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

Posted on Instagram this morning, by the way:

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Francophile ≠ Pro Franco

Dear France,

For the love of God (or of whomever you put your trust in), do not pave the way for the first Western European dictatorship since Francisco Franco, however Francophile you may be.

Godspeed, Macron

You may have noticed a significant drop in posts related to politics and international affairs lately, mostly due to a similarly growing disillusion and dwindling faith in humankind.

If what we perceived as the beacon of western democracy could elect a rambling fascist head of state, then so can France, although I quietly hope they won’t, in spite of Russia’s numerous attempts at preventing the reasonable outcome.

So crossing fingers, but have given up the last flicker of personal engagement entirely.

In a world this dark, there’s precious little you can do, other than pretending it simply isn’t there.

Godspeed, though, M. Emmanuel Macron.

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

Flimsy make believe concern no more, s’il vous plait

I quickly and instinctively drew this flag in response to the 13 November 2015 Paris incidents, with the following note:

Regardless the culprit(s) and his or their affiliation(s).

I reacted in much the same way as an immediate response to last summer’s Nice incident – and then some.

But you know, we can’t go on like that every time a police officer is killed in every country we know of, much as we sympathise, seeing as how police killings very much belong to the order of the day – and for a number of reasons.

Confident that police officers gave their lives elsewhere, too, yesterday, I regret that they did, but we need to let go of this faux and effortless concern, unless we feel obliged to award the perps the attention they seek, and continue to fuel the conflict, of course.

Trump travel ban: French far-right leader Le Pen applauds – CNN.com

(CNN) — The leader of France’s far-right Front National party, Marine Le Pen, has applauded US President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban and said a backlash to the measure was in “bad faith.”

Trump signed an executive order Friday barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days and suspending the admission of all refugees for 120 days. The order also indefinitely suspends the Syrian refugee program.

The leader of France’s far-right Front National party, Marine Le Pen, has applauded US President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban and said a backlash to the measure was in “bad faith.”

Source: Trump travel ban: French far-right leader Le Pen applauds – CNN.com

Clearly we live in a day and age in which granting far-right extremists access to a global audience is considered a given.

An end to the burkini hullabaloo?

Observant readers may have noticed last Wednesday’s outrage over recent developments in the once liberal and extremely secular France we all came to love. A liberal country, a society devoid of a civil dress code, leaving its citizens free to think, say or wear what suits them, which during the past week apparently turned into the complete opposite.

As we all learnt in the onset of the weekend now nearing its end, France’s top administrative court on Friday suspended the burkini ban – on civil liberties grounds.

All is, I suppose, well, that ends well.

Please understand, though, that my sentiment is nothing to do with the burkinis, or hijabs, niqabs and burqas, for that matter, but the values with which we pride ourselves, clearly in peril, due to our fear of terrorists wearing everything but burkinis.

Granted burkinis don’t belong to our culture, but I’ll let you in on a well-kept secret: Neither do cowboy hats. Truth is I find niqabs and burqas every bit as scary as the next guy, but for the love of God (regardless of what we call Him or Her), let the freedom to think, say and wear what we want, remain among the hallmarks of our democracies.

There are far better ways to counter terrorism (which is, after all, what this is all about), in itself completely unrelated to the afore-mentioned attires.

So thank you, France, for allowing us, once again, to shout a resounding

Vive la France!

Let’s just hope this nonsense has come to an end, despite continued social media commotion (coz let’s face it: it isn’t the clothing they’re after – not really).

Illustration: Islam critic and muslim. Blogger’s archived drawing (too lazy to draw a burkini-related one).

Please, France, no!

We’ve all felt a strong sense of solidarity with the French in the aftermath of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, Paris and Nice, coupled with a growing rage against the so-called Islamic state, ISIL.

The attacks on the birth place of liberty, equality and brotherhood, the model of modern Western civilisation, felt like an attack on us all, an attack, perhaps, on those very ideas, threatening to take it all away, rendering us anything but free, equal and fraternal.

Could they be about to succeed? Today’s news may serve as an indication:

Forcing us to wonder wherein the difference lies, between French police officers and Jew-harassing SA troops of the Third Reich. Granted the above depicted gendarmes simply carry out orders, as opposed to Hitler’s zealous stormtroopers. The outcome, however, remains the same: ethnic and religious harassment, for which the French, as much as the Germans (and the rest of us), should of course be ashamed.

SA-medlemmer
Nazi stormtroopers in front of a Jewish shop.

I have, up until recently, been ambivalent to the proposed burkini ban, but that was until today’s Niçoise news reached us all.

The very thought of scenes such as the one just seen in Nice had me convinced that the ban is everything but libre, égal or fraternel, but the complete opposite.

Thank you, France, but no thanks.

This blog post’s top illustration, originally used in the wake of the Bataclan massacre, takes on a whole new meaning.

Je suis désolé, albeit for an entirely different reason altogether.

When in Prague 2

Når man ferierer, er det fra alt som ellers måtte oppta en, verdens viderverdigheter innbefattet, men med desto større anledning til å prøvesmake tsjekkisk øl, selv om man rimeligvis ikke stopper der. Som dagens, inntatt ved Vltavas bredd, like ved Karlsbroen; Černá Hora, som smakte utmerket i solsteken, i og for seg, om navnet voldte aldri så små fnis, der man satt hinsides øyen Kampa, som fikk en til å undres om tsjekkerne har en greie for a-endelser. Det skulle jo ha tatt seg ut om haugen mellom Tøyen og Jordal benevntes Kampa, som i «kampa, kåra og krava». Til det slo en at «Černá Horen» neppe hadde klinget stort bedre.

Ferie, altså, fra verdens generelle elendighet, skjønt man ingenlunde går klar, som utenfor franskmennnenes ambassade til Praha, i kjølvannet av forrige ukes grusomheter i Nice:

«You may», som de sier, «run, but you cannot hide».

Det er en liten verden, og ingen skal fortenke en i trangen til å drukne sorgene i Černá Hora, og andre tsjekkiske spesialiteter.

Alright, terrorists, you win

As an open-minded liberal I have always championed open borders, free movement for workers and the freedom to settle in the country of your personal choice, which is an attitude I intend to maintain, in spite of the terrorists’ persistent attempts at mulling it.

Only problem is, of course, that with every attack – and you have to admit that they have become pretty damned frequent – I can feel my persuasion deteriorate, to a point where I have come to fear that some of the right-wing alarmists may have a point, but remain reluctant to sink to their level.

After all, as I pointed out in the 12 June post Clash of civilisations in full bloom?, following the Orlando incident, “Muslim” terrorists and right-wing westerners have one thing in common; The shared intention to escalate the level of conflict between the Muslim world and the West, a battle I fear they are about to win.

Although I shouldn’t be, I’m deeply shocked by yesterday’s attack on Nice, but have to admit that similar attacks in Muslim countries rarely have the same impact. Not because I don’t oppose them, but because, in all honesty, they seldom come as a surprise. Which, of course, is why I take offense by those reluctant to disapprove of terrorist attacks carried out in the West, on account of the West’s failure to display the same degree of shock and disgust for similar attacks in the East or Middle East.

And so it begins, the afore-mentioned clash of civilisations, I fear, whether last night’s assailant indeed was a “Muslim” terrorist or not.

I won’t compliment the terrorists (and their far right opponents) on their accomplishment, but must, however reluctantly, admit that, with every terrorist attack carried out by “Muslims” or people claiming to represent Islam (which, more often than not, is the case), the contrasts and hostilities are deepening.

As for this blogger, let’s just say that my convictions aren’t quite what they used to be, even if it involves declaring defeat.

We would, however, be well advised not to automatically brand last night’s incident as a terrorist attack. This blog post relates to general observations based on widespread assumptions.