The Cross, the Crescent, or the Swastika?

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If the past month has been chaotic in America, it has seen some bloody scenes here in Europe. On the morning of October 29, a 21-year old Tunisian national entered the Basilica of Notre Dame in Nice, France began knifing the three people he found there. He virtually severed the head of an elderly lady, stabbed an old man in the throat fatally, and then cut another lady sufficiently that while she escaped she succumbed to her wounds in a nearby café. Hastily summoned, the police shot the young man dead. That same day, here in Vienna, a mob of 50 Muslim youths invaded the Church of St. Anthony of Padua, kicked pews and a confessional, stormed around a bit shrieking “Allahu Akbar!” and then left.

Also here in Vienna, just a few days later on November 2 (All Souls Day, ironically) a twenty-year-old Macedonian Muslim went on a shooting spree in the tourist-filled First District, killing four and wounding 23 before being gunned down himself by police. Although the authorities declared that he had acted alone, they did arrest 14 people in the course of their enquiries.

While these particular woes may seem exotic, we have had a number of things occur in the past few months that shall make the exiled American feel far more at home. In the summer, there were BLM demonstrations—protesting both local and American Black grievances – in various parts of Europe. Although Britain was particularly hard hit by these, we did have some in Vienna. They culminated in a graffiti attack on the statue of Karl Lueger, a nineteenth-century Viennese mayor. Although Lueger had nothing to do with blacks, he did make anti-Jewish speeches; these apparently did not apply to those Jews to whom he gave civic positions. As if in sympathy, there have even been governmental attacks on Civil War monuments—albeit it was the Socialist regime in Madrid against that country’s Valley of the Fallen.

As in America, the grey blanket of Covid lockdown covers most of Europe, with churches closed, but bars and abortuaries open. The longtime myth of Church and State parity or equality under Liberal governments has had its mask ripped off by the very act of wearing them: public church services are for the most part or carefully regulated—here in Austria, the government kept the churches open, but the bishops suspended the Sacraments within them. As in America, the phrase “Church and State” had been revealed to mean no more than “Rotary Club and State” or “Bingo Hall and State.” Rather than a partner in good governance, the Church is shown to be merely another outlet for people’s excess time and money—a bit like the Renaissance Faire or the Society for Creative Anachronism. Of course, this is a development that Church leadership in most countries has signed off on with little resistance—save some few honorable exceptions.

But for all the resemblances, there are some major differences. One is the gulf between Western and Central Europe that Austria lies athwart. In Western Europe, the wokery that has shown its dominance in American intellectual and media life over this year’s long hot Summer has openly reigned supreme since 1968. Typical of this was the sentence run by several Viennese last year over the controversy regarding an historical observance: “The memory of the victory over the Turks in 1683 is upheld by right-wing extremists worldwide, including the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik and the Christchurch assassin.” Of course, in the light of this month’s tragedies, this efflorescence seems even more idiotic than it did at the time. At any rate, for the Western European leadership, “European values” have come to mean abortion, gender confusion, and this kind of puerile self-hatred.

Central Europe—Hungary, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Romania—is rather different. For most people (and much of the leadership in the first two named countries, at least), European values are the notions of Faith, family, heritage, and the rest that created the European in the first place. Of course, as the recent pro-abortion protests in Poland and any number of Soros-funded fronts reveal, there are many there who would follow their Western brethren down the road to death. But in any case, there is an organized resistance to it at higher levels than you’ll see in the West.

The Liberal leadership and chattering classes in Western Europe have long characterized anything that is not leftwing as “Fascist.” This is kind of rich—especially here in Austria, where the socialists under Karl Renner collaborated openly with the Nazis, and where the bulk of the Resistance (and Nazi victims other than Jews) were Catholic monarchists. But as with their memory of the 1683 siege, reality means little to these people. Unfortunately for them and the nations and continent they dominate, a reckoning with reality is en route.

Firstly, our problems in the United States make it increasingly unlikely that we shall be able to take care of their security needs any longer. Secondly—and unlike the United States—the Islamic issue (which—with the exceptions of outright terrorism of the example we have seen recently—usually evokes silence from the ruling circles; the mass New Year’s Eve gangrapes in Cologne a few years ago come to mind) is likely to worsen. Now, it is important to be clear that an awful lot of Muslims in Europe are secular and hardworking, wanting only to be left alone to make a living they can’t at home. But it is never the majority of any community that decide anything—as some claim our recent election shows. Radicals triumph within communities because moderates are too—well—moderate. This is why the Nazis dominated German-American Societies in New York for a short time in the 1930s. Presuming the sorts of incidents we have seen increase—alongside their growing numbers in general—then the bankruptcy of the current leadership will be made manifest.

This leadership that seems incapable of handling Muslim unrest, but quite capable of shutting up its population for Covid; that calls believers in traditional values fascist, and openly attacks governments in Central Europe that retain allegiance to their own national cultures; and that in general ignores its subjects’ concerns shall undoubtedly be replaced by something its considers abhorrent—peacefully or otherwise. Therein lies the challenge: that before another 15 years pass, each country in Europe shall be ruled by a “right-wing” government, I have no doubt. The question is, Just what shall “right-wing” mean?

There are, to be sure, several very different streams that the current leadership in Brussels and Washington would call by that elusive title. There are traditional Catholics and neo-pagans, neo-fascists and traditional monarchists, ultra-nationalists and Western Christian unity devotees, pro-lifers and eugenicists, pro- and anti-Russians… all thrown together and separate in different groups and permutations, and sharing only one thing, primarily: opposition to and hatred by the present regime. (For those who saw in Putin a possible savior, the recent events in Armenia are problematic.)

Out of this ideological mix I have absolutely no doubt—if Europe is to remain European—shall emerge the Continent’s next dominant ideology. It is absolutely essential to peace in the world and ultimately the well-being of the United States that it be the right one. It must be firmly grounded on the three mountains that made European culture: Calvary, the Acropolis, and the Palatine. It must be expressive of the four major motifs of traditional European governance: Altar and Throne, subsidiarity and solidarity. And it must be committed to a Continental framework loose enough to allow the localities, regions, and nations of Europe their free development, but strong enough for the Mother Continent to defend herself with her own resources.

In the meantime, one can encourage those movements and individuals working toward that end. Obviously, the Catholic Church needs to regain her sense of mission—something which at the moment individual Catholics must try to do in our own lives. The most hopeful sign at the moment, politically, is the slow coming together of Central Europe. The growth of the cultus of Bl. Emperor Charles and SG. Zita has had an effect in this area. This is fitting, given that among his last words were “I am suffering that my peoples might comeback together.” Let us pray to the Imperial couple for the future governance of both Europe and America.

[Photo credit: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images News]

Charles Coulombe

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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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