Once upon a time one could find on almost every street corner someone proclaiming the words attributed to Voltaire that he might "hate what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it". It sounded good and won the admiration of all who heard the speaker's vow to defend with his life the right of others to say even those things he despised. But then came Islamic fascism and the very real possibility that one might actually be required to make the ultimate sacrifice to defend free speech and suddenly the street corners were empty and silent. To paraphrase Machiavelli, when times are peaceful there are plenty of people who can be found to swear their undying loyalty to the First Amendment, but when the savages are howling at the gates free speech will find but few defenders. And so it has been since 9/11.
One such heroic defender of the right to speak the truth, however, is a man by the name of Geert Wilders. Wilders was a member of the Dutch Parliament who has put his life and career on the line to warn of the threat to the Netherlands posed by the growing Islamic population in his country. The Wall Street Journal has recently run an excellent warts-and-all column about Wilders that everyone should take the time to read.
Here's an excerpt that gives a sense of Wilders' blunt outspokenness that certainly won't endear him to the multicultural PC crowd:
As he sees it, the West suffers from an excess of toleration for those who do not share its tradition of tolerance. "We believe that -- 'we' means the political elite -- that all cultures are equal," he says. "I believe this is the biggest disease today facing Europe. . . . We should wake up and tell ourselves: You're not a xenophobe, you're not a racist, you're not a crazy guy if you say, 'My culture is better than yours.' A culture based on Christianity, Judaism, humanism is better. Look at how we treat women, look at how we treat apostates, look at how we go with the separation of church and state. I can give you 500 examples why our culture is better."
Wilders acknowledges that "the majority of Muslims in Europe and America are not terrorists or violent people." But he says "it really doesn't matter that much, because if you don't define your own culture as the best, dominant one, and you allow through immigration people from those countries to come in, at the end of the day you will lose your own identity and your own culture, and your society will change. And our freedom will change -- all the freedoms we have will change."
The article mentions the short film Wilders produced last spring titled Fitna. If you missed it when it came out last April you can view it here.
Despite his frank, and doubtlessly accurate, assessment of the problem created by the massive influx of Arab Muslims into Europe, Wilder's solution is troubling. He says that the problem is the Koran and that "You have to give up this stupid, fascist book" -- the Quran. This is what you have to do. You have to give up that book."
As the writer of the WSJ column notes:
Mr. Wilders is right to call for a vigilant defense of liberal principles. A society has a right, indeed a duty, to require that religious minorities comply with secular rules of civilized behavior. But to demand that they renounce their religious identity and holy books is itself an affront to liberal principles.
Quite so if Wilders is actually saying that Muslims should be legally required to renounce their scriptures, but perhaps he is merely saying that they need to be challenged and urged to reconsider their interpretations of the Koran and indeed the validity of its claim to divine authority. If so, there's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with engaging Muslims theologically and exposing them to the problematic nature of those beliefs which ill-suit them for life in a pluralistic, civilized world. Such engagement should occur, though, in the arena of ideas, not in legislatures. If Europeans were to compel Muslims by legislative fiat to renounce the Koran then Christians would have very little ground to stand upon should some future tyrant demand they give up their Bibles.
Even so, Mr Wilders is a modern hero who is placing his life at risk to save European culture and the principles of freedom. Read the whole article.RLC