vendredi, février 03, 2006

Loony Toons (and a Europe of Values)

The battle for the middle ground has begun. Google "mohammed cartoons" and you will see what I mean. The Spanish(El Pais) published new cartoons, Danish MP's republished the old, Muslim dominated countries continued to condemn (vide Pakistan and Libya), the gutsy Duh!merican internationals (CNN, NBC) chose not to publish those images out of respect for Islam.

The news is full of papers reporting on who reported and who reprinted. The issue has been watered down in a way to who has the courage to print and who does not.Politics and diplomacy are taking a slower turn. Speaking in a TV program yesterday Frenchie Sarkozy basically stated that France would never ever shackle the freedom of expression. He limited himself to criticising bad taste but he qualified this by saying that it is all part of the game. "It is obvious that it is good not to hurt but I will always prefer excessive expression to excessive censorhip".

Interestingly the BEEB has taken to speaking about "clash of values". Which is an extremely interesting way to veer away from the "Clash of Civilisations" tag that does nought to help the argument. Also interestingly I ask whether any defenders of the lay society and lay Constitution would still be so eager to exclude the Christian Heritage from the European Constitution. The Christian Heritage is not about religion but about values. It is not a declaration of a spiritual state but an affirmation of a common set of values inherited from the Graeco-Roman-Christian history that is behind the Old Continent. From liberty, to equality to fraternity (and solidarity) - these principles are at the basis of a common set of values that have been written into our history via a lot of blood and suffering (and mistakes along the way). They are the roots of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

It is a sad fact that the Universal Declaration is not so Universal. I say this in the sense that in a way it does encapsulate a "European" way of determining rights. China, the Middle East, the USA - all have problems dealing with one or other of the basic values that are so dear to the European. What I am saying is that it might be time for Europe to recognise this reality. It might be time for Europe to be more assertive in this regard. It must awaken from this slumber and stop laughing at itself whenever proposals such as the Charter for Human Rights or the Constitution are proposed. This has nothing to do with Eurocracy or Eurocentrism. It is just an important step for the continent to find its identity and define it before it is too late.

Again, this is not an appeal to begin a process of proselytisation. We have no right to force anyone else to become like us. And that applies vice-versa. In our house we should be left to act in accordance with our values. And any threat to our house is a threat to our liberty and our modus vivendi. Frankly I do not think that whether the cartoons were offensive or not is an issue. It is an issue only to the extent that our society provides adequate remedies for any offensive or libellous action (ask Hogan).

The Mullahs of the world crossed the line when they decided that their norm (chaos, burn and kill) should apply to what they perceive to be a crime in a land that is not theirs and in a society that is not run by their norms. Had they gone through normal diplomatic lines and requested an apology or even just argued publicly about the wrongness of the pictures they would have had a much more sympathetic approach from all the press.

Instead they provoked a race to publish.

And be damned.

Freude, Schöner Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuer-trunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!

Deine Zauber binden wieder,
Was die Mode streng geteilt;
Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

Ode to Joy lyrics by Friedrich von Schiller
Picture: Ode to Joy

Aucun commentaire: