Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders is currently on tour in Australia. He has only one core business: the defamation of anyone who does not agree with him on Islam and immigration. He is on a mission to warn the entire world of a conspiracy to overthrow the west and to destroy our freedom, using himself as live evidence. The perpetrators of this evil are the joint forces of Muslims, immigrants and leftwing politicians, who according to Mr. Wilders want to destroy Dutch values and plan to enslave or even kill us. To support his views, he calls his own words “the truth” and anyone who dares to criticise him is referred to as blind, naive, even a fascist, a nazi, a socialist and a friend of terrorists, someone who collaborates with the enemy to turn Europe into an Arabian and communist colony.
Wilders’ party is literally called the “Party for Freedom”, in Dutch: “Partij Voor Vrijheid”. His version of freedom is that he should be free to say whatever he wants, even if that means that others should fear for their liberty rights and have to accept to be labelled as inferior. On an almost daily basis, any incident that involves Muslims or non-white Dutch citizens, mostly of Moroccan descent, is exploited and rewrapped as “evidence” for the doom looming over one of the richest countries in the world. Freedom can be a meaningful word, but it becomes meaningless when it is used to exploit fear and hatred towards minorities that have a poor social index.
The reason for the existence of non-white Dutch citizens is not a conspiracy, but simply because of the import of cheap labour in the past fifty years. Mr. Wilders’ voters and followers are on average conservative Christians and poorly educated Dutch that have seen their neighbourhood change and have lost faith in the future. They want to hold on to the benefits of a prosperous country, which they see threatened by the influx of foreigners and the rule of the European Union. This is not unique to the Netherlands. In Greece, for instance, violence against immigrants is at an all time high while the country is being stripped bare naked because of financial corruption and austerity measures in exchange for financial aid packages. Everywhere in Europe, tensions against minorities are growing with little hope for improvement as long as the economic and financial crises persist.
Mr. Wilders wrote a book called Marked for Death. The publication of a German translation of his book was recently cancelled in Germany, where law and social standards forbid anyone to compare any group to nazi’s but nazi’s themselves. He compares the Quran to Mein Kampf and has called Islam the biggest disease that ever happened to the 20th century. Freedom of expression is indeed a great good, but it becomes meaningless when it is used for bigotry and to openly advocate for a two-tier society, where Muslims or non-white non-western Dutch citizens have less civil rights than others and have to pay tax for wearing a head scarf. Of course, the cancellation of his book was portrayed by Mr. Wilders as “evidence” for people who are trying to prevent him from speaking “the truth” and to take away his freedom and what he calls the “Islamisation” of our countries. In reality, his book had already flopped in the US, only 1000 copies have been sold. That book is heavily promoted by American organisations that believe that Barack Obama is a freaky communist islamic negro.
In a vitriolic mix of Islamophobia and pure racism, Mr. Wilders regularly mentions that two thirds of Moroccan youth have been arrested on criminal charges. This is in fact very untrue in many ways and largely based on flawed logic. First of all, these youngsters are not Moroccan, but born Dutch. There parents or grandparents were migrant workers from Morocco, cheap labor that flooded the European market since the sixties. Indeed, the crime statistics show that young people of Moroccan descent score much higher, as with other young people of migrant workers from Turkey, or Dutch non-white citizens from the former colonies. They also show much higher poverty levels, unemployment rates and poor performance in education. Furthermore, there is no scientific evidence that religion or ethnicity is proof of criminal behaviour. As usual, Mr. Wilders denies these facts as false left-wing propaganda.
If you take a closer look at the crime statistics and the matter of ethnicity, Dutch-Moroccan, of Moroccan-Dutch youngsters are mostly charged but not always convicted of petty crimes, such as shop lifting or public disturbance. With a few exceptions, most youngsters of Moroccan descent are doing pretty well, looking at the circumstances. They are facing continuous discrimination in public life and on the labor market and are often stuck between the liberal Dutch society and the conservatism of their and other communities. Of course, a few ‘rotten apples’ can spoil it for the rest, but it’s a fallacy when trying to criminalise 250.000 or more citizens who happen to be of Moroccan descent or the almost one million people in the Netherlands that happen to be Muslim.
Not unimportantly, 90% of all crime is committed by the male half of our society and the same goes for this minority. Dutch society is also being secularised, churches are left empty. Religion has become much more a matter of identity than of practice. The same goes for Muslims who at a rapid rate adapt to common Dutch trends and standards. Consequently, few young people of Moroccan descent attend a ceremony in a mosque. However, it is easy to imagine that continuous stigmatisation and discrimination of these young people makes them susceptible for religious fanatics and social misbehaviour. The best way to turn people into criminals and terrorists is to deny them any rights based on their ethnicity or religion, especially in a country were crime rates are at an all time low.
Since the tragic murder of Theo van Gogh, almost ten years ago by a religious fanatic, only few Islamic incidents have actually happened in the Netherlands. In fact, most violent crime with tragic consequences is committed by genuinely Dutch males. In 2010 a heavily armed young guy killed seven in a shopping mall and the year before another Dutch male drove his car into a crowd during a tour of the Dutch royal family. Only a few weeks ago a young man was beaten up by a gang of eight in the city of Eindhoven. A vague image was used to identify the boys as non-whites, which later turned out to be untrue. In fact, they were sons of wealthy Dutch tax evaders, who live just across the border in Belgium. Possibly, too much spray tan had corrupted perception. Around the same time, a young boy of Moroccan descent who had been bullied continuously by his white class mates was found dead in a forest. Police were quick to say that the thirteen year old had committed suicide after distributing leaflets, but no motive to support this has been identified.
Last year, a Dutch-Frisian man was arrested as the prime suspect for the murder of a young girl in 2006. For years, people of a neighbouring refugee home were accused of the murder, with scenes of hysteria and a lust for a lynch party among the local population. It was perceived impossibly that community member could have committed such a crime. Nevertheless, the image that our streets are dangerous due to the existence of foreigners still continues today. Although there is no evidence of islamisation or mass immigration, unless you see in the existence of non-whites and Muslims evidence for this idea, a large number of Dutch citizens support Wilders for his vitriolic views. These include that traffic jams are the result of mass immigration, that his party cannot allow membership because artists want to destroy it and that the European Union is the continuation of the Third Reich or the Soviet Union.
Fanatacism and extremism exist in many flavours.
Contrary to reports in Australian media, Mr. Wilders’ party is not the third biggest party in the Netherlands. In fact, he is the only member of his party. The other representatives have been hand picked by Wilders personally. It is true that he received 10% of the vote in September last year, down from 17% two years ago. It is also true that many of his “carefully selected” MPs have convictions for fraud, embezzlement and violent behavior, prior to the last elections this amounted to one third of his party ‘members’.
I also read in some Australian news media that Mr. Wilders is holding the balance of power in the Dutch parliament. This was the case until the last elections when he Netherlands had a minority government coalition of christian democrats and (liberal) conservatives, which he ‘tolerated’ in exchange for some anti-immigration measures and budget cuts on culture. The current government is a majority coalition of (liberal) conservatives and social democrats.
It is true that Mr. Wilders has received many death threats and is driven around in an armed vehicle with an armed escort. But despite the fact that for instance previous prime minister Balkenende received as many death threats, the latter was still cycling to his office every day without an escort. Mr. Wilders exploits for political reasons the fact that he is threatened, whereas others don’t. The current economic downturn in the Netherlands, still one of the richest countries in the world, plays to his advantage. It feeds social unrest where people look for a scapegoat for their personal misfortune, whether it be foreigners, coloured people, jews or Muslims.