Listening to Brigitte Bardot

Article excerpt

From the ruins of Old Europe has emerged a new Edward Gibbon: Brigitte Bardot. In her book A Scream in the Silence, the aging sex kitten turns her attention to the decline and fall of Western civilization, with particular concern for her native land.

According to press reports about the book, Bardot is appalled at the "impurities" of modern life and the "worsening decadence of society," manifest in excrement-ridden modern art "acclaimed by all the jet-set dolts," in jeans-wearing teachers in crummy schools, increasingly outre homosexuals whining about "ghastly heteros," and a penal system too soft to use the guillotine on child killers.

Or consider also the dismaying drop in the quality of French hookers: "Our lovely, kind streetwalkers have been replaced by girls from the East, Nigerians, travelers, transsexuals, drag queens, bearers of AIDS, and other friendly gifts," she reportedly writes. "Having a risk-free go is becoming a real exploit."

From her villa and farmhouse near St. Tropez-amidst nine dogs, forty cats, and her fourth husband, reports Australia's the Age-Bardot sees still graver threats to Western civilization. Christian France, she laments, has gone kaput, as Islamic mosques spread "while our church bells fall silent for want of priests." Where, she asks, has the spirit of Charles Martel gone? "I am against the Islamisation of France. For centuries our forefathers, the ancients, our grandfathers, our fathers gave their lives to chase all successive invaders." Voila!

Having recently visited France and Italy, I take Bardot's learned point. My trips to the outskirts of Paris felt like trips to North Africa. On the home soil of Christian crusaders, 5 million Muslims now live, fervently practicing their faith while their Catholic counterparts spend Sundays at Michael Moore movies. There were plenty of Muslims wearing headscarves; I saw few Catholics wearing crosses. The mosques fill up, but the Gothic cathedrals remain empty, save for tourists and a scattering of serious Catholics. An estimated 5 percent of French Catholics go to church. The phrase "going to mass," explained one French woman, is now a French euphemism for mentally fading out. "You can make any joke you want about the Catholic Church," a student at the University of Paris told me. "What you can't do," he added, "is criticize Islam."

No wonder the law is in hot pursuit of Bardot. "In 1997 and 1998, Bardot was convicted of inciting racial hatred and fined a total of $5,400 [for] published criticism of Arab customs and the role of Islam in France," reports Reuters. But she holds out "hope," she told the press, that "they're not going to put me in prison" for A Scream in the Silence. …