Monday, March 7, 2011

Europe's Xenophobia Through Supposed Judeo Christian Values

A Guest Lecture at Maastricht University by dutch Minister Ben Knapen (CDA) for European affairs illustrates how the current Dutch government consistently places an anti-immigration BUT ALSO an anti-immigrant discourse at the top of it's priorities:
“because it is clear across Europe that societies can only absorb a certain number of immigrants with poor prospects. For too long, people have been told ‘that is the price you pay for open borders in Europe’. Understandably, they then ask themselves whether open borders create more disadvantages for them than advantages. So is it surprising that they turn their backs on Europe? That they don’t feel protected by Europe?"
The current CDA/VVD minority government rests on the parliamentary backing by the anti-immigration party PVV of Geert Wilders. The current Dutch Christian Democrats are in disarray after they lost half of their seats in june's parliamentary elections. Jan-Peter Balkenende, former prime-minister, had won several elections using his emphasis on judeo-christian values to forge an alliance between anti-Islam voters and the traditional Christian democratic electorat of protestants in the north and catholics in the south of the Netherlands.

However, large segments of the former Christian democrat electorat this time voted for Geert Wilders and his anti-immigration and anti-Islam platform. Jan-Peter Balkenende stepped down and his successor Maxime Verhagen from the catholic souther province Limburg, has formed a minority government with VVD which rests on the parliamentary support of Geert Wilders's PVV.

Judeo-Christian values, as Shlomo Sand explains, don't exist! Claiming they do was a poisonous strategy by Jan-Peter Balkenende to gain votes among xenophobic Dutch citizens.

The main reason Maxime Verhagen succeeded in convincing the Christian Democrat congress to form a government tolerated by a xenophobic political party (PVV), was precisely this political strategic emphasis on "judeo-christian values" by the former Dutch prime minister Jan-Peter Balkenende. This strategy attracted wrong people and wrong ideas to the party and to Christian Democracy in general.

As part of this xenophobic agenda the Dutch minister of immigration Gerd Leers, former mayor of Maastricht, actively advocates for violation of article 8 of the EU Convention on Human Rights the right to respect for private and family life.

His claim that limiting fundamental rights of family life of immigrants will help the integration of immigrants is clearly a sign that the current Dutch government pitches itself against core values of the EU integration project. Immigration among memberstates within the EU is an important tool in advancing further EU integration. Both European treaties and jurisprudence consistently reaffirm this view.

Attacking fundamental rights of EU citizens to family life as a political strategy is not only moral reprehensible, it's also a sign Gerd Leers does not understand the European project and more importantly it shows total lack of ideas on his part and by extension on the part of his, supposedly Christian democratic, party.

Gerd Leers and Maxime Verhagen, just like Geert Wilders both from the southern province Limburg, show that "Christian Democracy", especially it's catholic southern folksy brand, is dead. Opportunism is all that is left. Sad. I would call people like Gerd Leers and Maxime Verhagen "Christian Democrats In Name Only" (CDINO's). (BTW, I was not the first to use this term.)

Or, as TheRedMage comments on the excellent Guardian article "Has Christian Democracy reached a dead end in Europe?":
"I'd argue that most of the modern day Christian-democratic parties, the German CDU included, are now basically liberal-conservative parties, with Christian democracy becoming just a minor component of their ideology and outlook?"
In Dutch politics it's more like searching for the Christian-democratic needle in the liberal-conservative haystack.

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