Ils sont foux c'est Belgiques
I thought about calling this post "Red Neck of Democracy III" but decided that might be confusing. Nonetheless this sorry European example reinforces the lessons I tried to enunciate following the US election.
1 Freedom of thought means freedom for the thought we hate
2 Democracy means counting alike the votes of the wise, the ordinary or the foolish; the liberal, the conservative or the fascist and votes for the good, the evil or the merely human.
3 It is the liberal's duty to confront evil counsels in the marketplace of ideas, to fight ignorance with knowledge, folly with wisdom and darkness with enlightenment. It is neither our duty nor acceptable for us to use the tools of repression against our opponents however hateful their views may seem.
Belgium does not seem to have learnt these lessons. The right-wing Vlaams Blok party standing on a dual policy of racist xenophobia and Flemish independence was convicted of "racism" and the sentence is now before the appeal court.
The countries of Europe have good reason to fear a repeat of the 1930's and their paranoia at the emergence of "ultra-right" parties is understandable. But this issue demands a cool, considered response. To respond from fear or panic is to invite the very disaster feared.
Let those who think it proper to initiate violence against the National Front, coerce or punish those who do not share their private agenda or to ban a political party they dislike reflect on this (San Diego Union Tribune)
The party's share of the popular vote in elections has gone from under 10 percent in 1999 to 24.1 percent last June. A poll released in September pegged the party as the most popular in Flanders for the first time.