Bawer: Wilders case another blow against Dutch freedom

Bruce Bawer, author of While Europe Slept, discusses what has led up to the Wilders travesty in “Submission in the Netherlands” in City Journal, January 22 (thanks to Ruth King):

[…] The appalling decision to try Wilders, the Freedom Party”s head and the Dutch Parliament’s only internationally famous member, for “incitement to hatred and discrimination” against Islam is indeed an assault on free speech. But no one who has followed events in the Netherlands over the last decade can have been terribly surprised by it. Far from coming out of the blue, this is the predictable next step in a long, shameful process of accommodating Islam””and of increasingly aggressive attempts to silence Islam’s critics””on the part of the Dutch establishment.

What a different road the Netherlands might have taken if Pim Fortuyn had lived! Back in the early spring of 2002, the sociologist-turned-politician””who didn’t mince words about the threat to democracy represented by his country”s rapidly expanding sharia enclaves””was riding high in the polls and appeared on the verge of becoming the next prime minister. For his supporters, Fortuyn represented a solitary voice of courage and an embodiment of hope for freedom’s preservation in the land of the dikes and windmills. But for the Dutch political class and its allies in the media and academia””variously blinded by multiculturalism, loath to be labeled racists, or terrified of offending Muslims””Fortuyn himself was the threat. They painted him as a dangerous racist, a new Mussolini out to tyrannize a defenseless minority. The result: on May 6, 2002, nine days before the election, Fortuyn was gunned down by a far-left activist taken in by the propaganda. The Dutch establishment remained in power. For many Dutchmen, hope died that day.

Fortuyn’s cause was taken up by journalist, director, and TV raconteur Theo van Gogh, who was at work on a film about Fortuyn when he was slaughtered on a busy Amsterdam street on November 2, 2004. The killer, a young Dutch-born Islamist, had been infuriated by Submission, van Gogh’s film about Islamic oppression of women. Epitomizing the Dutch elite’s reaction to the murder was Queen Beatrix’s refusal to attend van Gogh’s funeral. Instead, she paid a friendly visit to a Moroccan community center.

The spotlight then shifted to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the brilliant Somali-born member of the Dutch parliament and cowriter of the script for Submission, who, rejecting the Islam of her birth, had become an eloquent advocate for freedom, especially for the rights of Muslim women facing no less oppression in the Netherlands than they had back in their homelands. Hirsi Ali was lucky: she wasn’t murdered, only hounded out of the parliament, and out of the country, by a political establishment that viewed her””like Fortuyn and van Gogh before her””as a disruptive presence.

That was in 2006. In that year, as if to demonstrate the gulf between popular and elite views, a poll showed that 63 percent of Dutchmen considered Islam “incompatible with modern European life.” Yet Piet Hein Donner, Dutch Minister of Justice, insisted that “if two-thirds of all Dutchmen wanted to introduce sharia tomorrow . . . it would be a disgrace to say “˜this is not permitted”!”…

Then he goes on to discuss the Wilders case. Read it all.

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