The Legend of Wooley Swamp

What ever happened to nuance? Jabberwocky is being spewed up by the left and right as they try to drag us into their Wonderlands. This blog charts a path out of this swamp of simple truths and false certainties. And from time to time, it'll be a place for more light-hearted musings.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Warsaw, Rev. Green, Headscarves, Homer & WP

Just thought I'd highlight a couple of interesting articles, thereby bringing some previous rants up to speed.

1. In another Brandtian move, Chancellor Merkel is off to Warsaw today, continuing Germany's needed reorientation. As Gunther Hellman points out, Merkel explicitly mentioned Poland in her Tuesday speech, something yours truly forgot to mention. Someone also translated the "Mehr Freiheit/Demokratie wagen" slogan as "wage freedom/democracy" and not "dare (to embrace) freedom/democracy". Sounds good to me and shows how close the languages are, but it's kind of a 'false friend.' Dictionaries tend to posit that the English 'wage' is mostly in connection with war and campaigns (see here and here.) Any linguists out there?

Oh well...Hellmann's mayos and op-eds are still excellent, so have a gander. Here's an excerpt:

"When Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered her first major address to the German Parliament on Wednesday, one theme that had figured prominently in her predecessor's speeches was missing. Merkel did not waste time imitating Gerhard Schröder's incessant preoccupation with Germany's new-found "self-confidence" in international affairs. She knows that her predecessor's foreign policy legacy is meager at best...
For Merkel (Schröder's) legacy carries several opportunities. Her first moves underline that she is determined to seize them. As her key foreign policy adviser, Merkel chose a highly talented diplomat, Christoph Heusgen, who is known both for his opposition to Schröder's prestige-driven foreign policy agenda and his strong conviction that Germany has to rebalance its relations with its key allies in the West..."

2. Regarding the Reverend Green case (a man that should never be confused with the better Reverend Green) and freedom of speech and religion: here's a rarity in the Swedish press, an opinion piece in English. Not sure if I'd call this particularly good, but the thrust is right on the money. Still, for the latent Swedophiles it might be interesting. Again, there's a bit of translation confusion (they really should hire someone when the word 'avvikande' in the original is turned into 'exceptional.' The obvious choices 'deviant' or 'abnormal' sound harsh in English, but even 'avvikande' has a judgemental ring to it. Color me didactic....

Much more importantly, as the later wire stories on this saga point out, hate crime attacks on homosexuals are on the increase in Sweden. This according to new statistics released on the same day as the verdict. While some of the surge may be attributable to more willingness to report the crimes etc, this is terrible. And it will be fought.
But those, like the loony left Feminist Alternative List, who claim the Supreme Court ruling is also some kind of sign of homophobia are living it large in Wonderland (click here for Alice's enemies.) Freedom of speech, ok? Including the right to make spurious comments about the highest court of the land.

3. On a related note, the European Court of Human Rights recently appears to have issued a ruling that contradicts the assumptions made by the Supreme Court of Sweden in the Green case. Remember that among the grounds that the court upheld Green's acquittal by a lower court was the reasonable expectation that the supranational court would have struck down any other ruling. It thus had an obligation not to waste anyone's time or money with a pointless, grandstanding verdict. Swedish law now has to be adjusted. It was simply too authoritarian in the first place.

Anyway, in the new ruling the European Court that loves freedom of speech and religion suddenly qualified this affection. It upheld the ban by Turkish universities that forbids women from wearing headscarves. This puts Turkey in the illustrious company of France and some German states, including here in Berlin, where ALL 'religious symbols' are banned if worn by teachers or other civil servants. Students are still safe...for now. It is beyond reactionary and sets a dangerous precedent. As Human Rights Watch's Holly Cartner said:

“Turkey’s ban on headscarves clearly infringes the right to religious practice and expression. The European Court has let down thousands of women who will be prevented from studying in Turkey’s universities...The court readily accepted the Turkish government’s arguments, but gave little weight to the severe restrictions of rights for Şahin and women like her...The ECtHR has been a powerful force in extending basic freedoms in Turkey, but it missed an important opportunity in this case to stand firmly behind principles of freedom of religion, expression, and non-discrimination...thankfully, Judge Tulkens’ analysis (the dissenting opinion) presents the beginning of an argument for greater tolerance that we hope will prevail in the long term.”

Clearly. And as always this kind of jabberwocky creates wacko alliances. How about this one: Turkish and German nationalists that usually spit on each other are now pointing approvingly to the other's efforts to ban headscarves. And the European Court is playing a creaky third fiddle. Nice.

Innocent Man Enjoying a Beer or
Crazed Decadent Satanist?
(c) Barney Gumble

Speaking of the Court, here's another case soon before it. Homer might be in trouble:

"A Russian lawyer who says the US animated television satire "The Simpsons" has caused moral harm to his son plans to petition the European Court of Human Rights after a Russian court rejected his case for the show to be removed from prime-time viewing slots. The lawyer, Igor Smykov, charged that the popular program, syndicated in many countries around the world, spread "propaganda of violence, cruelty, drugs and homosexuality," but a spokeswoman for the Moscow court that heard his case confirmed it was rejected. Smykov, quoted by the RIA-Novosti news agency, said he would take his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. "I think I will be understood there," the agency quoted him as saying."Maybe, eh?

4. Lastly, for those of you still with me, here's the latest in the White Phosphorus Neverending Story. Those who initially so naively wanted to believe the RAI propaganda piece keep flogging that poor horse. And since speaking ill of the dearly departed still ain't cool I gotta keep at it like terrier style.
John Cole at Balloon Juice keeps on patiently debunking the myths. He quotes from a LA Times op-ed piece and relates the latest facts, but the very next day the same paper published yet another equine assault. People are such sadists, especially when dishing moral judgements. Next thing, they'll resort to spreading swamp fever.

Enough already. Isn't it clear that in this particular case - and plenty of others but I'll spare you...for now - world opinion has not been turned by US actions as much it has been manipulated to this effect by useful idiots at RAI (btw, this public broadcaster sure could learn a lot from Al Jazeera) and elsewhere. Thankfully they are so bad at it. To quote John Pike : "The only scandal here is that our government allowed the nation to fall victim to clumsy, cheap anti-American propaganda. At least during the Cold War, we made the Soviets work to discredit us."

Here are FIVE more pieces that amply demonstrate how useless these attempts are: from Tom Bevan on Real Clear Politics, the In DC Journal, Jim Kouri in the Sierra Times, and Michelle Malkin. Sure some use harsh partisan rhetoric, but that doesn't make it wrong. Who ever said cod-liver oil tasted good.


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