An embarrassing display of disgust

Norway’s prime minister Erna Solberg’s conduct during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony yesterday agitated quite a few, clearly demonstrating her contempt, not only by abstaining from applauding a number of statements, but by clapping – and smiling – in a demonstratively condescending way. Yours truly not exempt:

Needless to say there’s been a lot of debate in the wake of the whole thing. The PM herself, and those sharing her view on nuclear weapons, keep trying to explain that applauding attitudes she does not share would be dishonest, and who am I to contradict that? Hell, I even agree.

Nevertheless the incident turned out to be a blatant show of the official Norway’s distaste for Nobel laureate ICAN, which surely cannot possibly have been the Nobel committee’s intention.

Better then to stay away, leaving the Norwegian parliament’s opposition, sharing ICAN’s views, to represent the official Norway.

That could have brought some dignity to the mockery we were forced to witness.

With all that said, I’m not at all sure that a unilateral disarmament is the way to go (in Norwegian), but this performance was nothing less than a blatant display of disgust. For which I’m deeply embarrassed.

Photo: Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg (Conservatives). Photographer: Tomas Moss – http://www.icu.no.

In a tweet yesterday (please forgive its – Norwegian – language) I put it to my fellow tweeters that the longer an occupying force (Spain) is able to hold an occupied possession (Catalonia, since 1714), the bigger the chance of the occupation’s international approval:

Most of those protesting the statement objected that the occupation has lasted too long for the assertion to hold true.

Also see: Let Catalonia remain occupied, if they so desire

Let Catalonia remain occupied, if they so desire

I like Spain. Not only because I’ve visited several times and quite like it there, but also because I favour unity over separatism, which goes for Spain as for any other country, as well as my beloved homeland, Europe.

However, we should remember that the late generalissimo Francisco Franco remains in high esteem among many a Spaniard. Also his Guardia Civil‘s conduct during the Catalan referendum weeks ago, immediately woke my sympathy for the Catalan separatists – and their demand for independence.

With that said, I find separatism a bad idea, just as I find unity a good one, which includes Catalonia and Spain. Nevertheless, there are a couple of factors that we need to take into account.

What ever the outcome, the international community needs to ensure that democracy prevails. Today we hear claims that the Catalan referendum was illegal, rendering, therefore, the declaration of independence equally illegal, but is that actually the case?

  1. We need to remember that the declaration was made, not by the referendum, illegal or not, but by the legally elected Catalan parliament. Whether or not that decision was based on the referendum, it was indeed made by the Catalan people’s legally elected representatives. As the case always is, when ever democracy is at work.
  2. We’ve heard claims that a new referendum would have to be held throughout Spain, in order to secure the referendum’s legitimacy. To which I should perhaps remark that:
    1. The minute you assign an overwhelming majority the task of deciding a minority’s future, how could you possibly expect an outcome favouring anyone but the majority?
    2. Said majority is an occupant, insofar that Spain invaded, occupied and annexed Catalonia in 1714, rendering Spain a de facto occupying force. Since when did international law condone an occupying country’s right to decide the fate of the occupied?

These are all facts that we need to keep in mind, whether we favour Catalan separatism or not. Personally I do not, but if we are to discuss these matters, I think it’s only fair that we do so on the basis of facts.

Illustration: The Estelada blava. The Catalan flag. Blogger’s own drawing.

As self-declared inventor of the word “fake” (true story!), perhaps the current U.S. president should be wary of how he himself is seen, because while no supporter of the Mexican wall – or the Obamacare repeal and replacement, I cannot help wondering how the Donald’s two urgent-most measures seem less feasible than any other.

Photo: U.S. President Donald Trump. Detail from official White house portrait.

When extremism changes our view of normalcy

Most people weren’t surprised by yesterday’s Alternative für Deutschland landslide election, perhaps because we long since allowed extreme views in our own governing bodies, to such an extent that their views increasingly become our own, seen as the standard to which we’re all held.

Seen in light of this, Americans supporting a proto-fascist’s U.S. presidency, or Norwegians, securing another four years of xenophobic rule, should of course not be surprised by a German 12.6 percent AfD support. We should, however, be surprised that extreme views no longer surprise us. Maybe because “they” are now “us”.

The German election received significant news coverage yesterday, as it should, regardless the outcome – granted with some attention to the extremist advance, although few bothered to raise an eyebrow (which is my real concern here).

The term “white shirts” is about to establish itself as descriptive of the white-shirt-clad neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, whose marching no longer affects or concerns us, lulled into the impression that it’s all as it should be, rendering even authorities on extremism fairly indifferent to their success.

Why?

Perhaps because said Nazis do not define themselves Nazi, and after all, we have to take their word for it, no?

No.

In any event yesterday’s extremism is seen as today’s state of normalcy, and it should scare the living daylight out of us. Unfortunately, brought to a state of indifference, it does not. Furthermore and off the top of my head, I can think of only two groups rejecting the Nazi term used on modern-day Nazis: The moderate voices advocating dialogue over condemnation – and the Nazis themselves.

As mentioned in this blog on many an occasion, we often ask ourselves how the interwar Germans could possibly allow Adolf Hitler’s rise to power.

Really? I mean, really?

Photo: White shirts marching in Sweden (and increasingly, hardly noticeable, in our very own streets).

Reciprocation is terrorism, too

Last night’s attack on a Finsbury Park Mosque would appear to be an act of retaliation, but make no mistake about it: Any action carried out as an act of revenge is every bit as terroristic as the act it was intended to retaliate, although I notice how easily I’m provoked by muslims using the incident as proof that Christians/European/white people are every bit as bad as Isil.

Having said that, retaliation is not the way to go about this. Au contraire it is exactly what the terrorists want: An all out clash of civilisations (as pointed out on numerous occasions).

The situation calls for calm composure, even if chances are we’ll have just the opposite.

France beware

A huge fan of France’s newly elected and instated president Emmanuel Macron I remain a staunch supporter of his policy and – up until now – suggested measures, saluting his landslide win in the two stages of the recent presidential election.

A victory in today’s legislative election wouldn’t go amiss either, but there’s every reason to sound the alarm should that victory, too, turn out to be overwhelming.

While I lean more in the direction of Macron’s beliefs than in that of any other candidate, I have always been wary of excessive concentration of power.

Before long my French favourite could emerge an absolute and despotic leader (remember, we do seem particularly susceptible to “strong men” these days).

Certainly I salute the French for taking a firm stand against the nationalists, but feel an urge to remind them that dictators come in many shapes and colours – even in the gentlest of appearances.

There’s something very, very scary about democracies with no real opposition.

Photo: France’s president and En Marche! party leader Emmanuel Macron. Photograph from Business France/Flickr

Western tolerance a red rag to the ISIL bull?

On a day like today our thoughts and potential prayers go to the British people, in the aftermath of last night’s terrible attack – the third within just as many months, leaving us blindsided and appalled, while ISIL calls for an “all-out war” during Ramadan.

You have to admire the Brits’ phlegmatic approach, as illustrated by the iconic WW2 poster:

Keep calm and carry on

Admirable as the attitude may be, it would appear that it has done little to prevent terrorist attacks. Judging by the increase in incidents, on the contrary.

My deepest fear has been that it would some day come to this, as mentioned in a June 2016 blog post; Clash of civilisations in full bloom? The problem, of course, is as follows:

ISIL’s declared intention is to create a divide, a state of war between the Muslim world and the west, a strategy which has failed completely, due to our continued tolerance of Islam and the Arab world, seriously pissing ISIL off, and motivating an increase in the terrorist organisation’s attacks, of course.

Finding myself the uncle of two adorable Muslim kids, mobilising hate against the Muslim community is, of course, an impossibility. Would be, even if it wasn’t for my sweet Muslim nephew and niece.

Having said that, I remain fearful that our failure to consider the outcome of ISIL’s war declaration a western war on Islam, rather than a war on ISIL itself, will only serve to intensify the terrorists’ efforts.

If we’re to preserve our last remnants of human decency, though, it all boils down to a damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

Human decency, however, has my vote – even if it will inevitably lead to more terrorist attacks.

Luckily that is a decision I make on my own behalf only.

Top illustration: Islam critic and muslim. Blogger’s drawing.

Buh-bye, #NATO?

German chancellor Angela Merkel’s statement today, that Europe can no longer “completely depend” on the US and UK following the election of President Trump and Brexit, reminds me of a blog post I published about a year ago; Trump, Putin at the helm – NATO in dissaray, voicing the eventuality of a European NATO exit, in order to build a European alliance, based on the remnants of WEU (Western European Union) and EUFOR, for instance.

Chancellor Merkel’s address in Munich today brings the issue to the table once more – an issue this blogger, for one, finds increasingly appealing.

Zagan Poland Nato USA soldiers military
U.S. Army NATO and Polish Soldiers provide reception and security for arriving U.S. helicopters and Soldiers at a Polish Army training area in Zagan, Poland, June 12, 2015. Photo from U.S. Army.

An imminent Norwegian EU membership is of course a given, unless we prefer to continue regarding ourselves more of an American protectorate than a European country, of course.

I sincerely hope not.

Photo: The European Union and the world. Photo from the European Commission.

Terrorism is here to stay – as it always was

The so-called war on terror is, as we all know, aimed at the final eradication of terrorism altogether – at wiping global terrorists off the face of the earth.

Although I share the dream, it should be pointed out that it remains a dream, with no roots in reality whatsoever.

Granted there’s a lot to be done, in terms of reducing risk of terrorist attacks, but mind you, the terrorists will persist – in the shape of revolutionaries (RAF or the Brigate Rosse), separatist groups (ETA or the IRA), pseudo-religious groups (ISIL or the Ilaga) and white supremacists (KKK and lone wolves, such as Anders Behring Breivik).

Barnemorderen Anders Behring Breivik under rettsaken i Telemark fengsel, Skien, 15. mars 2016. Bloggers data-assisterte illustrasjon (Waterlogue).
Child killer/mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik during trial in the Telemark prison, Skien, 15 March 2016. Blogger’s Waterlogue-based watercolour.
Hell, even Israel’s former PM Menachem Begin used to be considered a terrorist by the British mandatory government in Palestine – and rightfully so.

Whereas today, terrorism appears synonymous to Islam, and the other way around. Well, as already pointed out, it isn’t. Furthermore, for as long as people find a cause worth fighting for, with their lives, if need be – there will be terrorism, rendering the so-called war on terror utterly futile, I’m sorry to say.

Let’s just do what we can in terms of damage control, and in order to minimise recruitment, agreed?

Top illustration: An ISIL terrorist in front of the Stade de France. Bloggers own drawing, dated last summer, superimposed on stolen photograph (the football is stolen, too, except for the burning fuse).