Yesterday, my love and me spent a pleasant evening watching a movie on DVD: Elizabeth, the Golden Age, with Kate Blanchett as an omnipotent yet insecure and humane Queen Elizabeth I. Was it my imagination or does this movie intentionally connect to the issues of Europe in the 21st century?
Spanish actor Jordi Mollà plays a frightfully fanatic Philip II of Spain, who, with his entourage of robed and bearded Catholic clergymen, incessantly praying (as all the Catholics in this movie do), echoes the robed and bearded religious fanatics of our day. And yet, soon after the opening titles, we hear the Queen say: “I will not punish my people for their beliefs. Only for their deeds.”
That is the trouble with 21st century Europe: politics is dominated by people who lack that courage and strength. Our fear of Muslims has brought us laws against headscarfs, calls to outlaw the building of more mosques, to stop Muslim immigration, to close Muslim schools, and many a website dedicated to spreading fear about Islam, about Muslims, about the Qur’an and about a future “Eurabia”. They are applying Ben Tre logic to freedom itself – destroying it in order to save it.
I am not saying that we should do nothing instead. We have laws and whoever breaks them, must face the full consequences of these, no matter what their background is. Stashing weapons is against the law in many nations. Preaching hatred and inciting violence is against the law in many nations. Planning attacks is against the law in many nations. Beating up your wife is, beating up children is. Those laws should be applied, no questions asked. And new laws should be introduced – laws to protect the freedom of married women, for example. Or laws against forced marriages.
Freedom takes courage. The courage to accept that some would like to have a different kind of state – be it Communist, Islamic, Protestant or Anarchist – and that they, too, are free to strive to achieve their goal. The courage to accept that some feel the urge to wear a headscarf, or to have green painted spikes as hair, or to wear a T-shirt mocking the head of state. And it takes strength – the strength to trust that freedom will prevail.
Certainly, it took courage as well to break the bonds of political correctness and some paid for it with their very lives. But instead of building on that courage and that inspiration, politicians today choose to cash in on the cheap success of fearmongering. Instead of denouncing all political correctness, politicians today choose to replace it with their own version of it, in which every positive note about Islam and Muslims is denounced as dhimmitude or taqiyya.
Back to the movie – near the end we see the Queen in full battle gear, inspiring her people with courage against a seemingly almighty foe – the Spanish Armada. It takes a true statesman to give the people courage and strength and a belief in themselves. And nowadays there are few if any statesmen around anymore. Most politicians choose to strike terror in the hearts of the people instead – and reap the short-term benefits of that.
The obvious reaction to these gutless, uninspiring politicians is already heard – more and more people would like to see a “real leader”. And we all know where that might take us.