In a message from Frank Vanhecke MEP, Vlaams Blok Party Leader dated November 9, 2004, a plea goes out to Western democracies:
Today, our party, the Vlaams Blok, has been condemned to death. This
afternoon, the Belgian Supreme Court upheld the verdict, issued by the Court
of Appeal in Ghent on 21 April, which declared the Vlaams Blok a criminal
organisation. In order to preserve our party members from prosecution, we
are now forced to disband. What happened in Brussels today is unique in the
Western world: never has a so-called democratic regime outlawed the country's
largest political party.
Vlaams Blok represents the Flemish independence movement in Belgium. Their agenda is to secede from Belgium and form a Republic of Flanders.
Given the ruling by the Belgium supreme court, it seems apparent why secession may be necessary. Vanhecke continues:
The Ghent ruling, today reaffirmed by the Supreme Court, stated that our texts (though some were mere quotes of official statistics on crime rates and social welfare expenditure and another was an article written by a female Turkish-born Vlaams Blok member about the position of women in fundamentalist muslim societies) were published with "an intention to contribute to a campaign of hatred."
The Ghent verdict literally stated: "Rendering punishable every person who belongs to or cooperates with a group or society [...] serves as an efficient means to suppress such groups or societies, as the lawmaker intended. Rendering punishable the members or collaborators of the group or society inherently jeopardizes the continued existence or functioning of the group or society [...]."
Let's assume you believe that a group of people poses a substantial actuarial risk to society -- say racists. You might, as Brussels did, pass a law against them "as an efficient means to suppress such groups" because of the statistical risk they pose to society. On the other hand, racists would, and do, argue that they want to pass laws against some races "as an efficient means to suppress such groups" because of the statistical risk they pose to society. So one is left with a dilemma: Whose statistics are "hate speech" and whose statistics are legitimate political speech? It was VB's publication of statistics (already published by the Belgium government) that got them in hot water for "inciting hatred". The Belgium government didn't even bother publishing statistics on VB party members. Did they not have to provide their side of the argument simply because the VB party members are tarred as "racists"?
Apparently so. But even if you accept a doctrine that it is immoral to object to the dogma that races belong intimately mixed in high density populations, and that it is a legitimate function of government to punish sin, the VB Party has abjured race distinctions and is now focused on language and culture as determinative. One may claim they are merely hiding their racism and must therefore be subjected to inquisitorial suppression, but now we are in a difficult position indeed for who is to divine who is insincere in their catechism? Or are such questions best left to the Imams of Islam, the priests of Catholicism and the insight of the Belgian government?
The argument that European countries must be given greater latitude in imposing such quasi-religious suppression of ideas in intellectual proximity to racism due to the "recent" history of Naziism and its consequences. Europe was traumatized by Naziism and must be allowed their phobias of anything associated with racial thought, so goes the argument. One wonders then why the a similar traumatic phobia doesn't exist around communism's clearly internationalist and anti-racist ideology which killed more people than Naziism. This is particularly troubling since it was the genocide of millions Ukranians -- more than Jews were killed by Naziism -- starting in 1932 by communism's accessionism that can be argued to have provoked hysteria in the German people and their election of Hitler to chancelor the next year in 1933.
Moreover, countries far removed from Europe, with no history of fascism, such as Canada, have similarly draconian laws against free expression when it comes to racism. Why are Canadians so traumatized that they can't be allowed to talk openly and frankly?
One can stretch to try and fit all these facts into a mold that justifies universal suppression of free expression when it comes to racial information, such as VB's publication of Belgian government statistics on the impact of multiculturalism. It is quite a stretch though.
Is it perhaps any expression of hostility toward any group that is to be inhibited?
If one is to make a case for self-determination, particularly secession, it seems difficult to do so without stating negative opinions about the situation from which one is seceding. Indeed, as the Declaration of Independence states:
...a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.
In that situation there was a convient individual, King George, upon whom all grievances could be lumped. Today, however, individuals are replaced by bodies politic including ethnic gruops that do comprise voting blocs that do serve their own ethnic interests. If you can't talk about them in the open, the way the signatories of the Declaration of Independence talked about King George, then there can be no discussion of one's grievances.
So one is left with a dilemma: Either one does not express "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind" or one states their grievances.
Grievances are, by their very nature, easily characterized as "inciting hatred" since they are negative in character.
Without clear guidelines on the difference between stating grievances and "inciting hatred" one is left with the justifiable impression that the doctrine that outlaws political movements for "inciting hatred" is in fact simply a doctrine to impose relationships on people against their will.
In other words "'No' means no." except when you say "No." to powerful interests, in which case it means you are engaging in "hate speech".
Now to take a look at the situation from the accessionism side, Flanders is a huge chunk of Belgium. Despite the fact that the VB Party represents a large constituency, it does not represent nearly as much of the populus as does Flanders represent the land area of Belgium.
To regain legitimacy, the Belgian government should at least have the decency to set aside approximately 10% of its territory for the disenfranchized Vlaams Blok Party members. That is the territory they really require to form their Flemish Republic. Further, it should compensate VB members that reside outside that boundary for loss of citizenship and for the loss of their property rights under eminent domain and pay their moving expenses to migrate to their homeland. The new Flemish Republic should do the same for non-Party members within the boundary of the Flemish Republic who must migrate to Belgian territory. Both governments should assist migrants as though war could result from failure to do so.
The boundary should be chosen so that there is a minimum of imbalance in direction of migration and a minimum in the degree of eminent domain compensation. The Vlaams Blok represents 20% of the Flemish who are less than 60% of the Belgian population. This implies freedom for the Republic of Flanders would cost about 10% of Beglium's territory, but those VB members exiting Belgium would free up land, resources and votes now owned by them.