By Finian Cunningham
January 10, 2015 “ICH” – “Press TV” – Speaking outside Elysée Palace in the aftermath of this week’s terror killings in France, former President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned the violence as “an attack on civilization.” Coiffured, sun-tanned and nattily dressed, Sarkozy’s solemn words made him appear like the embodiment of civility.
That’s a quaint turn in etiquette by a politician who is mired in allegations of sleaze and corruption, as well as war crimes.
Sarkozy wasn’t too concerned about “civilization” when he and his British allies launched the NATO bombing campaign of Libya in March 2011 in stark violation of a UN mandate. That seven-month onslaught led to the murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi – from whom Sarkozy had gladly received hush-hush political donations in the past, before stabbing him in the back.
The illegal French-led NATO blitzkrieg on Libya subverted a constitutional government and resulted in the ongoing destruction of one of Africa’s most economically developed countries. Libya has been sacked to become a failed state, over-run by extremist Takfiri militia and tribal warlords, whose warped ideology is shared by the ISIS terror network destroying Syria and Iraq. The same ideology includes the armed adherents who struck this week in Paris, killing more than a dozen people.
So Sarkozy’s concern for attacks on civilization is well qualified – although you won’t hear it put quite that way in the thought-control Western media. The very extremist forces he helped to unleash from the illegal overthrow of the Libyan state have now killed his own people right in the capital of his republic.
One of the presumed touchstones of Western civilization that was allegedly defiled this week is “free speech” and “freedom of expression.” Sarkozy was joined by other Western political figures, from US President Barack Obama, to British Premier David Cameron, in condemning the murderous assault on the Paris-based satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in terms of a war on “our values.”
The magazine had previously incensed millions of Muslims worldwide by its publication of images profaning Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). That is believed to have provided the motive for the gunmen who, while fleeing the scene in Paris, shouted: “The prophet has been avenged.”
French President Francois Hollande declared the slain journalists and cartoonists as “heroes” who died for the lofty principle of freedom of speech.
But like other presumed Western values, such as human rights, freedom of speech is a much over-rated principle – over-rated by the Western governments and institutions like the corporate-controlled media, who invoke it as a ideological badge of honor that distinguishes them and makes them superior to others.
In practice, however, such Western values are no more than chimera. They are empty slogans whose mere espousal and conceited, disingenuous profession is for propaganda purposes.
What human rights or respect for rule of law did Sarkozy, Cameron and Obama adhere to when they oversaw the destruction of Libya? Or in the ongoing covert destruction of Syria and Iraq (despite belated Western claims of liquidating the terror network that they spawned in the first place for regime change in Syria.)
Insofar that Western governments support free speech, it is more often for expedient political advantage. It is not a universal ethic, as claimed. And, laughably, they are telling barefaced lies to claim otherwise, as they continually do.
A French satirical publication may have been allowed to denigrate Islam, but it would never be allowed to condemn Zionism and all its provable criminality. It is doubtful the magazine in question would print cartoons of Sarkozy, Obama or Cameron with explosives tied to their heads or dropping bombs on Libya. Even though the latter is not satire; it actually reflects the reality of criminal actions and events.
So, Western “free speech” is really just freedom for the powers-that-be to demean and demonize whomever the West requires for furthering its political interests. When free speech legitimately attacks Western interests, exposes hypocrisy and fraudulence, then it stops being a “universal principle.” Censorship is then the ironclad order.
French comedian Dieudonné, for example, has been banned from public performances by the French government owing to his farcical arm gesture, known as the “Quenelle.” The gesture can be interpreted in many ways, from a vulgar personal insult, to a derisory slur on the ruling class. The French authorities claim that the sign is “anti-Semitic” and a reverse Nazi salute. Dieudonné denies this and instead says the gesture is “anti-Zionist” and “anti-establishment.”
The comedian has been banned from travelling to Britain by the London authorities, also as a result of his political parodies. His friend and professional footballer, Nicolas Anelka, was last year banned from playing soccer games in England and fined over $100,000 for signaling the Quenelle after scoring a goal.
Almost a year before the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo magazine this week in Paris, French President Francois Hollande gave notice that there would be zero-tolerance of Dieudonné or anyone else who practiced the Quenelle. “We will act… we will fight against the sarcasm of those who purport to be humorists but who are actually professional anti-Semites,” said Hollande.
But hold on a moment. That’s just what the French ruling class deems to be the meaning of Dieudonné’s Quenelle. On the basis of their prejudice, the artist and anyone who displays the gesture in public is subject to prosecution. That’s not just censorship; it is state persecution for having an opinion.
Evidently, it’s acceptable to insult Islam, according to Western select use of free speech because it suits political agendas of demonizing Muslim countries so that they can be attacked with Western warplanes or covert terrorist proxies. But it is not acceptable to satirize Zionism or Western ruling classes.
And here is another revealing touchstone. Why is Press TV banned from British terrestrial and satellite television broadcasting? Why is the Iran-based channel banned across Europe and North America? Where is Western free speech in that case? What is the problem?
Press TV is not tolerated. It is banished. Because the truth of Western state terrorism, as practiced by the likes of Sarkozy, Hollande, Obama and Cameron is too much to bear for how it might enlighten and empower public opinion. The truth of Western-sponsored state terrorism as practiced by the genocidal Israeli regime is too much to bear for public discourse; any criticism is shoved down the memory hole under the spurious pretext of “anti-Semitism.” The fact that Western leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes is too much to bear. All such views, no matter how intellectually rigorous, morally scrupulous and legally substantiated, must be censored, and those who articulate them must be hounded into isolation.
Western free speech is nothing but a cynical charade by those in power to maintain their unlawful positions of power.
A satirical magazine championed by Western war criminals for its “free speech” to dehumanize Muslims is hailed as “heroic?” While an informative, serious news channel like Press TV is banned. Now that is farcical cartoon.
Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism.
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