Friday, March 02, 2007

The Horror of Paul Belien

Can anyone explain to me why The Washington Times takes an interest in the ultra far-right intellectual flyweight Paul Belien? Belien is a Flemish Separatist and laughing stock of both the Belgian right and left, at least by those who've actually heard of this crackpot. Paul who??? is the most frequent reaction when mentioning our intrepid Europhobe in Belgian circles. He also runs the BrusselsJournal.com website, always good for a few laughs, assuming you can actually make out what they're blathering on about.

Here's a few excerpts from Paul's latest brainchild,
"2007 German horror tale?", conceived for TWT and clearly written with the less smart slice of conservative Americans in mind:
Home-schooling has been illegal in Germany since Adolf Hitler outlawed it in 1938 and ordered all children to be sent to state schools. The home-schooling community in Germany is tiny. As Hitler knew, Germans tend to obey orders unquestioningly. Only some 500 children are being home-schooled in a country of 80 million. Home-schooling families are prosecuted without mercy.

Now, I really do wonder what your average Dieter would think of this pernicious connection between state regulated education and Mr H. Not to mention Paul's ridiculous characterisation of the German people as unquestioning obeyers of orders. Paul, shame on you. TWT, what were you guys thinking while publishing this kind of drivel...

And it doesn't get any better:
All German political parties, including the Christian Democrats of Chancellor Angela Merkel, are opposed to home-schooling. They say that "the obligation to attend school is a civil obligation, that cannot be tampered with." The home-schoolers receive no support from the official (state funded) churches, either. These maintain that home-schoolers "isolate themselves from the world" and that "freedom of religion does not justify opposition against the obligation to attend school." Six decades after Hitler, German politicians and church leaders still do not understand true freedom: that raising children is a prerogative of their fathers and mothers and not of the state, which is never a benevolent parent and often an enemy.

The spectre of Hitler clearly still looms large over Germany and Germans still don't understand the meaning of the word freedom. Could it be though that the vast majority of 'German serfs' prefer to send their kids to state schools because all-in-all they receive a good and well-rounded education, which parents are in any case completely free to complement in any way they see fit? That any German parent who wishes to instil a particular set of values in his/her children can and will do so?

But to Belien and so many others, the state is the enemy. Belien's ideal world would probably be a stateless jungle, where the boundaries between his freedom and his neighbours' freedom would have to be disputed by means of force or arms (Belien has in the past called for a US-style right for Europeans to bear fire arms, presumably also to protect us from infidels, 'Marxists' and 'Muzzies' alike).
Hermann Stucher, a pedagogue who called upon Christians to withdraw their children from the state schools which, he says, have fallen into the hands of "neo-Marxist activists," has been threatened with prosecution for "Hochverrat und Volksverhetzung" (high treason and incitement of the people against the authorities). The fierceness of the authorities' reaction is telling. The dispute is about the hearts and minds of the children. In Germany, schools have become vehicles of indoctrination, where children are brought up to unquestioningly accept the authority of the state in all areas of life. It is no coincidence that people who have escaped Soviet indoctrination discern what the government is doing in the schools and are sufficiently concerned to want to protect their children from it.

So, instead of state "indoctrination", Paul and his supporters propose DIY indoctrination, in order to keep the children pure and uncontaminated by 'statist' views. Never mind the fact that a school is much more than a centre of learning, that it's also a community of friends and foes, a microcosm in which children learn to interact and stand up for themselves. A place where values like tolerance and friendship can be nurtured. Seemingly Paul's kids are well shielded from such influences by keeping in the company of children of like-minded bigots, presumably his finest and blondest friends? It all sounds a little, well, dare I say it... Hitleresque?
While it is disquieting that Europeans have not learned the lessons from their dictatorial past — upholding Nazi laws and sending dissidents, including children, to psychiatric wards, as the Soviets used to do — there is reason for Americans to worry, too. The United Nations is also restricting the rights of parents. Article 29 of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that it is the goal of the state to direct the education of children. In Belgium, the U.N. Convention is currently being used to limit the constitutional right to home-school. In 1995 Britain was told that it violated the U.N. Convention by allowing parents to remove their children from public school sex-education classes.
Last year, the American Home School Legal Defense Association warned that the U.N. Convention could make home-schooling illegal in America, even though the Senate has never ratified it. Some lawyers and liberal politicians in the states claim that U.N. conventions are "customary international law" and should be considered part of American jurisprudence.
At present, young Melissa Busekros' ordeal is a German horror story. Could it soon be an American one?

'Nazi laws' (check), 'Soviets' (check), 'sex education classes' (check) and of course the most imaginary foe of a considerable part of the American general public, the 'United Nations' (check), it's all there... And so, with a good dollop tasty Europhobia to boot, Paul must have captured the attention of quite a few American conservative Culture Warriors. We'll see him on Bill O'Reilly shortly, no question about it. I'll watch it with a mixture of horror and fascination...

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