Sunday, 21 January 2007

Fighting racism or encroaching on freedom. What's the difference?

Last week, a man of Moroccan origin living in the Flemish city of Ghent summoned Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt (VLD, the Flemish Liberal Party) and minister of Social Integration and Equality of Chances (yes, quite astonishing that this competence exists, indeed) Christian Dupont (PS, the Walloon Socialist Party). The reason why this man summoned them is because he is of the opinion that he is a victim of huge discrimination, as it's already the fourth time that he isn't allowed entrance in a dancing while his (Flemish and white pigmented) girlfriend can go in and out whenever she wants to. Hence, he states that the Belgian government isn't acting stringent enough to fight racism and discrimination. And according to both the European Convention on Human Rights and the Belgian constitution, racism nor discrimination on grounds of religion, conviction, ethnicity, gender and sexual nature is allowed.

The political correct establishment - which currently rules Belgium - immediately showed its empathy towards this Flemish-Moroccan guy and other 'victims' of 'atrocities' committed by 'racist' and 'ruthless' Flemings. The socialist parties of both Flanders and Wallonia stated that a huge expansion of state control in order to fight racism is required. They proposed to make it possible that government's inspectors could go 'undercover' to find out whether or not racism exists. For example: a government's inspector - "disguised" as an allochtone - could apply for a job (this will be a false apply, however). If he (or she) finds out that he or she is discriminated, it will be reported to the authorities who will eventually take the necessary (judicial) steps to prosecute the company. Fortunately, this anomaly will not occur, since the council of ministers couldn't agree whethter or not only government's officials (such as civil servants or bailiffs) or also volunteers could go undercover.

But those evil racists will be punished. O yes, they will! The government has decided to draw a bill (which needs to be discussed and ratified by the Belgian parliament), which says that if an employer, shopkeeper or waiter deny access to an allochtone (or other kind of minority), and when the suspect is brought to court, the accuser doesn't need to prove that he's a victim of discrimination, but the suspect will have to demonstrate that he DIDN'T discriminate. It seems quite obvious that this is a serious harm against the legal principle that each suspect isn't guilty untill his offence is proved. And it seems even more obvious that this is a serious precedent that is able to undress the constitutional state, and even more, is able to establish dictatorship.

Of course there was serious objection in Belgium's Chamber of Representatives last Thursday. However, the only party that rejected the government's proposal was the right-wing party Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest). Even the Flemish Liberal Party VLD - which automatically should defend civil liberties - supported the government. This is not really a surprise, since the VLD delivers Belgium's prime minister. And that prime minister, Guy Verhofstadt, accused the Vlaams Belang of inciting hate, xenophobia and racism. Mr Verhofstadt even stated that racism isn't a thing that's inherent to freedom of speech, and should be severely punished. And then we have to remind that Mr Verhofstadt once was a enthusiastic fellow of Friedrich Hayek and Margaret Thatcher. But these times are all gone...

It's true that racism is something condemnable. But instead of a grand repression mechanism for which the officials of the German Democratic Republic would even envy us, it would be a good thing to make civil society condemn racism. Secondly, it often happens that allochtonous (or other) job-applicants aren't recruited because they simply don't have the required qualifications. And as the only owner of a company is the boss and its shareholders, it should be up to them - and nobody else! - to decide who they will recruite and who not. The new arrangement (as it will be only a matter of time when the bill will be adopted by the parliament) is as such a serious threath to their property right.

Fortunately it will take only four months - until the 10th of June - that we have to scrutinize the despotic behaviour of our executive officials. On that date, the Flemish and the Walloons can - no, they must - go out voting. Let's hope that a fresh new wind, restoring our civil liberties, will blow through the streets of Brussels. But it's quite certain that we don't have to take this wish for granted, since Flanders' (and Belgium's) political parties are no more than copies of eachother: political correct and political correctest.

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