Friday, 12 October 2007

Swiss Sheep

We Europeans have many prejudices about Americans; not all of them entirely unfounded. But one of the American prejudices about Europe that I often have to argue against is that racism is a lot more widespread in our beloved Old World. Mostly, people who argue this are simply misinformed. Sometimes, however, I think there may be a modicum of truth to this.

Switzerland, for example, will be voting in 10 days, and Blocher's right-wing extremist SNP will likely gather more than a quarter of the votes. And in case you think they're not so bad - or at least not openly racist - have a look at the SNP's election poster:

It reads something like: "People's Initiative to Deport Criminal Foreigners - Building Security". The foreigners, in case you didn't find the slogan offensive enough, are depicted by a black (!) sheep, being booted out by a good white patriotic (and presumably Swiss) sheep.

Let's hope Swiss voters give Blocher the boot instead. But there's not much hope. Perhaps I'll just have to start admitting that we Europeans do have a real problem with racism??

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Harvard International Review

Hi all,

I've just posted my first post on the Harvard International Review's blog. I promised them to post an entry every week, so be sure to check over there regularly for updates. I'll also post links on here every time...

Obviously, also continue to look at Bits of News regularly, though I've recently been a bit lazy on that count...


Putin - Democracy's Man in Moscow

No, I obviously don't think Putin is a good democrat. But his recent manoeuvering might just help Russia return to a modicum of democracy. Why? Check out my post over at the Harvard International Review Blog:

Here's the first two paras:

It’s been a long while since good news for democracy has come out of Russia. Last week, however, brought two interesting developments. First, Garry Kasparov – a charismatic and popular former chess champion – decided to stand as the opposition candidate in the upcoming Presidential elections. Then, Vladimir Putin – Russia’s cold and stern, yet eerily even more popular President – implied that he may seek to become Prime Minister when he has to step down from his current post.

In my view, only one of these decisions has real potential to be good for civic freedoms in Russia. Which? Counterintuitively, it is Putin’s self-serving political calculation, not Kasparov’s well-meaning idealism, which gives me hope.