A Profile in Courage

An open letter to Geert Wilders.

An open letter to Geert Wilders:

Though we have not met, I feel as if I know you well. I have followed your trials—and trial—closely and, like many who are engaged in the same fight against Islamic supremacism and the various forms of jihad that confront us, I endorse your campaign on behalf of the West and its traditional liberties in every way that I can.

Indeed, I wonder if you are aware of the extent of your de facto “support network,” a majority in America who, according to a Pew Research Center survey, are “very concerned” about the rise of Islamic extremism, and certainly a significant minority of the increasingly vocal. The same may now be the case in your own country and in a number of other European nations as well—Switzerland and its minaret affair come immediately to mind—as ordinary people gradually come to realize the threat they are facing.

Of course, we can write off the political and intellectual elites who, through laziness, timidity, adherence to the craven doctrine of political correctness, and no doubt the profiteering impulse, are in bed with the succubus who would guzzle their blood. And this is no blood libel. In addition, you probably strike these presumably more decorous sensibilities as too blunt, aggressive or politically ambitious, which is clearly what prompts their efforts at character assassination against you. But your passionate resistance to the creeping Islamization of Europe prompts me in turn to ask: Does this in Wilders seem ambitious? In any event, pay no attention to these tergiversators. As Andrew Bostom writes, “The transparent agenda in characterizations of Wilders is to demonize Western Europe’s most informed and courageous politician resisting the actual jihadism…But the Swiss minaret referendum, and even more emphatically, burgeoning Dutch support for Wilders and his PVV, indicate that ordinary Europeans reject the capitulation to Islamic supremacism their cultural relativist media and political elites deliberately abet.”

In your fine speech to the British House of Lords on March 5, 2010, you established the principle, as you have many times before, that you and your Freedom Party do not “have a problem with Muslims as such.” You distinguish between law-abiding Muslims and the ideology of Islam based on the Koran. “There are many moderate Muslims,” you declare, “but there is no such thing as a moderate Islam.” The first part of your proposition is a socially appropriate sentiment, but the second part begets a conceptual problem which is decidedly unpleasant to address.

Forgive me for suggesting that you probably had no choice but to make this subtle discrimination between the faithful and the faith, which implies a certain disconnect between the wish and the reality, as you must surely realize. You tread on very delicate ground here, as you are doubtlessly constrained to do in order to avoid alienating both “moderate Muslims” and non-Muslims who regard themselves as unprejudiced.

When you rightly assert that “Islam is not merely a religion [but] a totalitarian ideology,” note that the Koran “commands Muslims to establish shariah law,” claim that “Islam is not compatible with our Western way of life,” and go on to compare the Koran with Mein Kampf, quoting Winston Churchill to reinforce your thesis, the distinction you adduce between individual Muslims and the collective institution of Islam tends to collapse. For what you are really saying is that moderate Muslims cannot be devout Muslims or, in truth, cannot be Muslims at all. What sort of Muslim remains after you have factored out shariah law, effectively compared Muhammed to Hitler, and contended that the Koran should be outlawed, or at least designated as a species of hate literature, as you proposed in your letter to the newspaper De Volkskrant on August 8, 2007?

You now find yourself uncomfortably situated, so to speak, between the devil and the deep Red Sea. Not being a Muslim yourself, you don’t have the option of polemical emphasis that derives from rejecting the faith, becoming an apostate-on-principle or converting to another faith, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Wafa Sultan and Nonie Darwish, among others—all of whom took the second part of your logic to its inevitable terminus. They understood that one cannot honestly profess Islam without abiding by the decrees of the religion and its holy book, including the oft-repeated summons to kill or enslave the infidel, the structure of gender apartheid, the imposition of shariah, and a host of other draconian laws.

In other words, a “moderate Muslim” would have to live in a state of contradiction, and perhaps many do—as does, for example, freedom loving Tarek Fatah, Canadian author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State, who calls himself a “hardened secular Muslim.” What exactly is a secular Muslim, whether hardened or soft? Similarly, what could a “secular Christian” conceivably be other than some sort of mythical chimera? (It is different for Jews, of course; a “secular Jew” remains a Jew because the world persists in regarding him as such. But that is another matter.) Fatah is a good man and an important voice in the ongoing debate concerning Islam, but he cannot extricate himself from a legendary infatuation or acknowledge disagreeable historical and theological facts. One cannot cherry pick the Koran or romanticize Islamic history, as so-called “moderate Muslims” are obliged to do, without falling into incoherence. As a character in Hanif Kureishi’s The Black Album says, “our religion isn’t something you can test out, like trying out a suit to see if it fit! You gotta buy the whole outfit!” There is, to put it another way, no such beverage as Islam Lite. One drinks in the real thing or nothing; there is no substitute.

Bangladeshi author and former Muslim Abul Kasem, in a FrontPage Magazine interview, defines the majority of Muslims as believers “in name only.” Kasem is shockingly direct: the existence of a “moderate Muslim” is contingent upon a moderate Koran “since the life force of Islam is the Qu’ran.” But the Koran happens to be an extreme and violent document, and even if it is selectively ignored by practitioners of the faith, its fissile core can be activated at any time. For Kasem, as for the dissidents mentioned above, the term “moderate Muslim” or “secular Muslim” is an oxymoron. The use of the term “moderate Muslim,” he argues, is “truly misplaced” and muddles Western thinking in the attempt to defeat Islamic terror. I’m presuming this is an argument you too would candidly advance if the sociopolitical context were not so precarious, and if your place in Dutch society and as leader of a respectable political party permitted you to do so.

Still, you were on the money when, in a speech to the Dutch parliament, you compared Islam in Europe to a Trojan Horse. Here you were being perfectly forthright. Your metaphor was both mythologically and historically accurate. In 1529, the armies of Islam were camped before the gates of Vienna. They were beaten back. Today they are camped within the gates of Paris, the gates of Oslo, the gates of Malmo, the gates of Berlin, the gates of London, the gates of Birmingham, the gates of Brussels, the gates of Marseille, the gates of Amsterdam, and counting. In fact, as you and many of the politically aware—Bruce Bawer, Christopher Caldwell, Walter Laqueur, Bernard Lewis, the late Samuel Huntington, Melanie Phillips, Bruce Thornton, Claire Berlinski, Denis MacShane, Bat Ye’or, to name only a few—point out, Islam is now a major demographic force within the gates of Europe in its entirety. Vienna was only a temporary setback, a lost battle in a long and possibly successful war. Our ostensible sophisticates seem to have forgotten that Islamic time is not Western time.

I began this letter by assuring you that you have a far wider community of supporters than you might at times suspect. True, several conservative bien pensants and generally astute observers of the ideological world, such as Bill Kristol, Glenn Beck and Charles Krauthammer, have lately taken you to task on Fox News and elsewhere for your supposed intransigence, your explicitness and your “radical” stance vis à vis Islam, that is, your refusal to differentiate between a peaceable Islam and violent Islamism. The critical perspective adopted by these otherwise excellent writers toward the leftist collaboration with, or appeasement of, militant Islam, their awareness of the demographic menace posed by unchecked immigration, and the weaponized prose they habitually flourish would indicate they should be your allies rather than detractors.

So unfortunate a dereliction is highly problematic and, at first blush, inexplicable—unless, as a commenter to an article by Mark Steyn suggests, “perhaps the recent purchase of a substantial portion of News Corp.'s stock by a wealthy Saudi Arabian might be a factor in Krauthammer's and Beck's negative statements about Geert Wilders.” Diana West concurs: “this anti-Geert pundit solidarity will only delight stakeholder Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.” We have long known that Saudi money has infiltrated the media, the universities, the Hollywood illusion factory and the book publishing industry, with all the predictable consequences. But then, we also know that Kristol, Beck and Krauthammer are honorable men.

Maybe there is another explanation. Roger Simon hazards that Beck “is not particularly versed in European affairs”, which are plainly not his forte, and that Krauthammer may be subconsciously afraid that you are right, a likelihood “too depressing” to contemplate. For, Simon continues, “if Wilders is correct, and the line between Islam and Islamism is as blurred as the Dutchman posits, then we in the West are in very deep trouble indeed.” And this is a conclusion all too few of our intellectuals, “peace” constituencies, opinion shapers and power wielders, addicted to the ostrich syndrome and insulated from the mean streets of the real world, are willing to absorb. They have taken another route and are speeding down the highway to dhimmitude like Toyotas with stuck gas pedals. They would rather allow the approaching immiseration of the West at the hands of a resurgent Islam than stiffen their spines and act as they must if Western civilization is to survive. Which is why they do not want you in the game.

Nevertheless, despite such curious defections and betrayals, I think you may rest confident that you enjoy a stalwart following among those who have come to share both your fears and your salient assumptions. We monitor the court prosecution to which you have been subjected by a camarilla of judges who, as you say, “do not want to hear the truth about Islam.” As David Rusin shows in a compendious summary of “the growing deference to Islam in Europe’s courtrooms,” citing evidence of a most disturbing, if ludicrous, nature, “in the Netherlands, the bar association is leading the way to mollify Islamists.”

But there is a redeeming irony tunneling its way through these proceedings. You are in a win-win situation. A victory in court means you have been vindicated. A negative verdict also works in your favor, for a jail cell would give you an effective podium, though I doubt you would malinger there for long. It would then become glaringly obvious that your accusers are a pack of soi-disant anti-Dreyfusards, Vichy-type sellouts, cowards and hypocrites, and public demonstrations against your captors would be sure to follow. They are the ones in a self-inflicted bind, not you. Moreover, it is already common knowledge that your judges have substantially curtailed the number of expert witnesses you have called and are deliberating behind closed doors. Oddly enough, a bad day in court may translate into a good day at the polls. Indeed, according to some electoral prognostications, you may shortly find yourself the prime minister of your country.

The cake appears ready for the oven. If all goes well, the next election may actually install you in the seat of power or, failing that, position you as a power broker. You have only to keep on being yourself and, of course, you need to stay alive. You have the courage and outspokenness of your murdered fellow Amsterdammers, Pym Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh, but you also have what they did not, 24/7 protection. And, to reiterate, you are not alone. A growing company of the likeminded stand behind you. One way or another, you cannot lose, at least not in the Netherlands.

So in conclusion, as the current idiom enjoins: Go for it!