Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Profile in Courage

Courage is rare. That’s why we prize it. The high point of my trip to Washington, DC last week was meeting Geert Wilders - a profile in courage for our times. He has lived for years under 24-7 guard after radical Muslims put out a fatwa on him, just as they did with Salman Rushdie twenty years ago this week. Wilders, a Dutch Member of Parliament, had the temerity to make a film called “Fitna,” which quotes incendiary lines from the Koran and depicts sermons by radical imams preaching hatred of Jews and other infidels. Interspersed with these are scenes where those quotes and preachings are put into practice, including clips of the September 11th attacks in the USA, bus bombings in London, train bombings in Madrid, and beheadings in the Middle East.

Wilders knew he would incur a death sentence when he released Fitna, but he did so anyway. He took up the mantle of courage from fellow Hollanders like Theo Van Gogh, who was murdered on the streets of Amsterdam after making a film depicting Muslim mistreatment of women, and fellow Parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was driven out the Netherlands after the Dutch government declined to protect her following the fatwa issued against her.

CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) organizers were asked to give Wilders and opportunity to speak during their event at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, but they declined, claiming their schedule was full and they couldn’t fit him in. I hope that was the reason. I hope it wasn’t because they were too afraid. A separate reception for Wilders was thrown together elsewhere in the hotel at the last minute and word went around among CPAC attendees about when and where.

Although I showed up an hour early, I barely got into the small function room where it was standing-room-only. I’d been warned that no bags or jackets would be allowed inside, so I put those in my room and showed up in shirtsleeves with a camera and digital recorder. Uniformed security guys ran metal detectors over me and asked for my press pass. I hadn’t applied for one, so I had to talk my way past that. Inside were large, burly guys with folded arms, shaved heads, and stern looks surrounding the tall, smiling, blonde-haired Dutchman. The reception was sponsored by conservative activists including David Horowitz of Frontpagemagazine, Pam Geller of Atlasshrugs, as well as authors Robert Spencer and Dr. Andrew Bostom. After each made their introductions, Wilders came to the podium to thunderous applause. Speaking in mildly-accented English, he thanked the audience and thanked US immigration authorities saying, “It’s always a pleasure to cross a border without being sent back on the first flight.” He was referring to what happened to him the previous week, when he’d been invited to London to show “Fitna” in the House of Lords, but was deported immediately after landing at Heathrow Airport by a UK multicultural police squad who were afraid his presence on British soil would stir a riot by radical British members of the “Religion of Peace.”

It’s bad enough that Wilders must live out his life in safe houses, but his own government, the most politically-correct in Europe if not the whole world, issued criminal charges against him for “inciting hatred and discrimination” and “insulting Muslim worshippers.” Only under multiculturalism can someone “insult” Muslims by quoting them when they incite hatred and discrimination. The Dutch courts do not dispute what Wilders depicted in his film. They know it’s true. Wilders’ crime is publicizing the truth liberal Europe would prefer to ignore.

Genuine courage is indeed rare. Wilders’ display of it in the Netherlands sharply contrasts - and shines light on - Dutch government cowardice. That’s why they’re trying to shut him up. As Wilders himself put it last Friday night:

“In Europe freedom of speech should be extended, instead of restricted . . . As George Orwell once said: ‘If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.’”


Anonymous said...

Outstanding article! Wish I had been there!

Steve said...

When are you going to post the video?

Tom McLaughlin said...

Hi Steve,

The word "Fitna" in the first paragraph above is a link to the video.

Anonymous said...

...interesting expressions from the people in the crowd picture.

As in the old guy by the pillar staring at you to the lady in the front left giving the glare.