(Many thanks to C for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling.)
Lately, have you noticed that Mr. Wilders has become a “nothing left to lose” truth-teller? I fear for him, recognizing his demise could well be akin to that of Pim Fortuyn’s. You know, when the security guards “forget” to show up one day? I am not privy to his arrangements for protection, but pray that some of them are his own men, not state-paid.
Time to take out an old, oft-repeated essay to remind you of what Wilders faces. The explanation below, written in 2008, about Dutch “freedoms” and “tolerance”, goes far toward explaining the existence of Dutch expatriates, of whom the author is one.
Here’s a short excerpt. Since it’s difficult to choose just one passage, the opening salvos of “Why Spinoza Was Not Murdered” will suffice to get the point across, but do read the whole thing. It is full of the same mordant wit our essayist H. Numan employs to make his points; Egger proves again the crucial point that one cannot survive in the Netherlands without the heart to make pointed fun of reality.
It is a lesson we rightwingextremistdeplorable Americans would do well to learn, i.e., maintenance of the spirit by laughing at one’s opponents. Can you imagine a speech in our Congress that comes anywhere near the spirited riposte of Mr. Wilders? Perhaps President Trump echoes this position sometimes, but his rhetoric is too erratic to trust entirely. Instead of spine surgery metaphors, our president comes in with machine guns blazing.
Now on to Mr. Legger:
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).
That is merely the preface to a longer explanation of Dutch society. In the ten years since Mr. Legger wrote his essay, the situation in the Netherlands hasn’t changed, except to get worse.
Many years ago we had a Dutch correspondent who gave us lively descriptions of the day-to-day reality in his country. Like all cultures, it’s complicated for an outsider. Thus when Legger says, “Geert Wilders, infamous for his bleached haircut from outer space”, our correspondent explained the bleached-blond phenomenon. Mr. Wilders is of mixed heritage, i.e., part Indonesian from back when the Netherlands owned that part of the world. His hair is really brown; in a large country of immigrants like America, his looks would pass unnoticed. But not in Holland. So, the story we were told back then was that Geert Wilders’ bleach job was a thumb in the eye of his soi-disant “betters”. Any ‘pure’ Dutch would recognize his ethnic background immediately.
Such panache is rather admirable. Chutzpah is what one needs to transcend the strictures of an oppressive culture. May Wilders continue to be an inspiration to the rest of us.