"Is Europe Dying?"

Dateline: Tue 19 Sep 2006

George Weigel, senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., syndicated columnist ("The Catholic Difference") and author of a biography of the late Pope John Paul II ("Witness to Hope") as well as many scholarly works, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at DePauw University.

(And you wondered why I moved to Putnam? In the past speakers have included a former prime minister of Great Britain, former head of the CIA and the great illustrator and writer Art Spiegelman, who arrived in Grenencastle right after 9/11)

Weigel's topic: "Is Europe Dying? Reflections of a Concerned American."

One can only imagine that whatever he'd planned to say has been revised by the violent radical Islamic response to Pope Benedict's recent remarks.

To get Weigel's drift, here are excerpts from his Sept. 13, 2006, column: "9/11: Five Years Later."

"Five years ago, confronted by the rubble in lower Manhattan, the smoldering wreckage at the Pentagon, and the debris of United 93, most Americans instinctively, and correctly, understood that the country was at war. But with what? Or whom? What was at stake, and what passions motivated an enemy who struck in this way?

"Those questions have been debated with the vigor appropriate to a mature democracy for the past half-decade. Recent events in Lebanon should have had a clarifying effect on the debate. Our enemies may call this the latest round of "Islam vs. the Crusaders." We should name it for what it is: the global war against radical Islamic jihadism, which aims at nothing less than the submission of the entire world, by violence if necessary, to what it understands to be the will of Allah."

He also suggests the West must shed "the bad habit of gratuitous self-flagellation." He quotes British PM Tony Blair during a speech in Los Angeles last month:

"...it is almost incredible to me that so much of Western opinion appears to buy the idea that the emergence of this global terrorism is somehow our fault...No one who even half bothers to look at the spread and range of activity related to terrorism can fail to see its presence in virtually every major nation in the world. It is directed at the United States and its allies, of course. But it is also directed at nations who could not conceivably be said to be allies of the West. It is also rubbish to suggest that it is the product of poverty. It is true [that] it will use the cause of poverty. But its fanatics are hardly the champions of economic development. It is based on religious extremism. That is the fact. And not any religious extremism, but a specifically Muslim version."

His conclusion: "This is a mid-1930s moment. The adversary is energized and ruthless; it has its apologists; it counts on our weakness. The West must not make the mistake of appeasement again."

His thoughts are an eerie echo of the great journalist Oriana Fallaci, who died last week at age 76. An Italian, she believed she had a moral obligation to speak out on the increasingly fundamentalist Islamic tone being set in Europe, which she termed "Eurabia." Her last book, "The Rage and the Pride," discusses her appreciation of America and her despair over the decline of Europe. RIP, Oriana Fallaci.

To read more of Weigel's 9/11 column, see link:

http://www.archden.org/dcr/news.php?e=383&s=3&a=8088

Or just come to the lecture Wednesday. It is free, and it is part of a great tradition on behalf of DePauw -- excellent speakers who come to little Greencastle from around the country and the globe.

comments: ruth@ruthholladay.com

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