Symposium: The Fear that Wilders is Right

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In this special edition of Frontpage Symposium, we have assembled a distinguished panel to discuss the question: What psychological impulses and neuroses prevent people from objectively considering whether or not Islam is a religion of peace? In other words: Why the rigid disinclination to even consider the evidence that suggests that someone like Geert Wilders might be right?

Our guests today are:

Roger L. Simon, the author of ten novels, including the eight prize-winning Moses Wine detective novels, which have been published in many editions and translated in over a dozen languages. He is also a screenwriter and has written for all the major Hollywood studios, including Bustin’ Loose with Richard Pryor, Scenes from a Mall with Woody Allen and the adaptation of his own The Big Fix with Richard Dreyfuss.  Simon received an Academy Award nomination for his adaptation of Isaac Singer’s Enemies, A Love Story in 1989. The author of Blacklisting Myself: A Hollywood Apostate in an Age of Terror, he is the co-founder and CEO of Pajamas Media.

Dr. Kenneth Levin, a clinical instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, a Princeton-trained historian, and a commentator on Israeli politics. He is the author of The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege.


Robert Spencer, a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of ten books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran, is available now from Regnery Publishing, and he is coauthor (with Pamela Geller) of the forthcoming book The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America (Simon and Schuster).

FP: Roger Simon, Robert Spencer and Kevin Levin, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.

Today we witness the blatant desperation in our culture and media for a “moderate Islam” — an Islam that many non-Muslims vehemently insist exists, but that mysteriously eludes them. This moderate Islam will make everything better, we are told, once the “extremists,” who are the “minority” in Islam, will be sedated. This sedation will be most easily achieved, the argument continues, when the Islamophobes stop blaming Islam after Islamic terrorists point to Islamic scriptures in explaining what inspired them to perpetrate their terrorist attacks.

Meanwhile, in terms of the planet that we happen to be occupying, a “moderate Islam” is nowhere to be found; no school of Islamic jurisprudence exists that counsels Muslims to renounce the Qur’an’s teachings on Islamic supremacism and the obligation of violent jihad. And yet, to suggest the truth of this reality in our culture gets one only the accusation of being a racist and an “Islamophobe.”

Roger Simon, let me begin with you. What do you think of this phenomenon? You recently wrote a profound piece at Pajamas that touched on one of its crucial foundations. In analyzing why the likes of Glenn Beck and Charles Krauthammer have attacked Geert Wilders, you interpreted that these conservative individuals, from whom we might have expected something different on this score, are, what it all comes down to it, rejecting Wilders because they are afraid that he might be right.

Share your angle on this with us.

Simon: Although I have tremendous respect for my colleagues in this symposium, I can’t imagine anything more depressing to write about or to discuss.  The world is in a horrible Catch-22 and Geert Wilders is the ultimate “canary in a coal mine” for trying to tell the truth about it.

Islam is an almost unsolvable conundrum.  How do you deal with a religion with a billion adherents that is expansionist in ideology and threatens to kill its apostates?   How do you get a reformation of that religion when its holy book, from which those dictums come, is reputed to be dictated verbatim by God and is therefore immutable?  Talk about “inconvenient truths,” these are about as inconvenient as they get. No wonder they are buried from the discussion and ignored.  We in the West live in a society that cannot even begin to wrap its mind around that.  I know – it’s hard for me.

So where does that leave Wilders?  I believe that consciously or unconsciously those who brand him as excessive, or even racist, are living in fear that he may be right.  They have to hate Wilders, because if he is correct, their whole world disintegrates.  Who would want that?

He and the small group like him have therefore morphed into our clearest contemporary examples of those poor Greek messengers to be killed for bringing the bad news. A salient recent example is Nicholas Kristof’s unhinged attack on Ayaan Hirsi Ali in the New York Times Book Review – a supposed liberal going off on a woman who had a cliterodectomy for daring to dwell on how women were oppressed in the Islamic world. It’s almost pathological. Another recent example are the similarly unhinged attacks on Israel over the Gaza flotilla incident while completely ignoring vastly more horrific acts occurring in the Muslim world on an almost daily basis.  We dare not insult them lest they go mad.

It’s almost as if the world has become a giant dysfunctional family, enabling their huge Muslim branch to remain besotted – or drugged out – on sub-Medieval ideology. And the situation is getting worse.  The principle bastion of hope of reformation of the Islamic world – Turkey – made its turn back toward fundamentalism years ago now.

So again, where does that leave Wilders?  One lonely canary.  We have to support him, but I’m not optimistic. I hope my colleagues are.

FP: Thank you Roger Simon.

Kenneth Levin your thoughts? A species of the Oslo syndrome is involved in this phenomenon right?

Levin: I do see a form of the Oslo Syndrome operating here. In the Oslo agreements, Israel embraced Yasir Arafat and his PLO as its “peace partner” even as Arafat and those around him were making clear, in word and deed, that their goal remained Israel’s annihilation. In looking at Israel’s self-destructive Oslo policies, I discussed the phenomenon of segments within a minority population that is under siege – whether the situation be a minority marginalized, denigrated and otherwise attacked by the surrounding majority within a polity, or a small state under constant assault by larger neighbors – commonly embracing the indictments of their enemies, however bigoted or absurd or murderous those indictments. They delude themselves that by doing so, and promoting concomitant self-reform and concessions, their enemies will be appeased and grant them peace.

While most common among minorities at risk, the same phenomenon can be seen within large and powerful populations faced with new and dangerous external threats. This became obvious in the United States after 9/11.

The perpetrators of 9/11 and their myriad supporters quickly made clear their objective of imposing their Islamist rule worldwide and their comprehension of doing so as a religious duty. Yet many in America sought, and continue to seek, to recast the threat, to rationalize it, and to urge policies aimed at appeasing Islamist leaders and followers in the delusional hope of thereby extricating the nation from the dangers it faces.

Geert Wilders argues that Islamofascism derives directly from Islamic teachings, including Koranic exhortations. His movie, Fitna, advancing this argument, is unimpeachable in its citations of Islamic scripture and in its images of Islamofascism on the march. That those who oppose him are motivated in large part by a wish to appease the purveyors of the Islamist threat is indicated by the fact that the negative responses to Wilders have focused not on rebutting his arguments but on demonizing him and using anti-democratic means to silence him. As Roger Simon suggests, they are compelled to hate Wilders because they so want to cling to their delusional denial of the threat.

The ugly, perverse, self-destructive nature of the assault on Wilders, and the necessity to defend him, have been articulated by many. Particularly noteworthy is the stance of Daniel Pipes, in that Pipes disagrees with some of the substance of Wilders’ arguments, believing in the possibility of a moderate Islam, but has forcefully supported Wilders and attacked the shoddy treatment to which he has been subjected, the anti-democratic efforts to silence him and punish him through the courts, and the broad movement – as illustrated in the indictments of Wilders – to quash free discussion of the nature of the Islamist war being waged against the West. Pipes has stated that Wilders’ unique confronting of the Islamist challenge – pursued without the baggage of neo-Fascist, nativist, or conspiricist extremism that have characterized some others in Europe decrying Islamic inroads – has rendered him the most important European alive today.

Beyond the unconscionable attempts to silence Wilders, there are other indications, both in Europe and America, that the hostility directed against him is motivated primarily by a wish to deny the threats we face and to appease its agents. Thus, in both Europe and the U.S., we have a huge chorus of officials insisting Islam is a religion of peace, They insist that Islamist forces pursuing a war of world conquest have “hijacked” the religion and that the vast majority of Muslims are peace-loving and tolerant. Yet these same officials give virtually no public support to those – too few – Muslims within their nations who at once declare themselves to be believing Muslims and do speak out forcefully against Islamofascism. On the contrary, such people are typically ignored and government outreach is almost invariably directed to individuals and groups linked to Islamist, hatred-promoting agendas.

In the U.S., for example, how much government attention or acknowledgement or support has been given to the likes of Zuhdi Jasser, an Arizona physician and believing Muslim who has dedicated himself to attacking the bigoted, hateful voices that have come to dominate Islamic institutions in America? Even if one is convinced that Jasser and like-minded individuals are pursuing a hopeless course because their interpretation of Islam is so starkly at odds with the religion’s seminal texts and seminal message, one would still have to believe it makes sense for the nation to give such people all the support it can in advancing their perspectives. But in fact, Jasser and those like him have been essentially ignored by American officialdom and it is the allies of the Islamists who are courted and feted by officials at every level of government, including law enforcement agencies.

One can argue there is often a more venal motive behind this phenomenon. Saudi Arabia is the prime financier of Muslim extremism in the U.S., including of education in bigotry – particularly anti-Jewish and anti-Christian bigotry – in U.S. mosques and Islamic schools, and Saudi Arabia is pandered to because of its oil wealth and its readiness to use its prodigious financial resources to win official tolerance of its intolerant message. But if officials and others looked honestly at the existential threats we face from Islamofascism, the likelihood is they would be less inclined to politics as usual and to being swayed against defensive measures by Saudi blandishments. The impact of the Saudi role is a reflection of widespread official averting of eyes from the nature of the threat.

One can also argue that much of the Western accommodationist reaction to the Islamist threat, and desire to silence Wilders’ message, are a product of Western leftist orthodoxy. The combination of hostility towards the West, moral relativism, and boosterism regarding virtually anything non-Western or anti-Western – all seminal doctrines of the contemporary leftist catechism – inevitably leads to denial of, or excuses for, or even defense of, the Islamist challenge.

But even among those whose ideological allegiances weigh against looking honestly at the nature of the threat, there were many individuals who responded to 9/11, and the additional terror that followed on the atrocities of that day, and the declarations of Islamofascism’s leaders and minions, by reevaluating their leftist ideology and abandoning their old verities for a saner comprehension of the realities we face. Those who continue day after day to cling to their delusions regarding the nature of the threat do so by persisting, day after day – out of a desperate desire to believe reality to be otherwise, to believe the threat can be wished away or rationalized away or appeased away – to continue averting their eyes from the nature of the challenge.

FP: Robert Spencer, your thoughts on the need to hate Wilders so one can cling to one’s delusional denial of the threat we face? What do you think of Roger Simon’s and Kenneth Levin’s perspectives?

You bring a personal aspect to this as well, because your name can substitute Wilders in our own culture. You are very much hated for telling the truth that many people simply cannot accept, because the consequences are just too frightening and depressing. Share your thoughts with us on this phenomenon and also your personal experience with being a Wilders figure in our own society.

Spencer: Jamie, Roger Simon is quite right that those who call Wilders “excessive, or even racist…have to hate Wilders, because if he is correct, their whole world disintegrates.” Although I am no Geert Wilders, I’ve encountered this phenomenon many times: people essentially admitting that they don’t want to face up to the truths that Wilders and others enunciate because they believe the implications of those truths are simply too terrible to contemplate. I was told several years ago that the editorial board of a major American publication, when asked to do a profile on me and feature my writing, turned down the proposal because if what I was saying were true, “the U.S. would find itself at war with every Muslim country in the world.”

I don’t accept that as a natural outcome of what I say, but I find interesting the open avowal of the idea that what I say about Islam and jihad simply cannot be true, because if it were, the implications would be too disturbing to contemplate – and so therefore it must be false, or at least should be ignored! I encountered this again in a debate with a professor of Islamic studies at a significant American university, whose opening gambit in response to my initial presentation was to tell the audience that if what I said were true, it would be very depressing – as if that were sufficient to establish its falsity.

Contributing to the persistence of this unreality is something that Kenneth Levin alludes to – the fact that “the negative responses to Wilders have focused not on rebutting his arguments but on demonizing him and using anti-democratic means to silence him.” That demonization is a tested and true weapon in the Islamic supremacist arsenal, as well as that of the Left (here is yet more evidence confirming your own thesis, Jamie, in your excellent book, United in Hate), and it is so frequently employed because it is so very effective. There are so many spineless conformists on the Right in America – they are very easily cowed by charges that someone is a “racist,” or a “bigot,” or even worse, an “Islamophobe,” and maybe even a secret “neo-Nazi.”

It doesn’t matter if there is absolutely nothing to these charges (and in the case of Wilders and others thus charged and shunned, including my colleague and coauthor Pamela Geller and myself, there isn’t); for many prominent mainstream “conservatives,” the charges themselves are enough. They will shun any contact or association with people who have been thus tarred. They are thoughtless and cowardly enough to run in the other direction at the mere suggestion of a taint, often without even investigating the case themselves. They don’t seem to realize that by doing this they’re playing the Leftist/Islamic supremacist game — effectively allowing the opposition to define the terms of the debate, choose the playing field, and make the rules. And that, it goes without saying, is a sure path to defeat.

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  • bill49

    Yes. We must resist. I am glad Liberty Clinger quoted Churchill. Churchill was a very imperfect man who would never have become Prime Minister in peaceful times. He suffered from depression and mood swings, Some say bi-polar and some people have suggested HDD. He drank expensive booze nearly around the clock. Like Hitler he imagined he was a great military strategist, which he was not. Yet he was a great fighter, a great leader, a great networker and inspirer of men an women. He may not have been a great impromptu orator BUT HE WAS A GREAT WRITER AND A GREAT ACTOR, READING HIS OWN MAGNIFICENT SCRIPTS.
    Churchill today would have been despised and ridiculed as Geert Wilders and Benjamin Netanyahu are today. Churchill was an imperfect warrior like Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Geert Wilders and Benjamin Netanyahu, We must stand firmly behind the imperfect men and women with Churchillian chutzpah and perhaps Churchillian faults.They are standing up to and fight against the darkness from the Middle East. Somebody needs to lead and we must not assassinate them from behind.

  • richard

    how to win when the media is involved in the conspiracy, and from the highest office on down are traitors, conspirators, and cowards?

  • frabul slomn

    If you havent made a personal declaration of war then do so now.

  • frabul slomn

    If you havent made a personal declaration of war then do so now.

    • John Mark

      What's the point of a personal declaration of war? Pointless! Only nations or groups of nations make declarations of war which have any meaning.

  • badaboo

    Churchill was also a stater of profound truisms . He saw and warned of the dangers of Wahabism as far back as 1923 .
    So while we waste time with the usual right and left back and forth , over WHO is to blame [the most ] , it brings to mind a quote of Churchill's regarding Democracies –

    "Democracies do not act until there is blood in the streets "

    And so it will be .

    BTW , frabul slomn – get in line !

    • George

      He also started the "socialized" medicine in Britian….commie!

  • badaboo

    and I might add , although the duped and dhimmi left aren't helping matters , it was right wing idiots who made the deal with the devil back in Afghanistan to get the Soviets to withdraw . Not that the Soviets were so good , but shame on us for not recognizing the mujahadeen were far WORSE . The bloody barbarians are right when they make the claim Bin laden "worked for the CIA " .
    Is anyone here foolish enough to think "November " is going to change any of this ? Well if so you, are deluding yourselves , as one poster already put it , ALL the politicos ARE and HAVE BEEN aware of this threat .
    No matter who wins in November , it'll be just more of the same , partisan enemies lining up , just like a footbvall team at the end of a quarter ….from the opposite sidse of the field .
    Those people better wake up .And fast !

    • Liberty Clinger

      At the time International Communism, based in the Soviet Union, was a much bigger fish to fry than International Islamo-Fascism. Times have now changed, and as we see Communism has not died at all; it is now called by other names, and has in fact formed an anti-American alliance with Islam.

      • badaboo

        bunk ….muslims hate communists because they are atheists

  • badaboo

    Smarten' up …it's later than you think

  • xman

    Jihadis have just murdered over 60 innocents in Kampala, Uganda <url&gt ;</url&gt; for the 'crime' of watching the World Cup Final – further proof, if any were needed, that Geert Wilders is right about the evil and barbaric death cult of Islam, and that his critics are wrong. Will the PC-inebriated West and the sheeple who live in it ever learn, because if they don't, their children will live through this in their own countries at least every other day?

  • xman

    Yep, 9/11, Madrid, Beslan, Mumbai, London, Bali, and we can now add Kampala to that grisluy list of atrocities carried out in the name of that barbaric death cult and its evil and murderlusting followers. For the sake of our own children, the deportations must start en masse.

  • eric

    The US has a "man with the hammer complex" every problem is a nail. Just because you have a powerful military does not mean, every problem can be solved with bombs. There are many moderate muslims who also enjoy modern life and don't want to go back to the 7th century and it would be wise to work together with them to expose and weaken the extremists. Without the moderates the war can't be won however how much troops are sent to muslim countries. The Taliban in afghan. cannot even make one division yet they are tying up 200k troops and winning. Any attempt by US to label Islam the enemy would mean you declare all muslims as the enemy and would have to fight them all, which would exhaust and bankrupt the US. The US can never win this war which will ony be won by muslims with the support of the west confronting and defeating the extremist. Imagine US soldiers in afghan. with no local allies facing hostile population. They would not make it to the next corner of the village. Remember al qaida in iraq was defeated only when the sunni muslims of iraq were sickened by the bloodletting and turned against them. This obsession of the right to label islam and muslims as the enemy will end very badly for the west, in fact it guarantees failure and defeat of the west.

  • Thalpy

    Islam's protective legal status of "religion" must be removed, and that's just the beginning.

    • John Mark

      How do you DO that? Can't think of any way less than war! Conquest would succeed, since the "ideology" of Islam would have tried to prevent conquest, thereby showing that it's not primarily a religion.

    • lies

      The scorpions/moslims of serb bosnian in the east beheaded a lot of man. Nobody writes about it, but people know and talked also with me. And now they are complaining about srebenica where these scorpion men were killed and that the dutch is guilty of murdered them. Eventhough the muslims/scorpions started the killings. They wanted a muslim state with sarajevo. Yes international press was honest about that. Dutch even had memorials today about srebenica. What the fuck. You think i am stupid. Dutch government that i believe the fairytale you told in 1995. NO i have other resources. We the people all know about the scorpions and beheading and soon coming to europe. I am glad the muslims of srebenica are dead!! kill them all

  • badaboo

    keep on dreaming Eric .the so called "moderate muslims " living in the west have done NOTHING to dissuade their bretheren from jihad , they have done NOTHING in the way of public condemnation of their barbarism , they have done NOTHING in the way of turning in bthose they know to be terrorists , they have done NOTHING in the way of changing their attitudes towards honor killings and abuse of women , they have done NOTHING in the way of condemning bthe preaching of hatred towards all other religions , and that is because there are no "moderate muslims " it's a term of wishfull thinking .
    And yes , EVENTUALLY we will have to fight them all anyway , because this TRULY IS A WAR WITH ISLAM .. the sooner we stop kidding ourselves about this , the better.

  • badaboo

    guess what ? islam is at war with us , it is at war with the west , it is at war with all non-muslims . why do you think that the world ,is in their minds , divided into two , Dar-al Harb and Dar -al Islam

  • Beth

    Hi John,

    All of the leaders of the different branches of 'Christianity' have claimed that "Islam is a religion of peace". (They've done many other peculiar things also)

    I don't believe this war – that Islam declared – can be won without using the Scriptures (of the Bible). But I also believe the weapons that were given to us (the Scriptures) are looked down upon. We're going to lose this war John.

    It was 'scriptures' (the Koran) that created this mess. It will take Scriptures (of the Bible) to clean it up.

    The first place to start (which is a checkmate against Islam) is to start 'singing' the song of Moses….as it is written in Rev 15:3 "the saints sing the song of Moses".

    The most depressing thing about that is – most don't even know what the Song of Moses is. Even the so-called 'Christian masters' of this world either refuse to 'sing' it, or don't know it.


    • Beth

      I hope you'll bare with me when i say – i don't have much hope for winning this war.

      Jhn 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world – through Him – might be saved. (key word: might)

      But who really believes? (not this present society) We're not going to win this war John.

    • John Mark

      Beth, you sound dispirited and without hope! Funny how the same New Testament fills me with the belief and hope that the Christian civilization is going to conquer the non-civilisation of Islam, whereas the same Scripture leads you to conclude that "We are going to lose this war, John!"

      It does show that the atheists are right in that one can interpret the Scriptures in many different ways, with each believer utterly convinced that he or she has the absolutely correct understanding.

      For me, the beast, which you mentioned previously, is "the world of Christianised government" and it has risen up out of the sea of all that is not Christianised ever since the Roman Empire, ever since Constantine aligned politics with Christianity.

      This beast of Christianised government is nowadays SO, SO much more powerful militarily than the Islamic militants that, for me, the outcome of the clash is obvious and certain. So, cheer up!

  • Durotrigan

    An excellent article. There is of course no such thing as 'moderate Islam'. Wilders has previously stated that "there is no such thing as moderate Islam, but there are moderate Muslims" is almost correct, but for the sake of clarity I would suggest that we adopt new terms when dealing with the Islamic problem, referring to and distinguishing between 'doctrinaire Muslims' and 'nominal Muslims'. Doctrinaire Muslims are those who actually believe in Islam and the teaching of the Qur'an, whereas nominal Muslims are those born into Muslim families who do not believe in the Qur'an.

    We need to follow Wilders's approach in order to avoid the dreams of the Islamists (as shown in the following clips) from becoming our nightmare reality:

  • LibertarianHomo

    It seems like there is a "surge protector" in the minds of the left or left-leaning that 'dissipates' the energy of inconvenient facts

    While Calvin discourages the "eradicate Islam" description, the clearest way to effect an "ideocide" is with light, ration and – in the end – some measure of coercion. I doubt we will ever eradicate the ideas that sustain Islam, we may certainly diminish them.

    Unfortunately for the West, we have mostly lost our Faith. In God, in our Nation and ourselves. Can that be rekindled?