children is hypocrisy, for they ignore and have indeed suppressed the history of the cover-up by a Labour government’s attorney-general, Sam Silkin, of the sexual abuse of boys by that left-wing idol Trevor Huddleston, Anglican bishop of Stepney. When the police wished to investigate an accusation against him brought by the mother of two young boys, Silkin stopped them, and the newspapers were forced to drop the story. A Tanzanian has told me that there were strong rumors about Huddleston and African boys when he was bishop of Masasi, but there is never going to be a proper examination of the dubious side of this hero of the anti-apartheid movement. The left-wing hypocrites prefer to pretend that such abuse exists only in the Catholic Church.
When they attack the Pope on the subject of contraception and the use of condoms to prevent AIDS in Africa, their case is much weaker than they think. In Catholic Europe, birthrates are very low, and far below replacement levels in Italy, Spain, and Slovakia. Birthrates there are lower than in the Protestant countries of Northern Europe. The only group in Europe with a very high birthrate is the Muslims, but the leftists never talk about that. In all the countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa alike, the birthrate of Muslims is higher than that of other religious groups, whether Christians, Hindus, or Jews living in the same country. The reason for this is the degraded position of women in Muslim communities, such that they have little say in how many children they have. But the leftist radicals are only willing to attack Catholic teaching on contraception and abortion. You will still hear them muttering that “Catholics breed like rabbits,” even though the truly cuniculine ones are the Muslims. Catholics are in a minority in all the countries of southern Africa where AIDS is most prevalent; yet in London the protestors were filling condoms with helium to protest the papal visit.
By contrast the leftists have carefully ignored the recent report from the Quilliam Foundation, Radicalisation on British University Campuses: A Case Study, which shows how City University in London has become “an incubator for extremist, intolerant and potentially violent forms of the political ideology of Islamism.” The Quilliam report ought to have warned the heads of universities in England and Wales that Islamic societies can come under the control of Muslim extremists with terrorist sympathies. An earlier report by Prof. Anthony Gleese to this effect was denied by the pinkocracy that controls education in Britain. Now the police and military intelligence have pointed out that five men who had held high office in these university societies are known to have become terrorists. About 60 percent of the members of these societies believe that killing in the name of their religion could be justified, as against a mere one in three Muslim students in general. High on the list came the Islamic society of City University in London, whose invited speakers condemned kuffar (unbelievers, non-Muslims), in general, and Jews, in particular, and said that Islam condemned homosexuals to a violent death. Homosexual students said they were intimidated and harassed.
Why is it that the leftists in Britain’s universities rushed to protest against the Holy Father’s message of peace and reconciliation while condoning the preachers of hate on their own campuses? Why have the gay activists, so vociferously hostile to the Pope, been so silent in the face of Muslim viciousness? Benedict has admonished homosexuals, and they are forgiven in confession. Muslim extremists advocate tying them up and toppling a wall onto them to crush them to death. Christianity is characterized by the mercy extended by Jesus to the woman taken in adultery. A substantial number of British Muslims would have had her stoned to death, and they are reluctant to speak out when this really does happen in Islamic states.
The reason is that Britain’s Catholics have come in from the cold and become an ordinary and accepted and respected part of English, Welsh, and Scottish society. Britain’s 19th-century equivalents of America’s Know-Nothings have long since withered away. In consequence Catholics have lost the sacred leftist status of minority, do not count for diversity purposes, and are open to vicious verbal attacks. The Muslims are classed as an underdog minority and, as such, can do no wrong. The harassment of homosexuals and Jews by anyone else would bring forth leftist moral outrage, but when the perpetrators are Muslim, even mentioning it is Islamophobia. Were atheists, humanists, secularists, and gay activists to mount an anti-Muslim demonstration of the kind they organized against Benedict, they would be beaten up by an alliance of Muslim extremists and Marxist rabble. They would be denounced as fascists, a strangely elastic term, but one not elastic enough to embrace even the most virulent Muslim hatred of non-Muslims. What unites Islamists and Trotskyites is a mindless hatred of Britain’s traditional social order. Those who want a “workers’ revolution” and those who seek the Islamization of Britain have a lot in common.