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Stories arising from the fire at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, France, seem to avoid too much or impute too little. The usual suspects on the left, and the anti-Trump (because somehow this distorts everything) personalities at Fox News and Fox Business News, demanded that we immediately look away and ask no questions. Mind you, they have shown no such standard in any other stories. The usual suspects on the right were similarly rolling out “looks/swims/quacks like” stories. And … both have avoided and obscured the red-green coalition’s full expression.
We can all agree that Shepard Smith, a Trump-hater who launched his brand with his Hurricane Katrina hysterical on-camera performance, and Neil Cavuto, the leading anti-Trump Chamber of Commerce voice on Fox Business, were outrageous in their silencing of the factual reports about the long string of significant vandalism, desecration, and arson attacks on Roman Catholic churches in France. These attacks have been on top of the now routine assaults on Jewish persons and places in France. Smith and Cavuto cut off guests because they want their audiences to hear nothing of either set of facts, except when spun as indicators of “right-wing” violence that can be smeared onto President Trump.
At the same time, we get “it sure sounds like Islamist terrorism again.” Yet, the individuals and outlets who turn to this source of violence somehow are blind to a mass murder in a Texas church, by an anti-Christian atheist, or the other news this week of the arrest of the son of a sheriff’s deputy, a white pagan, for torching three churches with black congregations in Louisiana. This registered Democratic voter is apparently into music that had a brief connection, in Norway with church burnings. Our blinkered focus, since that infamous autumn day in 2001, blinds us to the actual history of Europe.
Pay attention to the stories about the construction of Notre Dame in Paris. Wait, what was that? Desecration in the 1790s and reconstruction, including the now famous spire, in the mid-19th Century? How could that be? Oh, wait, France was the early center of radical anti-Christian secular supremacy. Nor was there a major Christian re-awakening in the subsequent years. Oh, there was a reclaiming of civic religion and symbols of national greatness, but that is not at all the same.
In the 20th Century, those who paid the slightest attention to international news knew of the violence from the radical left. As a Ricochet member commented in Claire Berlinski’s “Notre Dame” report, the communists are an active, large group in France. Cast your mind’s eye back to the last century, well within living memory. Communists hated the church, especially under the Polish Pope.
If you were poking around in those memories, you would almost necessarily brush up against other branches of the left, after the defeats in 1968. There has been deep hostility between certain branches of feminism and the Roman Catholic Church. Now, bring that awareness into the present.
Sure enough, a cursory search on attacks upon churches in Europe reveals a feminist component. Not Islamist women, radically secular leftist women, “feminists,” defaced Spanish churches in March of 2019. Go ahead, click the link. Scroll through screen after screen of Spanish language graffiti spewing hate against the Roman Catholic Church, just last month. Now, with that context, knowing that Spain is next door to France, try dismissing feminist hostility to any church dedicated to a Roman Catholic vision of “Our Lady.”
Perhaps we have a mere accident in the Notre Dame blaze. Perhaps it was arson. If it was arson, perhaps it was Islamist, communist, feminist, anarchist, or neo-pagan. The Louisiana church arsonist proclaimed his sole allegiance to Odin. The gunman who coldly murdered men, women, and children in their pews in Texas was militantly atheist.
Here is the ugly reality: the threshold to formerly unspeakable violence has been lowered. People are being issued punch-a-[fill in the latest disfavored group]-free cards. See the Democratic Party prosecutors in Montgomery County, MD giving a free pass to a woman who physically assaulted Kellyanne Conway in public. County prosecutors green-lighted assaults on conservatives:
Consider the statement of Montgomery State’s Attorney John McCormick:
Was this woman rude? Yes. Did she violate Ms. Conway’s space and try to embarrass her? Yes and yes. Is this a case where criminal sanctions would have been appropriate? No.
But wait! “This woman” did more than violate Conway’s space and try to embarrass her. She physically assaulted Conway. That’s a crime and should be treated as such.
As we acknowledge the death of civility and the rise of excused physical violence, in response to “virtual” or “verbal violence,” we should have our heads on a swivel. Take off the blinders. Consider all threat sources. Only then can we respond effectively to counter, reduce, and perhaps end routine instances of internal political violence.
An afterward: As I wrote this essay, I seriously considered composing a graphic with three distinctive crosses: Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic. I decided it was too much effort, and went with the Blandensburg, Maryland Peace Cross. This monument is under legal assault by those who would ban religion from the public square. The Blandensburg case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. An hour after I posted this piece, I logged back in to find Jon Gabriel’s news piece: Orthodox Abbot Attacked in Anti-Trump Incident [emphasis added].
He was filling up his vehicle in Burien, WA, at about 11:30 a.m. “I saw a man come up to me and he said ‘How’s Trump?’” Abbot Tryphon said in the interview. “I was kind of startled … and I said, ‘well, I have no idea.’”
“The next thing I know, as I turned to look back at the pump, he sucker-punched me in the side of the face,” the Abbot said. “He did it with such force that I immediately lost my equilibrium, I reached out to grab onto the car, and I slid to my knees and onto my back.”
As the assailant left, the monk traveling with Abbot Tryphon and several bystanders rushed to his aid. The monk noted that the attacker “zeroed in on the cross and that’s when his anger turned to rage.”
This is a clear instance of a secular leftist enraged, and feeling empowered, licensed by the radical secular leftists running the local and state politics. He was enraged by seeing a cross. He associated the cross with President Trump. If the attacker had any ability to associate what he saw with Orthodoxy, perhaps he ignorantly associated this with Russia, not knowing that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was specifically formed to stand for the true faith against the Communists in Russia. Indeed, they acknowledged as saints the martyred Romanovs. So, at least worst, this was an attacker operating on the same level as the vicious thug who took 9/11 as a license to kill him someone wearing one of them turban things—resulting in the murder of a Sikh!
18 April 2019 Update: On Wednesday, 17 April, a man was stopped from entering St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. He was carrying two gasoline cans, two cans of lighter fluid, and lighters. Today, we get more details. It appears he is a mentally disturbed man who has been known to be devout in his Catholicism.
A pious ex-parish music director went from dutiful Catholic to holy terror.
Marc Lamparello, 37, of Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., was charged Thursday with attempted arson, trespass and reckless endangerment less than 24 hours after he was grabbed outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral for bizarrely toting two gas cans and a pair of butane lighters inside the tourist-filled Fifth Ave. landmark.
On Monday night, an obstinate Lamparello was arrested on a charge of defiant trespass inside the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N.J., where he attended evening Mass and then refused to exit the massive house of worship unless police put him in handcuffs.
Lamparello is reportedly at Bellevue Hospital, undergoing psychiatric evaluation, as of 18 April. This suggests a man who was already in a bad mental state saw the intensive media coverage of the fire at the cathedral in Paris, then took steps in the same direction with the great Gothic-style cathedral in New York. Time will tell if this causal link exists.
Lamparello was prevented from completing whatever he contemplated by cathedral security personnel with their heads on a swivel. The early reporting also indicated that there were counter-terrorism members of the New York Police Department in the area. This suggests the city already had a significant level of security around St. Patrick’s this Holy Week.
Add, then, to the lowered bar for “justified” violence, an increased frequency of dangerous media stimuli for truly mentally unbalanced people.