It’s a good thing, in pragmatic terms, that the progeny of the British Empire are now doing their own thing, self-government-wise. The US, Canada, Australia, India, New Zealand – a long list of us who have Mother England to thank for our democratic traditions have been self-sustaining in that regard – in fact, self-directed – for years, decades, or centuries.
But it’s still a profoundly sad thing to see Our Mum doddering into oblivion, suffering old-age dementia, political Alzheimer’s, whatever metaphorical tag we want to put on it, as the 2010 Pageant of the Absurd rambles on. I’m not talking here about David Cameron’s impolitic communications in Turkey – the truckling reference to Gaza as a “prison camp” – but about the less-reported visit of Arab-Israeli members of the Knesset to a committee of the House of Commons on Wednesday, 28 July.
At the hearing held in their honor, the Israeli Arabs reportedly “launched a blistering attack on the Jewish state and its Parliament,” with one informing members of the Commons’ “Palestine Solidarity Campaign” that “Israel is much worse than the apartheid regime in South Africa. There were no ethnic cleansing policies there, but there are those policies in Israel.”
Yada-yada. You can read the rest at the link. The visit and the charges made amount to the usual boilerplate, but Parliament’s handling of the event was appalling, by the very standards which that once-admirable body long pioneered and exemplified. It turns out that public attendees who were expected, in advance, to be critical of the agenda advocated in this hearing were denied access to it.
Here is the story of one blogger who was removed by the police – not because he behaved improperly or had any history of doing so, but before he was even in the hearing chamber at Westminster, and because he was known to blog from a pro-Israel standpoint.
Here is the story of another pro-Israel blogger denied access to the same hearing.
This report recounts that a third individual, who was admitted to the hearing, spoke in support of Israel and was afterwards “surrounded and intimidated in an incident witnessed and recorded by the police.”
This kind of thing can’t be spun as the misinterpretation of another culture’s charming customs. This is our culture. And this is our culture under the quasi-pharmaceutical influence of a wildly radical “political correctness” – a PC so extreme that it sets the police on anyone who is merely suspected of not being in agreement with it.
There is nothing Western, rational, reasonable, liberal, or empirical about ejecting skeptics from political hearings. There is no prized, quintessential Western tradition in which this is acceptable or makes sense. Parliament failed, in this case, to live up to Western standards of political discourse and public transparency. This is a matter for regret and anger, and the blame for it cannot rationally fall on the culture and traditions of the West. They neither prompt nor excuse such actions. In fact, the Western liberal tradition requires, as evidence of bona fides, that political deeds and words endure critical public scrutiny.
No, this is a matter of one the West’s iconic, centuries-old institutions behaving in a decidedly un-Western, illiberal, non-transparent and culturally foreign manner. No special circumstance like civil war, dueling aspirants to the monarchy, or societal upheaval excuses this lapse in peaceful transparency. We could debate how much of a dividing line there is between this and collectivist-Marxist repressions of political liberty. But given the topic of the hearing in question, it would be fatuous to a degree of idiocy to dismiss the concept of dhimmitude from critical examination.
Cross-posted at Hot Air.