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

Vinnere og tapere i kjølvannet av kommende ukes norske statsbesøk i Kina:

Vinnere: Beijing-regimet og norske næringsinteresser.

Tapere: Demokratiet, kinesiske opposisjonelle, dissidenter – og Kinas, så vel som verdens, menneskerettigheter.

Hva man antagelig kan kalle et rått parti.

Også rått parti:


Toppfoto: Erna Solberg på Den himmelske freds plass. Bloggers montasje.

P.S. Det bør dog anføres at samtlige norske partier later til å være innforstått med Norges vennskapelige omgang med totalitære og menneskefiendtlige regimer. Alt som gavner norske interesser, gavner verdens. Eventuelt: Drit i verden, leve Norge.

Who needs a free press anyway

Since the current U.S. president took office, we have witnessed a very special White House conduct towards the press, not least when he declared the press an enemy of all Americans the other day – and, of course, yesterday, prompting me to pose the following question, which I hope you find the time to answer:

Granted CNN wasn’t the only news outlet to be excluded from yesterday’s White House press briefing*. Seeing, however, that I used to work for said network (and a red heart’s colour so matches its logo), I thought it only natural to feature it.

*The list includes The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Politico, BuzzFeed, BBC and the Guradian, among others.

NATO, EU: Let Turkey go, please

We’re all fully aware of Turkey’s shortcomings, in terms of democracy – or the obvious lack thereof, rendering the country’s NATO affiliation membership something of a hot potato.

Nevertheless Turkey remains a member state, raising an urgent need to decide on the country’s future status, especially considering the Erdoğan regime’s zealous genocide on the Kurds, under the pretext of fighting ISIL (my above illustration, drawn last year, reads «The ones to the left? ISIL! The others, too. ISIL, every single one of them!» in English).

Bearing the evolving Russo-Turkish romance in mind, there’s every reason to raise concern over western leaders’ conduct lately, exemplified by Sweden’s former conservative PM’s many initiatives, such as:

To mention but two of his numerous pro Turkey-EU relations tweets, leaving yours truly truly flabbergasted – especially considering the fact that Mr Bildt’s statements represent the rule, rather than the exception. Nevertheless, his sentiment seems representative of that of most western leaders, collectively paying homage to this oppressor:

Tyrkias president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (foto fra Wikipedia).
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Photograph: Wikipedia.

Leaving this blogger at a loss for words.

Then again, with Donald J. Trump a not-too-unlikely future U.S. president, I suppose nothing ought to surprise, even if a NATO exclusion, as well as a full termination of all EU-Turkey talks would be the decent solution.

I’m not saying that it’s easy, what with Turkey’s key role as a refugee and migrant gatekeeper, and the country’s strategic location, but sacrificing one’s last trace of respectability because of it, is blameworthy, to say the least, and I think I’ve made it abundantly clear what I think of actions taken out of self-interest.

For shame!

Top illustration, translated into English: «The ones to the left? ISIL! The others, too. ISIL, every single one of them!». Blogger’s own drawing.

The U.S. presidential election highlighting the «dysfunction of democracy»?

While most of us observe the unfolding American presidential election in disbelief, some, among them Russian authorities and communist China, revel in its many unbelievable manifestations, claiming it proof that democracy simply doesn’t work.

Some even claim that Germany’s WW2 dictator Adolf Hitler and his fellow Italian fascist Benito Mussolini’s democratically won offices support that notion. Understandably so, as presidential contender Donald J. Trump most certainly is a fascist, leading many an observer to conclude that his victory would pave the way for a fascist America.

While a distinct possibility, it isn’t very probable, as the president’s power isn’t absolute. However, neither were the German Reichskanzler’s or the Italian prime minister’s, but they both made sure to undermine and remove all constitutional obstructions in their way, bullying the opposition into silence.

Could it happen again – in America? Even if we’re inclined to answer no, there’s no denying that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

With so many voters unable to recognise the similarities, it is tempting to conclude that the past indeed stands to be repeated, if, of course, the Trump campaign regains its foothold, which at present doesn’t seem very likely (but hey, who would have thought even his candidacy likely?).

And yes, a full-on fascist society is one possible outcome of any democratic election, just as much as a communist society is. An outcome of a democratic process, nevertheless, and one – as history has taught us – we’re likely to learn from, until a generation or two has passed (as we now see proof of).

Although we should be able to expect more, history, again, has shown that we can’t.

Meanwhile the Russians (and the Chinese) are having a ball:

Illustration: The U.S. Republican party’s presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. Blogger’s own drawing.

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).

If Turkey was a demokracy

If, and only if, Turkey happened to be a democratic country, these highlighted areas would qualify for an EU membership:

The European part of Turkey. Tyrkia
The European part of Turkey.

With everything being as it is, however, the rest of Turkey wouldn’t stand a chance, even if situated on the European side of the Bosphorus.

Truth be told it is, perhaps, time NATO expelled the country, too, and I kid you not. Well aware of the Bosphorus’ strategic importance (probably the only reason Turkey was allowed in the first place), I think we can safely say we can do without it.

På vei mot et totalitært, rasefiendtlig samfunn – og det er som det må være

Vi lever, enn så lenge, i et liberalt demokrati, med alt det innebærer av det vi anser selvskrevne friheter, som for eksempel retten til ytring. Alt sammen verdier vi får tro mange av oss gjerne ofrer mye for å bevare, enda det inkluderer de antiliberale kreftenes adgang til det offentlige rom.

Det er en demokratiform også denne bloggeren gladelig ofrer venstrearmen for (og jeg skriver med keiva!), eksteemistenes ytringsfrihet inkludert. Men tror samtidig vi gjør klokt i å legge oss på sinne at det er dem som vinner folkets hjerter, i alle fall i den forstand at de blir flere, noe de alt er (bare spør deg hvor mange i din omgangskrets som engang våget å ytre seg så nedsettende om andre folkeslag, for … la oss si tyve år siden). Er de først blitt flere, har vi også flere meningsbærere, som i sin tur skaper meningsbærere, som igjen … Ja, du ser sikkert hvor jeg vil.

Det ekstremes såkalte normalitet er engang påvist, ad nauseam. Forøkelsen er angivelig eksponentiell, etter hva de forteller – og hva vi ser.

Nettopp utsiktene til at vårt liberale demokrati skaper grobunn for de antiliberale kreftene, tjener selvfølgelig som demonstrasjon på at et fritt samfunn fungerer, og må derfor forsvares, mot dem som motarbeider det, ved å slippe dem til, slik at deres arbeid for å rasere det kan fortsette ufortrødent.

Jeg lød ikke ironisk nå, gjorde jeg vel? Faktum er, plagsomt nok, at jeg ikke ironiserer. For hvordan ivre for et liberalt demokrati – uten å praktisere det, enda utfallet, som en direkte følge derav, kan bli et totalitært, rasefiendtlig samfunn, smidd etter Hege Storhaug og Peder Are «Fjordman» Nøstvold Jensens maler?

Det er en risiko ethvert liberalt samfunn må løpe, og en kamp just nevnte krefter er i ferd med å vinne (det er nok å se på hvilke regjeringer vi velger oss). Paradoksalt nok som ytringsfrihetens triumf, siden det engang er dummere å predike et fritt samfunn, enn å leve i et.

Det er som det må være, skal vi være et liberalt demokrati.

Så lenge det varer, selvfølgelig.

Illustrasjon: Human Rights Services informasjonsleder Hege Storhaug. Bloggers tegning.

Høyres leder og statsministerkandidat Erna Solberg. Foto: Høyre/FlickrI anledning den triste merkedagen i går, er det bare å fastslå et nesten like trist faktum, nemlig at vår statsminister ikke nevnte tragedien, med så mye som én stavelse.

Søk på kombinasjonen «Erna Solberg» og «Beijing» i Kvasirs nyhetssøk, tidsbegrenset frem til påfølgende dag, resulterer kun i saker som omtaler statsministerens taushet (og noen tidligere saker om regjeringens ynkelige fremferd).

Det skal medgis at denne bloggeren slett ikke er sikker på at Jens Stoltenbergs rygg hadde vært rakere, for her er det nasjonens ryggesløshet som er betenkelig, vel så mye som den enkelte politikers.

Ennå gjenstår det å se hvor mange prinsipper vi er villig til å kaste på båten, i iveren etter å tekkes regimet i Beijing.

Jeg er stygt redd vi har noen hakeslepp i vente.


Den himmelske freds plass 4. juni 1989

Det er gått et kvart århundre, og Folkerepublikken Kina fortsetter ufortrødent sine brudd på menneskerettighetene, mens landet seiler opp som verdens trolig mektigste nasjon, med betydelig makt over langt mer enn norske myndigheter. Opprøret satte sine spor, men førte til lite annet enn økt innsats for å kamuflere overgrepene. 4. juni står med andre ord ikke som et gledelig jubileum, men som påminnelse om fortsatt årvåkenhet, og kritikk av Beijing-regimet. Ikke ettergivenhet! Hører du, Erna Solberg?