No topic makes Godwin’s Law swing into action more predictably than that of Geert Wilders. In any given article about Mr. Wilders the Nazi comparisons are likely to pop up before the end of first paragraph — or even the first sentence.
Our Flemish correspondent VH has translated a piece by Afshin Ellian about Peter R. de Vries, a TV crime-show host who was made internationally famous because of the Natalee Holloway case (which, according to some people, he misused for his own benefit) and who has blasted Bram Moszkowicz for defending Geert Wilders. Now Mr. De Vries has joined the vast throng of Dutch bien-pensants who find a striking resemblance between Geert Wilders and the Austrian corporal.
The demonization of Geert Wilders these days is like a reprise of the events in the final months of Pim Fortuyn’s life, although it is more massive this time, since the government, the Queen, and the Court are openly involved.
The translated article from Elsevier:
De Vries compares Wilders to Hitler
By Afshin Ellian
Peter R. de Vries and his fight against ‘evil’ Wilders
Sometimes I think I can no longer be surprised anymore. And then it happens. Via the internet I regularly watch programs of the Iranian state broadcaster. It is an agony to watch them. They are not familiar with hearing both sides. Facts and fiction are not separated from each other.
And the language! The language of violence and hatred. A political debate does not take place there. Opposition leader Mousavi time and again warns of violence-spreading language in Iranian TV. In that way the opposition and their supporters are presented as dangerous and evil people. These are precisely the concepts the opposition resists. Do join us in a debate on substantive issues.
A Dutch broadcaster is not within light years comparable with the Iranian state broadcaster. But the Pauw and Witteman show [Wednesday, February 3, TV news show of the state funded broadcaster VARA] here and there showed some similarities to some of the news programs of Tehran.
They crossed a number of journalistic and moral boundaries. But here the end justifies the means. And this they have already done for quite a while. Witteman? Not incomprehensible for someone whose mentor was Marcel van Dam, who in a disguised way had called for violence against Pim Fortuyn. He even qualified him as an inferior human [in a TV debate hosted by Paul Witteman]. Of course chic opinion-makers issue a call to violence in different terms than those farmers would use. Its shape is well-refined and wrapped in historical terms.
Paul Witteman created the necessary opportunity in which a covert call for violence against MP Geert Wilders and his party could be composed. This art he did not learn from Bach, but from Marcel van Dam. Yes, you are reading this correctly. On Dutch TV there appeared in a noisy but camouflaged way a call for violence. How has Witteman composed his violent music?
Peter R. de Vries
This was done with the deployment of Peter R. de Vries. A street boy who does not know the difference between good and evil anymore. A flopped populist who tried to start up a PvdA [Socialists, Labor] Light. Such a guy you need to have on hand when you want to call for violence.
– – – – – – – – –
De Vries is not a Professor of Law. Yet he knew the case against Wilders had not yet begun. The trial, however, has already started and the formal decisions that are taken now will determine the course of the trial.
Witteman’s super expert does not know that criminal law and freedom of expression constitute a legal minefield. Especially when the suspect has been voted into parliament by over 600,000 people. De Vries and Witteman have no regard for democracy. That is allowed. Democracy is a form of society that also affords room for anti-democratic people and movements.
It is of course very comical when ‘professor’ de Vries can anticipate that the ruling of the judge was a balanced decision. But the shrewd Witteman knew all this. Witteman is a dinosaur from the ancien régime of the Netherlands, of the days when Jan Blokker and Marcel van Dam decreed how the Netherlands should think. That time is past.
But the real interview, in which everything was carefully composed, concerned the violent expressions of Peter R. de Vries. These are the sentences that were spoken on the state broadcasting outlet:
Peter: “I think we must say something of it in an early stage. I do not want to criticize myself later about why I never spoke out against it. In my experience, quite a lot of people do not do this; even more, that they do not dare to. I think that is a little scary.” Witteman: “When I read your blog and see the comments there, they do not cheer me up.” Peter: “I think I need to let a note be heard, not too late, but in time; then I will not have to blame myself. I do not easily feel threatened. But I am shocked by the massive aggression that is in those messages.” Witteman: “Do you believe that others should join your position?” Peter: “There is a kind of fear among Dutch celebrities to say plainly what they find in this man and his party.”
What is Peter R. de Vries talking about?
About Hitler. They should have stopped him at an early stage. Many later regretted that they did not try to stop Hitler in time. Peter R. de Vries is also a liar. That table of Witteman has been worn by Wilders Haters. De Vries is not the first one.
Remember the movement “Naming and Building”? That was founded by the great thinker Doekle Terpstra [CDA, Christian Democrat]. And after that a huge campaign started up to prosecute Wilders. In the fight against Wilders foolhardiness is precisely what rules.
Stage for Wilders haters
The problem, however, is that public broadcasting is too often a stage for Wilders Haters, without arguments and without a debate with Wilders or his sympathizers. Because of that, Witteman and his colleagues have just contributed to the popularity of Wilders.
Hate mail directed at De Vries should be condemned. If there are calls for violence, De Vries must file a complaint. The constitutional state must combat violence. Other than that, it is about a moral debate in which not De Vries but the perpetrators must be condemned. But fear to criticize Wilders?
Does Peter not read the newspapers? Did Peter not watch Pauw and Witteman enough? To attack Wilders was and is a top sport among left-wing media figures.
Perhaps Peter means something else. Wilders is systematically attacked, but has not yet been stopped. That is what it is about for Witteman, De Vries, and others. Therefore Peter was hired for the definite message:
Pauw: “You do make a great danger of it?” Peter: “I see it as something that one should not underestimate. I am afraid that he will gets many seats [in parliament] and that the PvdA and other parties that are large now will have been swept away. That he gets into the government. That then we will get to see his true face. That it all will become much worse. Then I want to have spoken out before that time, watch out boys: ‘He is a dangerous politician, an evil man and a demagogue’.”
Now we are talking about real things: a dangerous politician, an evil man and a demagogue.
Who represented, given the moral frame of reference of the Netherlands, these three special qualities? Who was that? Hitler was an evil man, a dangerous politician, and a demagogue. That one had to be slain. De Vries therefore calls for violence against Wilders.
We saw this happen previously to Fortuyn. In those days his friend and lawyer Gerard Spong was of the opinion that the demonization with comparisons to Nazi figures (by, among others, the mentor of Witteman, Marcel van Dam) led to a political assassination.
At the Pouw and Witteman table was also the PvdA State Secretary [Social Affairs and Employment] Jetta Klijnsma. She was asked whether Wilders is a bad man.
Witteman: “Do you go along with Peter, who finds him a bad man?” State secretary: “Well no; I do not know the person Wilders to be evil.” Peter: “I am talking about the politician Wilders.”
All of a sudden Peter discovers that evil should not be aimed at the person, but the politician. Too late, and it was almost inaudible. No, Peter, you have said it loud and clear: Wilders is an evil man.
De Vries and Witteman are not criminally liable for this. And Wilders is well protected. But this violent appeal by De Vries may have implications for the parliamentary group and supporters of Wilders. With that, the political climate could become violent.
Henk Hagoort, the chairman of public broadcasting service, should take a look into these passages. Nobody on the public broadcasting service may directly or indirectly call for violence against politicians or opinion-makers. I wonder what Hagoort will make of this.
Apparently SBS6 [commercial broadcaster that airs De Vries’ TV programs] does not provide room for De Vries to crow such violent nonsense. As long as the public broadcaster is financed through taxes, this medium should be safeguarded against calls for violence against dissidents.
There is also a moral and political role for the chairman of the public broadcasting service, Hagoort: public broadcasting should reflect our society. Precisely in these times it should not encourage violence. Calls for violence in times of elections is playing with fire. Democracy lives by the grace of conflict, as long as it is not threatened with historical violence.