Guest post by Andrew Murphy
In case you missed it, Poujadist-völkischness just made some advances in the EU elections the other day. Regrettably, Geert Wilders is not going to go away.
There is a school of thought that Wilders is a lone voice of reason in a cesspool of mushy, atonal postmodernism which refuses to acknowledge the threat of Islamic fascism. This can be found on weblogs like Jihad Watch, Atlas Shrugs, and Gates of Vienna.
While the once proud Left has indeed descended into groupthink and postmodernism, the problem with Wilders is that what he has on offer is no solution and frankly reeks of the very fascistic tendencies he supposedly opposes.
Biology is destiny. Evoking fears raised by Mark Steyn and Bernard Lewis, Wilders raises fears that Europe will soon be a Muslim continent and that people from Islamic countries are breeding faster then native Europeans.
“Take a walk down the street and see where this is going. You no longer feel like you are living in your own country. There is a battle going on and we have to defend ourselves. Before you know it there will be more mosques than churches!”
One slight problem: Muslims only make up about 4.5% of the entire population of Europe. Wilders doesn’t take into consideration that eventually, many of these first generation immigrants will have assimilated into society and intermarried with Brits, Germans, French, etc– and their children and grandchildren will be very much European. Wilders’s campaign reminds me of the nativist cries from the 19th Century in America about Jews and Eastern European Catholics.
Wilders wants to stop all immigration from Muslim countries to Europe. Apparently, Wilders makes the same mistake that people like Ken Livingstone make, which is assuming that radical Islamists speak for all Muslims. It does not occur to Wilders that the Muslim women who come battered and beaten to women’s centers throughout Europe are not friends of jihadists. The schoolgirls who wear their veil when their parents take them to school but take them off when they play in the playground with their friends, only to have to put them back on when their fathers comes to pick them up, are not future suicide bombers.
Instead of making outcasts of all Muslims, the focus should be on ‘education, education, education,’ to borrow a phrase from Tony Blair. The more educated women become in Muslim cultures, the less space fundamentalism has to maneuver. Mark Steyn is right, for different reasons. Demographics are important, because everybody has to procreate. Open and liberal societies can reduce the number of women who will allow themselves to become the caged victims of radical Ismaists.
On an intellectual level, Wilders has called for stopping the building of all new Mosques in Europe and the banning of the Koran. Wilders refers to the Koran as a ‘fascist’ book. What could stir up radical Islamists more in Europe than to force them underground? If Wilder truly believes the Koran is a fascist book, then why has he not demanded ‘Mein Kampf’ or any of the other fascist tracts that circulate in book stores be thrown into the book burning pyre as well.
Wilders claims he is a libertarian but if so, Europe is growing an odd crop of libertarians these days. John Stuart Mill once said of free speech, “…..if the opinion is right, we are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, we lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”
And if his blood-and-soil tendencies and his lack of respect for freedom of speech and religion are not enough, Wilders has taken the initiative to flirt with the fringe Right.
Wilders once said:
‘My allies are not Le Pen or Haider………’We’ll never join up with the fascists and Mussolinis of Italy. I’m very afraid of being linked with the wrong rightist fascist groups.”
Yet as the prospect of gaining more political influence throughout Western Europe becomes more realistic, Wilders has apparently decided the Le Pen Right may not be so bad after all. At an anti-Jihad conference this year, Wilders suggested his party and the Flemish Vlaams Belang could form an alliance.
The Geert Wilders moment does not represent a step forward but rather a step backward for Europe. Banning books, obsessions with birth rates and hobnobbing with fringe political elements have an unfortunate history in Europe.