George Handlery about the week that was. Direct democracy, minarets the burkas. The trend toward qualified equality. The grab for power by those who wish to save mankind.
1. Among the informed, Switzerland is noted for her stability and the predictability of her system of governance. These qualities were the foundation of the general wealth of that land-locked country blessed by nature with a rough climate and a matching forbidding geography. The average person associates Switzerland with the coo-coo clock – actually made in Germany – and myths about bank secrecy that is said to protect crooks only. In addition to its above oddities, the country also practices direct democracy. That means that the people can legislate by making laws or by invalidating existing ordinances without the legislature’s nod and against the executive’s recommendations. As a result, referendums are regularly reoccurring events. This makes Switzerland THE country were the people’s voice on the issues of our time can be heard directly. An interesting vote is coming up in November. The “sovereign” – the local legal term for “people” – will have to decide whether the erection of further minarets is to be forbidden. The right of Muslims to build houses of worship is not effected by the vote. Even so, led by the commands of “multi-culti” sentiment, the country’s PC “establishment” is dead set against the – admittedly symbolic – minaret ban. Indirectly, the largest party, which is, however, by rational calculations, unable to achieve absolute majority, supports the initiative.
Before the chase for votes could really begin in earnest, a still not displayed poster is creating a controversy. Before reading on you should take a good look at the copy, you find here.
Now, for the sake of the experiment, in your mind you should file your initial impressions. Having done that you may continue to read.
From its green through pink to red mutations, the Left condemns the poster that asks voters to ban the erection of further minarets. The largely symbolic initiative’s supporters consider minarets to be a representational expression of domination. Indirectly they find confirmation by the proscription of comparable Christian symbols in Muslim countries. To the proponents minarets are political messages. At the same time, they are assumed not to be essential architectural components of mosques. Here as elsewhere, politics’ soft right and center has a principle. It is “if in doubt always with the fashionable left” and against anything “Western”. Therefore, the PC army fights the initiative and asks for a “no” vote. In some cities, local government dominated by the aforementioned coalition, has acted early to influence the outcome. Its heavy artillery’s opening salvo is aimed at the planned placard that asks for supportive votes.
Therefore, in some municipalities, the poster cannot be exhibited on display surfaces if these are located on public ground.
What is the charge? As depicted on the poster, the minarets supposedly remind one of rockets. Indeed, this context is provided by a famous speech that Turkey’s Erdogan gave years ago. (It is about Islam’s global role and one line states “The minarets are our rockets”.) Today, the critics of the poster who create publicity for it before it is displayed dismiss this argument. They claim that Erdogan just read a poem that referred to minarets as Islam’s rockets. Whatever the context, clearly Erdogan did not do so to show disapproval. There is more. Supposedly, the woman you see in the burka also misrepresents real Islam and therefore the image is misused to malign that faith. In a local debate, someone even pointed out that the menacingly black burka is an unfair distortion. Why? Not all of these cloaks are black. Furthermore, the look of the wrapped woman is menacing. In addition, unfairly, the intimidating minarets puncture through the Swiss flag. Overall, the poster is said to be aggressive, abusive and unjust. It supposedly creates fears that are unjustified given the way Muslims are said to behave. As such, it is racist -even if the picture does not refer to Arabs but to a community held together by a certain interpretation of a universalist religion. It appears that, whoever is first accused of racism is also guilty of it. Arguing against the point incriminates the proponent for defending evil. Case closed.
Allegedly, moderate Muslims and their protectors have announced that, for all the above reasons, they “feel insulted”. In code that confirms that whoever succeeds to claim first to be outraged scores. The claimed affront comes wrapped in the allegation that it is essentially unkind to depict a group the way its most visible representatives make it appear to the public. It seems that any representation of such groups and their supposed goals must have their approval for the image conveyed regarding them. The restriction amounts to limiting critique to terms of which the criticized party approves. This implies that, while they may shoot with sharp ammunition, you are limited to firing back with paint balls.
In the charges brought by the poster’s critics a prominent role is played by a pious assumption. It is that depicting Muslims as tolerating their extremists provokes these radicals. Just grant the fundamentalists’ immunity from criticism; shield them from the provoked defensive-preventive measures of their alerted hosting majorities. As a result, they will be induced to moderate their ways. Consequently, the openly expressed general suspicion of Muslims, with due regard of the moderates that do not seem to be able to contain their radicals, needs to be moderated. The critique provoked by a display of extremist behavior, is the kind of agitation that is anathema because it rouses the radicals. In general, this policy asks the public to forget what it knows and to suppress its concerns. In representing non-majoritarian groups, the critics are to limit themselves to terms of praise for minorities that are to be protected no matter what they do. An example of this advocated self-censorship is the handling of the implication of cases such as that of a French citizen arrested while this was written. Accidentally he has an Algerian background. Supposedly, one is asked to pretend, by accident he had contact to al Qaeda. Quite incidentally, the man worked for CERN, a nuclear research center near Geneva.
If there is a puddle, the UN is certain to wade into it. Its Human Rights Commission has just (October 14) entered the display-controversy. (The UN is sensitive to Swiss matters because a number of its agencies are housed there.) It fully condemns the picture you saw as racist. It is also “frightened” by the intolerance it discovers in the placard.
2. It is easy to be for the equality of wealth and incomes when you are poor and “weak”. Once you gain power and the means to implement your original ideas, you will find reasons to adorn your old position with conditionals. They are likely to make the advocated general principle not fully applicable in your specific merit-supported case.
3. Have discretionary, consumer-demand oriented economic enterprises, less unemployment than publicly owned ones? In answering, the ability to plod on by financing through inflationary measures should be removed from the calculation.
4. A substantial segment of the American left used not to want absolute equality but only the institutionally unhindered rise of talent measured by performance. Once this ideal seemed to come close to its realization by the removal of artificial barriers that hindered the rise of the able, equal opportunity was replaced as a goal. A system, enabled to create manipulated results replaced that of a meritocratic and color blind norm applied to all, Ironically, the project got the attractive label of “Equal Opportunity”. That was the juncture at which the writer dropped out and “switched sides”.
5. It is to be suspected that the motive of leftist leaders is not the noble virtue embedded in the projects they advocate. Much rather the goal is the attainment of the power that is assumed to be a precondition of the plan’s realization. One of the favored connections between noble ends and the necessary means is that there is a right to resort to force if the advocated project encounters the dull majority’s resistance.