Remembering Pim Fortuyn

Bruce Bawer is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center and the author of “While Europe Slept” and “Surrender.” His book "The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind" is just out from Broadside / Harper Collins.


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On May 6, 2002, a Dutch sociologist and writer turned politician named Pim Fortuyn was gunned down in a parking lot in Hilversum in the Netherlands.  He had just come from an interview (Hilversum, outside of Amsterdam, is the headquarters of the Dutch electronic media), one of many he had given in previous weeks in advance of the general election, which was scheduled for May 15.  Despite the relentless smear campaign directed against him by the Dutch political and media establishment, Fortuyn’s party, Lijst Pim Fortuyn, was doing extremely well in the polls, and it looked as though, barring a major upset, he would actually become the next prime minister of the Netherlands.

The prospect was remarkable, for more reasons than one.  For one thing, if Fortuyn won, he would be the first openly gay head of state or government of any country in the world, ever.  But under the circumstances, his sexual orientation was barely more than a footnote.  What really mattered, and what gave hope to so many voters in his country and to observers around the world, was that Fortuyn was a social scientist who had gone into politics for one reason and one reason only: because he saw that the precipitous rise of Islam in the West, and especially in his own nation, was a catastrophic development, and he was determined to do everything he could to preserve the liberty and equality that he cherished before it was too late.

An extremely intelligent, well-educated, and charismatic man, graced with humor and gifted with an extraordinary courage that enabled him to withstand the most brutal and unfair assaults from his ideological enemies, Fortuyn was poised, some of us felt, to become a Churchill – a hero of freedom who would inspire his fellow European heads of government to follow his lead.  There were those of us who saw him as the man who might well save Europe.  But those dreams were dashed in a moment, ten years ago last Sunday.

Time is relentless.  It all seems so long ago now.  Fortuyn’s murder followed 9/11 by only a few months.  Throughout his election campaign, the events of that day were fresh in all of our minds.  Some of us, to be sure, had been clued into the seriousness of what we were up against even before the Twin Towers were taken down – but even for us, 9/11 brought the crisis of the West into sharper relief, and made the importance of Fortuyn’s political quest even more obvious.  He was the one major politician out there – not only in his country, but in any country – who was speaking, without hesitation, euphemism, or equivocation, the uncomfortable truths that needed to be spoken.  And then – suddenly – he was gone.

The assassinations of certain people raise questions of historic dimensions.  What would have happened with Reconstruction if Lincoln had lived to oversee it?  What direction would race relations in America have taken if Martin Luther King, Jr., had not been cut down?  The same kinds of questions attend upon the murder of Wilhelmus Simon Petrus Fortuyn.  What would have happened to the Netherlands, to the Europe, to the West, during the first decade of the twenty-first century had he survived to become the prime minister of the Netherlands?  The power of his rhetoric, of his mind, and of his personality, was beyond dispute.  The power of his example as a prime minister, many of us believed, could be equally formidable.  Fortuyn, we felt, might well prove to be the man who would chart a courageous, humane, and workable way forward out of the mess that Europe had gotten itself into.

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  • Chezwick

    A very moving and depressing tribute, though Bruce deftly closed on a hopeful note.

    I just wanted to reflect on one of his rhetorical questions….

    "What direction would race relations in America have taken if Martin Luther King, Jr., had not been cut down?"

    RESPONSE: I personally believe the direction wouldn't have been too different than how it actually unfolded. King was a much more marginalized figure by 1968 compared to his iconic status 4 short years earlier.

    This was attributable mostly to the success of his movement. Though residual racism certainly still existed (and will for as long as man himself does), basic Civil Rights had become a reality for most blacks. By 1966, the Vietnam War had eclipsed race as the main issue gripping the soul of America. King had refused to be drawn into the anti-war movement, thinking it would detract from the Civil Rights struggle (though by '67, he had finally begun to speak openly against the war). Thus, the baton of leadership had passed to more militant black spokesmen.

    Had he not been martyred, it is doubtful that King would ever have achieved his venerated status in the American collective psyche.

    • poppakap

      A thoughtful comment and rational conclusion which I had espoused during a rather raucous debate during my undergraduate years. The blood of a martyr seals the testimony of the deliverer in a way that elevates their perceived importance not possible in natural death or a long life.

  • Brian Donegal

    Pim Fortuyn was a leftwing liberal without a doubt. What set him apart is that he did not possess the suicidal trait of his continent: white liberal guilt. Had he lived and become prime minister he could have saved Holland.

  • Schlomotion

    Two hundred years ago Nordics were obsessed with Turkish and Moroccan boys too, but the Romantic poetry was so much better.

    • reader

      Forget the Nordics, troll. You are obsessed with the Jews and there's nothing poetic about this. Go see a shrink.

  • towelhead

    None of the existing anti-Islamic parties, organizations, and activists (freedom parties, defense leagues, stop Islamization organizations, Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, Pamela Geller, Lawrence Auster and the rest) propose practicable solution to the explosive growth of Muslim population. There is a new debate forum about this topic. It is posted here: http://templars.forumshome.com/

  • Theo Prinse

    Thanks for this fine article mr. Bruce Bauer.
    Your name will always be remembered by the Dutch Republick … De Verenigde Republiek der Nederlanden
    greetings form the Netherlands !

  • EBDM

    Having lived and worked in the Netherlands for the last 13 years I totally agree with Bruce's description of Pim Fortuyn and and his analysis as to how the Dutch political establishment reactd to his rise.
    However, I do have to disagree with his comparision of Fortuyn with Wilders. Whereas Fortuyn did seem to have an idea of how to solve the problem of countering the subtle Islamisation of Dutch society and the "acceptance" of its excesses under the guise of tolerance (which in fact is nothing but indifference in the Netherlands), Wilders, even though he has his valid points regarding the aforementioned problems of Islam in the Netherlands, does not sem to have a proper programme but reacts in a populist way to every challenge Dutch society faces, for example his "Polenmeldpunt", a website were people can denounce Polish labour migrants when suspected of "stealing" jobs from the local or just genereally seem to be a nuisance; the same people who actually ensure that Dutch products {especially agricultural} can still be sold competetively. Wilders at times seems to be on the verge of pure xenophobia, something Fortuyn never could have been accused of.

    • curmudgeon

      xenophobia. the very favorite word among people who hate their own country. when you hear or see the word xenophobia, you are hearing or reading the words of a traitor. every time. it is a word of pure hate that is used invariably by traitorous haters.

  • PAthena

    On openly homosexual political leaders: the Roman emperors Trajan and Hadrian were openly homosexual. Hadrian even had statues of the boy he loved, Antinous, distributed throughout the Roman empire, and, I think, named a city after him.

  • esperantominoria

    Talking about Islam again,in Muslim civilization there has never been any abolitionist movement,but check this out:

    "The First Declaration of the Aboliton of Black Slavery,in Mexico in 1642,by the Man who Inspired Zorro"
    http://www.antisharia.com/2012/05/09/the-first-de

    AND ALSO

    "One of the Most Sacred Hindu Temples,that of Shiva in Somnath,was Destroyed 6 Times by the Muslims"
    http://www.antisharia.com/2011/06/12/one-of-the-m

    "Article IV about the Enslavement of Christians by Muslims in Literature:French Novelist Lesage and Islam"
    http://www.antisharia.com/2012/03/10/article-iv-a

  • JDC

    I have never been able to get an english translation of his book. Ideas anyone ?

    • Ray Olson

      Dear JDC,

      Is this what you seek?

      Marked for Death: Islam's War Against the West and Me. May 2012. Regnery, $27.95. ISBN: 978-1596987968. The only copyright on the verso of the title page is Mr. Wilders, so either he wrote it in English or translated it himself. (Or, more likely, his assistants did either or both, of he's like other Western politicians.)

  • Georgina

    If you mean Gert Wilders' book, it is now available on Amazon.
    http://www.amazon.com/Marked-Death-Islams-Against

  • Guest

    How many times do we have to see this made up hero true degenerate, Martin Luther King, portrayed as something wonderful what if he had lived? You don't need to ask. You have two of his understudies right here to see daily and ask. Sharp ton and Jackson.

  • Tob Breogh

    Thanks for this article !!!