The EUs proposed framework for the promotion of tolerance is a horrifying statement bound to move the Union one step closer to the wrong side of the Berlin Wall.
CHEYENNE, WYOMING. Europe is sinking into a dark age of industrial poverty. The current crisis has already destroyed the lives, jobs, prosperity and future of millions upon millions of families, from the Aegean Sea to the Atlantic shore. Slowly but without mercy, an economic wasteland is crawling north, from devastated middle-class neighborhoods of Athens; it seeps through Spanish back streets where young, unemployed professionals scavenge for food after restaurants close. The economic wasteland conquers government-funded hospitals, sending patients home without proper treatment; it pushes young men and women out of work and into the arms of an ever-stingier welfare state.
Despite massive protests, the Eurocrats in charge of the European Union and the European Central Bank have teamed up with the IMF to force state after state in the EU into accepting destructive austerity policies. The purpose behind those policies is not to restore economic growth and full employment, but to save the welfare state and make it fit within a tighter tax base.
In order to get there, the Eurocrats and national leaders have teamed up. In every way possible without abolishing parliamentary democracy, they have dictated to voters and taxpayers that their protests against austerity do not count. The Eurocrats have even appointed prime ministers in EU member states.
The heavy hand of Brussels has created a sense of abnormality in Europe. Under its shadow, the economic wasteland is moving north into France and may soon threaten the economic epicenter of the European Union. The French socialist government is nearing budget panic while fiscal dictates from the Eurocracy to all economically troubled EU states supersede the normal operations of democratic government. In more and more ways, the super-state structure also known as the European Union is suppressing the voice and expression of the people to push its own agendas deeper and deeper into the lives of private citizens.
Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, often mentions that 75 percent of all the laws that apply to Britain are made in Brussels. If this applies across the board, in all EU member states, then parliamentary democracy is already under siege in Europe. Austerity dictates from the Eurocracy increase the pressure on the representative state to a point where not much of it is left.
As freedom and democracy are becoming scarcities, the Eurocracy invents yet another way of suppressing half-a-billion Europeans. In a grossly misguided, recklessly ambitious document on tolerance, the European Commission de facto the government of the EU wants to invade peoples everyday lives with a new level of speech dictates. Even more serious is the fact that the Commission wants to disguise its new, Orwellian-on-steroids ambition in the shiny wrapping paper of promoting tolerance.
The terrifying new report, aiming to severely restrict speech and debate bears the ominous title A European Framework National Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance. It pushes government speech regulation to an entirely new level in two ways: by regulating group libel and by enforcing a terrifyingly invasive definition of tolerance. Lets start with group libel:
As the authors of the document explain:
Group libel means: defamatory comments made in public and aimed against a group with a view to inciting to violence, slandering the group, holding it to ridicule or subjecting it to false charges.
They add the following explanatory notes: (i) This definition covers blood libels and anti-Semitic slurs, as well as allegations that, e.g., gypsies are thieves or Moslems are terrorists. (ii) It must be understood that the group libel may appear to be aimed at members of the group in a different time (another historical era) or place (beyond the borders of the State).
The highlighted part holding to ridicule has caught the attention of many bloggers. The prevailing interpretation seems to be that it is now going to be illegal in Europe to poke fun at someone. While seemingly harmless, the true meaning of this is that the Europeans are going to outlaw satire as a means to criticize in politics.
Perhaps one should expect hostility toward political satire from the members of the European Commission. It is hard to find a group of human beings who take themselves more seriously than the EU Commissioners.
That aside, the intention behind the ambition to make group libel charges available against humorists is to turn the table on freedom of speech. By adding such serious infringements as are suggested here, the European Commission effectively changes the default settings on freedom of speech: if this does become the law of the land in the EU, it will shift the balance between what is permitted and what is banned so that the permitted forms of speech are now enumerated.
Granted, this tolerance proclamation is limited to speech about ethnic groups and other constructed collectives of people. Therefore, it could be said to have only limited influence on the freedom of speech in Europe. However, the point is not the actual application in this case to ethnic groups but the ambition of the infringement. By adding humor to a long list of stigmatized and illegal form of expression, the EU Commission sets a precedent for de facto blanket banning of speech forms in other areas as well.
Going back to the tolerance report we find that the proposed legislation also wants to
condemn all manifestations of intolerance based on bias, bigotry and prejudice [and take] concrete action to combat intolerance, in particular with a view to eliminating racism, colour bias, ethnic discrimination, religious intolerance, totalitarian ideologies, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-feminism and homophobia.
An obvious question is how the EU Commission thinks it is going to enforce the anti-Semitism part without entering the mosques where radical Islam is preached.
The addition of anti-feminism is yet another paradigm shifter, and a serious new incursion into the freedom of speech. Feminism is neither a religion nor an ethnic or racial belonging. Feminism is a political ideology, and by criminalizing its criticism the European Union leadership opens for speech infringements against critics of other ideologies. An example: Support for the welfare state is widespread among Europes leading politicians, as is the misguided idea that the welfare state somehow is good for people. It is not at all far fetched to assume similar restrictions on speech regarding the welfare state as are now being proposed against anti-feminism.
Now for the second part of the Commissions attack on free speech:
Tolerance does not mean that a group can segregate itself from society as a whole, repudiating the need to interface with other groups.
This sentence, which reveals the practical meaning of tolerance, is a horrifying statement about what the Eurocrats have in mind. In todays European cities there are ghettos, poor neighborhoods, middle-class neighborhoods and wealthy neighborhoods. Just like here in America, people who work hard to put money aside and buy themselves a better home can migrate up the neighborhood ladder. They can put their kids in better schools, lower the risk of being crime victims and overall enjoy a better quality of life.
The decision where to live is for most people a predominantly economic one. A home is the biggest economic commitment most families make, in Europe as well as in North America. Therefore, it is simply wrong to add a racial or ethnic dimension to the housing market; it comes with the presumption that ethnic Europeans who move to more affluent neighborhoods do so based on ethnic preferences, not economic considerations.
In its tolerance proclamation, the European Commission now wants to define the clustering of an ethnic group in one neighborhood as intolerance. Based, again, on the presumption that peoples housing decisions are racially motivated and not driven by economic variables, the Commission then makes clear that all Europeans have a need to interface with other groups. The wording is a thinly disguised dictate that Europeans have an obligation to interface with other groups, which of course gives a whole new meaning to their definition of tolerance: instead of simply being respectful of others, the European Commission wants people to be tolerant by residing in neighborhoods with a different ethnic majority.
But even worse, if this tolerance proclamation became law as is the Commissions intention government would have the legal authority to force people to move where their own ethnicity is in minority.
This could play out in two ways: either well-to-do ethnic Europeans are forced to move to ghettos dominated by non-European immigrants, or non-European immigrants are given heavy subsidies on taxpayers tab to buy a house in an affluent white neighborhood.
It goes without saying that hard-working immigrants in Europe can make their way into an affluent neighborhood on their own, just like everybody else. Again, the decision on where to live is an economic one more than anything else. But according to this tolerance decree, a poor immigrant in an immigrant-dominated neighborhood cannot remain segregated, and since he or she lacks the means to buy a house in an affluent neighborhood someone is going to have to buy the house for her.
This opens up an entirely new dimension to public housing. But far more than that, it brings the European Union a few steps closer to the east side of the Berlin Wall. One generation after the Wall came down and people from Saxony to Sakhalin were liberated, the EU Commission is suggesting new policies that in many ways revive the old Communist dictatorships.
They are not there yet, but the speed toward open intolerance is far too fast for comfort.
Sven R. Larson was born in Sweden but has lived in the US for many years. He is an economist and writes the blog Liberty Bullhorn.