s Notre-Dame cathedral was burning, conservative columnist Ben Shapiro made what should have been a rather bland and unobjectionable remark on Twitter. He said: “Absolutely heartbreaking. A magnificent monument to Western civilization collapsing.”
Catholics could have quibbled that Notre-Dame is actually a monument to the Blessed Virgin Mary and her son Jesus Christ, or at least that it is only secondarily a monument to Western civilization. But it was liberals who objected to Shapiro’s use of that phrase, “Western civilization,” and later, his invocation of “Judeo-Christian heritage.” Online critics immediately pointed to all the terrible things French Catholics did to Jews in the Middle Ages, as if to argue against the very notion of a unified Judeo-Christian heritage, or to suggest that Western civilization is nothing so much as a series of crimes against oppressed and marginalized peoples.