x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Silly season of politics

From France to the United States, politicians are making fools of themselves. Don't be too worried.

Claude Gueant, the French interior minister, appeared unsatisfied after putting merely one foot in his mouth, and seems intent on cramming the second one in as well. On Sunday, the ally of President Nicolas Sarkozy reiterated his views that "all civilisations are not of equal value".

He then claimed his comments had been taken out of context, which was somewhat absurd since he had just repeated them.

There is an interesting philosophical conversation to be had about the "value" of different cultures, or "civilisations" as Mr Gueant styles them. But not in the course of France's political season when the centre-right government is pandering for the votes of the extreme right wing (some polls put Mr Sarkozy's popularity level with that of Marine Le Pen, the leader of the xenophobic National Front).

With elections this year in France and United States, a dubious poll in Russia, and a selection process in China, we will assuredly see political posturing aplenty. Who can forget comments by the US Republican candidate Rick Perry (who, thankfully, has since bowed out) that Turkey is ruled by a group of "Islamic terrorists"?

Some candidates, sadly, are simply ignorant. But in the demagoguery of modern politics, many others will simply be taking the low road. For the rest of us watching, it would be best not to take them too seriously.