| It doesn't stop|
at the water's edge
| Inventing "The Other"|
|Fear And Loathing|
“”Wilders is the most obviously disturbed member of the neo-right suicide squad in attendance. He cannot finish a sentence. His voice drifts, and he trails away, already out of the room. There is a dustbin fire behind the blank eyes of his human suit.
Geert Wilders (born 1963) is a populist politician and the leader of the Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid, or PVV) in the Netherlands. He uses peroxide and contacts to disguise the fact that he is Indonesian by descent.
Wilders is internationally known for his opposition to Islam, and is also a strong opponent of immigration and a Eurosceptic. Wilders is the founder and sole member of his party, which currently holds 20 of the 150 seats in the Dutch Lower House, and four in the European Parliament. Opinion polls usually indicate it has 15% to 20% support, ahead of most other parties in fragmented Dutch politics. However, he also has a lot of opposition in the Netherlands; whereas someone might support Labour more than a Green party, generally someone voting for someone other than Wilders really despises Wilders. Wilders is a supporter of the Eurabia conspiracy theory, which claims that European and Arab powers aim to Islamise and Arabise Europe, and a strong supporter of Israel. He is usually considered far-right, but he regards himself as a liberal (a right-wing liberal is not an oxymoron in Europe).
Early years and career
Geert Wilders was raised as a Catholic, but he later abandoned the Church. This coincided with a stint of frequent trips to the Middle East, especially to Israel. He was inspired by the contrast posed by Israel's representative democracy and the neighboring Arab countries' lack thereof. He later claimed that his travels convinced him that Islam undermined democratic development and threatened the civilized world. Since then, the Arab Spring has shown that democracy usually leads to Islamist regimes, and Wilders has backtracked on his support for democratization in the region.
In the late 1980's, Wilders joined the conservative free-market People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie, or VVD). He was a typical career politician at first, and was mentored by Frits Bolkestein, an early critic of multiculturalism. After the assassination of Pim Fortuyn, Wilders himself became a prominent opponent of multiculturalism, and later worked with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who had also joined the VVD. That led him to to oppose Turkish EU membership, against the party line. The VVD is pro-American, and Washington wanted Turkey in the EU, to consolidate its support for the War on Terror. Wilders was forced out, and founded a one-man party. It still has no other membership, which gives Wilders total control over its activities.
Following the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, Geert Wilders aggressively seized on the resulting anti-Muslim sentiment. His party displaced all other right-wing populist parties, leaving him as undisputed leader of the Dutch populist right. In 2010-2011, he faced a potential one-year prison sentence on five charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims with his rhetoric. However, he was acquitted by an Amsterdam court on the grounds that his inflammatory comments about Muslims were protected free speech.
In the 2010 election the PVV party won 24 seats, and backed the formation of a new centre-right administration. In return, the new government adopted some of his demands, but that was the closest Wilders got to government office. In 2012 he withdrew his support, and his party lost much support, dropping to 15 seats. Opinion polls indicate it has now recovered, and should be the largest party at the next elections. The question is, however, if anyone will want to form a coalition with him: the nine other parties currently in the House of Representatives are all either unable to cooperate with him for one reason or another, or simply too small to gain a majority, so one is left with the question if Wilders will be able to form a government at all.
“”Just look at Donald Trump for a moment. He's a man with a weird haircut, a big mouth, who says racist things, only thinks of himself, and who can't leave the media's eye for a moment. Surely, you can't imagine something like that happening in the Netherlands?
Wilders came into the international spotlight with the release of his short documentary Fitna in 2008. The amateuristic video juxtaposed images of the Qur'an with reports and images of the 9/11 attacks, the 2004 Madrid train bombings, the 2005 London transit attacks, and other atrocities. It sparked strong political reactions in Europe, and Muslim outrage. Wilders attracted neoconservative and some atheist support. It was intended to be inflammatory: Wilders claims that he made the film to show that "Islam and the Qur'an are part of a fascist ideology that wants to kill everything we stand for in a modern Western democracy." However, the original version would have been worse: Wilders had bought a Qur'an (in East Jerusalem) and planned to tear it up on-camera. He abandoned that idea during production.
In response to the outrage, Wilders was detained by immigration officials at Heathrow Airport in London on February 12th, 2009, after he had been invited to a screening of his film at the House of Lords. He was banned from entering Britain due to fears that his anti-Islamic speech would cause violence there, though a court later overturned the ban.
In June 2010, Wilders took part in a series titled Heroes in Veronica Magazine, in which Dutch celebrities were portrayed as their 'personal hero'. Wilders, oblivious to historical facts, had the not-so-great idea of having himself portrayed as Dutch 17th-century naval hero Michiel de Ruyter. This was not appreciated by the Michiel de Ruyter Foundation, which stated that "Wilders is probably the last person who might and should compare himself to De Ruyter" and that "Wilders should be ashamed to compare himself to such a truly great Dutchman." The situation was indeed very silly, as De Ruyter was known as a rather tolerant person who could get along with certain Moroccan rulers quite well - Wilders, meanwhile, argues for "fewer Moroccans". Adding to the irony of the situation is the fact that Wilders had his right hand, Hero Brinkman, portrayed as De Ruyter's second-in-command, Cornelis Tromp, while De Ruyter and Tromp pretty much hated each other. Brinkman, as if to confirm this, left the party a few months later and started his own.
On September 11th, 2010, the ninth anniversary of 9/11, Wilders joined forces with Newt Gingrich and gave a speech at Ground Zero in New York City to protest the building of Park51. In the speech, he decried the "forces of jihad" that were imposing themselves on New York by daring to perform construction on a building they legally own, and one that is protected by the First Amendment.
In 2012 Wilders published Marked for Death: Islam’s War Against the West and Me, in English for an international audience. In it, he calls for the Qur'an to be banned, implores Muslims to renounce their religion, and advocates cutting all foreign aid to Muslim countries. More disturbingly, he goes on to give a fuller picture of his so-called (ahem) solution, the details of which involve halting all Muslim immigration, paying settled Muslim immigrants to leave, banning the building of mosques, and taxing Muslim religious practices (such as hijab specifically). He also endorses "administrative detention," or indefinite internment without trial on security grounds in Europe as part of criminal operations in Muslim communities, as well as the forcible deportation of Muslims from Europe for the thoughtcrime of thinking about Sharia law.
Somewhere in 2013 the PVV had the less-than-great idea of flying the so-called Prince's Flag, an old version of the Dutch flag (which has an orange top stripe, rather than a red one) used by rebels during the Eighty Years' War, which was later appropriated by the NSB, the Dutch National Socialist party. Party ideologue Martin
Bormann Bosma claimed that the NSB had never used this flag, which is complete bullshit: party leader Anton Mussert even wrote this in his diary. When Wilders was confronted with the fact that his party was essentially using Nazi flags by fellow MP Alexander Pechtold, he responded by having a mental breakdown in Parliament.
In December 2015, Wilders supported the DonaldTM for President of the United States. This despite the two having nothing in common, apart from an odd haircut, being a xenophobic demagogue, and making remarks that sound suspiciously much like what Mr. Hilter said - oh, wait. Following his American counterpart, Wilders stated in the House of Representatives on 29 March 2016 that he "did not exclude the possibility of prohibiting Islam". This despite the fact that Articles 1 and 6 of the Dutch constitution explicitly guarantee freedom of religion. Then again it should be noted that Pim Fortuyn already tried to get them erased from the constitution. Nothing is stopping him from doing the same thing.
His party was expected to become the largest in parliament, forcing everyone else to form a coalition to shut him out of government. Early results came in for the 2017 elections, and it turns out that the polls were wrong: Wilders lost to conservative-liberal (again, this term isn't an oxymoron in Europe) Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who kept his party the largest in parliament after all. Meanwhile, Jesse Klaver, a young millennial leader of the center-left Green-Left, received their strongest showing ever, bumped up from 4 to 16 seats, quadrupling their total and displacing much of the increasingly-neoliberal Labour Party instead.
Criticism of Wilders
Inside the Netherlands, Wilders's views have been heavily criticized for years, without any visible effect on his support. He is also criticized for his refusal to make compromises, although he did support a coalition in 2010. Although only a minority in the national parliament, Wilders and his party have had an enormous impact. He has made immigration and Islam central issues in Dutch politics, to the point where they often overshadow the economy. Although other parties generally show distaste for his views, they have been forced to make concessions for fear of losing voter support to the Party for Freedom. The chance that he will ever run the country is however very small, as it is unlikely that the Party for Freedom would be able to find willing coalition partners after having instigated the fall of the first Rutte cabinet.
A frequent charge in this regard is that Geert Wilders' understanding of freedom doesn't include the freedom of everyone to live their lives the way that they want to (a frequent justification for multiculturalism), but his freedom from dissidents and minorities. Wilders has been named as an example of a champion of Islamophobia by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, has said that Wilders is "arguably the world's worst Islamophobe, but [...] truly scary [due to] his acceptance in the mainstream." He has also accused him of "exploit[ing] deep-rooted fears about citizenship and security," relying on "reprehensible, bigoted stereotyping of Islam [to] completely mischaracterize the beliefs of the overwhelming majority of the world's Muslim adherents." Levin went on to say that "his totalitarian proposals are not only practically preposterous, but the most morally reprehensible that one could conceive of next to murder or forced conversion."
The New York Times reported that "[t]he success of Mr. Wilders highlights the difficulties faced by mainstream politicians across Europe in dealing with the rise of populists and extremists: Include them and you have to take on board their unsavory policies; exclude them and end up increasing their appeal to protest voters."
Commentators such as Maryam Namazie and Bahram Soroush have accused Wilders of lumping all immigrants from Muslim countries together as potential Islamists, even those who in fact left their countries to escape Islamism.
controversial demented Lebanese-Australian Muslim preacher Sheik Feiz Muhammad advocated the beheading of Wilders over his Islamophobic remarks, but then later claimed that he only meant it in a "metaphorical sense."
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