Cultural Identity Theft

A recent New York Times article revealed that 90 percent of teens in the predominantly Muslim districts of Molenbeek and Schaerbeek think of the Brussels terrorists as heroes. The main thing to notice here is not that these youth have warped values (which they do), but that their heroes are people who are willing to die for what they believe. Which means that some of these young people are likely willing to die for the same beliefs. Meanwhile, a test given to thirteen-year-olds in an Italian middle school revealed that 90 percent of them would convert to Islam if the Islamic State showed up at their door. Not much hero material there. A willingness to fight and die for one’s beliefs is apparently an alien concept for many young Italians. If they’ve heard of the 800 martyrs of Otranto, they must wonder why they all didn’t just convert. That would have been the sensible thing to do.

In a contest of wills, who seems more likely to prevail? The young Muslims in Brussels or the young “whatevers” in Italy? I used the term “whatevers” because so many young people in the West are conditioned to go in whatever direction the tide is flowing. The two students in the class of twenty-five who went against the tide—who refused to consider conversion—were from devout Catholic families.

The ideological struggle with Islam is in large part a spiritual struggle. It will be won by those with the deepest faith and strongest convictions. In other words, it’s the kind of struggle that many Europeans and Americans are ill-prepared for. While the mosques and Islamic schools have been delivering a purpose-driven message about Islam’s manifest destiny, multiculturalist educators in the West have done everything they can to undermine their student’s cultural foundations. According to multiculturalists, the worst crime is to deprive native peoples of their culture, yet all their efforts have been aimed at depriving Western students of their own multi-millennium cultural inheritance.

That’s what seems to have happened to the Italian students. In commenting on their response, Katholisches.info observed:

The theft of our own identity is proceeding on many levels… And now we are expected to tell our young people to take up weapons and defend themselves… In the name of what ideals and values are we to ask that of them? In the name of those ideas we never taught them, but denigrated in their eyes?

Those who are ashamed of their culture will not defend it—or, apparently, even themselves. If you believe in nothing important, then the prudent thing to do when faced with danger is to capitulate. As Alessandro Grotteri, the author of the Katholisches.info piece, puts it, “Decisive resistance comes from someone who is firmly founded in belief.”

The end result of the de-Christianization of Europe will very likely be the Islamization of Europe—unless, that is, Europeans are able to recover the faith that made Europe great in the first place. It was largely because of their Christian faith that Europeans of another era were able to resist Muslim forces at Tours, Lepanto, Malta, and Vienna, and to retake Spain from Muslim hands.

Absent that faith, there seems little hope for Europe. Without the cultural confidence that Christian faith once provided, the various secular nostrums for combatting “violent extremism” while avoiding “Islamophobia” seem doomed to fail. Even the might of NATO will prove of little help because NATO is not equipped to fight a cultural or spiritual war. NATO can’t readjust the birthrate imbalance (itself a result of de-Christianization). It can’t reverse the slow but steady Islamic takeover of schools, school boards, municipal councils, public streets and squares. And NATO certainly can’t provide Europeans with the transcendent beliefs that make “decisive resistance” possible.

People who lose their grip on transcendent realities soon lose their grip on earthly realities as well—or, to repeat the epigram attributed to Chesterton, “When men choose not to believe in God … they then become capable of believing in anything.” It’s a sign of how detached from reality we’ve become that European and American elites would much prefer that young people learn transgender values rather than transcendent ones. As the palpable reality of an Islamist takeover draws ever closer, the only value that they’re willing to defend is the reality-denying proposition that boys can be girls and girls can be boys.

Actually, the attitude of the elites toward gender differences and their attitude toward Islam are connected. If you accept the proposition that your gender is whatever you wish it to be, then why not conclude that Islam is whatever you wish it to be? That is more or less what’s happened. European and American elites have constructed a make-believe version of Islam in their own minds. For them “Islam” means “peace,” “jihad” is a “spiritual struggle,” and violence has nothing to do with Islam.

That their fantasy Islam bears little relation to reality does not disturb them. For them, words and thoughts and desires are more interesting than reality. The people who open the doors of the women’s bathroom to all and sundry without regard for the real differences between men and women are the same people who want to open wide the doors of Europe to all comers without regard to the stark differences that separate Islamic and Western cultures.

The Caliphs of old who had their sights set on conquering Europe could only have dreamed about facing such clueless and spineless opponents.

William Kilpatrick

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William Kilpatrick taught for many years at Boston College. He is the author of several books about cultural and religious issues, including Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong; and Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Jihad. His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Catholic World Report, National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Saint Austin Review, Investor’s Business Daily, and First Things. His work is supported in part by the Shillman Foundation. For more on his work and writings, visit his website, turningpointproject.com

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