There are many reasons to doubt the European Union’s long-term continued existence in its current form, not the least of which is that its structure is, as a Friday Investor’s Business Daily editorial asserted, “a virtual dictatorship for bureaucrats.” As if that authoritarianism isn’t enough, the EU Parliament can now financially penalize, censor and even memory-hole its own members’ supposedly “offensive” speech — and it’s fair to allege that their real objective, with media cooperation, is to prevent the spread of populism under the guise of outlawing “racist” and “xenophobic” speech.
In a Wednesday interview, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson discussed the move with Richard Corbett, a Labour Party-affiliated British MEP (Member of the European Parliament). The UK Express described it Thursday as “an extraordinary ‘kill switch’ intended to combat racist speeches being made in Brussels.”
It’s important to note that the authority to use the “kill switch” is now in place, as the Express reported that “MEPs granted the parliament’s president authority to pull the plug on live broadcasts of parliamentary debate in case of of racist speech or acts and to purge offending video or audio material from the online system.” Some coverage of this development, including that found at one of Fox News’s own Insider pages, in describing what “would” happen, seem to indicate that the idea is only under consideration.
Corbett supports this new regime, and in fact authored it. In the full Carlson interview segment seen here, he also confirmed that “these were measures agreed to last year.”
Indeed they were, in December. How did the world’s press miss this development?
Here’s the excuse: The Associated Press’s Lorne Cook claimed on February 26 that it was “not made public by the assembly but first reported by Spain’s La Vanguardia newspaper.”
If the EU didn’t officially make it public, fans of the move let their members know about it, though somewhat cryptically.
On December 13, a post by an organization called the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe heralded the news. Additionally, that same day, the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (“the S&D Group”), quoted Corbett, as “the author of the proposals,” celebrating how the move would “strengthen sanctions against MEPs making inappropriate statements or attempting to disrupt parliamentary activity.”
Though their authors likely knew the full truth, neither announcement alluded to the “kill switch” or made any other reference to Parliament’s new ability to suppress speech. That said, the press, given these clues, appears not to have pressed the EU for details — or perhaps learned of them and decided to keep their readers, listeners and viewers in the dark.
The opening of Cook’s AP dispatch gives free-speech advocates all the ammunition they need to claim that the EU’s move is about far more than marginalizing alleged racist and xenophobic “hate speech”:
EU lawmakers, in unusual move, pull the plug on racist talk
With the specter of populism looming over a critical election year in Europe, the European Parliament has taken an unusual step to crack down on racism and hate speech in its own house.
In an unprecedented move, lawmakers have granted special powers to the president to pull the plug on live broadcasts of parliamentary debate in cases of racist speech or acts and the ability to purge any offending video or audio material from the system.
Trouble is, the rules on what is considered offensive are none too clear.
By for all practical purposes equating populism with “racism” and “hate speech,” Cook, perhaps inadvertently, made the European elites’ mindset all too clear.
This equivalence is important, as the final portion of the Carlson-Corbett interview will demonstrate:
TUCKER CARLSON: But let me just ask this. Do you believe you can stop populism by banning the ideas behind it?
RICHARD CORBETT, UK LABOUR MEP: Well, what we shouldn’t do is give succor to those who want to spread hate speech, hate messages, demonizing particular races or religions. That’s what this is targeted at, not the ordinary diversity of views. That will go on. There’s no problem with that.
And you know, this is a fallback safeguard provision in case of absolute necessity.
CARLSON: (laughs) Okay, it’s also Orwellian, but I appreciate your explaining it to us. Mr. Corbett, thanks.
Corbett cleverly played it close to the vest and avoided directly answering Carlson’s question. But in doing so, he still appeared to imply that populist sentiments are not part of “the ordinary diversity of views,” but instead qualify as “hate speech.”
Is that an unfair analysis? Further research indicates that it’s totally fair.
Corbett is almost certainly philosophically aligned, if not formally aligned, with the S&D Group, as he links to their website from his own MEP home page.
There is little doubt that the S&D Group is obsessed with equating populism, and even nationalism, with racism and xenophobia:
- In August, it will hold a “STOP EXTREMISM” meeting targeting “Extremism, Populism, Nationalism & Xenophobia with Experts.”
- It has made the association in several “position papers” during the past three years addressing “The rise of right wing extremism and populism in Europe.”
- In endorsing the U.S. presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton in July, the group lamented:
The US have been infected by the same virus of populism, racism, xenophobia that has affected Europe. This virus in Europe is named Le Pen in France, Farage in Great Britain, Orbán in Hungary, Northern League in Italy and Kaczynski in Poland. In the US this virus is named Donald Trump.
Carlson appears to be aware of how closely the European left reflexively smears any expression of populist sentiments by calling them racist and xenophobic. He needs to be more overt about exposing the smear artists, as do others who are fighting the good fight.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.