And now, a word from Snoozeweek.
Bob Dylan: "Mavis, I've had the blues."
Mavis Staples: "Oh, Bobby, don't tell me you got the blues."
Bob Dylan: "Yeah, I've been up all night, laying in bed, having insomnia, reading Snoozeweek."
Mavis Staples: "Snoozeweek? That ain't gonna get rid of no blues. Let's do some singing. Sing about it, you know..." -- Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples, "Gonna Change My Way of Thinking," 2003
Mark Hosenball and Michael Isikoff would have served everyone better by singing about it, you know, rather than turning in this pseudo-journalistic piece of propaganda.
"The Flying Dutchman: Free-speech hero or an anti-Islamic publicity hound? Geert Wilders is coming to America," by Mark Hosenball and Michael Isikoff in Newsweek, February 17 (thanks to Weasel Zippers):
A member of the Dutch Parliament who was banned last week from entering the United Kingdom because of his inflammatory anti-Islamic views is about to be welcomed to the United States by some notable conservatives.
Note the implication: "inflammatory anti-Islamic views" are just fine with "some notable conservatives." The possibility that what Wilders has said is accurate, and that it is only characterized as inflammatory by those who want to silence free discussion of the motives and goals of jihad terrorists, doesn't enter the minds of Hosenball and Isikoff.
Geert Wilders—who has publicly compared the Koran to "Mein Kampf"—is scheduled to make public appearances in Washington next week, including a Feb. 27 press conference at the National Press Club. Wilders is seeking to promote his movie "Fitna," an incendiary short documentary film that depicts Islam as a religion of terrorists.
"Inflammatory" and now "incendiary." So much for objective reporting at Snoozeweek. Anyway, here yet again, it is not Fitna that "depicts Islam as a religion of terrorists." It is the jihad terrorists themselves -- their own words are in the film, using Islamic texts and teachings to incite Muslims to violence. Wilders is simply reporting on this. This crucial and all-important distinction continues, for some reason, to elude most commentators, and it certainly eludes Hosenball and Isikoff.
The chief sponsor of Wilders's National Press Club event is Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan administration Pentagon official who now runs the Center for Security Policy, a prominent neoconservative think tank. Others who hope to meet with Wilders include David Horowitz, a well-known conservative activist who promotes campaigns to fight Islamic extremism.
Note the use of the scare word "neoconservative."
But Wilders's U.S. tour seems to be testing the limits of free speech even among hard-core conservatives. Some seem to be keeping their distance—apparently fearful of associating with a right-wing political figure widely seen in Europe as a dangerous extremist and self-promoter. The organizers of next week's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington—a splashy gathering with prominent speakers like GOP Chair Michael Steele and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee—have yet to decide whether Wilders will be welcome to speak.
"Some seem to be keeping their distance—apparently fearful of associating with a right-wing political figure widely seen in Europe as a dangerous extremist and self-promoter." Or apparently fearful of upsetting the Norquistian Islam-Is-A-Religion-of-Peace orthodoxy that prevails at CPAC and elsewhere among conservatives, and prevents all too many from coming to a full understanding of the jihad threat and how it must be confronted.
"People are afraid to deal with him and the issue [of Islamic extremism] in general," said Robert Spencer, who runs a blog called Jihadwatch. Horowitz said he was disappointed that Wilders—or somebody allied with his cause—had not been booked on a panel at the CPAC meeting. "How is it possible that a conservative conference does not have a single panel on the threat from radical Islam?" he complained to NEWSWEEK.
I don't have a tape of my conversation with Hosenball, but of course I didn't say "Islamic extremism," and at least Hosenball and Isikoff were kind enough to put this in brackets. In reality I said something like "the global Islamic jihad," but that was too much for Snoozeweek.
David Keene, the president of The American Conservative Union and an organizer of the conference, at first told NEWSWEEK that he could not accommodate Wilders because all the speaking slots were booked. But after conferring with Gaffney over the weekend, he said he would seek to find time for a brief presentation. "If we can free up five or 10 minutes, we'll see if we can let him speak," Keene said....
Five or ten minutes for the foremost exponent of free speech in our time, when it is under threat as never before. Keene's, or someone's, priorities are seriously out of order. Wilders should be front and center at CPAC, and the defense of free speech its central theme.
As an example of what he sees as the timidity of conservatives, Spencer—who wrote a book called "The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion"—said that an article he recently coauthored with Wilders was turned down by a number of conservative publications before it was eventually posted on National Review's Web site.
Spencer said it's not that conservatives are afraid of being targeted by Islamic extremists. Instead, he contended they were fearful of being accused of being anti-Islamic or racist for associating in any way with the Dutch lawmaker.
Indeed, because Islamic advocacy groups in the West constantly portray the opposition to the jihad as a racial issue, when in reality race has nothing to do with it. Opposition to a belief system and ideology that would extinguish freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and the equality of rights of women and non-Muslims is not racist.
But all that, of course, completely eludes Hosenball and Isikoff:
That is not an unreasonable fear given Wilders's history. The leader of a right-wing Dutch political faction called the Party for Freedom, Wilders has transformed himself into a political performance artist, pursuing a high-profile, high-risk personal crusade against what he asserts are deeply rooted violent tendencies in Islam. When Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker (and descendant of the painter) was murdered by an Islamic extremist in 2004, Wilder used the crime to rail against Islam and Muslim immigrants. He received death threats and claims he was forced to go underground, and once even sought temporary refuge in a jail cell.
He "claims" he was forced to go underground. I have met Wilders on several occasions, and never was he unaccompanied by a squad of bodyguards. Perhaps Hosenball and Isikoff would say he just "claims" they are bodyguards, and that Theo van Gogh only "claims" to have been murdered by an Islamic jihadist?
Two conservative British politicians had invited Wilders to screen his "Fitna" film last week at Britain's House of Lords. But before he departed for Britain, he received a letter from British immigration authorities advising him that the Home Secretary, Britain's internal affairs minister, had banned him from entering the U.K. on the grounds that his presence "would pose a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to ... community harmony and therefore public security in the U.K."
No mention, of course, of the veiled threats issued by Lord Ahmed. The British government was cravenly caving in to the prospect of violence from Muslims if Wilders entered the country, instead of standing up to them and declaring that the public order would be preserved. But unsurprisingly, Hosenball and Isikoff don't see any cowardice there at all.
Despite the letter, Wilders flew into London's Heathrow Airport last Thursday—accompanied by a group of journalists he'd apparently tipped off
Cheap shot. The letter from the British authorities was public on an international scale before Wilders flew to Heathrow. No journalists worth their salt needed to be tipped off.
—only to be turned away. He was put on the next plane back to Holland. His rejected efforts to enter the United Kingdom—along with the threats against his life—have prompted some conservatives to champion Wilders as a martyr for free speech.
But critics say it is the height of irony, if not hypocrisy, for Wilders to present himself as a champion of free speech given that he has openly called for banning the Koran.
In reality, there is no irony or hypocrisy involved in this at all. Wilders was merely calling for consistency in the application of Dutch laws that restrict speech that incites to violence, but which have never been applied to the Qur'an or to the hate-filled imams who preach jihad and Islamic supremacism in obedience to Qur'anic dictates. Full explanation here.
In a recent New York Times op-ed, the writer Ian Buruma, who wrote a book about the Theo van Gogh case, said that Wilders has brought much of his trouble on himself by crossing the line from criticizing the radical elements within Islam to insulting one of the world's largest faiths. "If Mr. Wilders were to confine his remarks to those Muslims who do harm freedom of speech by using violence against critics and apostates, he would have a valid point," Buruma wrote. "Mr. Wilders, however, refuses to make such fine distinctions. He believes that there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim."
Wilders: "I have a problem with Islamic tradition, culture, ideology. Not with Muslim people."
Buruma's recommendation: Rather than hailing Wilders as a courageous free-speech champion, or prosecuting him (as a Dutch court recently threatened to do), the best approach is far simpler: Ignore him.
Sure. Just ignore the jihadist assault on free speech, and it will go away.