We’ve written previously about the political persecution of the Dutch cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot (see the end of this post for links to previous articles). Trykkefrihedsselskabet (Denmark’s Free Press Society) has published an excellent essay by Arthur Legger on Nekschot and the larger issue of free speech in the Netherlands.
Pay close attention to what the Dutch are doing, because the legal framework that is being developed in the Netherlands may well serve as a model for the suppression of free speech in the rest of Eurabia during the next few years.
Denmark remains as a beacon of openness and frank discussion in the rapidly descending European twilight, but there’s no telling how long the Danish exception will hold out.
Below are some excerpts from Mr. Legger’s essay:
Why and when does a people that considers itself free, give in to tyranny? And if subdued, may it resist and fight itself free again? These questions seem trite, but only because they belong to the core of every political, legal or religious debate that has gone on even before the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC, when, at the Blood River in Boeotia, the last Thebes and Athenian army of free hoplites, the Sacred Band, grimly fought the subjugating Macedonian phalanx of king Philip and his son, Alexander the Great until the last hoplite perished. The Philippics of Demosthenes, the Athenian critic of Philip’s and Alexander’s enslaving ambitions, echoed through Roman’s Republic and beyond. What is freedom? What is tyranny? What is freedom’s prize? Why does tyranny always win? If not foreign and brute oppression, Machiavelli wrote, what then causes tyranny, always and inevitably, to take over from within: religious terror, corruption, cowardice, lack of character and virtue, a coup d’etat, fear? Can we spot the Machiavellian Moment, strengthen virtue, and escape the proven track record of history and resist the Brits whatever it takes, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin asked their fellow American colonists, and set our future generations free?
‘Nekschot’ the Nazi way
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Now, in 2008, the Dutch who very much like to think themselves as very free, may rightly wonder whether the Machiavellian Moment is knocking on their doors. Surely on Tuesday night, the 15th of May, somewhere in Amsterdam, somebody hammered on the door of Gregorius Nekschot, “a pale and polite little fellow” (Elsevier, 6 June 2008). A force of 10 heavily armed policemen stormed up the stairs, yelling “OPENMAKEN”, then, without waiting for him to open his door, rammed it in, lifted him from his bed, handcuffed him, dragged him down and hurled him into the armoured van. They also took his computer, his mobile phone, his books, letters, cd’s, dvd’s, and shoes (?). Nekschot (an alias which means “shot in the back of the head” — the favourite way of the Nazis to execute members of the Dutch resistance — was thrown into a prison that contained a concrete platform to sleep on (no blankets) and a hole in the ground to piss in. He was interrogated twice and imprisoned for 33 hours. Nekschot was not wanted for murder: he was accused of drawing and publishing cartoons “of an extremist nature, expressly towards Islam”. During the second interrogation he was told that his cartoons “were even worse that the Danish ones,” and that they now knew his identity “and would publish it, if he would not cooperate” (HP/De Tijd, 23 May 2008, page 27). In an interview with journalist Thieu Vaessen of the highly respected journal HP/De Tijd, Nekschot states that he is seriously afraid that the police will substantiate their threat and that, for his own safety, he has to censor himself (HP/De Tijd, 23 May 2008, page 27-29; the cartoons of Nekschot are on YouTube).
The outcry of disbelief in the Dutch Parliament on the 16th of May over the cartoonist’s violent arrest (the first of its kind since the Nazi occupation), mainly came from the traditional Liberal Party of Mark Rutte and the new kid on the block, Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom, and it merely seemed to strengthen the Minister of Justice, the devout Catholic Ernst Hirsch Ballin from the Christian Democratic Party, in his decision: “Mr. Nekschot was urgently wanted since he published his Sickening Jokes in 2005. Three years ago he has been accused of contemptuous blasphemy, racism and discrimination. He is finally found and will now be prosecuted” (Elsevier, 16 June 2008). Three years to find a publishing cartoonist is, however, a very long time — especially when the person lives and works in downtown Amsterdam and answers his e-mail promptly.
Read the rest at Sappho.
Previous posts about Gregorius Nekschot:
Hat tip: TB.