Tonight's show is coming to you from right near the famous Westminster Abbey in London, England. It's a church where kings and queens have been crowned and royal weddings and funerals have been held. This ancient place, with a history going back centuries, is the heart of England.
GUEST: Amanda Achtman who also attended the ARC conference.
It tells a Christian story and it tells a story of the West, with North America as we know it emanating from the British Empire.
It's the history of our language. It's the history of Winston Churchill, our notions of freedom of speech and the rule of law, dating back to the Magna Carta in 1215. I'm an Anglophile, and I came to that late in life. I really never went to the UK until my forties. I went once as a kid and I didn't really pay much attention. Now, I think it's a wonderful place.
But what I've learned over the last few days is that the England of the past is very different from the England that informs our present. I think it's in decline.
There's this social media meme going on. It's really funny. On TikTok, girls or women ask each other, “Ask your boyfriend how often he thinks of the Roman Empire.”
These girls then ask their boyfriends, how often do you think of the Roman Empire? And they're stunned when their boyfriends say things like every week or every day. And it's sort of funny, and I'm not sure how true it is, but when you think about it, the Roman Empire and the British Empire, well, we think about them all the time, even if we don't know we do, because everything we do and say and think and how we organize ourselves and interact with each other came from the British Empire.
And that in some ways came from the Roman Empire before it. But empires rise and fall. And I think that the British Empire, it has been decolonized and has been in decline in some ways for a century.
What I saw this weekend showed that England itself is being colonized, and I'm not using colonized as a byword for just immigration.
There have always been immigrants to England. If you think about the empire itself, it was a multicultural, multiracial, global enterprise. One of my favorite poets, Rudyard Kipling, was born in India. He wrote The Jungle Book. If you can imagine what the Port of London was like and other ports 400 years ago when Shakespeare was writing. I mean, they had adventures to America and to India and ships coming and going.
But what I saw on the streets of London yesterday was 100,000 people marching under a foreign flag.
I spent hours on the street and then I looked at social media for hours later. The only British flag, the only Union Jack I saw all day, was held by some Nigerian Christian tourists who were in the group. Other than that, I didn't see a single British flag.
I don't know definitively. But even without the flags, what I saw is a loyalty to a religion. And a political movement that was completely un-British, that had nothing to do with the rule of law or King Charles. It was a march that was calling for, as Hamas does, Sharia law, that preaches violence. That's what the Hamas charter does.
And it made me profoundly sad that although the British Empire has, I suppose, been in decline for a century, Britain itself was still Britain.
What scares me about this colonization is not that these people are of a different religion or a different race. I should say about a quarter of the marchers were hardcore left-wing indigenous Brits. White, post-Christian Brits, but three quarters of them were people who came here and had a cultural value that made them celebrate the barbarity of the Hamas attacks.
I asked a number of protesters if they would just simply describe Hamas as a terrorist group or not. I spoke to one British fellow. I'm not sure if he did, but the Muslim folks I spoke to just refused to answer that question. And they were trying to take the words of the Holocaust and flip them around on the Jews.
I would be terrified if I was a British Jew.
I think that Britain is on the same path as France, where synagogues have to be guarded by soldiers around the clock with submachine guns and where there are violent attacks on Jews on the street all the time.
We're starting to see a little bit of that in the UK and even in Canada.
When I saw a picture of tens of thousands of people on the Westminster Bridge and there were other bridges, all of them flying a foreign flag, all of them calling for violence against Israel.
I couldn't help but think of what it would have been like in the 1930s here. There were some Nazi sympathizers in London during the 1930s who were very careful to say they were not for violence and claimed they were not anti-Semitic. They were very careful about it. They just admired Hitler. He was getting things back on track for Germany, and wasn't he charismatic?
But even in the 1930s, the pro-Nazi Brits were extremely careful to avoid or even condemn some of the excesses that were visible at the time of Hitler. Not so here. We spoke to a few media savvy Muslim protesters who tried to dance around these questions.
I think they were putting on a liberal face. I think most of the protesters were simply regurgitating the propaganda lines.
When I was in elementary school, we learned about something called the Golden Age of Jews in Spain, which ended in 1492 with the Inquisition. But there was this time, a period of decades, even centuries, where a Jew in Spain had many rights and had great freedom. And I think that was the way in Germany until the 1930s.
It was great to be a Jew. In Berlin, Jews were very successful. Half the doctors in Berlin were Jewish. Imagine how the Nuremberg laws affected that city.
And I feel like I was born in the Golden Age for Jews in America, in Canada. I mean, what a lucky and easy childhood I had. Never did I ever feel in any risk or any threat. I felt there was nothing in the country I couldn't do, no goal I couldn't aspire to.
The political left is in favour of 100,000 neo-Nazis speaking Arabic instead of German, flying the new swastika. The center is afraid of it. And all the polite Brits don't want to make a fuss.
It reminds me of Kipling's poem The Stranger. It reminds me of that young woman that David Menzies found in Mississauga. She looks lovely, actually. She looks friendly, she's beautiful, she's young.
And by the way, I don't know if she still works there, but she works in a normal store. She doesn't seem to be a professional activist and I'm sure she has colleagues of different races and religions, but when things hit the fan, she said anything Hamas did is justified.
And I think that's what scares me. I'm not looking or expecting everyone to support Israel. I'm not looking for Muslims to love Jews or for people to support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who's a divisive figure even within Israel.
But I had a feeling deep in my bones that in London, in North America, that we had some basic common ground, some civic nationalism, if you will, where we all sort of agreed murder is bad, rape is bad, torture is bad, kidnapping of civilian hostages is bad.
And those things are bad. We had a basic understanding.
And so if you and I disagreed about something, whether it was Palestine or Russia, Ukraine or what the tax rate should be, we would have a commonality. And even if we were mean to each other, there was a basis upon which we had a unity.
What Kipling's poem said is that there are wonderful people of every background, who may be kind and good and noble and tremendous, but maybe every once in a while something happens and it reveals a deep underlying incompatibility.
And I fear that what I saw on the streets of London yesterday is not something that can be solved by any antidote. This isn't a matter of haggling over details or compromise. I think it is a deep incompatibility. And I'm not saying that about all Muslims or of all socialists.
I think of another man that David Menzies interviewed a few years ago.
David asks the Muslim man outside of the US Embassy in downtown Toronto whether he’d like to see Sharia law replace Canadian law, to which the man did not hesitate to respond quickly.
He's a colonizer. He's an imperialist. Now he says that when the numbers are there, Sharia law will rule. He said he was silent in his citizenship ceremony when he was supposed to make the oath. He said it was on you to make me say the oath.
I'm not asking for the Muslims or the Arabs or the Palestinians of London or even of Canada to share my views on the future state of affairs in the Middle East.
I'm not asking for that. I'm not even asking for them to love Jews as Christians love others.
What terrifies me is that so many of them, like those people David spoke to, on the outside they look friendly and Canadian and they're drinking their Tim Hortons and they're working beside colleagues of every background. But every once in a while the mask drops and an absolutely terrifying anti-Semitism reveals itself.
I think new immigrants to the West should be asked basic questions about cultural compatibility.
Do you believe in pluralism, in nonviolent solutions to problems, and the equality of men and women? Do you believe in the separation of mosque and state and the separation of church and state? I think we've led in too many people who have not been asked to become British or to become Canadian.
We don't say integrate or assimilate any more. We say inclusion. Canada has to be changing, not the newcomers.
London is one of the world's greatest cities, and there are amazing thinkers and doers here. But there's definitely two Londons now: there's the London of Shakespeare and Parliament and and the history and the Magna Carta. But then there is new London, and we saw it on the streets yesterday.