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    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Some contributions on this forum have referred to Europe as being based on "Christian" or "Judeo-Christian" values. What does that mean? Does it mean that non-Christians/non-Jews are not proper Europeans? But wouldn't that conflict with the freedom of religion, which is one of the basic freedoms and values endorsed by Europeans?

    In this connection, what is your take on the Brussels declaration, drafted as an alternative to the official Berlin declaration? See https://www.iheu.org/v4e/html/the_declaration.html

    Finally, wouldn't the concept of inclusiveness also be relevant for the discussion of "diversity"? If we construct "diversity" purely as adherence to etnic groups prevailing in a certain member state or its subdivision, doesn't that exclude individuals of minority or mixed backgrounds? What about Europe's supra-national minority groups, such as the Romanies? Wouldn't it be preferable to build the idea of Europe around a more inclusive concept of what it means to be European, which could appeal to minorities and to people from outside Europe? Wouldn't that amount to true "diversity"?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Yes it would amount to "true diversity" but then again we are not the United States who deliberately set up a country for immigrants from all over the world. Even if we did that, it would be hard and unfair to neglect our 2000+ years of history, especially since the year 0. Judeo-Christian values have been part of Europe for almost 2000 years and it would be silly to throw such a vast heritage away for the sake of inclusiveness. If someone wants to be European it doesnt matter what race or religion he is. What matters, though, is his/her understanding and respect of our history and culture(s) that we (the natives) have developed on these lands.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Gheryando,

    "silly to throw such a vast heritage away for the sake of inclusiveness", you can't throw history/heritage away. You can't do anything with it, can't change it, can't affect it in any way.

    "understanding and respect of our history and culture(s)", this forum has shown very clearly that Europeans DO NOT understand each others history and culture, that is what the "Europeanise Education" thread is all about.

    A hundred years ago there were no Indian restaurants in the UK. Now Indian food is the most popular food in the UK. Indian food as added to British culture. Afro-Caribbean, Indian sub-continent and now eastern European people have come to Britain in reasonably large numbers over the past 50 years and the contribution to British culture has been huge and positive. Britain hasn't had to throw away its history or its culture to gain those cultural benefits from people that did not understand British culture or who weren't Christian. Call it tolerance or inclusion if you wish but it certainly is a requirement in the Europe that we are going to be.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    oulematu, I think the distinction is between Christian values, Christian heritage and Christian religion. Christian values dictate peace and love to your neighbour, Christian heritage starts with not working on a Sunday and includes everything from Christmas to dreamy spires in our towns and cities, finally Christian religion is based upon God, Jesus as the Son, and the teachings associated with this.

    Whilst many europeans are not Christian, most of them share at least some of the Christian values and the Christian heritage, either on a personal or a national scale. It is my sincere belief that a person or indeed a country without one of Christian values, Christian heritage or Christian religion is not european.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    "dictate peace", shalom
    "not working on a Sunday " I thought resting on the 7th day was a Jewish thing
    "Christmas " was a Pagan festival
    "dreamy spires " like the Mosque in Regent's Park and all over the EU?
    "based upon God" originally known as Jehovah, also called Allah
    Of course the 10 commandments which colour European values are old testament therefore Jewish

    Just like a Christian to lay claim to things that belong to another heritage.

    Your sincere belief is wrong.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Thats why its called "Judeo-Christian". Christianity has much in common from Judaism since its roots are Judaic. Christmas may have been a Pagan festival but what is celebrated is the birth of Jesus etc. By the way, the orthodox branches of Christianity have not moved the initial date to the 25th in order to appease the heathens who were used to celebrate on that date. I agree with vince that its more about heritage and culture than religion. Once you accept our values and customs, you can join (and open new tasty restaurants)
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    It strikes me as very odd how this discussion about inclusion in th EU is being talked about in terms of religion or tradition. I do not deny the existence of a "judeo-christian" based value system in modern europe, but since the enlightenment european culture has been secularised thourougly. My point is that many atheïst and liberal 'native europeans' (which I find a really awkward term) use the 'religion/tradition' argument to exclude foreign or religious groups. This is most visible in the case of muslims where it is used to demonstrate the incompatability of this group with european culture. This is ironic in more than one way, as it is exactly the opposition to judeo-christian tradition which has formed european culture as we know it.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Apropos enlightenment: Isn't the essential problem that whoever comes to Europe and is deeply religious is already looked upon as an outsider in most places? Isn't that the real problem? Would Muslim immigrants still be an issue if they were mostly secular like us? I believe no one would care but since NYC, Madrid and London just the word "Muslim" gives people the shivers.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Some interesting comments here. Keep it up.

    Below are my remarks on some of those that appeared particular unclear to me (the intention is not to discourage further discussion but to work towards more clarity):

    vince:
    “Christian values dictate peace and love to your neighbour” Aren’t these universal values as opposed to specifically Christian? Can you name any specifically Christian values that are not universally shared?

    “...Christian heritage starts with not working on a Sunday ...” This may be Christian heritage but it is not European reality. Many people work on Sundays – think of doctors, power plant employees, shopping mall or museum employees. I wish I had a job that doesn’t involve working on Sundays!

    “...and includes everything from Christmas to dreamy spires in our towns and cities” Does it mean that public mosques should not be allowed in Europe or at least their architecture should not be allowed to be superior to churches? How do you account for Spain and the Balkans? Should past architecture define what kinds of buildings should or should not be built in Europe?

    “It is my sincere belief that a person or indeed a country without one of Christian values, Christian heritage or Christian religion is not european.”

    (i) Is it up to you or me to decide who’s European? Don't people really vote with their feet? Isn't it the case that whoever chooses to live in Europe is European, whatever that stands for?

    (ii) Also, how is your sincere belief compatible with freedom of religion?

    Gheryando:
    I. “Judeo-Christian values have been part of Europe for almost 2000 years and it would be silly to throw such a vast heritage away for the sake of inclusiveness.”
    (i) European heritage is very broad. Elements of inclusiveness go alongside with appalling examples of barbarism and intolerance. History is not a fact, it is an interpretation and compilation of facts. It is legitimate to emphasize only certain aspects of European heritage. Those that are not compatible with inclusiveness are often not worth keeping (after all, Europe was the initiator of WWI, WWII, holocaust, Stalinism, religious wars, colonization). What makes you think that inclusiveness would amount to throwing away Europe’s heritage?

    (ii) Also, it may be interesting to give a thought to why Judeo-Christian values have been part of Europe for 2000 years. Isn’t it perhaps because they were imposed and maintained by force (late Roman Empire, medieval power-hungry Vatican, the crusades, the inquisition)?

    II. “Once you accept our values and customs, you can join (and open new tasty restaurants)”. Does it mean that I can’t join if I don't accept your customs? Can you explain what those values and customs are and who should be responsible for defining those values and customs? Who should have the authority to decide whether an individual respects such values and customs? What should happen to those that are already in Europe but supposedly don’t respect such values and customs? How is that compatible with individual human rights?

    III. “...What matters, though, is his/her understanding and respect of our history and culture(s) that we (the natives) have developed on these lands...”

    (i) Is it correct to draw such us vs. them distinction? What makes you think that you are one of “us” “natives”? I mean, from some of your other posts I thought you were a German-speaking Italian residing in China.

    (ii) Also, what does it mean “our history”? Aren’t there many different histories depending on who is the narrator? Does your concept of “our history” include the whole story or does it only include the winners’ point of view?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Your point is fair that history is interpreted and not necessarily true. All I am saying is that its gonna be difficult to change Europeans' minds and make them accept the fact that they will have to become multicultural societies. About the customs and values: I am talking about democracy, the freedom of expression, democracy, secularism and eventual customs that might be disliked by some immigrants of whatsoever heritage. When i say "native" I mean you can trace your ancestors back for at least a couple of centuries. I can trace one side of my family 500 years and I am one quarter Ladin, which are an Alpine people who directly descend from the Romans who came through my region in anno 11 if I am right. So please beg my pardon but I consider myself a Alpine/European native. The fact that I am on a study year abroad in China doesn't have anything to do with that. By "our" history I mean European history
    " History is not a fact, it is an interpretation and compilation of facts." is what you said and therefore certain things might be interpreted differently across Europe but the broad picture stays the same. Surely, the Poles will put more emphasis on Lech Walesa and the British on the Battle of Britain but by saying "our history" I mean "Our European" history, given the context of the discussion is Europe. If this discussion was about my town, then I would only consider the 1018 years since my town has been founded and by saying "our history" I would take it as granted that people would understand I mean my town and not its north end, south end, or street.
    I also agree that this discussion is very interesting. I like it.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I don't think religion should be mixed with politics...

    Again, I have to say, in Europe you also have a strong muslim heritage. But perhaps the Iberian Peninsula/Balcans are not Europe...
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Gheryando: You're skirting most of my questions. For example, what makes you think that inclusiveness would amount to throwing away Europe’s heritage? You didn't give me one single argument.

    "About the customs and values: I am talking about democracy, the freedom of expression, ..., secularism and eventual customs that might be disliked by some immigrants of whatsoever heritage" You didn't name one single custom. The values you named are political/constitutional values that (i) are not specific to Europe or to the "West" as you call it (as if there was no democracy in Japan or South Korea, for example); and (ii) do not relate to individuals but to political systems (and thus don't have much to do with individual immigrants). (Not to mention that you contradict yourself - you started by talking about Judeo-Christian values and now you're complaining about immigrants who're not sufficiently secular).

    "By "our" history I mean European history". This is an extremely weak explanation. Surely you understand that Europeans are not clones and have different views and feelings regarding history, even within one member state. For example, with respect to Czech history, one could imagine that the following groups of people might typically have strongly diverging views of Czech history: an expelled Sudeten German/a person of Jewish origin who spent time in a concentration camp/an ex-Gestapo man/an ex-collaborator of the secret communist police/a communist who fell into disrepute with the Party/a political emmigre/a member of the nobility whose property was confiscated in 1918/a member of the bourgoisie whose family's property was nationalized in 1945 and subsequently restituted in the 1990s/or subsequently not restituted in the 1990s/a political prisoner who spent time in uranium mines/a Roma whose family was resettled and who was sterilized by Czechoslovak government/a skinhead youth who was sentenced for killing a Roma/an Asian student who came to Prague in the 1970s/a Ukrainian immigrant who came to Prague in the 1990s/a U.S. expat who came to Prague in the 1990s. Clearly, there's no single version of "Our European" history (which is something only a dictatorial government could plausibly claim) and it's unreasonable to demand that inclusiveness should only apply to those that support one particular version of history.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    "You're skirting most of my questions. For example, what makes you think that inclusiveness would amount to throwing away Europe’s heritage? You didn't give me one single argument." What I mean is that the sudden inclusion of outsiders in any group would initially cause frictions. And by being too readily apologetic to intolerance towards our own values we are effectively giving up our heritage. About the customs and values, surely, democracy could be defined as a custom as well as a value. However, for the sake of this discussion I will give examples of customs: Using public money for Christmas decoration of a town, using company money for Christmas decoration (I've read that most English company bosses are afraid of doing that in order not to offend any Muslims and don't want to risk being sued). Furthermore, my area is mostly Catholic and we have some religious processions that go through our town during summer and fall. Personally, I don't care about them but immigrant people could be offended by them. Eating pork is also one of our customs, right? We are heathens who eat dirty pig meat...anyone who thinks that way about the European custom of eating pork should think twice whether he wants to move to Europe. And by saying democracy, liberty etc. I did not say they are values limited to our continent. They are, fortunately, found also in other regions in the world as you pointed out but they are still values that we have and need to defend. I dont see how that would not be an adequate answer. Judeo-Christian values are the foundations of European culture and may you be secular or not, this is something to be aware of if you want to come to Europe as an immigrant. Surely there are also many other customs that stem from this Judeo-Christian heritage that have developed throughout the millennia and anyone who is a potential immigrant to Europe should not hold a grudge against such practices.
    ""By "our" history I mean European history". This is an extremely weak explanation. Surely you understand that Europeans are not clones and have different views and feelings regarding history" Surely, you are right, and when I say, "our" history I mean whatever happened in each European country etc. This is also why I gave the town's example. You seem to be a bit peculiar about me saying "European/Our" history. If I remember correctly then from middle school to high school to university there was a certain course called "European History" and hold on, last time I checked, I was European so I am just adding 1+1. Interpretation might be slightly different, but even my neighbour might see things slightly differently from me. The big picture, however, is mostly similar.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I don't understand why you're talking only about immigration here. Inclusiveness relates not only to immigrants but also to individuals who are already in the EU (such as individuals taking advantage of the freedom of movement of people or those that have - in any respect - an atypical or mixed background, which is pretty much everyone since most Europeans don't live in totalitarian societies).

    "What I mean is that the sudden inclusion of outsiders in any group would initially cause frictions." This is not directly related to our discussion. Anyway, one of the advantages of inclusiveness is to prevent/moderate such frictions. Also, I would take issue with the word "sudden", it's not like Europe has been a homogenous society for centuries and all of a sudden this lunatic oulematu comes up with the idea of inclusiveness.

    "Using public money for Christmas decoration of a town, using company money for Christmas decoration (I've read that most English company bosses are afraid of doing that in order not to offend any Muslims and don't want to risk being sued)." What exactly is your argument here? I never said that inclusiveness should make it impossible to use public/corporate money for Christmas decorations. As regards English employers' legal position, I think their risk is not that huge compared to other risks facing a typical corporation; moreover, I don't understand what exactly it has to do (i) with the EU (since this position seems to be based on UK precedent); and (ii) with individuals wishing to simply be left alone and exercise their freedom of religion. If all you're saying is that you're in favor of inclusiveness only on condition that public/corporate money can be used for Christmas decorations, then we have a deal :-)

    "Furthermore, my area is mostly Catholic and we have some religious processions that go through our town during summer and fall. Personally, I don't care about them but immigrant people could be offended by them." So are you saying that, as a precautionary measure, you want to get rid of anyone who might not like Christian processions, to "avoid frictions"? I don't think so. Let me reassure you then that inclusiveness also leaves room for Catholic processions (which doesn't mean that you can't have a gay pride parade on another day if people want to organize such parade).

    "Eating pork is also one of our customs, right?" Actually not necessarily. There are many vegetarians and I never realized that that was somehow against EU's values. I've heard that one as an argument against Turkey's admission to the EU. which I think is preposterous. I mean is your European self-identification really based on eating pork or are other aspects determinative?

    ""our" history I mean whatever happened in each European country etc." As I explained, you can't reduce history to one version of history for each country (only a totalitarian government would want to do that). What is taught at schools is a simplified account of history which, however, is not necessarily uniform (not every teacher has to give the exact same account of history, to the contrary, the aim should be to give students several competing perspectives as opposed to brainwashing them). [Also, I don't understand how this discussion is relevant to the discussion of inclusive values.]
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    aaah...this is tiring..but I guess its worth it, so lets try again: I am talking about immigration because Italy and Spain are being "invaded" by illegal immigrants from Africa and because we continuously hear about the need for immigration into the EU.

    "it's not like Europe has been a homogenous society for centuries and all of a sudden this lunatic oulematu comes up with the idea of inclusiveness." You are right but it has been a while since Europe's demographics changed that drastically through immigration from outside Europe.

    ""Using public money for Christmas decoration of a town, using company money for Christmas decoration (I've read that most English company bosses are afraid of doing that in order not to offend any Muslims and don't want to risk being sued)." What exactly is your argument here? " I was just giving you some examples of "customs" which you demanded in your previous post.
    Please refer to the article for further detail:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=AVJIHQJ5KCPWVQFIQMGCFGGAVCBQUIV0?xml=/news/2006/12/06/nxmas06.xml


    "I don't understand what exactly it has to do (i) with the EU" Since Britain is part of the EU it is one of many examples within the EU. I just chose this one a. because its in english and b. because it happened in the UK, which prides itself on the integration of its immigrants and its multiculturalism.

    "If all you're saying is that you're in favor of inclusiveness only on condition that public/corporate money can be used for Christmas decorations, then we have a deal :-)" Basically, that is all I am saying, yes. I would not want to see traditions like these abolished due to the fact that it might "offend" anyone. This is the crux of my argument. If immigrants do not try to change already pre-established traditions (except when they might truly be offensive) but could, in fact, add to include more holidays in our calendar, then I would not have a problem. The problem arises when an immigrant comes to a liberal democracy and challenges the system because he is used to a different one, lets say one with Shariah law. (In Germany Shariah law is now officially acknowledged in certain areas of legislation) I believe such developments are not progress but regress.

    " So are you saying that, as a precautionary measure, you want to get rid of anyone who might not like Christian processions, to "avoid frictions"?" Well, I am not saying to get rid of anyone who might not like it but anyone who is not ready to accept the fact that this is the local culture should think twice about where he is about to move. So it does not matter whether I like gay prides or not. I believe they are an essential right of people and should therefore be allowed. If anyone, however, tries to infringe people's right of a gay pride because he is anti gay or of a catholic procession because it is "disgracable" for him to witness heathens in front his house then we have a problem. If you settle in India you should also accept the fact that you should not go on the street protesting against the ban on beef.
    "Eating pork is also one of our customs, right?" Actually not necessarily. There are many vegetarians and I never realized that that was somehow against EU's values". I am also not saying it is an exclusive custom and people only eat pork but could you imagine Germany without sausages or beer?

    "What is taught at schools is a simplified account of history which, however, is not necessarily uniform (not every teacher has to give the exact same account of history, to the contrary, the aim should be to give students several competing perspectives as opposed to brainwashing them). [Also, I don't understand how this discussion is relevant to the discussion of inclusive values.] "
    This discussion is relevant in the sense that I mentioned European history and now we are arguing whether that is a good term. My point is that I can say "Our" history and mean European and your point is I can't. Therefore, I am trying to prove my point by telling you that the term "European History" has not been invented by me but is already well established..and shouldn't that mean that if you are European, you should/could/would refer to it as 'Your" history in a more broader perspective?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Individuals are obliged to respect the laws of the land (e.g. paying bills on time) but not any other customs or traditions (e.g. having a favorable position towards Christian parades). Governments are entitled to pass laws in accordance with constitution but are not entitled to impose, enforce or maintain any values, customs or traditions not stipulated by law.

    Governments are not obliged to grant immigration applications to immigrants not meeting the relevant legal conditions but are not entitled to violate constitutional rights of any individuals (regardless of whether they just arrived to Europe or arrived in the 11th century). There's no guarantee that past traditions will survive in future as individuals are free to pursue any course of behavior that is in compliance with applicable laws. Individuals are free to pursue their procedural rights even in cases when their legal position doesn't prevail and should not be individually or collectively punished merely for using their procedural remedies. Courts of law and other authorities should decide on the basis of law but there should be corrective mechanisms for anticonstitutional laws.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Oh, and for clarification only, governments are not prohibited from spending taxpayers' money on supporting traditions and values, but spending of public money should be subject to public control.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    "Individuals are obliged to respect the laws of the land (e.g. paying bills on time) but not any other customs or traditions (e.g. having a favorable position towards Christian parades). Governments are entitled to pass laws in accordance with constitution but are not entitled to impose, enforce or maintain any values, customs or traditions not stipulated by law. "
    If respect the law means non interference in others people freedoms such as our notorious Catholic procession then we have a deal. Governments are also entitled to stipulate certain traditions if it is the common agreement among the people that such stipulations are adequate. e.g. Town council passes resolution for Christmas decoration in that town etc.



    "Governments are not obliged to grant immigration applications to immigrants not meeting the relevant legal conditions but are not entitled to violate constitutional rights of any individuals (regardless of whether they just arrived to Europe or arrived in the 11th century)." I agree. Fortunately one can alter the legal conditions and include safeguards such as respect for values, knowledge of language(already or within a certain time frame) etc. Wasn't Gordon Brown talking about a test for "Britishness" and now German states are introducing similar tests. Where do you think that stems from?

    "There's no guarantee that past traditions will survive in future as individuals are free to pursue any course of behavior that is in compliance with applicable laws." Also correct, that is why we don't burn witches anymore, a rather odd tradition in compliance with the law of the middle ages.


    "Individuals are free to pursue their procedural rights even in cases when their legal position doesn't prevail and should not be individually or collectively punished merely for using their procedural remedies. Courts of law and other authorities should decide on the basis of law but there should be corrective mechanisms for anticonstitutional laws." I agree with everything you said.


    "Oh, and for clarification only, governments are not prohibited from spending taxpayers' money on supporting traditions and values, but spending of public money should be subject to public control." Again, you have my full support.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    "Fortunately one can alter the legal conditions and include safeguards such as respect for values, knowledge of language(already or within a certain time frame) etc. Wasn't Gordon Brown talking about a test for "Britishness" and now German states are introducing similar tests. Where do you think that stems from?"

    I think such tests are silly. I don't think it's fair to test people on values or cultural heritage - you could test them on their duties and rights as citizens and on practical information needed to survive in the European society but that's about it. In my view, they should not be tested e.g. on Goethe because there's no legal obligation to read and appreciate Goethe. I don't see the language requirements as fair, either, because there's no legal obligation to use the national language. Wouldn't it be sufficient to require everyone to speak English, as an alternative to the local language?

    I realize that my proposals are politically unpopular. However, all of the above just shows how strongly national identity is entrenched in EU countries and how such national identity will not be replaced by a common European identity anytime soon. In my view, that raises legitimate questions as to what level of political integration is justifiable and desirable at this point.

    Anyway, it sounds like we can agree on things such as rule of law, individual human rights and pluralism. With this basis in mind, perhaps you can go back and reconsider some of your positions on inclusiveness. The way I meant it was that inclusiveness was always meant to be subject to those core principles (and I'm sure many disenfranchised minorities would be very happy to see those principles actually implemented in practise, e.g. in the area of employment non-discrimination). Inclusiveness is just a little extra meant to make everyone feel genuinely welcome and included in the community which I don't think is the case today.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    There already is a British citizenship test which is required to be passed by anyone who wants a British passport. This seems reasonable to me. When the EU introduces a non-member based EU passport and an associated real EU citizenship then it would be reasonable to replace the British citizenship test with an EU citizenship test.