My Human Events column for this week discusses Geert Wilders's appearance in Washington last week, and his defense of free speech:
Geert Wilders, Dutch parliamentarian -- producer of the film expose Fitna -- and international champion of free speech, electrified a standing-room-only crowd in Washington Friday, declaring: "We will never apologize for being free men. We will never give in. We will never surrender. There is no stronger power than the force of free men fighting for the great cause of liberty."
Wilders spoke these words at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, site of the Conservative Political Action Conference, at an independent event organized by Pamela Geller, publisher of the popular website AtlasShrugs.com, and co-sponsored by the David Horowitz Freedom Center...and my own Jihad Watch.
Geller's determined efforts to get Wilders a platform in Washington show what one tireless citizen can do to make a difference -- a lesson that conservatives should increasingly heed in the Age of Obama, when so many organizations on the Right seem to have lost their focus and will.
In a jab at British authorities who barred him from entering the country in February, Wilders thanked immigration authorities for "letting me into this great country," quipping: "It is always a pleasure to cross a border without being sent back on the first plane." The Brits seemed afraid that if Wilders went ahead with plans to screen in the House of Lords his short film Fitna, which shows how jihadists use the Qur'an to incite Muslims to commit acts of violence, Muslims might...commit acts of violence. Instead of admonishing Muslims that public order would be preserved and free speech upheld, British authorities sent Wilders back to the Netherlands. But in America, not only was Wilders allowed in, but he even screened Fitna in the Capitol at the invitation of Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz).
And at the Omni Shoreham event, he eloquently explained the need to defend free speech. "The real question," he stated, "is, will free speech be put behind bars? And the larger question for the West is: will we leave Europe's children the values of Rome, Athens and Jerusalem, or the values of Mecca, Teheran and Gaza?" The 57-government Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the largest voting bloc at the United Nations, has undertaken a concerted initiative to compel Western governments to adopt Islamic restrictions on free speech. If successful, this would prevent us from understanding our enemy by outlawing even law enforcement and government explorations of how jihadists use Islam to justify violence and make recruits. Such investigations would be outlawed as offensive to Islam under the guise of "hate speech."
"Hate speech" doesn't refer to obnoxious behavior that everyone will recognize -- calls to violence, racial slurs, etc. Rather, "hate speech" laws such as those advocated by the OIC -- with a willing audience in the Obama administration -- are tools to silence dissent and outlaw unwanted political opinions. Global jihadists are wielding those tools. "'Hate speech,'" said Wilders, "will always be used against the people defending the West -- in order to please and appease Muslims."
As an antidote, Wilders called on the West to follow the example of Ronald Reagan. "In 1982," he reminded the enthusiastic audience at the Omni, "President Reagan gave a speech there very few people liked. Reagan called upon the West to reject communism and defend freedom. He introduced a phrase: 'evil empire.' Reagan's speech stands out as a clarion call to preserve our liberties. I quote: If history teaches anything, it teaches self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly. What Reagan meant is that you cannot run away from history, you cannot escape the dangers of ideologies that are out to destroy you. Denial is no option."
"Self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly." In the face of the global jihad threat, which still so few Western authorities understand in all its dimensions, truer words were never spoken. At the Omni event spoke a true statesmen; if the West is to be saved, the U.S. and Europe will have to find it within themselves to produce many more politicians like Geert Wilders.