Frau Merkel has met Vladimir Putin for talks.
Now that must have been a momentous occasion against the background of global insecurity, wars, rumours of wars, tensions and terrorism on three continents. What would have been Angela Merkel’s most pressing concerns? Surely the civil war in Syria which has been going on for six years. She would have asked Mr Putin to use his influence over Turkey’s dictator Erdogan and urge him not to flood Europe with millions of imperialistic Muslim migrants. She would have voiced the apprehension of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the face of an energised Russian military presence on their borders.
And Vlad, a man with a keen sense of history and given to plain speaking, he would have stated his concerns about Prussian militarism. I can almost hear him framing his sentences: “Three times during the last 150 years, you Germans have waged war on Europe with the aim of domination: in 1870 under Bismarck, 1914 by the Kaiser and again in 1939 by Hitler. The Russian people are apprehensive about the foreign policy intentions of your Fourth Reich.”
I suppose, if their talks had been purposeful and sincere, the two leaders might even have felt their way towards a common understanding.
In the context of the current international instability, all the topics I have mentioned must surely have been on the table? Instead, the headline report on this summit meeting informed us, “Mrs Merkel asked Mr Putin to use his authority to clamp down on the homophobia currently oppressing the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community in Chechnya.”
No doubt this is a good cause but, compared, say, with the genocide of Christians throughout the Middle East and in many parts of Africa, it is hardly the most severe threat to international peace and harmony. It’s as if in 1938 Joachim von Ribbentrop had begged Comrade Molotov to ease the parking restrictions on the over eighties nudist basketball team in Minsk.
But I suppose I ought to understand that the former things have passed away and that, in our diverse, non-sexist, non-racist, post-modern, post-truth, fake news world, our priorities have altered beyond recognition. Rather than occupy themselves with the possibility of nuclear war or Muslim terrorism and Islam-inspired wars in a score of countries, leaders of the world’s great powers meet to discuss the prospects for sexual deviants in an outlying province.
It is the language in which Frau Merkel’s plea was made which puzzles me most. In this modern world of ours, we seem to have developed a very strange vocabulary. Frau Merkel did not refer to the allegedly persecuted Chechnyans as sexual deviants, but as “The LGBT community.”
I didn’t know these people had formed themselves into a community. What sort of organisation is this? Is it like a monastic community with plainchant, Bible readings, a rule of life and the keeping of the ecclesiastical hours? Is the LGBT community in Chechnya devout? Do they start each day with the office of Prime followed by Matins? I feel sure they will want to include Sext.
I shall just have to get used to the fact that we no longer employ the conventional categories or even speak the language I learned as a child. As Wittgenstein said, “Change the language and you change the world.”
And how, Ludwig! And how!
O brave new world that hath such people in it.