Every time Geert Wilders is persecuted by the Dutch ruling elite, our readers, used to the West’s strong foundation of the Rule of Law, express their (understandable) indignation at the treatment of parliamentarian Geert Wilders by those in charge. They [Wilders’ persecutors] can’t be serious, surely?
Ah, but they are: the House of Orange and their henchmen and ubermen are dead serious. Deadly earnest that he be shut up by whatever means.
Usually I leave a link in the comments to a lengthy but most enlightening essay by a Dutch historian. His explanation, published in 2008, is one I re-read often because Mr. Legger took the trouble to crawl behind the shaky stage scenery to let us see what happens backstage. He did this in order to allow a necessary loss of our innocence to begin. Without someone’s willingness to speak up, how else might we outsiders understand what appears to be some kind of surreal kabuki theatre being played out in the Hague?
Every country ought to have an Arthur Legger, someone willing to speak up in the name of Truth, to explain to outsiders the sotto voce whisperings of the main players, murmurs in a language we don’t speak about a culture that is not ours. The intention of those in power is twofold: to leave outsiders in the dark while sending a clear message to the Dutch about what happens to those who step out of line. Legger’s revelations of a choreographed brutality by politicians, the legal system, and the police force working in tandem lay bare the “limited tolerance” that passes for an ersatz freedom of speech in the Netherlands.
To use another metaphor, Legger’s essay makes comprehensible those mysteriously churning waters swirling around Mr. Wilders. Legger takes you under to watch the sharks who swim so freely in the cultural waters of the Netherlands. These enforcers have scary sharp teeth but they never bite directly. Instead they rip holes in the safety nets, allowing a momentary break so that the necessary warnings to others can occur. Thus the murders of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh. Or the slow wearing down, impoverishment, and social shaming of Gregorious Nekschot, a satirical cartoonist who was drawing disrespect for Islam before it became a popular sport in other places. If only he’d stayed within the boundaries of mocking Christians. But he had the temerity to ridicule Islam… and now he’s gone from the scene. No Dutchman is in the least surprised.
So it was that in the comment thread of our most recent post concerning yet another round of Dutch justice being meted out to troublemakers, our commenters were again puzzled about this heavy-handed attempt to shut up Geert Wilders once and for all. How could this be happening in a country famous for its tolerance? Ah, but if you’ve read the historian Legger, what is happening is so painfully clear, the transparency of the fix like so much glass you can see through — if you can bear to look.
This “court” in the Hague is free to persecute Geert Wilders to the full extent of their hearts’ desires. They don’t need no stinkin’ “judicial constraints”. The only thing that might constrain them is the possibility of a severe public backlash. Since the average Dutch person keeps his opinions close to his vest, those in power have no way of knowing for sure what the response would be were they do go past some unseen limit. Unrest over the “immigration problem” is growing… How hard do they dare to shove this freak of Dutch nature before they know they’ve gone too far? It’s a mystery to those in power, a mystery they created by their oppression.
I did leave the usual link in the comments to Mr. Legger, but after reading his essay yet again (it is fascinating) I decided that once my holiday cooking was over I’d do what I should have done long ago: put the information out here where everyone can see for themselves the realities and the pretenses of vultural history as written and performed by the House of Orange. To make a simple comparison/summary in American terms, the United States would resemble the Netherlands if it had taken absolutely to heart, soul, and spirit Calvin Coolidge’s idea that “the business of America is business” (given our own elites’ abhorrence of ‘business’ you can see how the problems attendant to either extreme are harmful).
As I’ve said many times, read Legger and you’ll never see the Netherlands in that same cozy light again. Further, you’ll realize even more forcefully than before the utter courage of Wilders in his willingness to swim in those shark-infested waters Mr. Wilders knows full well the evil arrayed in power against him.
My motive for writing this post is simple: I’m hoping you, the reader, will find Arthur Legger’s essay a clarifying experience. For me it created a paradigm shift, and I’ve had more than my share of those in the years since Gates of Vienna opened. Once a cherished paradigm falls, which is another way of explaining what happens to your thinking when the process of painfully moving yet another “unknown unknown” over to the “partially known” side of the ledger.
Since first coming across Legger’s shocking revelations, I’ve gone back to his essay any number of times; each encounter moves me anew to pity and to horror. Come to think of it, the silent but total and odious control described here prepared me a little for the methods Norway used against Fjordman after Anders Behring Breivik’s massacre. In both instances, and increasingly as one follows events in Europe, I am seeing varieties on a theme, i.e., the totalitarian democracy described in the decade after World War II by the historian J.L. Tolman: The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy (Peregrine Books)
Legger explains how this phenomenon pre-existed in the Netherlands, operating under a veneer of tolerance for all, while Tolman outlines the template moving forward from the French Revolution. Both writers have clarified my understanding even as the dynamic becomes more complex…
Mr. Legger’s style is high irony but distinctly Dutch — even in English. We have a Dutch expatriate correspondent who writes in this same tone, one I find engaging. You’ll catch on to it quickly and perhaps realize — as I did — how much of a cultural ‘self’ can be carried over into a second language. Observe how quickly you’ll catch on if you’re watching for it. I’ve come to see it as a sane method for dealing with horror. Otherwise what is left for you to do besides to run screaming from the room?
[The emphases in Mr. Legger’s material are mine. Obviously the editorial comments are also. Note that he was writing before the first trial. Mr. Legger thought the safety net would break and Geert Wilders would meet the same fate as the dissenters who went before him]
Marts 2008 — Arthur Legger
If you like to think of Holland as the cradle of free speech and the Enlightenment, don’t read this.
‘Nobody needs permission beforehand to publish by print thoughts or feelings — while taking into consideration every person’s responsibility according to the law.’
(Article 7, Dutch Constitution)
Again the ruthless reflex sets in. Because that lies at the core of our Dutch character: the social annihilation of the deviating individual — including a neat political murder, every now and then (we never go after a group, that is not done after our very active partaking in the Holocaust).
The latest news on the chronicle of the death foretold of right wing parliamentarian Geert Wilders, infamous for his bleached haircut from outer space, is that the CEOs of Dutch multinationals fear loss of profit because of Fitna. The Movie.
Wilders gained notoriety because of his wish to ban the Koran and his severe criticism of islam in comparison with “our shared Dutch heritage of Humanism and Enlightenment, as it was successfully proclaimed by our highly esteemed Spinoza”. The captains of industry state that Wilders’ movie will prove too critical and, hence, will harm their age-old connections and business in the Arabic world and Indonesia (a former Dutch colony). The highly successful and erudite lawyer Gerard Spong, a very nice fellow from Surinam (independent in 1975), is hired to sue Wilders: “For irresponsibly damaging Dutch interests”.
It almost goes without saying that many of these directors, managers and members of the board have been key members of the public service, previous Cabinets included, or will be in future times. The Union of IT Businessmen In The East (FME) strongly seconds their concern: “The real problem is that Wilders’ movie fits a pattern of confrontation: the Danish cartoons; the war in Iraq. The movie might prove to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back” (Intermediair 11, 13 March 2008). “Wilders, don’t do it!” prays Bernard Wientjes, the chairman of the VNO-NCW (Union of Dutch Business). “Surely you know that when it really counts the reverend is always traded for the businessman” (The Volkskrant, 15 March 2008).
Also, the Dutch media, via their coordinating National Broadcast Institute, the NOS, issued a shared statement that they will not air Wilders’ movie “because of fear of attacks and not to give this irresponsible person a platform for his xenophobia”. The news agency of the Dutch Parliament (Nieuwspoort) will not provide Wilders with the possibility of showing his movie, because “the making of movies is not part of a parliamentarian’s work”. (The head of the NOS is always a former cabinet member.) Not surprisingly the Socialist, Christian and Liberal parties backed this blocking of Wilders (The Volkskrant, 15 March 2008).
Sorry, we cannot censure
Our current Cabinet, headed by prime minister Balkenende, put even more pressure on Wilders not to show Fitna. Seeking support from France and other EU members Balkenende made it quite clear that “unfortunately we cannot censure the movie of Mr. Wilders beforehand, but we strongly advise him to reconsider for reasons of State Security”. Also he asked EU understanding for Wilders’ “silly behaviour, for which damaging consequences he and he alone will be held responsible”.
Reading that, don’t you wonder why they haven’t blamed the Paris massacre on Wilders? Perhaps that will be part of their newest persecution? [Don’t forget: this is Kangaroo Court #3]
And here is where the financial knives come out, here is the plan to impoverish Wilders in order to shut him up:
Also, the Cabinet demanded complete transparency of Wilders’ financial situation and of his political movement, the PVV (nine seats in Parliament)* — even though this is not demanded by law (ANP News Organisation, 16 March 2008). Hans van den Broek, former minister of Foreign Affairs in three Christian cabinets during the 1990s and currently Member of the State Council — the most prestigious body of advisors of Parliament and Cabinet and directly appointed by the Crown — is significantly less scrupulous: “I understand that the Prime Minister thinks that his hands are tied, but nevertheless I most strongly advise him to stop Mr. Wilders by every means available, including total censorship, because the interests of the State, politically and economically, are in the greatest danger” (NOS TV interview, 26 March 2008).
* It’s difficult to see where this description of
TorturesTrials #1 and #2 leave off and #3 begins. There is a despicable similarity of focus. But note that the nine seats have increased — almost tripled more than quadrupled — in the interim between the second and the third persecutions. And given the events in Paris and Belgium over the past two weeks, Mr. Wilders is looking prescient.[Edited and updated on 11/29/15 to show the correct rise in numbers for the PVV. They now poll at thirty-nine seats, not the nine of 2008.]
Arthur Legger continues:
Still, Prime Minister Balkenende’s statement lacked nothing in clarity: If they come for you, you’re on your own. You are fully responsible for the effects you cause. You’ll have to rely on your bodyguards, we will not protect you.
These last few weeks my foreign friends have called and asked me: “What the hell is going on in the Netherlands? How is it possible that so many Dutch politicians favour censorship and lawsuits, and that leading men of opinion openly and repeatedly compare Wilders to Goebbels and Hitler? How is this possible with your tradition of Spinoza?”
They didn’t like my answer. Nobody likes their academic wet dreams about the 17th century cradle of Enlightenment and Freedom to be disturbed.
Notice the pattern Legger describes, and as you see it applied to Wilders by those in charge, remember that Wilders’ support among voters continues to grow. The average Dutch citizen obviously has a mind of his own, one the elites despise:
The public comparison of a well known individual with Hitler, Mussolini or Mussert (leading Dutch Nazi collaborator) and the removing of the social safety net belongs to an ingrained Dutch tradition, well known to the Dutch. If you’re judged too harmful to the Dutch State, Culture and/or its Business (and these three are highly intertwined), the ruthless reflex sets in and it’s game over — including, sometimes, death. Recently the world was able to witness this flaw in our character: Pim Fortuyn, “fascist” adversary of the Left and winner of the elections, was murdered in 2002; Theo van Gogh, “racist” mocker of muslims, jews and the Left, was murdered in 2004; Ayaan Hirsi Ali, “heretic” critic of the Left and of islam, was effectively banished in 2006.
Tellingly, all four of them, if you include Wilders, used ‘Spinoza’ as their buzz word — it was his Enlightenment ideals against those of the attackers of western freedom. Fortuyn, Hirsi Ali and Wilders mainly opposed orthodox islam, Van Gogh mainly wrote against the naive fool who hands his freedom over out of laziness and decadence. They were not shot or deported by the State. The elite merely closed its ranks and left them alone, unprotected. In regard to the murder of van Gogh the director and staff of the Dutch Security Agency largely knew what was going on and what was about to happen (Mohammed Bouyeri, the murderer of Theo van Gogh, had even been their informant for a few months), but nevertheless decided to remain passive. On Tuesday the 16th of March 2008 the Dutch Minister of Internal Affairs, Mrs. G. Ter Horst had to admit this fact in Parliament after the publication of the “Van Gogh report” by The State Commission for Controlling the Dutch Security Agency (the CTIVD).
I have always believed that Ayaan Hirsi Ali saw what the Dutch permitted to happen to Theo van Gogh and realized she might well be next; her decision to flee the country was a wise one.
Mr. Legger provides another example that few outside the Netherlands would ever know:
A less known recent example of State bullying is also highly telling: The journalist and writer Willem Oltmans, mocker of the monarchy (never do that!), the establishment and Dutch industry, was put out of work, any work, by successive Dutch governments for a period of 25 years, starting in 1971. After being a Don Quijote for years he finally had his day in court. The State was forced to pay him 5 million euro. Which they stalled for years in the hope he’d die of old age. He gracefully refused to do so, however, and at the age of 75 collected his cash and bought his longed for piano. […]
Mr. Legger arrives at the essential point for us non-Dutch to grasp so we’ll stop yelling, “Wait! What about Spinoza?” I recall writing about the Dutch in New Amsterdam being the only colony willing to let in the first Jews to the New World. Now I know why. I hate it when my rose-colored glasses are stomped on yet again:
The pattern of merely practical and opportunistic tolerance, and never absolute freedom, was already prevalent in the 17th century Dutch Republic’s “Golden Age”. Sure, the story goes that Huguenots from France, Jews from Spain and Portugal, Lutherans from the German states, and bored Brits flocked to Amsterdam and Holland because here they were free and tolerated. Descartes, Pascal, Spinoza, Locke, Voltaire — they all found refuge and a printing press.
The truth is a bit more grim.
The Huguenots, Jews and Germans were welcomed because they were very profitable. The Huguenots brought in cash, the Jews connections and the Germans were excellent cannon fodder. The famous philosophers were often mere puppets on a propaganda string. John Locke’s ideas on liberties (never: freedom) was most handy to Calvinist Stadholder William III of Orange in his war against Louis, the Catholic French Sun King, and for his invasion of Great Britain to be crowned King in 1688. That is, after William III had his Dutch critic, Prime Minister (raadspensionaris), the renowned republican, mathematician and philosopher Johan de Witt disemboweled and lynched by the Orangist mob in The Hague.
I leave the story here, but I urge our readers to continue on to the link.
Scroll down to this paragraph:
The Dutch Republic formally gained independence in 1648. But that was only after fighting a very bloody 80 years long war of terror against Spain. This war can be seen as a truly Darwinian struggle in which hundreds of thousands of people perished, and only the “real believers were saved”. From the first gunshots…
to continue reading the real saga of Dutch history, if for no other reason than to discover why large segments of all levels of Dutch society did not require police protection.
In the final paragraph Mr. Legger describes the three-legged stool (he doesn’t call it that) of Geert Wilders’ “tragedy”. That conclusion alone is worth another whole essay.
Note about Arthur Legger from that page: The author is a Dutch historian educated at the University of Amsterdam, the EUI in Florence and UC Berkeley. He describes himself as an independent critic — for as long as it lasts.
Since he ended his educational sojourn at the University of California, Berkeley, one may presume Mr. Legger is another expatriate. Imagine all the fine minds the Netherlands has lost in the last four hundred years, give or take a few disembowelments.