Best columns: Europe
Why must we erase our Christian past?
The secularist drive to rid France of any hint of its Christian past is becoming “insane,” said Gilles-William Goldnadel. A court has just ruled that a cross atop a statue of Pope John Paul II in the town of Ploërmel in Brittany—sculpted by Russian artist Zurab Tsereteli—must be removed. Apparently it contravenes the 2004 ban on religious symbols in public, even though it is plainly just “a symbolic ornament on a work of art.” Or consider the case of the pots of Greek yogurt that the Lidl supermarket chain recently put on sale: They were decorated with pictures of Greek villages, but the Orthodox cross on the churches had been photoshopped out by the retailer “to avoid offending anyone.” For the same reason, the Paris transport system refused to let a charity display posters inviting donations for Christians suffering persecution in the Middle East. What’s especially irritating is that the authorities are so strict about Christianity, our native religion, yet they positively encourage public religious activity by foreigners. It’s considered fine, for example, for Paris’ mayor to stage an event at taxpayer expense to mark the end of Ramadan. The ban on religious symbols should mean more than “giving offense to Christians.”
No worse than most people
Bulgarians are a selfish and deluded lot, said Daniel Smilov. That’s the conclusion many are drawing from a survey of Bulgarian values commissioned by the Institute for Right-Wing Policy. The survey found, rather depressingly, that the typical Bulgarian “doesn’t particularly appreciate democracy or the rule of law; hates refugees, Roma, and the rich; and demands free education and health care.” The think tank that sponsored the survey hoped it would show that the country was at heart rightwing. Instead, it merely revealed Bulgarians to be narrow-minded and economically illiterate. The only conservative beliefs we hold are a distaste for immigrants, homosexuality, and taxes. On economics, we are statists, with more than 90 percent saying education and health care should be free and 86 percent agreeing that the state has an obligation to find us a job. Pundits have said those results—a love of freebies coupled with a disdain for government—show civic ignorance. But the truth is that surveys in other countries show similar levels of idiocy: Three out of four Americans can’t even name the three branches of government. Those who expect a voter to be “a highly educated and civically engaged person who can be challenged with complex sociopolitical tasks” are doomed to disappointment— not just in Bulgaria, but everywhere.