by Mark Steyn
Steyn on Europe
September 28, 2015
Reader Artie Bleppo complains, in all-caps, about the priorities of my week in review:
POPE CAME TO THE USA, O ALMIGHTY GLOBAL CONTENT PROVIDER
So what? His speeches were fatuous and evasive pabulum, and already forgotten. I am not a Catholic but I understand that, unlike the position of Archbishop of Canterbury, where total contempt from the congregants more or less comes with the job, the Bishop of Rome is generally held in some respect by his church. So last week, out of deference to Catholic readers’ sensibilities, I confined myself to an aside:
Best to talk about the dangers of “climate change”, as the Pope is doing this week, even as in the heart of Christendom the post-Christian future is showing up at the express check-in.
As the years go by, I like to write about what matters. And in this last seven days, the Mohammed cartoons and the “refugee” tide now engulfing Europe both matter more than “POPE CAME TO THE USA”. His Holiness in fact has chosen not to matter, even as European politicians take decisions that will guarantee “Christendom” will be non-Christian. There is something shallow and decadent about a pontiff who prioritizes “climate change” even as every last Christian is driven from the Archeparchy of Mosul. What will they say of such a pope? That he fiddled with the thermostat while Rome burned?
And let’s not even mention his appalling response to the Charlie Hebdo slaughter. So I wrote nothing about his remarks to Congress – just as he wrote nothing about my remarks in the Danish Parliament. So we’re quits.
~Speaking of which, we were a merry band, all things considered, at Christiansborg Castle. I thank my friend Katrine Winkel Holm, of the Danish Free Press Society, and her delightful sister, Marie Krarup, defense spokeslady for the Danish People’s Party, for arranging to host us behind the fortress-like walls of Parliament – so nobody could bust in and shoot us, as they did at a similar free-speech event in February. I was heartened to meet fellow free-speechers who had traveled from Sweden, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Britain and even Canada. My fellow panelists included Henryk Broder, author of The Last Days of Europe; Vebjørn Selbekk, whom the quislings of Norway’s government treated disgracefully for publishing the cartoons; and Douglas Murray, who’s already written up the event in The Spectator:
My main message for the audience was to keep in mind that freedom has never been particularly popular. Most people prefer their security and comforts to freedom and although history shows that although everyone benefits from being free, it has always been a small minority who actually pursue and protect the cause. I suppose one has to wrestle whatever comfort one can from that. It was a terrible thing to see the security now needed in Denmark, as elsewhere, for people who are simply asserting their right to write and draw what they want, even – shock horror – things that might be mildly critical of the founder of one religion. That a journalist or historian should need bodyguards in 21st century in an indictment on our continent. But still, surveying the room on Saturday I think we’ve got enough people. A few Danes, a few Swedes and Norwegians. A few Americans and a couple of Brits might be all that is needed. Perhaps by the 15th anniversary things will be better.
Perhaps. On Europe’s present course, though, the security we’ll need in 2020 doesn’t bear thinking about. But I’ll be there.
~A transcript of Vebjørn Selbekk’s powerful speech can be found here:
We had interviewed leading Norwegian cartoonists. One of them was Finn Graaf. He is maybe the hardest hitting cartoonist in the history of the Norwegian press. One of his specialities is drawing Israeli prime ministers as Holocaust camp guards. He has done that with almost every Israeli prime minister since Menachem Begin in the late Seventies.
But Mister Graff told us that he would never draw the prophet Mohammad. Not because he had more respect towards the Muslim faith than other religions or ideologies. No, he bluntly put it this way in the interview:
‘I have to draw the line somewhere. I do not want to get my throat cut. Therefore I will refrain from drawing Muhammad.’
One-way “hard-hitting” isn’t really hard-hitting at all, is it? As I said ten years ago, it’s the easiest thing in the world to be tediously provocative with those who refuse to be provoked.
~My own remarks came last, and can be heard below. I’ll post the other speeches, as we get them. But click below to listen:
The Free Speech Society has a report here:
Steyn gjorde gældende, at problemet er de vestlige samfunds mangel på selvtillid. Vi tror ikke længere på os selv og vores grundlæggende værdier. Vi er villige til at give køb på dem. Terrorismens mål er at kapre debatten og terrorisere os til at undlade visse emner. Og den har succes med det, anførte Steyn.
Which comes out as:
Steyn claimed that the problem is the western world’s lack of self-confidence. We no longer believe in ourselves and our basic values. We are willing to trade them away. Terrorism’s goal is to hijack the debate and terrorize us to steer clear of certain subjects. And it’s had great success with it, argued Steyn.
This Swedish report concludes thus:
Därefter slutade konferensen. Några av deltagarna fick splittra upp sig eftersom den förhandsbokade restaurangen blivit rädda för att befatta sig med TFS och de inresta föreläsarna.
Which translates to something like:
After that the conference ended. Some of the participants had to split up because the pre-booked restaurant became afraid to deal with the Free Speech Society and the speakers they’d invited.
That’s true. They did. We were escorted by officers from the PET, the Danish Security Service. But the minute the restaurant discovered that, the management – some joint called Fiat – canceled. Compared to what happened to Charlie Hebdo, that’s a small price to pay, but it is still a price, and a telling one. Those who defend freedom for all wind up with less than anybody: airlines that won’t fly them, theatres that won’t book them, and even crappy Italian restaurants that won’t serve ’em a few pasta shells at the end of a hard day defending liberty.
One more quote from our Swedish correspondent:
Mark Steyn lovade dock från talarstolen att nästa gång så ska han tala på Det Konglige Teater som en fri människa inför fria människor och inte bakom låsta dörrar med säkerhetskontroller och vakter på det danska riksdagshuset.
Which translates as me getting a bit carried away:
Mark Steyn, however, promised from the podium that next time he’ll speak at the Royal Theatre as a free man before free people, and not behind locked doors with security checks and guards from the Danish Parliament.
We’ll see how that works out.
~Nobody needs the Pope to hitch up his robes and be the last world leader to jump on the climate bandwagon. But it might be helpful for him to take the lead in saving the heart of Christendom. Indeed, some might think it’s part of the job description, no?