View from the city
The Rev'd Dr Peter Mullen on appeasement - in the 1930s and today.
This is a significant year - the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Britain. I do hope our dear Prime Minister mugs up on the history of that momentous struggle before the celebrations of our victory really get going. Recently in the United S|tates he announced that we are the junior partner in an alliance in which the USA is senior. He added: "Just as we were when fighting the were in 1940". For his information, the USA, this so-called senior partner, did not even enter the war until the end of 1941.
I have been reading about the decade that preceded the Battle of Britain and the facts that emerge are truly shocking: I mean the spinlesssness of the European democracies among which our country alas! was the worst offender. It was appeasement in the 1930s which caused the Second World War. There were numerous occasions when Hitler could have been stopped: when he entered the Rhineland with nothing more than a ceremonial battalion. Twenty miles away there were 100,000 French troops who did precisely nothing. At the Austrian Anschluss and again in 1938 when the British and French governments broke solemn promises to Czechoslavakia, so that "faraway country of which we know little" was overrun by the Nazi war machine. After the war, at the Nuremburg trials, distinguished German generals such as Jodl confessed that they could hardly believe Hitler was getting away with his incursions in the 1930s. They said they expected the western powers to move in any minute and, as Jodl himself said, "That would have been the end of the Third Reich".
In the mid-1930s the British ambassador in Berlin sent us reports of how Hitler's storm-troopers were beating up dissidents in the streets by the thousand and that tens of thousands more were disappearing into the new concenttration camps. The British Prime Minister, Chamberlain, told the cabinet that our ambassador's talk was upsetting Hitler. So he was sacked and replaced by Henderson, a Nazi sympathiser and doting admirer of Goebbels. The appeaser believes that, if he feeds the man-eating crocodile, he will not be eaten. He is quite wrong: he will only be eaten last. When we appease our enemies they do not admire us: they despise us and they are encouraged to further acts of aggression by our perceived cowardice.
In 1930s Mayfair, fashionable ladies were wearing swastikas on their bracelets and bright young men were parting their hair like Uncle Adolf. There was a prominent Nazi sympathiser in Buckingham Palace, King Efdward VIII, who subsequently went off to Germany on his honeymoon with "that woman" and raised his arm in zieg heils in the street. Lloyd-George described Hitler as "the most impressive man in Europe". And - I am not making this up - Lloyd-George, Butler and Halifax were still anxious to sue for peace with Hitler even after the Battle of Britainw as won.
I think it is not an exaggeration to describe Baldwin as a traitor. In 1934 he reluctantly promised parliament that we would match Germany in aircraft production. When, two years later in the House of Commons, Churchill cornered him about why this had not been done, guess what Baldwin replied? He told the House: "I cannot think of anything that would have made the loss of the election from my point of view more certain". Talk about party before country: for traitorous self-interest this even beats Ted Heath.
You must wonder why I'm going into all this historical stuff, It is because history is not merely about the past: we study history to help us understand the present. Done properly, historical study is a fine a tool for understanding the contemporary world as mathematics. Unfortunately, as Lord Acton said, "The only thing that men learn from history is that men learn nothing from history". The times we are living through now bear remarkable similarities with the 1930s. The key word is appeasement. It was appeasement then. And it is apperasement now. Churchill said back then that we would have to fight - and he always chose his words carefully- we would have to fight, he said, to save Christian civilisation.
And that is our predicament today. But, whereas in the 1930s we were only appeasing the Nazis, today appeasement - let us call it rather pre-emptive self-abasement, is on at least three fronts.
Christians are enduring persecution worldwide. As I speak, the authorities in Libya are torturing four men for converting to the Christian faith..Before the Sri Lankan parliament there is a bill to make Christian converion a criminal offence. Recently a seventy-four year old woman in Saudi Arabia was given forty lashes for socialising with her men friends. Christianity is illegal in Saudi Arabia - one of our most important middle-eastern allies, with which we do massive trade in weaponry. If you are caught in that country with a Bible, or with the Cross around your neck, you will be arrested by the religious police and thrown in prison.
In Pakistan, a thirteen year old girl was tainted for being a Christian by five Muslim youths who then raped her. The rapists were not charged. Churches are burned down every week in Pakistan. This week two priests were shot dead in Faisalabad for 'blasphemy'. A man is on trial for his life in Egypt for converting to our faith. In China a house church pastor has been slung into prison for, and I quote, "utilising superstition to undermine the law". There have been ancient and established Christian churches all over the Middle East since the time of Saint Paul. Now these are breaking up as never before in two thousand years as hordes of Christians try to leave to escape persecution. Many are being slaughtered as they do so.
In the face of endemic violence from the radical Islamists, the archbishops and bishops, in the true spirit of Munich and the Anglo-German Friendship League, have set up an everlasting talking shop to promote Christian-Muslim dialogue, and they issue vacuous communiques from time to time., The uselessness of this project arises from the fact that it is only 'liberal' Christians engaging in polite chit-chat with "moderate" Muslims.
But let's come a bit nearer home. In England a Muslim girl who converted to Christianity from Islam has been removed from the home of her carer after she chose to be baptised. She was placed in a foster home because her father beat her and threatened to send her to Pakistan for a forced marriage. Her carer, who has fostered more than eighty children, did nothing to encourage her to converrt.
In Sheffield, a primary school head teacher, described by her colleagues and pupil's parents as marvellous, has resigned after being accused of racism by parents of Muslim students. The accusation comes after she proposed that the school stop holding separate assemblies for Muslim children and replace them with assemblies which would include all pupils.
Also in England, three Coptic Christian children have been placed by social services with a muslim foster family after their parents divorced. They were orginally place in the custody of the city mosque. The authority has refused to return the children to the custody of the Coptic Church.
The second strand in our appeasement policy is connected to the first. We do not permit the extradition of terrorists such as Abu Hamza because we cannot permit it - since we have surrendered our national sovereignty to the bureaucratic totalitarianism of the officially atheist European Union. A third strand in our appeasement policy is our refusal to defend Europe's historic Christian civilisation against rampant and aggressive secularisation.
The immediate and principal danger is nuclear proliferation, beginning in North Korea, Pakistan and Iran and spreading to innumerable terrorist groups anywhere in the world. Countless authorities have warned us again and again that it is not a question of if we might come under nuclear attack from one of these groups, but when. The response of statesmen in the democracies in the Christian west is to do nothing. It is all too difficult, they say. And as they did in the 1930s, they opt for appeasement. But there is a huge battle coming........
When these matters are raised, people only wish the speaker would shut up. The unreal iphone-Facebook generation, the trivia-obsessed, gadgeteered pantomime, the hideous celebrity giggle-bag, that passes for public life in Britain today is as blase and unconcerned as the Nazism-chic Mayfair ladies with their swastika bracelets. We won the Battle of Britain. I am using the seventieth anniversary of this glorious victory to repeat today the warning which Churchill gave then:
"Upon this coming battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions. If we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science".
And so to come right up to date: how scandalous it was to return to the convicted Lockerbie bomber to Libya on allegedly compassionate grounds. He was said to have but weeks to live. He has lasted more than a year and, predicably, Gadaffi and a great slice of the Libyan population are celebrating the bomber as a hero and gloating over our weakness and gullibility. Iran has begun officially to enrich uranium. Unofficially, and illegally of course, they have been trying this for years at almost invulnerable sites in the high mountains. The Iranian leadership claims that its nuclear programme is quite innocent and solely for the production of electricity. This reminds me of Hitler's claim in the 1930s, when he was accused by Britain and France of building-up a modern air force: he said he was only makig gliders for civilian flying displays. Actually he was turning out fighters and bombers by the thousand.
Since the mid-1930s the West has been challenged by a world-wide Islamist jihad and because, apart from fighting the wrong wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we do nothing but appease our enemies, they are getting stronger, more daring in the perpetration of their outrages and more contemptuous of us by the day. The Islamists are in so many places:
Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Indonesia and in Iran. But, most dangerously for us, they are here among us in British towns and cities. They are here in such nunbers and they go about their terrorist plotting with such impunity that Melanie Phillips has described London as "Londonistan". Why do our authorities refuse to close down mosques where the oreachers of hate ascend their pulpits every week and enthuse impressionable and disaffected youth? Why are those known to support and encourage terrorism not expelled? It is long past the time for strong action. Do not think there will be a long lead-in time to a conflagration by the side of which Hitler's Blitzkreig was a stroll in the park. Time is running out.
Rev'd Dr Peter Mullen is Hon.Chaplain to The Freedom Association.