To my own delight, I found a couple of e-mails from the much-appreciated Texan blogger No2Liberals in my inbox the other day. It is interesting that an American is now notifying me on events taking place in my country, on the other side of the Atlantic (even though I must admit I haven't been very active lately). It testifies to the importance of this particular issue preoccupying him, which ought to concern all the peoples of the Free West. I am talking, of course, about Fitna.
My rants should start to get a bit boring by now, but just when you thought things couldn't get worse anymore after my previous account of "Fitna Gate", the liberal elites in this country yet again catch you off guard.
Of all their shameful reactions, those by prime minister Jan-Peter Balkenende are hereby nominated for the 2008 Political Cowards Lifetime Achievement Award. On February 29, Balkenende publicly begged Mr. Wilders to change his mind about a movie of which nobody at that point had caught but a glimpse: "I have told Wilders this: 'Think about what you're doing!' Wilders cannot ignore his responsibility. Terrorists will feel legitimated to commit attacks because of his film."
Let us ignore the fact that a Dutch government leader is now persuading opposition leaders into self-censorship, even though another regional labor politician -- young Muslim apostate Ehsan Jami -- a few days ago actually did give in when the government pressured him not to make a movie depicting Muhammed with a huge erection (on his way to the mosque in order to have sex with nine-year-old Aisha). Let us for a moment focus on the odd line of argument on the part of the Dutch prime minister. For not only is Balkenende deeming Wilders responsible for acts others might commit (but which have yet to occur), he is in fact legitimizing any potential violence on the part of angry Muslims all over the world. In any case, there's no longer such a thing as free will.
Needless to say, this is not the first time Dutch politicians have made foolish statements, but it remains stunning to see how easily they abandon traditions which have marked our free society for hundreds of years, and which are, of course, its cornerstones. It makes me wonder whether our cabinet ever thinks twice before making public statements such as the above. For some reason I am a bit sceptical: when even labor party PvdA recently attempted to have an old -- and hitherto dormant -- law criminalizing blasphemy removed from the Dutch criminal code, the Christian democrat minister of justice, Ernst Hirsch Ballin, in a remarkable countermove suggested to extend the law so as to include other sorts of slander as well. Why not also criminalize harsh criticism of government policies while we're at it? And why not get rid of those annoying elections taking place every couple of years, either?
Even the most liberal of Dutch media, although still rejecting Wilders and Fitna, after the movie's release admitted it wasn't so bad after all, but the government keeps claiming it hadn't overreacted. While erroneously claiming, just after the release, that "The movie has no purpose other than hurting people's feelings," Balkenende stated to be glad he had taken the threats seriously. Hirsch Ballin now says that when Wilders first notified the government on his upcoming movie, its draft script was a lot more extreme than the end result. Wilders heavily denies, and claims he is "being swindled by the justice minister," whom he called a "liar". The Dutch, I'm afraid, will never find out whether the government or Geert Wilders is telling the truth, but judging from the coalition parties' truth-telling histories, I tend to believe the latter.
In the meanwhile, Harry de Winter, of the Een Ander Joods Geluid foundation (EAJG, translatable as "A different Jewish Voice"), placed an advertisement in a national newspaper on March 17, in which he stated: "If Wilders would have said the same about Jews (and the Old Testament) as the nonsense he is now talking about Muslims (and the Qur'an), he would have long been rendered irrelevant and prosecuted for anti-Semitism. ... We Jewish people of all people know best where this kind of discrimination may lead to." Fortunately for Mr. de Winter, Jews also have been radicalizing rapidly in this country, as well as back in Nazi Germany, up to the point of blowing themselves up for the sake of Jewry. I'd almost have thought his argument makes no sense whatsoever.
EAJG, it has to be said, is a club of left-wing Jewish self-haters, who have in the past repeatedly equated Israeli policies with Nazism, and the Gaza Strip with a Nazi concentration camp. Last summer, university professor and columnist Afshin Ellian, who is of Iranian descent, called them "ordinary Holocaust deniers", after they had equated the 2002 Israeli attack on Jenin (in which around fifty Palestinians died) to the SS raid of the Warschau ghetto in 1943 (in which tens of thousands unarmed Jews died).
This time, Ellian called de Winter's advertisement "a nice example of the demagogy some Germans in the 1930s mastered very well," and referred to EAJG's members as "postmodern Holocaust deniers". Instead of using counterarguments to respond to these polemical statements, EAJG decided to write a letter to Elsevier, the weekly magazine publishing Ellian's columns and blogs, in which it requested that Ellian be removed from his position as columnist.
This is the Left's definition of free debate: if we can't beat them, we attempt to silence them. In the process, freedom of speech is being endangered mortally, while the moderate Muslims in this country are neither helped nor committed to our liberal-democratic values.