Correcting Johnson’s canard about Fortuyn and Vlaams Belang

I wondered about this remark by Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs when I saw it Saturday morning:

Pym Fortuyn may have been labeled a “racist” by the usual suspects for his opposition to the invasion of radical Islam, but he was also strongly opposed to the Belgian Vlaams Belang party; he called them a “fascist” group.

To correct the record, Paul Belien at Brussels Journal quotes a posthumously published column by Pim Fortuyn (it was censored while he was alive) protesting the unbelievable mistreatment suffered by Vlaams Belang leader Filip Dewinter when he came to Netherlands for a tv interview. Far from Fortuyn’s opposing the Vlaams Belang party, the article makes it clear that Fortuyn saw Dewinter as an ally against the jackbooted leftist tyranny that has been imposing mass non-Western immigration on Europe.

UPDATE: Johnson replies to Belien by saying that Pim Fortuyn in the article quoted by Belien does not support Vlaams Belang, but only denounces the physical attack on Filip Dewinter and the Dutch government’s failure to defend him.

This is true, but the issue was not whether Fortuyn affirmatively supported Vlaams Belang, but whether he denounced it as a “fascist” party. Johnson finds a couple of sources, chiefly the Wikipedia article on VB, which say that Fortuyn did so, but he hasn’t come up with a single direct quote of Fortuyn denouncing Vlaams Belang as a fascist party.

Johnson’s quote of the Wikipedia article on Fortuyn is interesting:

He called Islam “a backward culture” and said that if it were legally possible he would close the borders for Muslim immigrants. He was labeled a far-right populist by his opponents and in the media, but he fiercely rejected this label and distanced himself clearly from far-right politicians such as Filip Dewinter of Vlaams Blok (now Vlaams Belang), Jorg Haider of Austria or Jean-Marie Le Pen of France whenever compared to them.

First, let us point out that Fortuyn’s denunciation of Islam as a backward culture and his call for Muslim immigrants to be completely closed out of the Netherlands should make Fortuyn a “repugnant” figure in Johnson’s eyes, an agent of bigotry and darkness. Therefore Johnson’s sudden appeal to Fortuyn as his moral authority on political parties is most questionable.

Second, it is to be expected that Fortuyn would have distanced himself from VB, the National Front, and so on. Fortuyn was an extravagant homosexual, an extreme though consistent liberal, who opposed Muslim immigration for liberal reasons, namely that Muslims are anti-liberals who will destroy freedom, particularly sexual freedom. Those other European parties are nationalist parties, opposing Islam because it threatens traditional Western culture, not because it threatens the right of sodomy. So, if Fortuyn did call VB “fascist,” it would most likely have been an expression of Fortuyn’s support for sexual libertarianism, and thus coming from the same place as Hirsi Ali’s denunciation of VB. And since when do conservatives regard liberals’ charges of “fascism” to be dispositive?

At the same time, as I explained above, Fortuyn obviously felt solidarity with Dewinter as a fellow target of the open-borders orthodoxy. Therefore, even if Fortuyn did criticize DeWinter, it seems very unlikely that it would have been the kind of blanket denunciation that Johnson thinks it was.

- end of initial entry -

Sam H. writes from the Netherlands:

Pim Fortuyn is a much more complicated figure than you make him out to be. The problem in Europe is that parties like Vlaams Belang, Front National, BNP and the Haider party all have very big problems because in their background there are clear links with the real extreme-right, i.e. (neo)-nazi elements. That makes those parties beyond the pale for many respectable center-right, conservative voters. And that in turn is extremely helpful for the liberal establishment. It helps the establishment to brand any discussion of immigration, Islamicization etc. as “racist”, it makes their favorite parlor game of guilt by association much too easy. Look closely that these parties and you will detect “a brown whiff.”

That is why it is so important that new parties emerge that are free from any taints with fascism, collaboration, and neonazism. Respectable parties that can become a new conservative establishment. One cannot rule a society from the far fringes.

And this makes Pim Fortuyn so important. There was something of the genius about this man. Unfortunately there is very little material available in English, but Fortuyn was much more than a liberal. In some ways he was a very traditional conservative. He, did, use his homosexuality as a weapon against the liberals. It insulated him from the usual criticism. But Fortuyn was trying to forge a respectable right in Europe, which is precisely what is necessary.

LA writes:

I don’t deny Fortuyn’s talents and smarts and guts, but I don’t think Fortuyn with his flamboyant homosexuality could have led any kind of conservative party. It’s just impossible.

Also, you miss the big thing that happened: his homosexuality did not at all protect him from being labeled a right-wing extremist, marginalized, and murdered.

On your initial point, I must say that I’ve looked and I have not found anything that puts VB as a party that is neo-fascist or that has those elements, the way Haider and Le Pen clearly do. Can you inform me on this?

Sam H. replies:

Well, I have looked into Vlaams Blok in the past. Belgium must be one of the most corrupt states of the Western world and I can certainly understand voting for them. But my investigations do point towards unsavory things. Karel Dillen for example said many strange things. Flemish nationalism is the nationalism of the petit bourgeois. There are clearly links with people who collaborated in the war. There is a lot of sympathy for South Africa, strange sympathy for the Nazis etc. It’s just not very wholesome.

Take a look at wikipedia at Vlaams Blok, Karel Dillen, Roeland Rase, and take a look at this.

I haven’t made an exhaustive study and don’t pretend to be a specialist. Undoubtedly, there are also decent people in the Vlaams Belang party. But there is more than enough dirt that decent people should look for leadership elsewhere.

If we cannot have parties led by the haute bourgeoisie, we will not save Europe. One must never forget that we are class societies.

LA replies:

I still do not see anything about VB as it presently exists as a party, whether in its platform or the statements of its leaders, which says we must have nothing to do with it and that anybody who supports its cause or attends an anti-jihad meeting on with its leaders must be shunned. People who are much more liberal than I am attended the Brussels conference.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 04, 2007 12:07 AM | Send

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