Monday, March 14, 2011
Professor Weiler was kind enough to forward me a link to his oral testimony before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in the Lautsi case. Weiler represented pro bono all of the intervening states in the appeal of the 7:0 decision below (that's 7:0!). A couple of noteworthy points.
First, at around the 15 minute mark or so, Weiler argues that the decision below would represent an "Americanization" of Europe by mandating "the separation of church and state." A quite effective rhetorical move, I thought, as the last thing that would appeal to a group of European intellectuals is the thought that they were following in the footsteps of an inferior, johnny-come-lately state. But on the merits, I'm much less certain -- at the very least, the "separation of church and state" is a highly contested concept in this country.
Second, the real power of the position Weiler takes rests on the mixed meaning of the cross -- both as Christian symbol and as marker of Western European identity. And by mixed, I don't only intend that it partakes of both meanings; it is not the kind of mixture that can be divided into fractions -- 1/3 identitarian, 2/3 religious. I mean mixed in the way that the Iron Age Pig is mixed -- truly a hybrid, whose selves cannot be disentangled.
Western Europe: the Iron Age Pig of the world.