The courageous Dutch politician Geert Wilders released his book Marked for Death: Islam’s War Against the West and Me in May 2012. The foreword to this title was written by the eloquent Canadian-born political commentator and cultural critic Mark Steyn, who has a special talent for writing about serious topics in a humorous way. He has published several books and written essays for publications ranging from the Jerusalem Post and the Chicago Sun-Times to the National Review, The Australian and Canada’s National Post.
Steyn is honest enough to admit that when he was first asked to contribute to Wilders’ new book, his initial reaction was to say no. The main reason for this is the potentially high cost of being associated with a man who lives with constant death threats.
Yet, after taking a stroll in the woods, Mark Steyn felt ashamed at the ease with which he was caving in to the enemies of freedom, and decided to accept the offer after all. He recalled how the Canadian Islamic Congress boasted that their attempts by legal aggression to silence Steyn’s critical writings about Islam had cost his magazine substantial sums, and thereby attained their “strategic objective” of increasing the cost of publishing anti-Islamic material.
In the case of Geert Wilders, that cost is not merely limited to money. Despite being an elected Member of Parliament in what used to be one of Europe’s freest and most tolerant countries, he is regularly vilified by Western mass media. When trying to enter Britain, a nation that once was a champion of liberty, he was detained by plainclothes border guards on arrival at London’s Heathrow airport in February 2009 and deported from the country.
The democratic Dutch MP had been invited to the House of Lords, where Baroness Cox and Lord Pearson wanted to show his 17-minute Islam-critical film Fitna. The Home Office refused him entry on the grounds he “would threaten community security and therefore public security,” not because he threatened to use violence, but because Muslims might use it.
Lord Ahmed from the Labour Party, Britain’s first Muslim member of the House of Lords, the upper house of the British Parliament, pledged to bring a 10,000 strong force of angry Muslims to lay siege to Parliament. A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain claimed that Wilders has been an open and relentless preacher of “hate.” At the same time, London has become a notorious intentional center for Islamic militants, who spew hate on a daily basis.
Geert Wilders accused the Labour government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown of being “the biggest bunch of cowards in Europe.” He was later allowed entry to the UK, however. He was also put on trial in the Netherlands accused of criminally insulting religious and ethnic groups. Wilders was eventually found not guilty in 2011, but the entire process took several years.
As Mark Steyn puts it, “He is under round-the-clock guard because of explicit threats to murder him by Muslim extremists. Yet he’s the one who gets put on trial for incitement. In twenty-first century Amsterdam, you’re free to smoke marijuana and pick out a half-naked sex partner from the front window of her shop. But you can be put on trial for holding the wrong opinion about a bloke who died in the seventh century. And, although Mr. Wilders was eventually acquitted by his kangaroo court, the determination to place him beyond the pale is unceasing: ‘The far-right anti-immigration party of Geert Wilders’ (the Financial Times)… ‘Far-right leader Geert Wilders’ (the Guardian)… ‘Extreme right anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders’ (AFP) is ‘at the fringes of mainstream politics’ (Time). Mr. Wilders is so far out on the far-right extreme fringe that his party is the third biggest in parliament.”
Maybe those who are out on the fringe are the ones who think that disliking Islam is “far-right.”
Yet it’s not just Wilders himself who is being attacked in this fashion. Those who dare to meet him or support some of his views could find themselves attacked by the mass media and the political elites in a comparable manner. Cory Bernardi, born and raised in Adelaide and currently representing the state of South Australia for the Liberal Party in the Australian Senate, in 2011 came under fire not only from members of other parties but also from his own — allegedly conservative — party when he wanted to facilitate a trip to Australia by Wilders.