Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Clash of Diversities (UPDATE)

As you'll recall from my previous post, the Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders was being charged by a Dutch judge for his movie Fitna, which is explicitely critical of Islam. Mr. Wilders was invited by Lord Malcom Pearson, a member of the House of Lords to show and discuss his movie with a group of British Parliamentarians.

The Home Office of the United Kingdom informed Mr. Wilders that he was barred from entering the United Kingdom because his "presence could threaten public security." This will be the 1st time that an elected European official has been barred from entering England.

Mr. Wilders response was "let them arrest me." He went on to express that he was "surprised and very saddened that the freedom of speech that was a very strong point of UK society has been harassed" and "It's incredible that an elected politician who was invited by one of your parliamentarians to a discussion with people who are against me, or in favour of me (was banned from the UK)."

We see that in contrast to 40 years ago, when the left was considered to be a force of free speech and open, intellectual discourse, we now find the left behind most instances of the suppression of free and open discourse. As a non-citizen, the most troubling issue is not Mr. Wilder's free speech, but the suppression of the right of free association and free discourse of the British parliamentarians.
This illustrates a very common philosophical ailment among members of the left - placing select social values (sensitivity, tolerance, diversity, etc.) far above the values of freedom and autonomy. For these individuals, the thought of allowing Mr. Wilder's (supposedly) flawed ideas to wither in the light of the market place of ideas is beyond the pale, for they seek to control the free flow of ideas almost as much as they seek to control the free flow of goods and services.

What makes this especially troubling is the very selective approach that the left has towards issues of free expression and hatred. In this case the very same governing bodies that are seeking to bar Mr. Wilders allowed the entrance of some anti-Semitic radical moslem preachers. Here is an excerpt from one of the sermons of Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a preacher who was actually invited to England by Ken Livingston, the former mayor of London:

"Oh Allah, take the Jews, the treacherous aggressors. Oh Allah, take this profligate, cunning, arrogant band of people...Pour Your wrath upon them, oh our God. Lie in wait for them...Oh Allah, do not spare a single one of them...Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one."

In addition Mr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi illustrious sermons have called for: the execution of gays, the beating of disobedient women and suicide bombings against Jewish civilians, as well as a boycott against Pokemon for its use of "Jewish and Masonic symbols...""

Apparently the European left is unable to see the gigantic irony in barring a speaker whose message is that islamic immigration is eroding political and economic freedom in Europe.

In the United States limits of freedom of speech promoted by the left usually center on implicit social pressure against those who do not conform to officially sanctioned ideologies. But, our "progressives" always look towards Europe for inspiration, so who knows what the future holds...

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