The French love their food, and being French they claim almost anything appetizing as their own. Such as croissants. But croissants are Austrian, and while we don’t know the precise origins of the pastry, one of the most likely explanations is that they were invented in 1683 to commemorate the Catholic victory over the Turks who were trying, in their “peaceful” way, to take Vienna, destroy the churches, forcibly convert the people to Islam, rape the women, and so forth. Allegedly, the city’s bakers had stayed up all night at work and so heard the Muslims trying to tunnel their way in. They alerted the garrison, Vienna was saved, and in mocking memory of the Ottomans, crescents—or croissants—were invented.
The story may or may not be true, and while I certainly hope it is—it’s a delightful story behind a delicious food—it is the reaction of some Muslims rather than the debatable authenticity of the tale that is of greater interest. You see, the croissant is banned in many Islamic countries and societies. It may seem a trivial anecdote, a piece of mere historical confectionary. But, no. Within the ostensibly banal behavior of a religion we can see its deeper meaning and manners.
Which brings us to the invasion of the ancient Christian town of Maaloula in Syria by an al Qaeda-linked rebel group. The town is remarkable on many levels, one of which is that it is one of the few places left in the world where a dialect of Aramaic, the language of Jesus, is still spoken. The Christians are both Catholic and Orthodox, and the local Muslims are extremely unusual in that they have not been Arabized; the people of Syria and much of the Middle East are not ethnically Arab, and the language and culture of Arabia were forced on them along with the then new, Arabian religion of Islam. As soon as the Islamists entered the town recently they began destroying ancient churches, murdering people, and threatened others with beheading unless they converted to Islam.
I have written before in this publication and in others, and have broadcast on my television show in Canada, about the reality of Islam and Muslim attitudes towards Christians. It’s one of the reasons why I receive death threats and abuse. But this story cannot be told often enough. And the indifferent, secular world has to be reminded and reminded again that the genocidal eschatology of fundamentalist Islam, now the driving and dominant trend in the religion, has to be resisted for the sake of the entire democratic world—but most immediately for any Christian living in a Muslim-dominated country.
There is hardly much need to repeat the blood-red litany of crimes committed by Muslims in the last twenty years alone in the name of Islam. Indonesian Christian schoolgirls beheaded on their way to class; suicide bombings of crowds of innocent people; the torture and rape of women who dare to uncover their faces in public; the constant murderous targeting of children; the obsession with mutilation and beheading; the glorying in death and pain; the “honor killings”; the grooming of young girls; the rape gangs and the forced female genital mutilation; and on and on. None of it is justifiable, or even understandable, on any grounds. It has nothing to do with western imperialism, Israel, poverty, or oppression. Many of the victims are other Muslims, almost all are harmless civilians. Yet even though the Islamists hardly even bother to try to justify their actions, almost every one of them is immediately analyzed, explained, and even partly justified, by Western leftists and Islamic fellow travelers. We are told that this has nothing to do with Islam but everything to do with injustice and religious extremism—and extremism, they continue, is the fault not of Islam but of all religions.
Which would contain at least a tincture of credence if we lived in fear of Unitarian terrorists, Lutheran killers, or aging Catholic nuns intent on suicide bombings. The chattering classes smother themselves in denial and relativism partly because they are physically terrified of offending Islam, but also because they so detest Christianity that they simply cannot acknowledge that followers of Christ behave in a far more civilized and peaceful way than followers of Mohammad. That Christians are so often victims of Muslims makes the denial even easier, because if anyone deserves to suffer, it is surely those awful Christian types who in the West want to stop men from marrying men and women from marrying women, who oppose abortion, and who think people shouldn’t use sex as a coffee substitute.
And here, surely, is the epicenter of the problem. In their private moments, the mainstream commentators who make apologies for Islam while slamming Christianity admit that living in an Islamic society would be horrendous, particularly for them. But, of course, they don’t, for they live in America, Canada, Britain, and France. And while Muslim intolerance is an inconvenience, it seldom troubles them directly because they are invariably white, wealthy, and never visit the Muslim communities in their own cities. There is no chance of being silenced at the next dinner party or threatened at the weekend’s book launch. They know it happens in Pakistan, Africa, and the Middle East, but they don’t live in Pakistan, Africa, and the Middle East. That’s where poor and foreign people, black and brown people live and—while they would hyperventilate at this—there is more than a dash of racism and snobbery involved in all of this.
The religious people giving the chatterers a hard time in their homelands are Christians, and in particular Catholics. So in response they constantly link the Christians to the Muslims, and speak of the problems of religion instead of the problems of Islam. We see this when celebrities condemn the Pope but remain silent about the Ayatollah, write angry letters to Moscow about its legislation preventing public displays of nudity and perversion but pen not a word when the genocide of Christians begins in Egypt. They even rounded on super-atheist Richard Dawkins when he merely stated the fact there have been more Nobel Prizes won from a single Cambridge University college than from the entire Muslim world. When, however, Dawkins had made the most repugnant comments about Catholicism, they cheered him on. Objective truth about Islam is forbidden, gutter opinion about Catholics is perfectly fine.
I’d like to think that this will all change in the coming years, and in some circles that might be the case. Yet each time Islamists attack western countries, the response from the pundits and professional talkers is not clarity of thought but simply more pretense. We saw this after 9/11, as well as after the Madrid and London attacks. During the Second World War fifth columnists were arrested, in the war against Communism the traitors were exposed, but in the war against Islamic extremism the home front is frighteningly weak. When the going gets tough, the tough get Catholic. At least I pray so, because it may well be our only hope.