Monday, October 18, 2010

Wilders: One Step Closer to Victory

Posted by Robert Spencer on Oct 18th, 2010

Friday came the good news: Amsterdam public prosecutors Birgit van Roessel and Paul Velleman declared Dutch freedom fighter Geert Wilders not guilty of discrimination against Muslims and inciting hatred against them. But his trial continues: the prosecutors’ decision is not final. A judge will issue a ruling on November 5, and he doesn’t have to follow the prosecutors’ recommendations. So the freedom of speech still hangs in the balance in the Netherlands, as well as in Europe and the West in general.

Nonetheless, van Roessel and Velleman brought an unexpected bit of common sense to this ridiculous and ominous show trial. Regarding Wilders’ much-trumpeted call to ban the Koran, the prosecutors said, according to Dutch News, that “comments about banning the Koran can be discriminatory, but because Wilders wants to pursue a ban on democratic lines, there is no question of incitement to discrimination ‘as laid down in law.’”

Many of Wilders’ critics, and even some who would otherwise support his stand for human rights against the discrimination and oppression of Sharia, have professed to find an inconsistency in Wilders’ defense of the freedom of speech and call to ban the Koran. However, in this Wilders was actually calling upon Dutch authorities to be consistent themselves: the Netherlands has “hate speech” laws, under which Mein Kampf is banned. Wilders said in the Dutch Parliament that “the Koran is a book that incites to violence,” and that “the distribution of such texts is unlawful according to Article 132 of our Penal Code.” If Mein Kampf could be banned under that article, why not another book that manifestly incites its readers to violence and hatred?

I myself don’t support “hate speech” laws or the banning of any book. While there is no justification for speech that is genuinely and legitimately hateful — racial slurs, etc., “hate speech” laws are simply tools in the hands of those who are entrusted with deciding what constitutes “hate speech” in the first place: the powerful can all too easily use them to label their opposition “hateful” and thereby silence dissent. But as long as the Netherlands has such laws, Dutch authorities should not apply them selectively, and Wilders is not self-contradictory in standing up for the freedom of speech while calling for these laws to be applied consistently, not in a self-serving and politically manipulative manner.

Meanwhile, regarding his comparison of the Koran with Mein Kampf, van Roessel and Velleman called it “crude but that did not make it punishable,” and generously acknowledged that Wilders had spoken out not against Muslims as such, but against the threat to human rights and Dutch society represented by the growing assertiveness of Islam in Dutch political and social life.

Nonetheless, the judge could still rule against Wilders, sending him to prison or levying a fine upon him. Wilders himself has ably articulated what’s at stake: “I am being prosecuted for my political convictions. The freedom of speech is on the verge of collapsing. If a politician is not allowed to criticize an ideology anymore, this means that we are lost, and it will lead to the end of our freedom.”

Indeed. If the Dutch convict Wilders and declare the truth about Islamic supremacism and jihad to be “hate speech,” they will have set a dangerous precedent that will be used ultimately to render Europeans and Americans mute, and thus defenseless, in the face of the advancing jihad and attempts to impose elements of Sharia upon the West. In fact, one of the key elements of the laws for dhimmis, non-Muslims subjugated under Islamic rule, is that they must never be critical of Islam, Muhammad, or the Qur’an. Thus the action against Wilders in the Netherlands not only aids the advance of Sharia in the West, but is itself an element of that advance.

But of course, it couldn’t happen here: freedom of speech could never disappear in America, right? After all, we have the First Amendment. Yet “hate speech” laws and other attempts to limit the freedom of speech, which are favored by a large number of Obama Administration officials, could be justified by a declaration that free speech is still a constitutional right, but after all, every right has its limits: “hate speech” will be specifically exempted from its protections — and “hate speech” will be defined to encompass speaking honestly about the actual texts and teachings of Islam that contain exhortations to violence and assertions of supremacism, unless one is referencing such material approvingly as a believer. For to speak of such things in any other way would be to “insult” Muslims, as has Geert Wilders.

It could happen here. That’s why what is happening to Geert Wilders in the Netherlands is so immensely important, and portentous, for the future and the freedom of every American.

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