November 7, 2005

When Everything Old Is New Again

A bit from Mark Steyn's latest. All of it is here.

.....The French have been here before, of course. Seven-thirty-two. Not 7:32 Paris time, which is when the nightly Citroen-torching begins, but 732 A.D. -- as in one and a third millennia ago. By then, the Muslims had advanced a thousand miles north of Gibraltar to control Spain and southern France up to the banks of the Loire. In October 732, the Moorish general Abd al-Rahman and his Muslim army were not exactly at the gates of Paris, but they were within 200 miles, just south of the great Frankish shrine of St. Martin of Tours. Somewhere on the road between Poitiers and Tours, they met a Frankish force and, unlike other Christian armies in Europe, this one held its ground ''like a wall . . . a firm glacial mass,'' as the Chronicle of Isidore puts it. A week later, Abd al-Rahman was dead, the Muslims were heading south, and the French general, Charles, had earned himself the surname ''Martel'' -- or ''the Hammer.''

Poitiers was the high-water point of the Muslim tide in western Europe. It was an opportunistic raid by the Moors, but if they'd won, they'd have found it hard to resist pushing on to Paris, to the Rhine and beyond. ''Perhaps,'' wrote Edward Gibbon in The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, ''the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet.'' There would be no Christian Europe. The Anglo-Celts who settled North America would have been Muslim. Poitiers, said Gibbon, was ''an encounter which would change the history of the whole world.''

Battles are very straightforward: Side A wins, Side B loses. But the French government is way beyond anything so clarifying. Today, a fearless Muslim advance has penetrated far deeper into Europe than Abd al-Rahman. They're in Brussels, where Belgian police officers are advised not to be seen drinking coffee in public during Ramadan, and in Malmo, where Swedish ambulance drivers will not go without police escort. It's way too late to rerun the Battle of Poitiers. In the no-go suburbs, even before these current riots, 9,000 police cars had been stoned by ''French youths'' since the beginning of the year; some three dozen cars are set alight even on a quiet night. ''There's a civil war under way in Clichy-sous-Bois at the moment,'' said Michel Thooris of the gendarmes' trade union Action Police CFTC. ''We can no longer withstand this situation on our own. My colleagues neither have the equipment nor the practical or theoretical training for street fighting.''

Posted by Ithildin at November 7, 2005 9:42 AM | PROCURE FINE OLD WORLD ABSINTHE