I am not going to repeat what you have already read or heard. I am not going to say that what happened in Paris on Friday night was unprecedented horror, for it was not. I am not going to say that the world stands with France, for it is a hollow phrase. Nor am I going to applaud François Hollande’s pledge of “pitiless” vengeance, for I do not believe it. I am, instead, going to tell you that this is exactly how civilisations fall.
Here is how Edward Gibbon described the Goths’ sack of Rome in August 410AD: “. . . In the hour of savage licence, when every passion was inflamed,
Like the Roman Empire in the early fifth century, Europe has allowed its defenses to crumble. As its wealth has grown, so its military prowess has shrunk, along with its self-belief. It has grown decadent in its shopping malls and sports stadiums, At the same time it has opened its gates to outsiders who have coveted its wealth without renouncing their ancestral faith….
Its doubtless true to say that the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Europe and not violent. But it is also true that the majority hold views not easily reconciled with the principles of our liberal democracies, including our novel notions about sexual equality and tolerance not merely of religious diversity but of nearly all sexual proclivities. and it is thus remarkably easy for a violent minority to acquire their weapons and prepare their assaults on civilization within these avowedly peace=-loving communities.
I do not know enough about the fifth century to be able to quote Romans who described each new act of barbarism as unprecedented, even when it has happened multiple times before: or who issued pious calls for solidarity after the fall of Rome, even when standing together meant falling togethere; or who issued empty threats of pitiless revenge, even when all they intended to do was to strike a melodramtick posture.
I do know that 21st century Europe has itself to blame for the mess it is now in…..
“Roman s before the fall,” wrote (historian Bryan Ward-Perkins, “were as certain as we are today that their world would continue for ever substantially unchanged. They were wrong. We would be wise not to repeat their complacency.”
Poor, poor Paris. Killed by complacency.