Non Tibi Spiro has an interesting piece on Belgian attempts to curb freedom of speech, following the forced dissollution of the Flemish nationalist party Vlaams Blok back in November. In Belgium, soon “denial of genocide or of crimes against humanity that have been recognized by an international tribunal” will be a criminal offence.
This is insane. If people want to dispute proven facts, let them. It just shows them up for being the idiots they are.
“Politicians and media alike should start by addressing the issue in a direct and open way. Forget political correctness for a moment, let the people speak and if they are wrong, PROVE that they are wrong. EXPLAIN to them why they are wrong. Talk FACTS not opinions.”
Much of the western political tradition is based on Athenian notions of dialectic, as further clarified and codified by Hegel. Ideally, one person states an opinion, another person states theirs, they debate, and eventually either one side wins or a compromise or alternative solution is reached.
Thesis + Antithesis => synthesis. It’s simple. If you ban people you disagree with from presenting their antithesis, a true synthesis can never be reached, as the true range of opinions has not been discussed. In a political system which works through debate, we need all the debates to be out in the open. In a political system which works through debate, the weak arguments will quickly be shown up for what they are.
If we are so certain that the likes of the BNP and other fascist/racist organisations are wrong, why do we need to fear them? For that is the message they take from being banned – the “liberal elites” feel threatened. Let them speak so we can loudly and enthusiastically counter them with rational, sensible fact.
This is not a debate such as that over the EU, where many Eurosceptic claims are entirely sensible and difficult to disprove. It should be the easiest thing in the world to show racism to be stupid and unjustified.
Let them speak. Sooner or later, the facts will speak for themselves:
“‘Isn’t it terrible,’ said the man, ‘that the government says it’s illegal to say anything against the killing of millions of Jews in Auschwitz?’ He went on to explain to Grï¿½ning how it was ‘inconceivable’ for so many bodies to have been burned…
“But Grï¿½ning knew very well it had happened – for he was posted to Auschwitz in September 1942, as a 22-year-old member of the SS. Almost immediately he witnessed the arrival of Jews at the camp. ‘I was standing at the ramp,’ he says, ‘and my task was to be part of the group supervising the luggage from an incoming transport.’ He watched while SS doctors first separated men from women and children, and then selected who was fit to work and who would be gassed immediately. ‘Sick people were lifted on to lorries. Red Cross lorries – they [the SS] always tried to create the impression that people had nothing to fear.’ Grï¿½ning estimates that 80-90% of those on the first transport he witnessed were selected to be murdered at once.
“Later, he witnessed the burning of bodies: ‘This comrade said, “Come with me, I’ll show you.” I was so shocked that I stood at a distance. The fire was flickering up and the kapo [a prisoner in charge of work details] there told me afterwards details of the burning. And it was terribly disgusting – horrendous. He made fun of the fact that when the bodies started burning they obviously developed gases from the lungs and these bodies seemed to jump up, and the sex parts of the men suddenly became erect in a way that he found laughable’…
“‘It was a shock that you cannot take in at the first moment,’ he says. But once he had been at Auschwitz for several months, the work, he says, had become ‘routine’. ‘The propaganda had for us such an effect that you assumed that to exterminate them was basically something that happened in war. And, to that extent, a feeling of sympathy or empathy didn’t come up.’
“‘I would like you to believe me,’ he says. ‘I saw the gas chambers. I saw the crematorium. I saw the open fires. I was on the ramp when the selections took place. I would like you to believe that these atrocities happened, because I was there.’”