Even if the Dutch politcian Geert Wilders had won and if the Party for Freedom (PVV) he established eleven years ago had become the first party in the country, he would not have been able to become the head of the government. The heads of all the other political parties said they would reject any alliance with him ; they maintain this position to this day.
For years, the Dutch mainstream media have spread hatred and defamation against Wilders for trying to warn the Dutch people – and Europe – about what their future will be if they continue their current immigration policies; in exchange, last December, a panel of three judges found him guilty of “inciting discrimination”. Newspapers and politicians all over Europe unceasingly describe him as a dangerous man and a rightist firebrand. Sometimes they call him a “fascist“.
What did Geert Wilders ever do to deserve that? None of his remarks ever incriminated any person or group because of their race or ethnicity. To charge him, the Dutch justice system had excessively and abusively to interpret words he used during a rally in which he asked if the Dutch wanted “fewer Moroccans.” None of Wilders’s speeches incites violence against anyone; the violence that surrounds him is directed only at him. He defends human rights and democratic principles and he is a resolute enemy of all forms of anti-Semitism.
His only “crime” is to denounce the danger represented by the Islamization of the Netherlands and the rest of Europe and to claim that Islam represents a mortal threat to freedom. Unfortunately, he has good empirical reasons to say that. Also unfortunately, the Netherlands is a country where criticism of Islam is particularly dangerous: Theo van Gogh made an “Islamically incorrect” film in 2004 and was savagely murdered by an Islamist who said he would kill again if he could. Two years earlier, Pim Fortuyn, who had hoped to stand for election, defined Islam as a “hostile religion” ; he was killed by a leftist Islamophile animal-rights activist. Geert Wilders is alive only because he is under around-the-clock police protection graciously provided by the Dutch government.
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General elections in the Netherlands are over, but now begins a much bigger campaign: who will defend the famous Dutch freedoms?
Only in the Netherlands is it conceivable that a politician such as Geert Wilders, a brave maverick who for 13 years, 24 hours a day, has lived under police protection; held rallies while wearing a bulletproof vest; moved from one secret location to another one and was guarded as if he were an Asian potentate. The country has already had two political assassinations related to Islam: the politician Pim Fortuyn, and the filmmaker, Theo van Gogh. Another Dutch MP at the time, Ayaan Hirsi Ali — whose name, with Wilders’s, was next on the hit-list pinned with a knife to van Gogh’s corpse — ended up fleeing to the United States. Only Wilders’s protection, generously provided by the Dutch government, has so far avoided a third political murder.
In the Netherlands, the philosopher Baruch Spinoza became the prophet of tolerance, Karl Marx investigated capitalism and John Locke penned his “Letter on Tolerance”. The mainstream media has claimed that Wilders’s rise and the new “populist” shift of Prime Minister Mark Rutte (who, in January, told immigrants to “act normal or leave“) has been a betrayal of that Dutch tolerance. Exactly the opposite is true.
It is from this tolerance that hard Dutch liberalism gets the will to fight against intolerance. Tolerating the intolerant does not sound like the way to have tolerance continue. This is how the Dutch multiculturalists turned their great legacy upside-down. The Dutch see themselves as “Enlightenment fundamentalists“, upholding the values of Enlightenment — even in the Islamic world.
The question now is: will the Dutch defend these freedoms or instead gradually dismantle them? Dutch Minister of Justice Piet Donner recently suggesting introducing Islamic sharia law into the Netherlands by democratic means.
The “hard liberal” Dutch tradition goes back to Pim Fortuyn, a homosexual proud of the supposed “decadence” of his country, its tolerance, and the freedoms it offers. As the late British journalist Alexander Chancellor wrote:
“The Muslim fanatics berate the West for its decadence, and many in the west guiltily agree that they have a point, but Fortuyn did not think so. He crusaded on behalf of what many would regard as decadence, and was so concerned for its survival”.
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From the moment it became clear that the ongoing Islamization of the Western world was a potential disaster of historic proportions, the mainstream media – in their perverse effort to defend the indefensible and keep the cart careening downhill – have been making use of shameless sentiment to overcome the plain facts. One of the first examples of this practice that I can recall was way back in 2003, when the big, bad Norwegian government put resident terrorist Mullah Krekar through the first of what would turn out to be many deportation scares. Since Krekar, back in his homeland of Iraq, had been responsible for the violent deaths of innumerable innocents – children included – it wasn’t an easy proposition to try to whip up sympathy for him (although, heaven knows, some media tried).
Instead, many reporters chose the family angle: Krekar might be a bad guy, but what about his poor wife and kids? Repeatedly, the papers ran tearful close-ups of Krekar’s wife and pictures of her and Krekar embracing. VG ran a whole story about the intelligence services’ confiscation of her beloved cookbook, which had been in the family for generations and which contained the recipes of all of Krekar’s favorite foods. Dagbladet, for its part, ran a report whose headline told us that when Krekar’s kids heard on TV that Daddy had been released from custody and was headed home, they kissed the TV screen. It was Dagbladet, too, that published one of the great sob stories of all time. The headline: “My children are waiting every single day to hear from Papa.” The first sentences: “Mullah Krekar’s wife (39) is scared. For her four children, and for the future.”
And so on. You get the idea. If you’re trying to obscure the truth, defend the indefensible, and smear the good guys, go for sheer, unadulterated bathos. So it is that as the clock ticks down to the March 15 parliamentary elections in the Netherlands (which, as it happens, I write about in this week’s National Review), Anna Holligan of the BBC – in an effort to paint Geert Wilders, head of the Freedom Party (PVV), as a racist hatemonger – kicked off a March 7 article from The Hague by focusing on one of the Dutch Moroccans whom Wilders, as she put it, had “accused…of making the streets unsafe.” Needless to say, Holligan didn’t talk to one of the majority of Dutch Moroccan males who have dropped out of school and are living on social welfare benefits; nor did she buttonhole one of the nearly 50% of young Dutch Moroccan males who have rap sheets.
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Much has been made of the 2016 populist revolt in the West, beginning with Britain’s June 23 decision to leave the European Union, and culminating with the victory of president-elect Donald Trump on November 8. The narrative of change is understandably seductive, but has recently been dealt successive blows by the domestic circumstances that so characterize European politics.
The Brexit vote similarly took place under a referendum that allowed Britain’s voting populace to defy the stated preference of the majority of their elected parliamentarians.
The most disturbing recent development on the European continent, however, was Friday’s conviction of Geert Wilders on two charges, “inciting discrimination and insulting a minority group,” for asking supporters whether they wanted “fewer Moroccans” in the Netherlands, at a small public rally in a bar in The Hague, on March 19, 2014.
This “hate speech” case against Wilders similarly pits popular alarm over the consequences of mass migration plus a principled politician who for years — in the face of threats against his life, has agitated for genuine change — against an untrustworthy, politicized legal system which appears at odds with both Wilders and popular alarm. Several Dutch Labour Party politicians, who said far more damaging things about Moroccans than Wilders did, yet were never prosecuted:
Although Wilders’s trial clearly appears an orchestrated miscarriage of justice, it is arguably not helpful to view the basis for his prosecution through an absolutist defense of freedom of speech, intuitively understandable to Americans. No constitutional equivalent of the First Amendment, which prohibits Congress from passing laws abridging the freedom of speech, exists in Europe.
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A country whose most outspoken filmmaker was slaughtered by an Islamist; whose bravest refugee, hunted by a fatwa, fled to the U.S.; whose cartoonists must live under protection, had better think twice before condemning a Member of Parliament, whose comments about Islam have forced him to live under 24-hour protection for more than a decade, for “hate speech.” Poor Erasmus! The Netherlands is no longer a safe haven for free thinkers. It is the Nightmare for Free Speech.
The most prominent politician in the Netherlands, MP Geert Wilders, has just been convicted of “inciting discrimination and insulting a minority group,” for asking at a really if there should be fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands. Many newly-arrived Moroccans in the Netherlands seem to have been responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime there.
Paul Cliteur, Professor of Jurisprudence at Leiden University, who was called as an expert witness, summed up the message coming from the court: “It would have been better if the Dutch state had sent a clear signal [to terrorists] via a Dutch court that we foster a broad notion of the freedom of expression in the Netherlands.”
Here are just a few details to help understand what Wilders experiences every day because of his ideas: No visitors are allowed into his office except after a long wait to be checked. The Dutch airline KLM refused to board him on a flight to Moscow for reasons of “security.” His entourage is largely anonymous. When a warning level rises, he does not know where he will spend the night. For months, he was able to see his wife only twice a week, in a secure apartment, and then only when the police allowed it. The Parliament had to place him in the less visible part of the building, in order better to protect him. He often wears a bulletproof vest to speak in public. When he goes to a restaurant, his security detail must first check the place out.
Wilders’s life is a nightmare. “I am in jail,” he has said; “they are walking around free.”
The historic dimension of Wilders’s conviction is related not only to the terrible injustice done to this MP, but that it was the Netherlands that, for the first time in Europe, criminalized dissenting opinions about Islam.
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