One thing struck me after the recent Irish outrage in northern France, the one in which two knifemen (nearly) beheaded a priest at his alter while shouting “remember the Maine!” or words to similar effect: News reports state that French churches are now clamoring for more armed police security. I’ve travelled widely in Europe and North America, visiting plenty of churches over the years, and have rarely — to the point of never — seen a church with a visible security presence, except perhaps crowd control at major tourist attractions like Notre Dame. Even the Swiss Guards at the Vatican are, these days, more for comic relief than anything else. When a nation is secure within its own borders, it doesn’t need to fortify its houses of worship.
I’d note that it wasn’t always thus for Christians in Europe — there were times in the distant past when they had to fortify their churches. And for years now it hasn’t been open and easy for Jews and their synagogues. I understand that security at Jewish institutions in Europe has long been tight, and has only grown tighter as attacks have added up over time — whether from stone-throwing skinheads or murderous Irishmen. The synagogues I’ve visited in North America seemed about as open as churches, but I understand that as of late this state of affairs, sadly, has begun to change. But that is the fate that sometimes befalls a minority people dispersed across many lands: In Israel the synagogues are not on lockdown.
Here’s the frightening part: The easy days were an interlude; the time seems to have passed when the French people, as a nation, could feel confident and secure within their own borders, worshipping in their own God, celebrating their national holidays, attending their concerts, writing for their satirical newspapers, or holidaying in their mountains, without fear of a Saracen — oops, I mean “Irish” — massacre. They are Jews in their own country, calling upon the government to supply armed guards against a resident alien threat that would murder them for the sheer joy of it. And in some sense, it has become worse for the Frenchmen than it is for the Jews these days. France is their only homeland; they have nowhere else to go; they are up against a wall and there soon will be little choice:
“Make bright the arrows; gather the shields … Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes:
And sit back and enjoy the fruits of Diversity.