The essence of freedom is freedom of speech.
Our civilization depends on it, cannot survive without it.
It was the key that unlocked the genius of classical Greece, where science began, and where Socrates taught us to question everything, always.
It was the intellectual light that began to rise in the seventeenth century, finally dispelling the long darkness of church-dominated Europe; the thousand years when Christian dogma was held to be the truth, the only truth, and people were tortured to death for questioning it.
When Rome made Christianity the official religion of the Empire in 380 C.E., it discarded the wisdom encapsulated in the saying: Ubi dubium ibi libertas: where there is doubt there is freedom.
Freedom of speech is the life of the mind.
We have posted many articles on this supremely important subject, in our own words and quoting the words of others. Put “freedom of speech” into our search slot and you will find them. They are all worth reading.
The point we want to make with this post is that freedom of speech is gravely threatened with suppression – again.
Freedom of speech is the issue above all others that divides political opinion the world over.
Freedom of speech must be absolute. Any restriction on it is fatal to it.
The Socialist Left – another dark international religion – is ever more passionately against it. Of course it is, because free criticism of it can destroy its power, just as free criticism of the old religions destroyed theirs.
In Europe it has already been largely abandoned, because most of the continent has surrendered to invading Muslim hordes, whose ideology – an invention of the dark ages – forbids it.
Freedom of speech was all the European Parliament had going for it that was of any use at all. Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), was able to promote his cause far and wide by speaking freely for it within the assembly, from where it was broadcast to the outside world. He also used it to expose the lies and bigotry of the European ruling parties, and the tyrannical nature of the EU itself. But now the European Parliament, an almost totally powerless institution created as window-dressing for the undemocratic European Union, has used what little power it has (just enough to rule itself) to bar any speech its leadership does not like from spreading beyond its hallowed hall.
Judith Bergman writes at Gatestone:
The European Parliament has introduced a new procedural rule, which allows for the chair of a debate to interrupt the live broadcasting of a speaking MEP “in the case of defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behavior by a Member”. Furthermore, the President of the European Parliament may even “decide to delete from the audiovisual record of the proceedings those parts of a speech by a Member that contain defamatory, racist or xenophobic language“.
No one, however, has bothered to define what constitutes “defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behavior”. This omission means that the chair of any debate in the European Parliament is free to decide, without any guidelines or objective criteria, whether the statements of MEPs are “defamatory, racist or xenophobic”. The penalty for offenders can apparently reach up to around 9,000 euros.
That’s approximately $9,600 at today’s exchange rate.
“There have been a growing number of cases of politicians saying things that are beyond the pale of normal parliamentary discussion and debate,” said British EU parliamentarian Richard Corbett, who has defended the new rule. Mr. Corbett, however, does not specify what he considers “beyond the pale”.
Although Richard Corbett is in fact British, it is misleading to describe him exclusively as that. Britain has a long, perhaps the longest, tradition of upholding free speech. Richard Corbett is first and foremost a Socialist. He is the Deputy Secretary General of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, and persistently voluble against British independence from the European Union.
In June 2016, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, addressed the European Parliament in a speech which drew on old anti-Semitic blood libels, such as falsely accusing Israeli rabbis of calling on the Israeli government to poison the water used by Palestinian Arabs. Such a clearly incendiary and anti-Semitic speech was not only allowed in parliament by the sensitive and “anti-racist” parliamentarians; it received a standing ovation. Evidently, wild anti-Semitic blood libels pronounced by Arabs do not constitute “things that are beyond the pale of normal parliamentary discussion and debate”.
Mahmoud Abbas later admitted that his accusation was false and retracted it.
The European Parliament apparently did not even bother to publicize their new procedural rule; it was only made public by Spain’s La Vanguardia newspaper. Voters were, it appears, not supposed to know that they may be cut off from listening to the live broadcasts of the parliamentarians they elected to represent them in the EU, if some chairman of a debate subjectively happened to decide that what was being said was “racist, defamatory or xenophobic”.
The European Parliament is the only popularly elected institution in the EU. Helmut Scholz, from Germany’s left-wing Die Linke party, said that EU lawmakers must be able to express their views about how Europe should work: “You can’t limit or deny this right”. Well, they can express it (but for how long?), except that now no one outside of parliament will hear it.
The rule strikes at the very center of free speech, namely that of elected politicians, which the European Court of Human Rights has deemed in its practice to be specially protected. Members of the European Parliament are people who have been elected to make the voices of their constituents heard inside the institutions of the European Union. …
The rule can only have a chilling effect on freedom of speech in the European Parliament and will likely prove a convenient tool in trying to shut up those parliamentarians who do not follow the politically correct narrative of the EU.
The European Parliament lately seems to be waging war against free speech. At the beginning of March, the body lifted the parliamentary immunity of French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. Her crime? Tweeting three images of ISIS executions in 2015. In France, “publishing violent images” constitutes a criminal offense, which can carry a penalty of three years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros. By lifting her immunity at the same time that she is running for president of France, the European Parliament is sending the clear signal that publicizing the graphic and horrifying truth of the crimes of ISIS, rather than being received as a warning about what might soon be coming to Europe, instead ought to be punished.
This is a bizarre signal to be sending, especially to the Christian and Yazidi victims of ISIS, who are still largely ignored by the European Union. European parliamentarians, evidently, are too sensitive to deal with the graphic murders of defenseless people in the Middle East, and are more concerned with ensuring the prosecution of the messengers, such as Marine Le Pen.
So, political correctness … has not only taken over the media and academia; elected MEPs are now also supposed to toe the politically correct line, or literally be cut off. …
Where does this clearly totalitarian impulse stop and who will stop it?
Perhaps the rebel nationalist movements in Europe will resist the anti-free speech campaign by winning the next state elections, encouraged as they are by the victory of Donald Trump’s patriotic movement in America.
But it is certain that the battle between the Socialist and Muslim dogmatists on the one side and the defenders of free speech on the other will be long and hard.
… and the rulers quake in their palaces.
The great economist and political philosopher Thomas Sowell was not an admirer of Donald Trump, but is obviously hugely relieved that he has beaten Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.
He it was who described the ruling class everywhere in the Western world – the men and women who believe themselves entitled to govern, to impose their will on the people, because they know what’s best for them – as “the anointed“.
They are generally alluded to as “the elites”. He accepts the term, and writes at Townhall:
A Hillary Clinton victory would have meant a third consecutive administration dedicated to dismantling the institutions that have kept America free, and imposing instead the social vision of the smug elites.
That could have been the ultimate catastrophe – not just for our time, but for generations yet unborn.
In one sense, Donald Trump’s victory was a unique American event. But, in a larger sense, it represents the biggest backlash among many elsewhere, against smug elites in Western nations, where increasing numbers of ordinary people are showing their anger at where those elites are leading their countries.
There, as here, mindlessly flinging the doors open to peoples from societies whose fundamental values clash with those of the countries they enter, has been a hallmark of arrogant blindness and disregard of negative consequences suffered by ordinary people – consequences from which the elites themselves are insulated.
Nor is this the only issue on which the blindness of elites has set the stage for a political backlash. The anti-law enforcement fetish among the insulated elites has even more tragically sacrificed the safety of the general public. This too has been common on both sides of the Atlantic.
Riots in London, Manchester and other cities in England in 2011 were incredibly similar to 2014 riots in Ferguson, Missouri, 2015 riots in Baltimore and other American cities.
The fact that the rioters in England were mostly white, while those in America were mostly black, gives the lie to the facile excuse that such riots are due to racial oppression, rather than being a result of appeasing mobs and restricting the police.
Nor is the election of Donald Trump likely to lead the elites to having second thoughts about the prevailing dogmas of their groupthink.
Right. As yet the elites have learnt nothing from the landslide electoral victory of a man who opposes their continuing rule.
They are not going down quietly. Protesting every inch of the way, down they go anyway.
Judith Bergman writes at Gatestone:
“A world is collapsing before our eyes,” tweeted the French ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud, as it became clear that Donald Trump had won the US presidential election. Although he later apparently deleted the tweet, the sentiment expressed in his tweet encapsulates the attitude of the majority of the European political establishment.
Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, described the reaction to Trump’s victory across Germany’s political spectrum as “shock and uncertainty”. Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen described Trump’s win as a “heavy shock”. German Justice Minister Heiko Maas tweeted: “The world won’t end, but things will get more crazy.”
Green party leader Cem Özdemir called Trump’s election a “break with the tradition that the West stands for liberal values”.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s deputy chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, said:
“Trump is the trailblazer of a new authoritarian and chauvinist international movement. … They want a rollback to the bad old times in which women belonged by the stove or in bed, gays in jail and unions at best at the side table. And he who doesn’t keep his mouth shut gets publicly bashed.”
In a fine touch of irony, EU Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, who recently referred to the Chinese as “slanty eyed”, told Deutschlandfunk radio that the U.S. election was a “warning” for Germany: “Things are getting simplified, black or white, good or bad, right or wrong. You can ask simple questions, but one should not give simple answers.”
In France, the media reaction was summed up by the left-leaning newspaper, Libération:
“Trumpocalypse… Shock… The world’s leading power is from now on in the hands of the far-right. Fifty percent of Americans voted in all conscience for a racist, lying, sexist, vulgar, hateful candidate.”
Critics omitted, however, the runaway lawlessness, divisiveness and corruption that American voters declined to reinstate.
President François Hollande described Trump’s victory as marking the start of “a period of uncertainty”. Previously, Hollande had said that Trump made him “want to retch”.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, one of the most powerful men in Europe, told students at a conference in Luxembourg, “We will need to teach the president-elect what Europe is and how it works.” He also claimed that, “The election of Trump poses the risk of upsetting intercontinental relations in their foundation and in their structure.” …
Chancellor Angela Merkel herself offered to work closely with Trump only “on the basis that shared values, such as democracy, freedom, respect for the rule of law and people’s race, religion and gender are respected” – the overbearing implication being that Trump cannot be expected to respect these concepts.
Just how hysterical European political leaders’ reaction has been to Trump was manifested in the fact that they felt compelled to hold an informal “crisis meeting” – some diplomats called it a “panic dinner” – on Sunday evening, to deal with the “shock” of the presidential election. “We would never have had a similar dinner if Hillary Clinton had been elected. It shows just how much we’re panicking,” said a diplomat from one of the smaller EU states.
Not everyone is “panicking”. UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson rejected the invitation and told his colleagues to end their “collective whinge-o-rama” about the U.S. election result.
There is indeed an unmistakable infantility about the reactions of European political elites to the election of the new US president, which are reminiscent of a young child lashing out after being denied candy.
More significantly, the reactions reveal an overbearing disrespect for the American people’s free and democratic choice of a leader.
Most important, however, is that the arrogant claim to the moral high ground by European elites has no basis in reality. It simply is not true that, as Merkel claimed, freedom and democracy, rule of law and respect for people’s race, religion and gender are at the foreground of European policies.
In fact, there is something deeply ironic about Angela Merkel mentioning freedom, the rule of law and so on. In fact, freedom, respect for the rule of law, and people’s race, religion and gender have never been less respected and protected in Germany during the post-WWII era than under Merkel. German authorities have completely failed to protect women, Christians and others from the chaos unleashed by the mass, unvetted, immigration of mainly Muslim migrants from Africa and the Middle East. The rule of law is anything but “respected” in Germany, where large pockets of Muslims live in parallel societies, or no-go zones, where police are too afraid to enter, where the residents impose their own rules, such as polygamy, and where committing social benefits fraud is rampant while German authorities turn a knowing blind eye.
This pattern repeats itself endlessly in other European countries. In Britain, the police and social workers have turned a blind eye for years to Muslim gangs grooming, prostituting, and raping young white British teenagers in cities such as Oxford, Birmingham, Rochdale and Rotherham. How is that for “respect for the rule of law” and human rights?
There is no freedom, or respect for gender in Swedish women being told not to go out after dark, or German women being told to follow a “code of conduct” because local police authorities can no longer protect them from sexual assault.
There is no respect for [freedom of] religion on a continent where authorities have been unable to stem a tidal wave of anti-Semitism or to protect Christians who flee from the Middle East to Europe, only to experience similar persecution from local or migrant Muslims.
There is no respect for freedom and democracy on a continent where citizens, such as the politician Geert Wilders, are arrested and prosecuted by national authorities in a court of law for speaking their minds freely about topics that the authorities do not find it expedient to debate in public.
In fact, European leaders could learn from Donald Trump about democracy, freedom, respect for the rule of law and people’s race, religion and gender. But they won’t. They are too indoctrinated by their own propaganda about him, and refuse to find out what sort of a man he really is or what principles he really stands for.
What will teach them the salutary lessons they need to and don’t want to learn, is the rising anger among their own peoples.
It is probable, and certainly highly desirable, that the victory of Donald Trump and his voters will set an example, inspire emulation, throughout Europe and the whole of the Western world.
The revolution has begun.
Judith Bergman’s article at Gatestone stresses the weakness of Christian leadership when Christians are being massacred. And for us, incidentally, it also vividly illustrates what’s wrong with Christian morality. It is sentimental. Sentimentality and cruelty are the two sides of the same coin.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was interviewed recently about the Paris attacks and asked about his reaction. “Like everyone else – first shock and horror and then a profound sadness …” he replied. “Saturday morning, I was out and as I was walking I was praying and saying: ‘God, why – why is this happening?'”
He does not say what answer he received.
Welby is the principal head of the Anglican Church and the symbolic head of the Anglican Communion, which stands at around 85 million members worldwide and is the third largest communion in the world – after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. This is a man with an extremely high public profile, and millions of Christians looking to him for spiritual guidance.
But why is a man who is the symbolic head of 85 million Christians worldwide expressing shock at yet another terrorist attack perpetrated by the Islamic State? Had the Archbishop of Canterbury paid more than just fleeting attention to his fellow Christians in Iraq and Syria, he would know that the Islamic State has been slaughtering Christians in the Middle East since 2006. Between 2004 and 2006, before the Islamic State evolved out of Al Qaeda in Iraq, it hardly showed less zeal to root out Christianity even then.
The Archbishop had eleven years to get used to the idea of people being made homeless, exiled, tortured, raped, enslaved, beheaded and murdered for not being Muslims. How much more time did he need?
The Archbishop of Canterbury had more wisdom to offer in the interview. “The perversion of faith is one of the most desperate aspects of our world today,” he said, explaining that Islamic State terrorists have distorted their faith to the extent that they believe they are glorifying their God. But it is unclear how he is as qualified an expert in Islam as Islamic State “Caliph ” Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, who possesses a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Baghdad. Christians, Yazidis and persecuted Muslims in the Middle East can probably point to aspects of the world more desperate than “the perversion of faith,” but then again, the Archbishop does not seem too preoccupied with the situation on the ground.
Fortunately, others are. In a piece for The Atlantic, “What ISIS Really Wants,” Graeme Wood spent time researching the Islamic State and its ideology in depth. He spoke to members of the Islamic State and Islamic State recruiters; his conclusions were the following:
The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam. Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology”, which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State … But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it.
The West nevertheless continues to pretend that the Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam, and the Archbishop of Canterbury is apparently no different. It is noteworthy, however, that the Archbishop has no misgivings when it comes to Christians. “I cannot say that Christians who resort to violence are not Christians.,” he said to the Muslim Council of Wales two months ago. “At Srebrenica the perpetrators claimed Christian faith. I cannot deny their purported Christianity, but must acknowledge that event as yet another in the long history of Christian violence, and I must repudiate that what they did was in any way following the life and teaching of Jesus.”
During a debate in the House of Lords earlier this year, he also had no qualms in stating that “the church’s sporadic record of compelling obedience to its teachings through violence and coercion is a cause for humility and shame”.
If the Archbishop of Canterbury cannot deny the Christianity of Christian perpetrators who claim the Christian faith, how can he – not a Muslim scholar – deny the Islamic nature of Muslim perpetrators who claim the Muslim faith?
Just as mind-boggling is the refusal of Pope Francis I to speak the name of the perpetrators. In August 2014, when the Islamic State conquered the northern Iraqi city of Sinjar and began brutally to round up and murder Yazidis, and up to 100,000 Christians fled for their lives, Pope Francis could not make himself utter the name of the Islamic State. In his traditional Sunday blessing, he said the news from Iraq had left him “in dismay and disbelief’. As if every atrocity had happened for the first time! Christian Iraqis had at that point been persecuted by Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State for a full decade.Without referring by name to the Islamic State, and speaking as if some invisible force of nature were at play, the pope deplored “thousands of people, including many Christians, driven from their homes in a brutal manner; children dying of thirst and hunger in their flight; women kidnapped; people massacred; violence of every kind”.
A year later, in July 2015, he called the onslaught on Christians in the Middle East “a form of genocide”, but still without mentioning who exactly was committing it.
It is tragic that the Church has done so little to help its flock in the Middle East. Where, during the past decade, have the Archbishop of Canterbury and his colleagues from the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church been? Where now is their vocal and public outrage at the near extinction of this ancient Christian culture? Where are their forceful appeals to political leaders and military decision-makers to intervene on behalf of their suffering brethren?
The Pope, however, did find time last May to write a 180-page encyclical about climate change, and he has spoken passionately about the bizarre concept of the “rights of the environment”. In front of the UN and a joint session of the U.S. Congress, he again spoke of the persecution of Christians, as if it were a metaphysical event: “He expressed deep concern for the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, where they and other religious groups, have been ‘forced to witness the destruction of their places of worship, their cultural and religious heritage’ and been forced to flee or face death or enslavement.”
Christians in the Middle East are suffering and dying, and the world hardly pays attention.
The post-Christian West evidently has no moment of charity for the plight of people with whom it might feel at least a slight solidarity.
But in 2016, Europe will be receiving another three million migrants, according to the European Union. So far, most of those who have arrived are Muslims, and there is little reason to expect that those who will arrive next year will be persecuted Christians. Most of the refugees come from refugee camps near Syria; Christians stay away from the refugee camps because they experience persecution in them too. It is no different with the Syrian refugees coming to the US.
The Christians in the Middle East are thus still left fending for themselves.