The fascists are back in Europe
By Simon Glover, Daily Mail Columnist 09:56am 29th October 2004
Rocco Buttiglione, an Italian politician, has been denied the post of European Justice Commissioner in Brussels. Behind these bland words lies a terrific scandal whose outcome bodes ill for the 400 million citizens of the European Union.
What has Mr Buttiglione done? He is a devout Roman Catholic and a friend of the Pope. As a politician he is a moderate conservative. He happens also to be a professor of moral philosophy. He was nominated by the Italian government as Italy's Commissioner in Brussels.
His mistake was to tell the truth. Interrogated by a committee of the European Parliament two weeks ago, he expressed views on homosexuality and the role of women which reflect mainstream Catholic thought and Catholic teaching. These views have been described by that great liberal organ the Financial Times as "objectionable".
How so? On the subject of homosexuality this is what Mr Buttiglione said: "I may think of homosexuality as a sin, but it has no effect unless I say it is a crime. The state has no right to stick its nose in this area... The rights of homosexuals should be defended on the same basis as the rights of all other European citizens. But I don't accept that homosexuals are a category deserving of special protection."
This does not sound particularly extreme to me. Nor do his views on gay marriage, which he thinks is a matter that each EU member state should work out as it thinks best.
His views on women, which have drawn equal censure from many members of the European Parliament, are certainly conservative, but hardly offensive. He told the European Parliament committee that traditional marriage allows "women to have children while having the protection of a man". He explained that "we have to have policies that allow [women] to become mothers and develop their talents".
Mr Buttiglione's opinions on homosexuality and the role of women have been attacked by a coalition of communists, socialists, Greens and (to their eternal discredit) so-called Liberals. Yet they would have been shared by nearly all politicians of every political persuasion 50 years ago. What Mr Buttiglione believes is what the Pope teaches today, and what hundreds of millions of Roman Catholics in Europe and throughout the world also profess. I would guess that many Anglicans and non-believers in this country would find themselves in at least partial agreement with his sentiments.
Yet Mr Buttiglione has been portrayed by European Parliamentarians as a bigot and an extremist, and his appointment as a Commissioner has been vetoed. Many British Labour and Liberal MEPs have painted him as a dangerous character who cannot be allowed to hold office in Brussels.
In a futile attempt to appease his critics he has even apologised. "Words so emotionally charged as sin should perhaps not be introduced into the political debate," he said. "I did not intend in any way to offend the feelings of anybody and, in particular, of women and homosexuals." This handsome apology made no difference.
The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, even offered to remove civil liberties - which include gay and lesbian rights and sex discrimination - from Mr Buttiglione's portfolio. The zealots who want his scalp would not shift their ground. Mr Barroso caved in, and Mr Buttiglione will either be assigned another job or, much more likely, sent back to Rome.
Whether you share his views or not, this is as nasty an example of intellectual fascism as one is likely to find. Mr Buttiglione is no fanatic. His beliefs are in the tradition of Christian thought. They also happen to be shared, though in much more extreme form, by most Muslim leaders. But if he were a Muslim, I very much doubt that he would have been treated as he has been.
Here is a man of traditional Catholic beliefs - which, I repeat, are promulgated by the Pope and accepted by most Catholics - who is not allowed to take his place as one man on a 25-person Commission. He is rejected even though he has made it clear that his private views about homosexuality and women would in no way affect the execution of his official duties.
At the same time his fellow European Commissioner, Peter Mandelson, is not required to say that he will set aside his pro-homosexual views in carrying out his responsibilities. In the morality of the new European political class, Mr Mandelson is the norm, and Mr Buttiglione the pariah. I should add that Mr Mandelson has generally behaved well during this crisis, even saying that Mr Buttiglione's private views are his own affair.
Of course, Mr Buttiglione has to some extent been a victim of the European Parliament's desire to increase its power at the expense of the Commission. That is an explanation, not a justification. It is true that the European Commission is not accountable, though whether the European Parliament carries much more democratic legitimacy is highly doubtful. If the Parliament wants to take on the Commission, it could have found a dozen worthy causes.
My point is not that Mr Buttiglione is a saint. There have been reports over recent days that he was investigated by authorities in Monaco as part of a money-laundering case which never came to court. He has denied the charges, and they may well be part of an orchestrated attempt by his enemies to defame him.
But there is no need for us to take a view about the man's character. The issue is one of freedom. Naturally I accept that freedom has its limits. I would not defend a politician's right to incite racial hatred or preach the merits of eugenics. But Mr Buttiglione's views have been held, and are still held, by vast swathes of Christendom.
We hear in him the civilised voice of a Catholic intellectual. He does not push his views. He is prepared even to apologise for causing hurt. Described as an extremist, he does not, in fact, wish to coerce anyone into changing their behaviour. He regards the way we live our lives as a matter for personal conscience, and of faith, not the business of politicians such as himself.
His opponents are the voice of the New Europe. They laughably describe themselves as liberals, and think of themselves as being enlightened. But they cannot, in fact, tolerate the opinions even of one moderately important person with whom they disagree. Only what they hold to be right can be permitted to hold sway. It is their views, not Mr Buttiglione's, that are truly objectionable.
We like to see ourselves as living in a new enlightened age in which Europe has turned its back on the evils of fascism. Above all, this was a political creed that could not tolerate dissenting voices. This great new European Parliament, which thinks of itself as the voice of the New Europe, turns out to have rather too much in common with the old.
I don't see much in this about where the people of Europe had any say in this affair at all.
It looks like the EU really wants to set up a oligarchy, not a working goverment with any measure of democracy.
Europe could be one nation, politically stable, IF it became a Democratic Federal Republic with a system close to that of the United States.
But this cockamame affair they have cobbled togeather is doomed to failure, it will either collapse or produce a dictatorship.
Could not have put it better myself…
I hate the whole EU crap with a vengence…and it will all end in tears.
Britains natural and only reliable friends and allies all have one thing in common… we/they speak English…United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand
The real big problem with continental Europe?
Lack of Internet penetration.
They lag way behind us in internet connectivity and households with computers. Thus their only source of media is TV and newspapers which are even less reliable than those in the US.
Even those who have satellite, only get to see CNN and MSNBC for the most part, and they are Europhiles, only some areas of Europe even get FNC, and it apparently gets considered as the radical flyer because it is so out of sync with what the other US media soucrces and local sources say.
Only by getting more connected to the Internet can those on the continent can see they are being lied too.
Isn`t it ironic or sad,really that it is the English speaking world that always come to defense of free peoples or liberate the oppresseed? I guess the grandchildren of appeasement, surrender, and collaboration couldn`t be bothered or are too terrified to take a stand.
Heh... And we were all part of your nation at one time or another...
The best parts of your former empire form the best parts of today's world...
Maybe we should all start saving our tax dollars for another liberation.
They'll never learn.
ECC/EU idiots.... don't these people read books or do they just eat bread and cheese and fart?
It's all about greed.. again. I pity the folks 'over there'. Twice the price with half the pay.. wonderful!
Wait, a CATHOLIC with conservative views? I don't believe it. Let's continue to label all of them as Kerry-loving, dumbass, liberal trash. ARFCOM might implode if we quit being prejudice against the Catholics. Ignore the story and let's get back to our non-dancing, non-alcoholic, non-caffine Catholic bashing lives. Hell I'm so wound up over this I think I'm going to need a second saving and maybe go play with some fucking rattlesnakes.
The frightening fact is that the left in this nation is doing the exact same thing to our judicial apointees, and they tried to do the same thing to John Ashcroft.
The agenda and tactics of the left appear to be the same everywhere. In Europe, they have obviously gained the upper hand. I only hope they don't gain the upper hand here!