#JeSuisCharlie and a free Europe

The storm clouds are gathering all over Europe. As in 1914 the lights are going out and may not be turned on again in our generation. A fragile economy and a fragmented society are under attack from radical fundamentalism and a resurgent fascism. The old continent is falling back into its old ways. The old guard, who fought at Stalingrad and on the beaches of Normandy for our freedom, are fading away. As France mourns its dead journalists, it is perhaps inconvenient to point out that there is no absolute right to free speech. Public discourse must respect the mores of civil society. We fought hard to have the liberties that been eroded steadily since 9/11 without any thought of the consequences. Paris is mourning an attack on the freedom of expression, as journalists and whistleblowers languish in American prisons. We tolerate mass surveillance, austerity and growing social inequality. The European project is stalled under the pressure of rising far right nationalism. Every life is precious. My family were on the beaches of Normandy, at El Alemein and present at the liberation of Bergen-Belsen. My mother grew up in the shadow of the Third Reich. We equate an extreme act of violence with the second largest religion in the world at our peril. The shrill cry of Islamophobia on Twitter and in the media yesterday sent shivers down my spine. Each generation has to learn by its own mistakes. Our Stone Age emotions did not evolve to cope with the technology of Star Trek. We are monkeys with nuclear weapons. As Chou-En-Lai said it is too early to assess the consequences of the French Revolution. Yet the consequences of Europe’s colonial meddling in the Arab world are there for all to see. When England suspends habeus corpus and Guantanamo Bay stays open for business the war on terror has lost its first major battle. It is at best a war of words, a semantic charade. If we are to be secure we must all be free. Free from fear and from want. 12 French citizens have joined many Palestinian children and Iraqis in the orgy of hate and violence orchestrated by the power of a military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us of. We did not listen. Je suis Charlie mais je suis aussi Spartacus. We did not listen to Rousseau either.

About Leighton Cooke

The Original Cookiemouse
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