Sunday, April 2, 2017

World Affairs: Free Speech vs "Free Love" in a neo-National Europe,

"free speech - just watch what you say"

The above is a paraphrase of a famous rejoinder from rapper-turned-actor Ice T.

Given the apparent sweep of neo-Nationalism across Europe, it has some serious implications, not just for Euro nationals and the future of the Eurozone itself, but also for the Caribbean and Jamaica in particular.

"Free Speech: The New Noose" was the provocative title of a public lecture staged at the University of the West Indies last week by the Issachar Foundation, a Jamaican think tank that operates from the Judaeo-Christian worldview.

The lecture was presented by Roger Siska of Christian Concern/Christian Legal Centre. Siska, a Slovak by birth practicing mainly in London, has been involved in  number of protected speech/personal freedom cases in which Christians have found themselves on the wrong side of ever-stricter hate speech legislation. As had happened in the US, a Christian couple operating a UK bakery found themselves used for refusing to cater to a same-sex couple about to marry, with the Christians forced to shut their business down, as did the operators of a bed-and-breakfast who refused to let a room to a gay couple.

In an expansive presentation, Siska detailed a very cozy relationship between the EU Council, the actual executive body of the Union, and several ultra-liberal NGOs (such as ILGA) that have successfully lobbied for not only protection from what has been deemed "hate speech" coming from Christian pulpits, but also for more pro-LGBTQ sex education in the public school system.

This tight alliance, Siska argues, is undermining family structures as well as the marriage covenant in the Christian framework. He did point out to this writer afterwords that several Eu nations (notably Hungary and Poland) retain definition of marriage statutes similar to the Defense of Marriage bill promulgated by former US President Bush.

Of course, the credibility of the Christian church, both among secularists and even among its own followers, has been damaged by repeated sex and financial scandals (the Lecture took place in Kingston against the backdrop of heated agitation against sexual abuse following the arrest and charge of a Moravian bishop and the subsequent resignation of the heads of the Moravian denomination in Jamaica), the upshot of which has been a strengthening of the liberal, pro-LGBTQ agenda.

Now, with both the Eurozone and the US moving to the far right, is a retrenchment of conservative, traditionalist, family values, and a retaliation against the LGBTQ movement too far behind? US President Trump has made clear that his agenda is not friendly to the movement, and across the Atlantic, neo-Nationals from France's Marine Le Pen to party heads in Austria and Denmark have been busy cutting more obvious ties to skinheads, violent homophobes and other vestigal groups of the Far Right fringe.

Today's "new Right" is actually billing itself as an "anti-elite" movement, campaigning for the "ordinary man" neglected by the political neo-liberal establishment. Essentially, they have sought to outflank the left -demanding social reforms - in their bid to fight their real target: immigrants, especially Islamic immigrants.

The "new Right" then has presented itself as the last bulwark protecting a besieged Judeo-Christian civilisation from the barbarians at the gates, a move which, in this writer's view - presents both danger and significant positives going forward.

Clearly, its not a homogenous movement on either side; Dutch neo-Nationals have less of the religious ties than say, the French, and the UK, as illustrated t the top of this piece, is not a safe ground for either side.

But the free speech "noose" as the Issachar Foundation has characterized it, is set to dangle for just a while longer as the Eurozone heads into what is sure to be a very torrid summer. 

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