Spencer’s avoidance of the main charge against Wilders

The main charge against Geert Wilders is incitement to discrimination against Muslims (as explained here). Writing at FrontPage Magazine, Robert Spencer consistently ignores that point. Here is Spencer’s article, “Free Speech on Trial,” with my interpolated comments:

Free speech goes on trial in the Netherlands on January 20, when Dutch politician Geert Wilders appears before the Amsterdam District Court on charges of having “intentionally offended a group of people, i.e. Muslims, based on their religion,” as well as having incited to hatred and discrimination.

What did Wilders do to warrant such charges? He told the truth about the global jihad and Islamic supremacism, and their roots in Islamic texts and teachings, in his film Fitna and elsewhere. But nowadays truth-telling is at such a premium that those who still dare to engage in it are threatened, harassed and prosecuted. [LA replies: Spencer’s answer to the question, “What did Wilders do to warrant such charges?”, is incomplete. Wilders hasn’t just spoken the truth about Islam; he has said that all Muslim immigration to the Netherlands and the West should cease, and that sharia-supporting Muslims—i.e., believing Muslims, probably a majority of the Muslim population—should be made to leave. Clearly, then, Wilders is calling for discrimination against Muslims; and since the Netherlands and the EU prohibit any form of discrimination against minority groups, Wilders is violating that prohibition; therefore the prosecution against him is based on a fundamental clash of principles between those who seek to facilitate the Islamization the West and those who seek to save the West from such a fate. Western patriots understand that discrimination against Muslims is essential if Europe is to survive. Against the patriots are arrayed the leftist ruling powers of Europe, who know that the prohibition of discrimination against Islam is essential if Europe is to be subjugated to Islam, which is what those ruling powers seek. In the first half of his article, Spencer avoids all that, perhaps because he is loathe to engage in such a clash of principles. Instead, he plays the usual superficial conservative game of calling hate-speech laws “silly” or “absurd,” instead of calling them what they are: an indispensable weapon in the disarming of the West. Later in the article, as we shall see, he does say that anti-hate-speech laws would render the West mute and defenseless against Islam, but he acts as though such hate-speech laws are being generated solely by Islam, and that the West is foolishly giving way to that, rather than seeing that anti-hate and anti-discrimination laws arise from the West itself. It seems to come down to this: Spencer criticizes the Islamic prohibition of criticism of Islam; he does not criticize the Western prohibition of discrimination against Islam.]

But Wilders is defiant: “On the 20th of January 2010, a political trial will start. 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 criticise an ideology anymore, this means that we are lost, and it will lead to the end of our freedom. However I remain combative: I am convinced that I will be acquitted.”

The very idea of trying someone for offending someone else is absurd—especially when the offended group is known to traffic in the PC multiculturalist coin of wounded feelings, so as to gain the political power that comes from victim status. [LA replies: Spencer again describes the charges against Wilders as merely having to do with giving “offense,” while he ignores the main charges against Wilders—incitement to discrimination.] That the Amsterdam District Court would aid and abet this absurdity and obvious manipulation unmasks the Wilders trial—even before it starts—as what it really is: an attempt by the nation’s political elites to silence one of their most formidable critics. The one who has the power to decide what is an actionable offensive statement or prosecutable incitement has the power to control the discourse—and that’s what the prosecution of Wilders is all about. If offending someone is a crime, can those who find hate speech laws offensive bring suit against their framers? [LA replies: For Spencer, the substance of the indictment is absurd (a word he uses twice in this paragraph), and its real motive is only to advance the partisan advantage of Wilders’s political opponents. Spencer ignores the real motive and substance of the indictment, which is to enforce the existing laws against inciting to discrimination. Spencer is unwilling to speak the full truth of the matter, which I would put as follows: “Geert Wilders is calling for discrimination against Muslims; such discrimination is both morally right and practically necessary to defend the West from Islamization; and therefore the laws prohibiting such discrimination are bad and should be repealed.”]

The action against Wilders is taking place, moreover, against the backdrop of the 57-government Organization of the Islamic Conference’s ongoing efforts at the United Nations to silence speech that they deem critical of Islam—including “defamation of Islam” that goes under the “pretext” of “freedom of expression, counter terrorism or national security.”

If they succeed in doing this, Europeans and Americans will be rendered mute, and thus defenseless, in the face of the advancing jihad and attempt to impose Sharia on the West—in fact, one of the key elements of the laws for dhimmis, non-Muslims subjugated under Islamic rule, is that they are never critical of Islam, Muhammad, or the Qur’an. Thus this prosecution in Amsterdam not only aids the advance of Sharia in the West, but is itself an element of that advance. [LA replies: This is very different from Spencer’s earlier superficial comment that the indictment of Wilders is absurd; now he’s saying that the indictment of Wilders is in support of the Muslim campaign to dominate the West, which is true. It would be nice if Spencer would acknowledge that the Western prohibition of discrimination against Muslims is the West’s own complement of the Islamic prohibition of criticism of Islam. Until Spencer acknowledges that defending the West against Islam requires discrimination against Muslims, and therefore that discrimination against Muslims is good, and therefore that the criminalization of such discrimination is bad, he will be making his anti-Islamization argument while standing on one leg.]

The stakes are so high in the Wilders case also because the OIC has a new, powerful ally as it moves against the freedom of speech. In October the Obama Administration actually co-sponsored an anti-free speech resolution at the United Nations. Approved by the U.N. Human Rights Council, the resolution, cosponsored by the U.S. and Egypt, calls on states to condemn and criminalize “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.” [LA replies: That resolution echoes the language of every anti-hate-speech statute in Europe. The operative language is that discrimination against Muslims must be outlawed. But Spencer has not argued against that principle and in support of Wilders’s call for discrimination against Muslims. So far, he’s only willing to defend Wilders’s “freedom of speech” and his right to “offend.” He has not defended Wilders’s right to discriminate. And THAT’S what this momentous trial is about. ]

Echoing Obama’s stated determination to combat “negative stereotyping of Islam” in the United States, the resolution also condemns “negative stereotyping of religions and racial groups.” This is, of course, an oblique reference to accurate reporting about the jihad doctrine and Islamic supremacism—for such reporting, and not actual negative stereotyping or hateful language at all, is always the focus of OIC complaints.

Last year the Secretary General of the OIC, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, issued a warning: “We sent a clear message to the West regarding the red lines that should not be crossed” regarding free speech about Islam and terrorism. And he reported success: “The official West and its public opinion are all now well-aware of the sensitivities of these issues. They have also started to look seriously into the question of freedom of expression from the perspective of its inherent responsibility, which should not be overlooked.” [LA replies: Of course. This is standard Muslim-speak in which freedom of expression is understood in accord with the sharia prohibition on criticism of Islam.]

For the first time, an American President has bowed to the OIC’s demands and taken cognizance of that “responsibility.”

But Geert Wilders, and all those who stand with him, have a responsibility, too. We have a responsibility to bear witness to the world that the freedom of speech is a cornerstone of any free society, and that once it is gone, there is no defense against tyranny, no safeguard against the encroaching power of a protected class against whom there is no appeal, and from whose rulings there is no dissent. If Geert Wilders is found guilty, tyranny and authoritarianism will have won a huge victory in Europe, and in the world in general. [LA replies: Spencer again evades the fundamental issue. The issue is not some abstract freedom of speech; the issue is (1) the right to state that Islam is inherently dangerous to us, and (2) the right to call for the exclusion of most Muslims from the West. Wilders has made such statements and made such a call, and that is why he has been indicted. I call on Spencer to support the right to advocate discrimination against Muslims and to support the repeal of laws that prohibit such advocacy and such discrimination. We can’t win this war for our survival unless we identify its nature.]

The stakes are as high as they can possibly be. Geert Wilders must prevail. If he does not, Europe, and America, and the world, are in for a long, dark night.[LA replies: If the West’s prohibition of discrimination against Islam and other unassimilable non-Western groups is not overcome, then Europe, and America, and the world, are in for a long, dark night.]

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 16, 2009 08:24 AM | Send

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