Sunday 29 October 2023

The whole of history turns on this battle


Since the death of the Prophet Muhammad much of history can be divided into a struggle between Islam and Christendom. The two great world religions have hugely influenced those countries where they are dominant, and both have at times sought to dominate the other and spread as far as possible.

European civilization is primarily due to Christianity. We would not have democracy, nor free markets, nor human rights nor any of the things that distinguish the West from almost everywhere else if it had not been for certain historical events that kept us Christian.

Islam spread first throughout the Arabian Peninsula then north towards the Levant and westward along north Africa. It captured Spain and pushed on into France where it was stopped at the Battle of Tours in 732.

If Islam had not been defeated by Charles Mantel, there is every chance it would have pushed on and conquered all of Europe including Britain. Sometimes the whole of history turns on one battle.

Islam pushed into Sicily in 827 and pushed further into Italy but was pushed out by 902. It took Spain until 1492 to expel the Moors.

Islam was initially checked by the Byzantine Empire but finally captured Constantinople in 1453 and then pushed on into the Balkans, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria reaching Vienna in 1683. The Ottoman Empire besieged Vienna but was defeated by the Holy Roman Empire and the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Again, the whole of history turned on a battle. If Vienna had fallen, the Ottomans may have pushed on further into central and western Europe, instead the Ottoman Empire was gradually pushed back particularly in the 19th century and by the start of the First World War was left with only Eastern Thrace.

But while Islam was stopped in 732 and 1683 in Europe it was able to spread into much of Asia reaching as far as Indonesia.

There is no particular reason to be critical of the spread of Islam. Europeans also spread our religion and frequently did so by means of conquest and aggressive missionary work.

At various times Islamic society was markedly superior to that on offer in Europe. Christians and Jews in Islamic countries were treated better than Muslims and Jews in most of Europe. At their best Islamic societies were cleaner than European ones had better scholarship and were often more pleasant places to live. Given the choice between living in London in 1300 or Bagdad I would choose Bagdad in a second.

Islamic societies produced formidable armies. They were able to defeat the best that Europe had to offer in the Crusades and the Holy Land remained under Islamic control until 1948. In the Middle Ages Christianity and Islam were approximately equal in power.

But the Renaissance and the Scientific revolution changed everything. While Islamic states stagnated by the 18th and 19th centuries the West was far superior in terms of technology and knowledge.

It was this that enabled the West to conquer first North and South America then Australasia, then much of Asia and finally much of the Islamic world.

The Ottoman Empire was carved up by France and Britain after the First World War and much of the world’s Muslim population found itself under European rule.

If you looked at the world in 1920 you might have concluded that Islam had been decisively defeated by the West. One hundred years later it feels quite different.

The West reached peak power in 1945 but has steadily lost confidence in itself in the years since. Despite there being many instances in history of empires, colonisation, and slavery only Europeans are supposed to feel guilty about them. No one in the Islamic world feels guilty because of the spread of Islam from Spain to Indonesia. No one feels guilty about slavery in the Islamic world nor about the Ottoman Empire, the Timurid Empire under Tamerlane [Timur] or about any other instance of colonisation. Why should they?

While Muslims across the world have on the whole retained their faith, Christians have largely lost theirs. Most Muslims are confident in the truth of the Quran and feel a sense of purpose and unity with their fellow Muslims. Christians have been left with a vacuum and into this vacuum has flowed any sort of weird and wonderful theory about race, transgender and sexuality. The result has been self-hatred and the destruction of the confidence that Europeans had about themselves and their values.

We have only relativism, you can be a woman if you feel like a woman, while Muslims have God given objective truth.

If we had not been Christians, our history would have been quite different. Even if you don’t believe the miraculous aspects of the Christian story, you ought to at least respect what the New Testament gave us culturally.

But Christianity only gave us everything that makes us European because Europeans thought Christianity was true. Without truth there is no foundation for our values.

There is now a lack of confidence in the essential virtue of the West, which is what allowed the Founding Fathers to dare to create something better and which also enabled us to defeat tyranny three times in the 20th century. All that is left is relativism in relation to other countries and cultures. We dare not even say that science is superior to witch doctors, mumbo jumbo and the superstition of primitive man. It means that we have lost all sense of being able to say clearly and distinctly this is right and that is wrong.

The biggest catastrophe that has struck Europe and the West was our failure to produce enough babies. For the first time in history contraception made it possible to unlink sex from procreation and our lack of religion turned sex into recreation and marriage into a broken promise.

It is for this reason that successive governments have turned to those parts of the world with high birthrates and an excess population that would be happy to live here. We needed them to do the work we didn’t want to do and to pay the taxes that enabled some of us to live idle lives cared for from the cradle to grave.

The clash of civilizations that has been going on for nearly 1500 years has reached its latest battle in Gaza. Jews for centuries were persecuted by Christians, but the horrors of the Holocaust destroyed the old-fashioned antisemitism that existed in much of Europe before the Second World War. But it was soon replaced by a new antisemitism that grew out of hatred of Israel and the fact that it dared to occupy land that once had been part of the Dar al-Islam.

Europeans and Israelis viewed themselves as allies from 1948 until at least 1973. In 1960 the film Exodus was released starring Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint. It tells the story of the foundation of Israel in a positive way and was popular and well received at the time. It is unimaginable that such a film could be made today. It would be picketed. It would be called racist.

Israel somehow lost the narrative. In 1967 there were no mass demonstrations complaining about the Six Day War. The demonstrators had yet to arrive in sufficient numbers. With their arrival we have felt unable to stick up for people like ourselves living in a free Jerusalem. Instead, many in the West feel impelled to sympathise with people who largely don’t share our values and who don’t want to live in a free society because they correctly interpret that their religion is a theocracy. What is a mere majority of votes compared to the word of God?

I admire Islam, but I admire European civilization more. Islam has been a worthy opponent for the past 1500 years, but let’s be absolutely clear. It has always been an opponent. We were able to develop democracy, science, exploration and progress only because we were able to stop the spread of Islam. Now the challenge is different.

When we fought at Tours in 732 and Vienna in 1683 there were almost no Muslims living in Europe, now there are forty million. When Britain allied with Israel at Suez in 1956 there were almost no Muslims in Britain to oppose it and still small numbers in 1967 and 1973.

Israel is fighting an existential battle. If Palestinian terrorists can massacre 1,400 people in southern Israel on October 7th how can Israelis live normal lives free from fear like we do in Scotland? But while Israel still has the resolve to defend itself and fight back, the biggest danger is that we do not.

While Israel knows that it is threatened by the Muslim world and must be careful in every step it makes towards peace, in Britain we have allowed mass migration of people who hold exactly the same views that Israel is so wary of, and we are not careful at all.

Europe has been in a battle with Islam for 1500 years. I don’t blame either side. Each has merit, each has good qualities. There is no easy way to reconcile us because our values are incompatible. Europe believes in freedom of conscience, democracy and the right to reject religion, Islam largely does not.

But this means that Israel’s battle is our battle. If Israel were to be defeated, we would be weakened and perhaps in time we would be defeated also.

It is for this reason that it is so dangerous to have quite so many opposing Israel in London and calling for its destruction. They oppose us also. They call for our destruction. If we are not very careful, they will win.

The whole of history turns on this battle.

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