Geert Wilders And The Making Of A Demagogue
March 9, 2010, 1:36 am
Filed under: Muslim World, Religion, Society | Tags: , , , , ,

Far Right Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders has become somewhat of a celebrity among right-wingers, fascists and nativists who loathe Islam and by extension, Muslims.  In the Netherlands, his popularity has increased tremendously and his party, whose platform is almost exclusively one of attacking Islam, did well in recent local elections and is poised to do even better in national elections this Summer.

Wilders’ trial for inciting religious hatred has become a cause célèbre for some on fringes of the American political discourse.  It should come as no surprise that those who defend Wilders most vociferously are often the same ones associated with questioning the authenticity of President Barack Obama’s citizenship.  In this world, conspiracy theories abound and the truth, more often than not, is disregarded as deceit or dhittude.

Wilders’ defenders see him as a “true champion of freedom,” and as one of the few politicians in Europe willing to confront the Islamization of Europe.  Enough is enough, they argue.  Islam is on the verge of dominating all of Europe and antifascist forces within Europe who oppose Wilders are allowing the continent to destruct from within.  Of course, that narrative is pure fantasy and Muslims constitute a very small minority in much of Europe, but facts seldom get in the way of hate.

Wilders has called for a banning of the Qur’an, has supported ending immigration from countries where Muslims are in the majority and of course, wants to outlaw the hijab.  Outside of the Netherlands, he is best known for his controversial movie, Fitna, which ties passages from the Qur’an to acts of violence and terror.

He contends that he does what he does because freedom of speech gives him that right.  To the casual observer, that seems a bit ironic, given his own intolerance.  As Ian Baruma put it, “for a man who calls for a ban on the Koran to act as the champion of free speech is a bit rich.”

The Globe and Mail’s Doug Saunders puts a little more context to Wilders’ platform.

Perhaps we’ve forgotten, perhaps he doesn’t realize it himself, but his words and the message of Fitna are exactly – to specific phrases, to the tone of louche brotherliness – what was said about the Jews.

It wasn’t the people but the “the code of Jewish ethics,” the well-documented desire of Jewish believers to take over countries and industries and societies. Judaism wasn’t another religion but an ideology, closely linked to communism (“Judeo-Bolshevism” was your grandfather’s “Islamo-fascism”). And it was the terrorism and violence that Judaic beliefs always seemed to bring to societies. Don’t forget that Kristallnacht, the concerted violence by the Nazis against Jews and their property in 1938, was provoked by an act of Jewish terrorism, the assassination of a German diplomat in Paris. The connection between the Torah and the violence was evident to many decent and otherwise liberal-minded people.

Wilders epitomizes the very definition of a demagogue. And during times of economic uncertainly, demagogues usually perform well.  But while the rise of Wilders is worrisome, history has shown us that society is invariably on the road to progress and progress has never gotten along with intolerance.  In fact, intolerance hates progress just as much as Geert Wilders hates Islam.

Anti-Islam Dutch MP gains momentum


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