Democracy Reform

Sir Winston Churchill once said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the rest. He is right. Its the best form of government but it also has its flaws. I think that its flaws endanger democracy and needs to be fixed. This blog is for like minded people who want to see democracy improved. I invite people to sumbit essays. I will publish even those I do not agree with so long as I find them interesting.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Barring of Geert Wilders

Here is an interesting article by my friend Free Hal:

The Barring of Geert Wilders

The 2 reasons advanced for excluding Geert Wilders from the UK are: public order concerns, which was the UK governments stated reason although this doesn’t fit into the national security power they invoked; and Wilders wants to ban the Koran, so we have every right to ban him, which is the line advanced by most muslim commentators including the disreputable Lord Ahmed.

The first reason, public order is mere appeasement. The subtext is that muslims will feel offended and react violently. The Foreign Secretary confirms this by coming out with the tired “shouting-‘fire’-in-a-theatre” routine, which casts muslims as having no more self-control than prisoners in an inferno. He doesn’t say what someone should shout if there really is a fire.

It is just possible that, occasionally, some good may come of restricting a demo on the grounds of the reaction to it. E.g. turning back the British Union of Fascists at Cable Street in 1936. But that is with the benefit of hindsight about the horrors of fascism. And the BUF weren’t banned from marching – the order was for the BUF to postpone its march by a week and use a different route.

So there’s no getting away from the British government’s embarrassing reasoning. Appeasement pure and simple: Fred is dangerous because Joe will riot if Fred comes here, and we’re scared of Joe so let’s ban Fred.

The other reason, that Wilders wants to ban the Koran, tends to be used by muslim commentators (Lord Ahmed, the MCB) to justify the ban. Wilders wants to ban my religion so I can ban his speech. Basic logic, or the idea about two wrongs not making a right, don’t factor in such comments.

Non-muslim commentators tend to use this point as the basis for snide attacks. This is not new. In 1989, politicians who had never read The Satanic Verses suddenly acquired the literary expertise to damn the book as so badly written as to allow the writer no sympathy for having to live under the fatwa.

The parallel with Rushdie is appropriate, except that this time it goes to the root of political comment.

It is far from clear that Wilders seriously wants to ban the Koran. It is highly unlikely that the people who say he does have any idea.

This stems from a speech to the Dutch Parliament, recorded on Wilders own website:


Madam Speaker, the Koran is a book that incites to violence. I remind the
House that the distribution of such texts is unlawful according to Article 132
of our Penal Code. In addition, the Koran incites to hatred and calls for murder
and mayhem. The distribution of such texts is made punishable by Article 137(e).
The Koran is therefore a highly dangerous book; a book which is completely
against our legal order and our democratic institutions. In this light, it is an
absolute necessity that the Koran be banned for the defence and reinforcement of
our civilisation and our constitutional state. I shall propose a second-reading
motion to that effect.


Wilders appears to have been saying that if the Dutch constitution, particularly the ban on texts that incite violence, is to be uniformly upheld, then the Koran should be banned.

If one reads Wilders other statements, in particular calling for ‘nearly 100% freedom of speech’, or saying that his party has no problem with muslims who obey the law, then his call to ban the Koran looks more ironic, rhetorical, than sincere.

But let’s suppose he was sincere. What does a democracy do about fascist texts, or texts which incite violence?

Democracy is much weaker than most people assume, especially to internal division. They cannot long survive large groups who don’t accept the system, as is the case with people who follow calls to violence in a cause. Political groups who advocate unconstitutional means, i.e. violence, threaten the viability of the state if they attain a critical mass of followers. Long-settled democracies can afford to be more blasé, but that excludes pretty much every mainland European country.

Democratic states have to ban fascistic books. It is one of the drawbacks of democracy.

This leaves the question of whether the Koran is a fascist book. There are certainly muslims who, currently, obey democratic law. And a disturbingly large number prepared to commit the worst violence while quoting the Koran. I.e.the question is debatable.

Which means that Wilders should be heard. It is the nub of his case, it is what he wanted to discuss.

And that is the real reason for excluding him – that he would say that the Koran is a fascist book and Islam and fascistic ideology. And no-one should be allowed to say that in Britain.

In short, the media are right to sense that this is a milestone in the history of free speech, because a parliamentarian, invited by the British parliament, has been barred from the country purely because of the substance of the ideas he intended to discuss.

And this is the salient fact of this episode in the decline of democracy: the limpness of the British government’s commitment to freedom. It reveals a level of decadence which bodes very ill for the future.

We can expect a lot more of the same.

Hal


Ban Fred because what he says will cause Tom to riot. Instead of telling Tom not to riot, they are rewarding Tom's violent ways by giving him what he wants. When you reward bad behavior, you will get more of it.

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