|We'll keep the black flag flying here|
An interview with Henry Rollins as he visited Brussels on tour and he was positive about the EU
Henry Rollins is an American singer-songwriter, raconteur, spoken word artist, writer, publisher, actor, radio DJ, and activist. He has been in many bands and more recently taken up the role of human rights activist, and touring on spoken word tours.
He is the founder of a record label and publishing company as well as the lead in the Rollins Band. He has promoted gay rights in the US as well as being outspoken on many issues such as Iran and tours overseas with the United Service Organizations to entertain American troops.
On tour in Europe one of his stops includes Brussels during this week so he took some time to answer question from New Europe’s Andy Carling on how the EU looks from the outside. Since Black Flag, Rollins has embarked on projects covering a variety of media.
You have traveled widely throughout Europe for many years and have many contacts with people across the continent and the former Soviet block. Is the EU a positive force for good, has it made a difference to people?
I am one who thinks that Europe is a great thing overall. I think America could learn a lot from aspects of the European model. When I compare it America, I think there’s more rational ideas when it comes to healthcare and education. Europe seems to value life, America seems to value profit.
There is concern at the highest levels about the ‘democratic deficit’ characterised by low and lower electoral turnouts and a sense of distance between the EU institutions and citizens. What can politicians, and citizens, do to improve the democratic process?
Perhaps people feel that their government is not of the people for the people, as they say, and perhaps feel they are living in an oligarchy and feel distant from the power. They might not think their vote counts for anything and stay home. It happens a lot I think. It’s how the bad guys get away dirty deeds.
In the last European Parliament elections a number of politicians from parties that have anti-Semitic, homophobic and Islamaphobic attributes were elected. How should we deal with this?
I think when things are bad, anger and fear are manipulated and focused at minority groups. There’s nothing new about that. I think you need to make things better for the average person, they’re the ones falling for this insanity.
In general, the EU deals in diplomacy, in soft power. Is this the right approach in dealing with nations, such as Iran and China?
In my opinion, yes. I know that many think that only makes dictators grow more bold but I think it sends a strong message to the people living under the rule of an oppressive government that has a better effect than to try to intimidate governments you may not agree with. Quite often, when you step on a dictator, they turn around and step on their own people.
What advice would you give to Europe’s leaders on dealing with the future?
Lead the world in renewable energy. Get the world off of fossil fuel and perhaps the rest of us will eventually follow your lead. Hurry!