Category Archives: Europe

School Makes Unmasked Students Wear a ‘Yellow Badge’

School Makes Unmasked Students Wear a ‘Yellow Badge’

By Jon Fleetwood 11/18/2021

QUICK FACTS:
  • Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson reported on Wednesday a U.K. school is instructing students to “wear a Yellow Badge” in order to identify those students from other students as having received a mask exemption.
  • Pearson tweeted a screenshot of an email she says is from the school explaining the school’s decision to reintroduce mask-wearing in the classroom.
  • The email goes on to explain that mask-exempt children must don a yellow-colored “Badge.”
  • “Those pupils who were exempt from wearing a mask last academic year will once again be exempt and should wear a yellow badge to indicate this,” the email reads.
  • Summit News pointed out the yellow badge is “historically understood to symbolize a ‘badge of shame’ and was imposed on Jews at numerous points throughout history to denote them as ethnic or religious outsiders.” “While no one is comparing the treatment of Jewish people in Nazi Germany to kids being forced to wear yellow badges,” the article clarified, “the use of such a symbol is still odious and morally bankrupt.”
  • Pearson concluded her tweet, asking, “Does the school have teachers who know their history?”
BACKGROUND:
  • Australia implemented more strict lockdown measures for the unvaccinated on Monday. About two million unvaccinated Australians “will only be allowed to leave home for limited reasons, like working or buying food,” the BBC reports. The Australian government “says police will carry out spot checks in public spaces to determine the vaccination status of individuals, and issue fines to those caught breaking the rules.” Austria’s health ministry “says anyone who violates the lockdown for the unvaccinated could be fined €500 (£426; $572), while a penalty of €1,450 could be incurred for refusing to participate in checks.”
  • Austria and Germany have also implemented severe lockdown measures for the unvaccinated. “Testing for vaccinated and unvaccinated alike would become mandatory in some regions once hospitalizations reach a given threshold, German authorities said on Thursday. Vaccinations will now be made mandatory for healthcare workers,” according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). Unvaccinated Austrians are “excluded from entertainment venues, restaurants, hairdressers and other parts of public life in Austria,” CNN reports. But now Austria’s lockdown measures apply to “all those age 12 and older.”
  • Measures have also been introduced in Croatia this week, “including obligatory vaccination or testing for employees, have prompted protests, as well as criticism from President Zoran Milanovic, who is elected independently of the government,” notes WSJ.
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Inside the Austrian lockdown – UnHerd

What the ruling classes and the ‘Left’ have come to, or perhaps better, are now showing their true beliefs and character. mrossol

By Freddy Sayers,  11/18/2021

Mia and Christopher are Austrian circus performers. From their home in Vienna, accompanied by their dog, Magic, they go off to take part in theatrical shows large and small around Europe, from the Royal Albert Hall to private parties, sometimes juggling fire, sometimes trapeze, sometimes simply with stunning displays of balance and strength.

Perhaps the least interesting thing about this talented young couple is that they are unvaccinated against Covid-19. When I meet them at their house in a wooded suburb outside Vienna, I am almost embarrassed to ask about it. But they carefully explain how, for reasons of mistrust, caution and, as they see it, integrity, they have decided not to take the Covid vaccine — and how this fact is suddenly defining their whole lives.

 

 

Since Monday, unvaccinated Austrians are not allowed to leave their homes except to go to work, to buy essential supplies, or to take exercise: it’s the world’s first “lockdown for the unvaccinated”. It was introduced in response to rapidly rising cases and a lack of excess capacity in Austrian hospitals. “It is not a recommendation, but an order,” announced the Interior Minister Karl Nehammer at a press conference. “Every citizen should know that they will be checked by the police.”

It is, essentially, a ratcheting up of the regime of vaccine passports that exists already in many countries across Europe, whereby unvaccinated people are already excluded from restaurants, museums and theatres. But to place a minority of the population under partial house arrest does seem to cross a new line.

Mia is an artist who is unvaccinated but allowed out because she had covid recently.

The Brazilian-born Mia has already had Covid and, in the Austrian “2G” system, proof of recovery affords you the same status as if you had been vaccinated — albeit for a period of six months. So, for now at least, she is allowed out and about. Chris is stuck at home. He describes it as a “brainfuck”. Attempting to remain philosophical about it, he explains how he tries to tune out the relentless fear coming out of the TV and keep control of his own mental state. “I don’t want to be dependent on these kind of things to be happy.” But the sense of alienation and unease is palpable. What will the future look like? He is supposed to be performing in Paris before Christmas; who knows if he will get there.

It’s a “brain fuck”, says Mia’s partner, Christopher

Back in the old town, alongside the fancy boutiques of the Kärntner Straße, it’s a very different world. Affluent shoppers are out and about in the crisp November air, and they are more than happy to share their views with us.

“I think it comes much too late,” says one woman. “They’re crazy. All the trouble we have is due to those people that believe in, I don’t know, that the earth is flat… If the majority of society depends on idiots, then they can’t be helped and it’s the end of society!”

Her view is typical — there is very little sympathy here, and a good deal of frustration. Only a few voices take the opposing view, and they tend to be passers-through more than the wealthy locals; the doormen and deliverymen we try to talk to just shake their heads. One man simply describes the latest lockdown as “bullshit”.

What is striking is that very few think the policy will actually work. Covid levels per capita have shot up in recent weeks, and Austria now has one of the highest case rates in Europe. The rationale behind the lockdown is that it will increase the level of vaccination (low for a Western European country at 65%); but even supporters of the move predict that it will be followed up by more universal measures soon enough. The Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg openly explains that the policy is a heavy-handed “nudge”: “My aim is very clear: to get the unvaccinated to get vaccinated, not to lock up the unvaccinated,” he told ORF radio station.

On a practical level, though, the logic of the new rules does not withstand much scrutiny: unvaccinated workers are permitted to travel to and from work, and they work disproportionately within the hospitality sector. This means that they are currently allowed into restaurants and bars to serve, but not to consume. In any case, if there were only vaccinated people in a venue, that wouldn’t necessarily make it Covid-free. Many places require daily testing for non-vaccinated staff, yet not for the vaccinated, leading to the odd situation where the unvaccinated are “safer” than the patrons.

It feels like a bit of a stand-off. The vaccine issue has become a show of strength, a test of principles. As Ivan Krastev, a political scientist at Vienna’s Institute for Human Sciences, tells me: “When some of the anti-vaccine people said, ‘we are ready to defend our freedoms’, the basic message of the Government was, ‘Okay, let’s see what price you are ready to pay for them.’ The idea of this measure is to make people uncomfortable.”

Ivan Krastev: “the government wants to make people uncomfortable”

One peculiar feature of this dramatic new measure is the silence of the liberals. Why are the bien-pensant Viennese, usually so concerned with the rights of minorities, so relaxed about a measure that in other contexts would seem outrageously draconian?

Somersaults of logic have been performed to assert that the policy is more liberal than the alternatives. For one thing, they say, it stops short of an actual vaccine mandate, which just about keeps alive the notion of personal choice; for the majority, it offers the hope of avoiding another lockdown, so seems to them to be a lesser intervention. And, unlike in neighbouring Italy, the unvaccinated can still work, with tests being provided at public expense. In Austria, across the West, there is no one left to assert the rights, or even try to understand the motivations of this despised minority, the anti-vaxxers. They are the new deplorables.

 
 

To interrogate this seeming contradiction, I visit Professor Manfred Nowak, one of Europe’s pre-eminent human rights lawyers, at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. He has dedicated his whole life to the upholding of human rights and the defence of oppressed minorities against arbitrary detention and mistreatment. Former Special Rapporteur to the UN on Torture, current Secretary-General of the European Campus of Human Rights, activist against Guantanamo Bay, UN Independent Expert on Children Deprived of Liberty — the list continues. I expect him to be a little concerned about the potential direction of travel in his home country of Austria.

He wasn’t. He thinks the policy doesn’t go far enough. “From a human rights perspective, you always have to balance the obligation to protect the right to life, the right to health, with interfering with other rights such as personal liberty,” he tells me.

He wants to make vaccination mandatory, with refusal equivalent to a traffic offence, resulting in a fine rather than a criminal record. He is also worried about how this partial lockdown might affect an already divided society — but he is unconcerned about the human rights or civil liberties implications. Do you not even have a twinge of anxiety about the shift in democratic norms, or whether such discriminatory policy might be applied in different settings, I ask? “No, not really,” he says, with admirable candour.

Manfred Nowak, an eminent human rights professor: “vaccination should be mandatory”

The final component in this lockdown mix is, of course, politics. In most European countries there are no mainstream political parties that could be described as “anti-vaccine”, but Austria has the populist, right-wing Freedom Party, which was part of the coalition government until 2019; it has made vaccination choice a central issue. The FPÖ organises regular rallies in cities around Austria, and its new leader Herbert Kickl is gaining popularity by condemning Covid policies as “corona fascism”.

Having thus turned vaccine hesitancy into a “right-wing” political campaign, Kickl has managed to put a face to the dissenting minority — and it’s not one that many people like. As a result, instead of thinking of the unvaccinated as a vulnerable, if misguided, group and one worthy of protection and respect, they have become viewed as an extreme political enemy who must be defeated.

It would be hard to think of anyone less threatening or extreme than Mia and Chris. Alternative, certainly; anti-establishment, yes. But good people who in any healthy, confident culture would be cherished and celebrated. Allowing them, and millions like them, to drift into a caste of untouchables, separated from the mainstream, all for the sake of a marginal gain against a virus that is rapidly becoming endemic, may prove to be a grave miscalculation with effects that will be felt for years to come.

https://unherd.com/2021/11/inside-the-austrian-lockdown/?tl_inbound=1&tl_groups[0]=18743&tl_period_type=3&mc_cid=7c4e768f15&mc_eid=0ff3e7ea29

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Has the EU lost its mind?

Pecksniffery

via Has the EU lost its mind? – UnHerd.

Quite interesting article to me- independent of my learning a new word (Pechsniffery), illustrating several things: the suggestion that COVID is all about science, the contortions that the EU will go through to put forward a good face when the reality is otherwise, and the very “normal” ways in which nations continue to look after their own good over that of the EU. mrossol. (let me know if this article is behind a paywall)

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The Crucifix in Every Building?

I am thinking through this one. I appreciate that a country is certainly shaped by it’s culture and religious history, but is this the best way to present it? But why should a people not want to retain their heritage? Hmm.

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BY FRANCIS X. ROCCA AND DREW HINSHAW
WSJ 9/10/2018

ROME—Lawmakers in Italy’s new parliamentary majority want a crucifix to hang in every government building as a “permanent reminder” of the country’s Christian identity.

Across Europe, nationalists and upstart politicians are promoting the use of Christian imagery as they seek to change the Continent’s established politics and define Europe as Christian in reaction to recent Muslim immigration.

Christian symbols have long been a visible part of public life in much of Europe, but the new efforts reflect a more emphatic embrace of Christianity as central to Europe’s identity.

The moves are stoking disagreement among Christian leaders and drawing criticism from allies of Pope Francis, who says that Christianity mandates generosity toward immigrants.

“The cross is a sign of protest against sin, violence, injustice and death,” the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, a close adviser to the pope and editor of a Vatican-vetted magazine, La Civiltà Cattolica (Catholic Civilization), said on Twitter last month, in response to the legislative proposal by lawmakers with the League, an anti-immigration party. He called the use of the crucifix for political purposes “blasphemous.” And he warned: “Hands off!”

Many antiestablishment parties, a rising force in European politics, say preserving their countries’ Christian identity requires sealing Europe off to Muslim immigrants. They are pulling voters from mainstream parties that favor a more secular style of politics.

For decades after World War II, parties that identified as “Christian Democrats” were a mainstay of center-right politics in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. But the decline of that tradition has opened up an opportunity for nationalists and far-right parties to claim the cross as theirs.

“The Christian Democratic parties saw Christian identity as a way to unite their nations, not divide them,” said Rocco Buttiglione, a former Italian cabinet minister and lawmaker with a series of such parties. “But they weren’t strong enough in defending that identity. They watered it down in order to attract votes on the left, and that left an enormous void.”

In Eastern Europe, Catholic leaders have responded more favorably than in Western Europe to efforts by politicians to link Christian identity to nationalist ideas.

In Poland, where government offices are frequently decorated with 2-foot-tall crucifixes, many Catholic bishops openly sympathize with the ruling nationalist party’s restrictive policies on refugees. In October, church leaders supported a mass prayer called “Rosaries at the Border” that implicitly opposed Muslim immigration.

Few Hungarian bishops have objected as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán recasts Hungary as an explicitly Christian country, closed to non-Europeans and battling what he calls “Muslim invaders.”

Mr. Orbán uses the term “Christian democracy” in a new sense: to describe the “illiberal” governance he is ushering in—a model he has said was inspired by more autocratic nations like Russia and Turkey.

Many church leaders express support for Mr. Orbán’s priorities, including the anti-migration fence Mr. Orbán had built along Hungary’s southern border in 2015.

“I’m in total agreement with the prime minister,” Hungarian Bishop Laszlo Kiss-Rigo said at the height of Europe’s migration crisis in 2015, saying the pope “doesn’t know the situation….They’re not refugees. This is an invasion.”

Mr. Orbán, a Protestant, showers the Catholic Church and other denominations with millions of dollars in direct subsidies, and ends many speeches with the Latin expression “soli Deo Gloria” (“to God alone the glory”).

“It is not good, not healthy, and dangerous,” said Bishop Miklós Beer of Vác, one of the few Hungarian bishops to oppose Mr. Orbán’s adoption of Christian language for nationalist ends. “Separation of church and state is a very important basic principle.”

The picture is different in Western Europe. The leader of the southern German state of Bavaria recently mandated that all state buildings display a cross. Markus Söder, the Bavarian premier and a member of the Christian Social Union, said on Twitter in April that the requirement shows a “clear commitment to our Bavarian identity and Christian values.”

The move hasn’t reversed the CSU’s slide in opinion polls ahead of regional elections in October, or dented support for the far-right Alternative for Germany. But it has drawn fire from Germany’s leading Catholic prelate, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, another of Pope Francis’ top advisers, who accused the CSU of “expropriating the cross.”

“You don’t understand the cross if you only see it as a cultural symbol,” Cardinal Marx said.

In Italy, the idea of defining Christianity as a part of the national identity drew support from much of Italian society not so long ago. In 2009, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that crucifixes in Italian classrooms, where they have hung under legislation dating back to the 19th century, violated the “right of parents to educate their children according to their convictions.”

The ruling drew protests from the Vatican and from politicians across the spectrum who said the crucifix exemplified universal values such as human rights. The court reversed its decision two years later, reasoning that the Italian policy didn’t amount to a “process of indoctrination,” since a “crucifix on a wall is an essentially passive symbol.”

Mixing church and state has become more divisive in Italy as antiimmigration politicians advance and clash with Pope Francis.

Several of Italy’s high-profile church leaders have criticized Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti-immigration League, for brandishing the Bible and a rosary at political events.

The bill that would mandate the display of crucifixes in Italian government buildings was introduced by lawmakers from the League in March. It would cover “all offices of public administration,” including polling places, prisons, hospitals and airports, though it isn’t specific about where in the buildings the crucifix would need to be displayed.

The League’s embrace of Christian symbols is opportunistic, said the Rev. Rocco D’Ambrosio, a professor of political philosophy at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University. “It’s a kind of attempt to defend itself, to say ‘we are Christians, we want the crucifix in all public spaces, so you can’t accuse us of not being Christians.’ ” —Anita Komuves contributed to this article.

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