There is a quite a bit of clamor on social media and other outlets that Friday’s deadly attacks in Paris are receiving a disproportionate amount of media attention compared to other high-casualty attacks in places like Kenya and Lebanon. The critical read of this reality is that (mostly white) Western Europeans and Americans don’t care about “dark people” from third-world countries. There is probably more than a ring of truth to this observation, though it ignores the fact that brutal, well-planned terrorist assaults are “not supposed to happen” in places like Paris, London, and New York. If Paris is susceptible to such organized violence by so-called extremists, what’s to top something similar from happening in Berlin or Rome or Chicago? Paris makes the threat of Islamic terror feel more immediate than bomb blasts in Beirut. A soberminded reflection reveals that terrorist violence is always abhorrent; but that doesn’t change how the popular consciousness will react to it. Remember: One of the (rickety) promises of liberalism, which finds its roots in Thomas Hobbes, is to keep the citizenry safe from violent death. Terrorism upsets this claim.
Terrorism upsets this claim not simply by the fact it kills people, but because it reminds us that there are still genuine enemies in the world, that is, those who force us to make an existential decision about ourselves. The problem is that liberalism itself is not a banner most spiritually healthy individuals which to march under, for there is really nothing “to” liberalism except a series of promises culminating in an unimaginative, hedonistic, and ultimately cowardly life—a life of “entertainment” as Carl Schmitt quietly, but powerfully, noted in his The Concept of the Political. Men are not willing to die for such things; they are only willing to put their power behind making sure that others die for them. Granted, America, more than its European neighbors, still presents a tale of transcendent meaning to prop-up the prevailing liberal ideology, but how long is that bound to last? At some point in the not-so-distant future the vacuousness of the so-called “American Experiment” will be as evident as the moral and spiritual emptiness of European-style liberalism. How long until we submit—as European is submitting—to the crescent moon?
It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. The future is not written in stone. The great and terrible problem before us is that nothing appears ready to step-in and renew the West’s spirit, to reorient its existential self-understanding toward something higher than natural desires. The institutional Catholic Church, which has been gutted by the same liberalism which has already eroded the traditional bases of society, has little more to offer than a banalized rhetoric of intramundane peace. Instead of praying to Almighty God for protection from the infidels and their conversion, the shepherds scramble to setup “interfaith prayer services.” Instead of using large public gatherings to inform people that what they need in their lives above all else is Jesus Christ, the Pope himself dresses up fashionable political problems in light Christian garb. Although it is a false religion built on violence, perversion, and lies, Islam at least offers a spiritually robust alternative to the West’s cultural malaise. It may be grotesque, but at least it is something. When will the Church wake up to this horror and fight back? How long will God allow us to suffer these evils? Pray. Pray that our Lord, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the Saints, raise up His Church again, not only in the West but the longsuffering East as well. The fate of not just civilization, but millions upon millions of souls, depends on it.