During a good chunk of the mid-twentieth century the great conservative giants of that era argued over the question of what conservatism is. For Russell Kirk it transcended particular cultures and was, in the words of Bradley Birzer, “a natural longing to preserve the best of human thought as divined by, through, and across the slow process of the experience of humanity, tied to an omnipotent source of creation.” To Robert Nisbet, in contrast, conservatism was a modern phenomenon formed in reaction to the French Revolution and essentially launched single-handedly by Edmund Burke.
If a sigh of relief can be heard whooshing through these United States after the Kavanaugh debacle has come to an end, it’s surely to be followed shortly by a scratching of heads over the question of how it got this far. There is no doubt that the battle over Justice Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court has left wounds that extend far beyond its losers, such as Dianne Feinstein, that loathsome Michael Avenatti, and the Democrats in general. Amidst the rubble, a larger meaning of what took place can be found by the discerning eye.
The string of terrorist attacks in European cities in recent years has produced, in addition to a significant number of casualties, no shortage of prophets counseling us on where the present crisis of Islamic immigration into the Old Continent will end. Those predicting that it is but a passing moment which will dissolve into a peaceful and harmonious future face off against doomsayers, yours truly included, who fear that many European countries are at risk of becoming Balkanized and collapsing into political turmoil or even civil war.
When Bernard Lewis wrote his excellent book with this title, he had the Muslim world in mind, but not too long from now somebody will almost certainly be producing the long-expected sequel with the West as its subject. The recent kerfuffle over Jeff Sessions praising the “Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement” prompted this sad thought in me, in particular after reading this commentary by Mark Steyn. “We live in wretchedly moronic times,” Steyn writes, “in which even senators, lieutenant governors and other panjandrums who bestride the land know nothing of anything that happened before last Tuesday.”