What's new
US Message Board 🦅 Political Discussion Forum

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

A Case Of European Multiculturalism

Annie

Diamond Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2003
Messages
50,848
Reaction score
4,826
Points
1,790
When 'free speech' and 'multiculturalism' clash, laws on both. There are lots of links and this is a rather complicated topic, ongoing for months. The post below is a blogger that went to bat for another blogger, being threated by Belgium government because Muslims were upset with the Belgium blogger:


http://kennethandersonlawofwar.blogspot.com/2006/08/letter-to-belgium-embassy-in-support.html

Thursday, August 10, 2006
A letter to the Belgium embassy in support of Brussels Journal and Paul Belien, facing police harrasment
(Update, Saturday, August 12, 2006: Thanks Glenn for the Instlanche! There are some updates at the end of the post.)

(Update, Saturday, August 12, 2006. I am adding a couple of the comments here into the main page, plus Paul Belien's comment at Brussels Journal. In addition, readers interested in more on multiculturalism might be interested in the following related posts on this blog: Flowers For Voltaire, Zizek on Defenders of Faith, OT photo of my kid shooting a rifle last year, Dear Europe, Meet Your New Masters, Thoughts on Free Expression and the Muhammad Cartoons. In addition, you can read a more extended, academic discussion of the problems of Islam and Western multiculturalism in my new draft book review of Francis Fukuyama's After the Neocons and Peter Beinart's, The Good Fight, free pdf download from SSRN, here, titled Goodbye to All That? A Requiem for Neoconservatism. Also, What the Islamofacists were doing while we indulged the end of history, and Muslims in the West and Western multiculturalism.)

***
You too can contact the Belgium embassy in support of Paul Belien and Brussels Journal, here. (Thanks Instapundit.) My letter:

***
August 10, 2006

France Chainaye
First Counselor, Political Affairs
Embassy of Belgium to the United States
france.chainaye@diplobel.be

Dear France Chainaye,

I write to object to your government's harrasment of the internationally recognized and acclaimed blog Brussels Journal and its editor Paul Belien. As reported on that blog and elsewhere, your police ministry has called Mr. Belien in for questioning in relation to complaints of racism and intolerance.

While I understand that Belgium law is Belgium law, as a regular academic reader of Brussels Journal, I frankly cannot understand what could be considered racist or intolerant on that blog. On the contrary, it is a beacon of clarity in opposing the political correctness that makes it virtually impossible for Europeans to defend their secular, liberal traditions in the face of intolerance by Islamists and others intent on imposing their religious views on a secular society. The government of Belgium has things seriously turned upside down when Brussels Journal's reporting on Muslim demands for a separate, religious society in Belgium and elsewhere in Western Europe is treated as "intolerance." In any case, as a close reader of that website, and as a professor of international law and human rights in the United States, nothing I have read on that site is anything, in my view, other than protected free expression under international human rights standards and law.

I urge your government to cease its harrasment of Brussels Journal and Mr. Belien, and to respect norms of free speech and expression.

Very truly yours,

Kenneth Anderson
Professor of Law
Washington College of Law
American University

Research Fellow
The Hoover Institution
Stanford University

***
Update: Here is the reply from the Belgium embassy - much appreciated, and more substantive than would usually be the case. The problem, of course, is not that Belgium guarantees freedom of speech while banning racist speech; the problem is what happens when those two come into conflict. The response, understandably, does not address that. In practice, you have to choose between liberal values and multicultural management of speech; Belgium has laws it can point to that allow it to paper over the differences, but the government's continued harrasment of Brussels Journal shows that, in practice, multicultural bureaucratic and police management prevails. In theory, the law is liberal and neutral; in practice, the law is multiculturalist and typically comes after non-Muslims, as Brussels Journal has been impolite and impolitic enough to point out. However, here is the letter, which is, I stress, more substantive than embassy responses usually are (including those of the US government):

Dear Sir:

In response to your mail I wanted to inform you that Belgium is a democracy in which the freedom of _expression and a free press are guaranteed by the constitution and the legal system.

However, expressions of racism are a punishable offense in Belgium. An Act of Parliament created the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism in 1993. A task of the Centre is to promote equality of opportunity and combat any form of distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, skin color, descent, origin or nationality. The Centre offers the possibility to internet users to complain about the racist content of web sites. These complaints are evaluated in a serious manner. Most cases are solved through giving information or through setting up a mediation process. Only in a small number of cases, the Center proceeds to legal action. More information on this program is to be found on http://www.cyberhate.be .

The Belgian government and people oppose manifestations of racism and intolerance and intend to fight these through education and the application of the law. For further information on issues regarding racism in Belgium you can go to the following web site: http://www.antiracisme.be/.

I remain at your disposal for further information.

Best regards.


Geert Criel
Minister Counselor
Embassy of Belgium
3330 Garfield Street, NW
Washington DC 20008
Tel: (202) 6255868
Fax: (202) 6257567

***
From the comments:

Brussels Journal comments. "Our case has nothing to do with racism. Belgium is following an old tradition which, in the fall of 1939, led Brussels to introduce an 'administrative censorship' which prohibited 'anti-German and unpatriotic publications.'"

Cosmo writes: "The conflict between free speech rights and bans on 'racist' speech is further complicated by nebulous definitions of what constitutes 'racist' speech and by who possesses authority to determine such.More important is that the system is clearly being gamed and hijacked by one group, turned into a tool for intimidating and silencing its critics.Flooding the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism with allegations of 'racist' speech, each of which must be taken seriously, is a game any group can play -- especially when it is backed by the implied threat of violence."

The Monster writes: "Islamism is not a 'race', it's an ideology of totalitarian religion. Rowan Atkinson, in opposing similar laws in the UK, said it well: To criticise a person for their race is manifestly irrational and ridiculous but to criticise their religion, that is a right. That is a freedom. The freedom to criticise ideas, any ideas - even if they are sincerely held beliefs - is one of the fundamental freedoms of society. A law which attempts to say you can criticise and ridicule ideas as long as they are not religious ideas is a very peculiar law indeed. Unfortunately, the term 'racist' now appears to mean nothing more nor less than "someone winning an argument with a liberal"."

***
KA: I particularly want to underscore Atkinson's remarks that the difference between race and religion is entirely ignored by multiculturalism, which treats religion, being Muslim, as though it were an immutable characteristic of one's genes, rather than a set of ideas that can be discussed, debated, agreed with, not agreed with.

I also realize that the embassy has sent identical responses to everyone who has written - still, it is a more substantive response than the typical response of an embassy dealing with criticism.

posted by KA at 2:24 PM
 
OP
Annie

Annie

Diamond Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2003
Messages
50,848
Reaction score
4,826
Points
1,790
When 'free speech' and 'multiculturalism' clash, laws on both. There are lots of links and this is a rather complicated topic, ongoing for months. The post below is a blogger that went to bat for another blogger, being threated by Belgium government because Muslims were upset with the Belgium blogger:


http://kennethandersonlawofwar.blogspot.com/2006/08/letter-to-belgium-embassy-in-support.html

The WSJ editorial page jumps in:

http://www.opinionjournal.com/wsj/?id=110008853

GLOBAL VIEW
The Many Faces of Belgian Fascism
Low country politics, real and surreal.

BY BRET STEPHENS
Sunday, August 27, 2006 12:01 a.m.

BRUSSELS--Belgium is the birthplace of René Magritte. So perhaps it's not surprising that, in politics, even the fascism here is surreal.

Take Belgian Socialists, Flemish or Walloon. The hallmark of nearly every European socialist party has long been hostility to religion. In recent years, Belgium's ruling Socialist-Liberal coalition has antagonized Catholics by legalizing gay marriage and euthanasia, banning crucifixes from government buildings, and abolishing the traditional Te Deum service previously held by the government to commemorate the inauguration of Leopold I, first king of the Belgians.

But then the Socialists began taking note of Belgium's Muslim community, some 500,000 strong. In Brussels, notes Joël Rubinfeld of the Atlantis Institute think tank, half of the Socialist Party's 26-member slate in the city's 75-seat parliament is Muslim. In the commune of Molenbeek, longstanding Socialist mayor Philippe Moureaux has made halal meals standard in all schools; police officers are also barred from eating or drinking on the streets during Ramadan. The Socialist Party was also, improbably, the leading opponent of a bill that would have criminalized the denial of the Armenian genocide. This, too, is a product of burgeoning Muslim-Socialist alliance, as is the party's routine denunciations of Israel.

Now take the Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest), the secessionist Flemish Party previously known as the Vlaams Blok until a court ruled it illegal in 2004. The Blok has longstanding links to Nazi collaborators. One of the party's founding members is Karel Dillen, who in 1951 translated into Flemish a French tract denying the Holocaust (possibly the only French text for which a Vlams Blok party member has ever shown sympathy). For many years, the party's chief selling point was its call to forcibly deport immigrants who failed to assimilate. It also made plain its sympathies with other far-right wing European parties, such as Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front in France.

But that's changing. Younger party leaders, realizing their anti-Semitic taint was poison, began making pro-Israel overtures. And the party's tough-on-crime, hostile-to-Muslims stance began to attract a considerable share of the Jewish vote, particularly among Orthodox Antwerp Jews who felt increasingly vulnerable in the face of the city's hostile Muslim community. Today, Vlaams Belang is the largest single party in the country.

Then there are the government's actual policies. In April, Belgians were shocked by the murder of a teenager named Joe Van Holsbeeck, who was stabbed to death in Brussels's central train station by two Gypsy youths, at the height of the afternoon rush hour, in broad view of dozens of onlookers. (Apparently, the killers wanted his MP3 player.)

Amid a pervasive and growing sense of lawlessness--Belgium's per capita murder rate, at 9.1 per 100,000 is nearly twice that of the U.S.--the murder became the occasion of much national soul-searching. When Jean-Marie Dedecker, a senator from the ruling Liberal Party, opined in an op-ed that "policemen look the other way in order to avoid being accused of racism," he was rebuked by Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt for "inciting hostilities."

There is also the amazing case of journalist Paul Belien, who edits the Brussels Journal, a pro-American, Euroskeptic, anti-Islamist blog. In February, the blog was one of the few news sources to republish the notorious Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammad, thereby attracting some two million unique visits. It also attracted extraordinary scrutiny from the Flemish newsweekly Knack. Noting that Mr. Belien's blog had been cited by Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes, Knack described the link as "no coincidence," but rather a "deliberate provocation by the neocons," the ultimate aim of which was to make Americans and Europeans believe "that all Muslims are violent and dangerous, after which the clash in Palestine, Iran and Syria can really kick off."

But that was as nothing compared to the reaction Mr. Belien provoked by an article following the Van Holsbeeck murder, in which he described the killers as "predators" and called for Belgium to decriminalize the possession of self-defense weapons (pepper spray is what he says he had mainly in mind).

Two weeks after the article appeared, Mr. Belien received a letter from the Center for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism, a government-mandated body whose mission is to "assist victims of discrimination" and "sensitize the general public on antidiscrimination." (Belgium has one of the strongest antidiscrimination regimes anywhere.) Mr. Belien's article, according to the CEOOR, constituted an "incitement to violence"; he was ordered to remove it from his blog or face state prosecution. He complied. In the meantime, he says he received emails with pictures of burned corpses and messages reading, "This is what is going to happen to you."

Mr. Belien has since been questioned by the police for home-schooling his five children, four of whom have moved on to university or beyond. Part of Mr. Belien's problem, surely, is that his wife is a member in Parliament for the Vlaams Belang. But whatever her politics, Mr. Belien is not a member of the party, and nothing on the Brussels Journal suggests that it is a party vehicle. His chief crime, rather, seems to be that he has laid bare, to an English-speaking audience, the lesser-known charms of the Belgian state.

Meanwhile, the real fascists in Belgium are gaining strength, largely protected from scrutiny by the country's "antiracism" legislation. At Brussels's Imam Reza mosque, a preacher commemorated the 17th anniversary of the Ayatollah Khomeini's death: "The enemies cannot extinguish the light of the Islamic Revolution." And in Molenbeek, the newspaper Het Volk published a study of the local Muslim population: The editor, Gunther Vanpraet, described the commune as "a breeding ground for thousands of Jihad candidates."

The Belgian government may prefer not to notice. But as Magritte might have said, this is not a pipe.
 

Zieveraar

Rookie
Joined
Aug 29, 2006
Messages
16
Reaction score
1
Points
1
Location
Belgium
But that's changing. Younger party leaders, realizing their anti-Semitic taint was poison, began making pro-Israel overtures. And the party's tough-on-crime, hostile-to-Muslims stance began to attract a considerable share of the Jewish vote, particularly among Orthodox Antwerp Jews who felt increasingly vulnerable in the face of the city's hostile Muslim community. Today, Vlaams Belang is the largest single party in the country.

Very much true. Apart from the fact that Vlaams Belang is not the biggest single party in the country. Close, but not exactly there. Dewinter (big member of the party) already gave interviews to Israeli newspapers, ofcourse emphasizing his views on Muslim immigrants.

Ofcourse, even Muslims vote for that party. Why anyone would vote for them, I couldn't say myself.

Then there are the government's actual policies. In April, Belgians were shocked by the murder of a teenager named Joe Van Holsbeeck, who was stabbed to death in Brussels's central train station by two Gypsy youths, at the height of the afternoon rush hour, in broad view of dozens of onlookers. (Apparently, the killers wanted his MP3 player.)

Actually, at first the two kids were described as North African. Then they were Roma gypsies, empoverished. Finally the truth was that both are Polish, one kid was here legal, the other was quite illegal and known to the police. That kid was part of a fairly rich Polish family, not Roma gypsy.


But that was as nothing compared to the reaction Mr. Belien provoked by an article following the Van Holsbeeck murder, in which he described the killers as "predators" and called for Belgium to decriminalize the possession of self-defense weapons (pepper spray is what he says he had mainly in mind).

No self defense weapon would have saved that kid, they surrounded him and his friend and stabbed him when he tried to get up. There's no way that pepper spray would have "saved" him at all. Not unless he was carrying it in his hand at all times.

The only thing that would have saved him, was when the police would have done their job in the first place and kicked that little brat Polish murdering idiot out of the country the first time they caught him stealing. But unfortunately, Belgium is much too soft in that respect.


The soul searching as is mentioned in the previous post is a joke. It's the same one that happened when the black man from Paris got beaten to a pulp by skinheads, or when a Slovakian kid got stabbed five times by skinheads, or when the son of Vlaams Belang members of parliament buy a gun and start to shoot foreigners, killing a black woman and the two year old she was babysitting.

Ultimately, plus ça change, plus ça reste la même chose.

The Belgian Journal is a good propaganda paper, it would hardly be a loss if it were gone.
 

USMB Server Goals

Total amount
$95.00
Goal
$350.00

Most reactions - Past 7 days

Forum List

Top