In the August 12 issue of The Catholic Herald, I ask whether Christians in Turkey can stay out of danger in that troubled country. The piece is available only in the print and app editions, but here is a snippet:
In 2010, the Austrian politician Ewald Stadler delivered a rousing speech from the floor of the National Council in Vienna. For more than eight minutes, he harangued the Turkish ambassador, who was present in the chamber, for complaining about the treatment of Turks in Austria. Listing ignored crimes against Catholic clergy in the ambassador’s homeland – the kind of crimes Austrian imams don’t face – Stadler pulled back the veil of hypocrisy that covers any discussion of anti-Christian violence.
Here’s another bit:
Violence against Christians in Turkey may not be endemic, as it is in other Muslim-majority countries. But the periodic glimpses we get are every bit as horrific. One of the crimes mentioned by Stadler, for instance, was the gruesome murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese in 2010. The apostolic vicar of Anatolia was stabbed more than two dozen times and decapitated outside his home in İskenderun. The culprit was the bishop’s driver, a young Muslim man.
All these incidents prove that vile hatred lurks not far beneath the surface. It will only worsen if Turkey further embraces political Islam.
When Pope Francis visited Turkey in 2014, he called for greater tolerance and acceptance of Christians. There is little indication this will happen.
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I actually remember my first experience of the radical Schengen arrangement. I crossed the Austrian-Hungarian border by train and ended up in Budapest’s Keleti station — a large, old-fashioned railway hub in a part of the city that can’t have changed much from the days of Communism. (Keleti station was, you might recall, recently one of the epicenters of the migrant crisis.) I stepped off the train amazed that I had actually crossed into a different country without anyone caring. No bureaucrat had any idea where I was. No one had asked me any questions. It felt good, but it also felt contrived and unnatural. I remember thinking to myself, “this can’t last.”
There is still much to be thankful for. The Anglosphere remains the freest set of nations in human history. Can that last?
In The Weekly Standard, I review Adam Zamoyski’s Phantom Terror, a study of European monarchs’ paranoia regarding the threat of subversion and terrorism after the French Revolution:
Time and again, rulers construed uprisings not as expressions of discontent—the stimulus for action was more likely to be a bad grain harvest than a radical pamphlet—but as grand conspiracies hatched by shadowy maestros. The locus of Europe’s subversion was thought to be a body called the comité directeur. From its perch in Paris, this imagined group was the alleged central committee of European discontent, the heirs of Robespierre and Saint-Just.
Like all fantastical masterminds, the comité was everywhere and nowhere. Utterly convinced of its existence, European authorities whiffed its influence in every protest and every disturbance.
It’s been twenty-five years since the Berlin Wall fell—more precisely, it’s been twenty-five years since Guenter Schabowski, spokesman for the GDR Central Committee, mistakenly announced during a press conference that East German citizens were free to travel to West Germany, prompting a mad rush to the wall that eventually brought it down forever.
Asked by an Italian journalist about a new law that relaxed travel restrictions, Schabowski said the law took immediate effect—a remark that goaded thousands of East Germans to flood the wall (die Mauer in German) hoping to gain access to the free and prosperous western portion of Berlin. After a three-hour standoff with the border guards, they were allowed to cross into the West. (more…)