The Telegraph reports:
The classic work should be removed from school curricula, according to Gherush 92, a human rights organisation which acts as a consultant to UN bodies on racism and discrimination.
Dante’s epic is “offensive and discriminatory” and has no place in a modern classroom, said Valentina Sereni, the group’s president.
Divided into three parts – Hell, Purgatory and Heaven – the poem consists of 100 cantos, of which half a dozen were marked out for particular criticism by the group.
It represents Islam as a heresy and Mohammed as a schismatic and refers to Jews as greedy, scheming moneylenders and traitors, Miss Sereni told the Adnkronos news agency.
“The Prophet Mohammed was subjected to a horrific punishment – his body was split from end to end so that his entrails dangled out, an image that offends Islamic culture,” she said.
Homosexuals are damned by the work as being “against nature” and condemned to an eternal rain of fire in Hell.
Providing an example of what passes for logic inside these ‘human rights’ group, Miss Sereni stated:
“We do not advocate censorship or the burning of books, but we would like it acknowledged, clearly and unambiguously, that in the Divine Comedy there is racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic content. Art cannot be above criticism,” . . .
Schoolchildren and university students who studied the work lacked “the filters” to appreciate its historical context and were being fed a poisonous diet of anti-Semitism and racism, the group said.
It called for the Divine Comedy to be removed from schools and universities or at least have its more offensive sections fully explained.
Okay. So the group doesn’t advocate censorship, but they want the Divine Comedy removed from schools and universities.
And while they would allow schools and universities to keep the books, this would be with the proviso that they be affixed some sort of warning sticker, or that new editions be prepared, presumably with an introduction and footnotes loaded with propaganda, so that young readers approach the text armour-plated with prejudices. The reason, according to the group, is that
schoolchildren and university students who stud[y] the work [lack] “the filters” to appreciate its historical context and [are] being fed a poisonous diet of anti-Semitism and racism . . .
Except . . . Wouldn’t that alone be a form of censorship?
The question is fair, because in an age when ‘racism’ and ‘anti-Semitism’ are considered the worst conceivable evil, the worst moral defect of which an author can be accused, labelling a work of literature in this manner is effectively to censor it. What this does is put it beyond the pale. The books may not be burnt in the physical realm, but they are certainly burnt in the moral realm. They become inaccessible, only in a different way.
One, of course, wonders how it is that the Divine Comedy was safe to read for seven centuries, but suddenly becomes ‘poisonous’ in our age of ubiquitous perversion and pornography.
I decided to look into Gherush 92, as I had never previously heard of this group.
I thought maybe I would find out why they arrogated themselves the right to speak on behalf of all Italians, and dictate what parts of their national patrimony ought to be forgotten and left to rot.
Gherush’s website offers no clue as to the group’s location, no information about its staff, and no mention of its sources of funding. Its contact page offers no means to contact anyone, except via an html form. An email address appears elsewhere on the website, but is equally faceless: email@example.com.
Why the secrecy?
Should not a ‘human rights’ organisation be transparent?
We do get a sense as to the type of organisation this is by looking at its campaigns:
- An article dated 17 June 2011, screams ‘THE BAN OF THE JEWISH AND ISLAMIC SLAUGHTER IS A VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS’
- Another, dated 29 December 2009, shrieks ‘LET US CANCEL THE PAPAL VISIT TO THE SYNAGOGUE’
- Yet another, dated 12 October 2009, demands shrilly, ‘EUROPA & AMERICAS STOP CELEBRATING OCTOER 12!’
Campaign #2 is of particular interest. The associated article makes wild and hysterical claims:
The upcoming Papal visit to the Synagogue of Rome is an insult to Jews, Roma gypsies, to gay people, to women and to all who were massacred in the Shoah and during the course of the centuries of Christianity. The offensive distortion of memory, the praise of silence and the minimizing of the meaning of the Shoah are an offense and violation of the human rights of all victims.
Benedict XVI has planned a true campaign for Christianity’s appropriation of both Memory and the Shoah and is acting knowingly and at a time of its choosing to prepare for his visit to the Synagogue of Rome. The clear intent of the Pope is to enter the Synagogue as a Pope King and Pope on a triumphal march surrounded by the hymns of praise of the conventional thinkers and the opportunists. As the founder of a new conservative current of negationism and historical revisionism, the Pontiff aims to reduce the Shoah to an event that—however serious it was—happened only by chance. For the Pope, the Shoah must remain forever disconnected from Christianity and, therefore, from historical anti-Semitism
The Pope intends to manipulatively drag anyone he can into this new line of thought, even Jews so as to squash them and isolate them in their memory.
[yada yada yada . . .]
I say this campaign is of particular interest, because while its subheading demands ‘Let us cancel the interfaith dialogue!’, last year this same group was all about promoting interfaith dialogue between Judaism and Islam. On 14 March 2011, they announced:
We have the pleasure to invite you to the side event entitled “JUDAISM AND ISLAM. RULES FOR A NEW GOLDEN AGE”, that will be held next March 23 from 1 to 3pm, in Geneva, UN Headquarters, during the 16th Session of the Council for Human Rights.
The aim of the event is to create an unprecedented meeting in which Islamic and Jewish culture, laws and rules could be considered as a holistic and self-consistent system able to effectively contribute to the main issues of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) such as environment, food, poverty, human rights and sustainable development.
The event will maintain a strictly cultural and scientific approach. The reference to the “Golden Age” has to be considered as an historical guideline for a new impulse to cooperation among prominent and traditional ancient cultures in view of a new development program in the area in the concerned areas.
One is tempted to imagine possible explanations that would elegantly resolve this apparent contradiction. Unfortunately, even though the group has been active for at least seven years, their campaign record is arguably too exiguous to draw conclusions without opening oneself to the accusation of reaching, paranoia, or acting in bad faith. One wonders how the pronouncement on Dante from such a non-transparent organization merited a news item in the Telegraph.
Here is what I think: those who have come to live in Europe and whose ancestors are not from Europe should be required to study the European classics, unfiltered, uncensored, and without instructors having any regard for their charges’ race, nationality, or religious persuasion. Anyone who feels offended is in the wrong place to begin with. Anyone kicking a fuss should be admonished as an ungrateful guest and shown the door. Because these exogenous minorities are here by the grace of the natives, who have allowed them to share the benefits of living in the latter’s wealthy, prosperous, safe, technologically advanced society, where things work, folk are nice, and there is always plenty to eat. This is our home, and anyone wanting to live here has to contribute and abide by our rules. We were under no obligation to let them in, let alone cede to them places in our schools and universities that could, and should, have gone to our own youths. In fact, many of us resent the fact that our political establishment opened the doors to so many against our wishes. Let those who have been allowed to live among us be reminded of how lucky they are every day.