At a certain level, the trial of Geert Wilders for the crime of "group insult" of Islam is déjà vu all over again. For as the spokesperson for the Openbaar Ministerie put it, "It is irrelevant whether Wilders's witnesses might prove Wilders's observations to be correct. What's relevant is that his observations are illegal."
Ah, yes, in the Netherlands, as in Canada, the truth is no defence. My Dutch is a little rusty but I believe the "Openbaar Ministerie" translates in English to the Ministry for Openly Barring People. Whoops, my mistake. It's the prosecution service of the Dutch Ministry of Justice. But it shares with Canada's "human rights" commissions an institutional contempt for the truth.
As for "Wilders's witnesses," he submitted a list of 18, and the Amsterdam court rejected no fewer than 15 of them. As with Commissar MacNaughton and her troika of pseudo-judges presiding over the Maclean's trial in British Columbia, it's easier to make the rules up as you go along.
And in Amsterdam the eventual verdict doesn't really matter any more than it did here. As Khurrum Awan, head sock puppet for Mohamed Elmasry, crowed to the Canadian Arab News, even though the Canadian Islamic Congress struck out in three different jurisdictions in their attempt to criminalize my writing, the suits cost this magazine (he says) two million bucks, and thereby "attained our strategic objective—to increase the cost of publishing anti-Islamic material." Likewise, whether Mijnheer Wilders is convicted or acquitted, a lot of politicians, publishers, writers and filmmakers will get the message: steer clear of the subject of Islam unless you want your life consumed.
But at that point comparisons end. Had the CIC triumphed at our trial in Vancouver, the statutory penalty under the B.C. "Human Rights" Code would have prevented Maclean's ever publishing anything on Islam, Europe, demography, terrorism and related issues by me or anybody of a similar disposition ever again. I personally would have been rendered legally unpublishable in Canada in perpetuity. But so what? I'm an obscure writer, and my fate is peripheral to that of the Dominion itself.
Geert Wilders, by contrast, is one of the most popular politicians in the Netherlands, and his fate is central to the future of his kingdom and his continent. He is an elected member of parliament—and, although he's invariably labelled "far right" in news reports, how far he is depends on where you're standing: his party came second in last year's elections for the European Parliament, and a poll of the Dutch electorate in December found it tied for first place. Furthermore, if you read the indictment against him, you'll see that among other things Wilders is being prosecuted for is proposing an end to "non-Western immigration" to the Netherlands: the offending remarks were made in response to a direct question as to what his party would do in its first days in office. So the Dutch state is explicitly prosecuting the political platform of the most popular opposition party in the country, and attempting to schedule the trial for its own electoral advantage. That's the sort of thing free societies used to leave to Mobutu, Ferdinand Marcos and this week's Generalissimo-for-Life.
To put it in Canadian terms, it's like the Crown hauling Michael Ignatieff into court. Well, except for the bit about being the most popular politician in the country and ahead in the polls and whatnot. But imagine if Iggy was less tin-eared and inept and his numbers were terrific—and then the Ministry of Justice announced it had decided to prosecute him for his policy platform. That's what's happening in the Netherlands.
It gets better. The judge in his wisdom has decided to deny the defendant the level of courtroom security they afforded to Mohammed Bouyeri, the murderer of Theo van Gogh. Wilders lives under armed guard because of explicit death threats against him by Mr. Bouyeri and other Muslims. But he's the one put on trial for incitement. His movie about Islam, Fitna, is deemed to be "inflammatory," whereas a new film by Willem Stegeman, De moord op Geert Wilders (The Assassination of Geert Wilders), is so non-inflammatory and entirely acceptable that it's been produced and promoted by a government-funded radio station. You'd almost get the impression that, as the website Gates of Vienna suggested, the Dutch state is channelling Henry II: "Who will rid me of this turbulent blond?"
There's no shortage of volunteers. In the Low Countries, whenever anyone seeks to discuss Islam outside the very narrow bounds of multicultural political discourse, they wind up either banned (Belgium's Vlaams Blok), forced into exile (Ayaan Hirsi Ali) or killed (Pim Fortuyn).
It's remarkable how speedily "the most tolerant country in Europe," in a peculiarly repellent strain of coercive appeasement, has adopted "shoot the messenger" as an all-purpose cure-all for "Islamophobia." To some of us, the Netherlands means tulips, clogs, windmills, fingers in the dike. To others, it means marijuana cafés, long-haired soldiers, legalized hookers, fingers in the dike. But the contemporary reality is an increasingly incoherent polity where gays are bashed, uncovered women get jeered at, and you can't do The Diary of Anne Frank as your school play lest the Gestapo walk-ons are greeted by audience cries of "She's in the attic!" Speaking as a bona fide far-right nutcase, I rather resent the label's export to Holland: Pim Fortuyn wasn't "right-wing," he was a gay hedonist; Theo van Gogh was an anti-monarchist coke-snorting nihilist; Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a secular liberal feminist; Geert Wilders says he's opposed to Islam because of its hostility to gay equality, whereas the usual rap against us far-right extremists is that we want the godless sodomites to roast in hell.
It's not "ironic" that the most liberal country in western Europe should be the most advanced in its descent into a profoundly illiberal hell. It was entirely foreseeable. Geert Wilders is stating the obvious: a society that becomes more Muslim will have fewer gays. Last year, the Rainbow Palace, formerly Amsterdam's most popular homo-hotel (relax, that's the Dutch word for it), announced it was renaming itself the Sharm and reorienting itself to Islamic tourism. Or as the website allah.eu put it: "Gay Hotel Turns Muslim." As a headline in the impeccably non-far-right Spiegel wondered: "How much Allah can the Old Continent bear?" It's an interesting question, albeit if an increasingly verboten one. The Wilders show trial is important because it will determine whether the subject can be discussed openly by mainstream politicians and public figures, or whether it will be forced underground and manifest itself in more violent ways.
Yet, despite its significance, the trial has received relatively little coverage in the Western media, in part because, for those of a multiculti bent, there's no easy way to blur the reality—that this is a political prosecution by a thought police so stupid they don't realize they're delegitimizing the very institutions of the state. Still, the BBC gave it their best shot, concluding their report thus: "Correspondents say his Freedom Party (PVV), which has nine MPs in the lower house of parliament, has built its popularity largely by tapping into the fear and resentment of Muslim immigrants."
Gotcha. This democracy business is all very well, but let's face it, the people are saps, gullible boobs, racist morons, knuckle-dragging f–kwits. One-man-one-vote is fine in theory, but next thing you know some slicker's "tapping into" the morons' "fears and resentments" and cleaning up at the polls.
Strange how it always comes back to a contempt for the people. Whenever the electorate departs from the elite's pieties, whether in the Netherlands or in Massachusetts last month, it's because some wily demagogue like, er, Scott Brown has been playing on the impressionable hicks' "fears and resentments." To the statist bullies at Canada's "Human Rights" Commissions, their powers to regulate speech are necessary to prevent hate-mongers like me tapping into the fears and resentments of the Dominion's millions of birdbrained boobs. Yes, that would be you, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Schmoe of 22 Dufferin Gardens. Sure, you've voted for the Liberals every year since Expo, but c'mon, in your heart you know even you might be...susceptible...impressionable.
In the old days—divine right of kings, rule by patrician nobility—it was easier. But today's establishment is obliged to pay at least lip service to popular sovereignty. So it has to behave more artfully. You'll still have your vote; it's just that the guy you wanted to give it to is on trial, and his platform's been criminalized.
To return to where we came in, what does it mean when the Ministry of Justice proudly declares that the truth is no defence? When the law stands in explicit opposition to the truth, freeborn peoples should stand in opposition to the law. Because, as the British commentator Pat Condell says, "When the truth is no defence, there is no defence"—and what we are witnessing is a heresy trial. The good news is that the Openbaar Ministerie is doing such a grand job with its pilot program of apostasy prosecutions you'll barely notice when sharia is formally adopted.
Maclean's, February 2010
Comment on this item (members only)
Viewing and submission of reader comments is restricted to Mark Steyn Club members only. If you are not yet a member, please click here to join. If you are already a member, please log in here: