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Pandering to Old Europe

When the Bush White House strongly endorsed Kofi Annan, after Senator Norm Coleman had called for his ouster because of the oil-for-food scandal, that sent shock waves through the conservative movement.  It was a sign that the White House was trying to improve relations with the U.N. and its “Old Europe” supporters.  Then came another shocker, as reported by columnist Robert Novak: the President himself would not meet with conservative Italian politician Rocco Buttiglione, who was in Washington to receive an award from a conservative Catholic group, the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty.

Other than being noticed by Novak and the Washington Times, these events were ignored by the major media based in Washington.  But they shed light on what’s happening behind-the-scenes not only in Washington, as Bush begins his second term, but Europe.  Buttiglione told a group at the American Enterprise Institute, “In Europe, it is fashionable to be anti-Christian.”  As noted by the Washington Times, Buttiglione led an unsuccessful effort to have language included in the new European Constitution that would acknowledge Europe’s Christian roots. 

Buttiglione was “borked” in  Europe, for a post on something called the “European Commission,” because he is against same-sex marriage, believes that children ought to be raised by mothers and fathers, and is pro-American.  Robert Bork was the nominee for the Supreme Court who was personally attacked for his  conservative views.   

On the question of why Bush would not meet with Buttiglione, Novak reported that Tim Goeglein, Bush’s staff liaison with Catholics, said that there was nothing he could do.  Novak said, however, that “there is no mystery about what is going on.  The re-elected President is offering a hand in friendship to ‘Old Europe,’ at the cost of alienating the traditional Catholic constituency so avidly courted the past four years.  Never having to worry about running again, Bush can give the back of his hand to Buttiglione, just as the leftist-dominated, anti-American EU refused to seat him as a commissioner.”

The nature of post-Christian Europe is a subject worth a few paragraphs in T.R. Reid’s new book on “The United States of Europe.”  Former head of the Washington Post’s London bureau, he says he attended church on Sunday mornings in dozens of European cities and was always struck by the beauty of the old cathedrals and how empty they were.  He writes that Western Europe, the home of the Roman Catholic Church, “has turned its back on religion.”  The figures are startling: in countries such as Britain, France and Germany, less than 10 percent of the population attends church as often as once a month.

What Reid doesn’t disclose is that, as Christianity declines, Islam is on the rise, to the extent that one historian, Bat Yeor, says we are witnessing the rise of “Eurabia,” a European-Arab axis.  She links this to the anti-Americanism in Europe that has emerged in reaction to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.  She says Europe is engaged in another Munich, a policy of appeasement, this time of the Arab/Muslim world.