The discriminating Geert Wilders
(Note: This item was drafted yesterday, March 3, before the returns came in of the Freedom Party’s big victories.)
Today, March 3, there are municipal elections throughout the Netherlands. In two cities, Almere and the Hague, Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party is running a full slate of candidates. A few days ago Wilders, speaking in Almere, gave an idea of the changes that would occur in those cities if the Freedom party wins the elections:
I still have other good news for you. I heard from our party leaders in Almere and the Hague [where the Freedom Party is also contesting], Raymond de Roon and Sietse Fritsma, what the main effort will be for the [coalition] negotiations in Almere and the Hague after March 3: That will be a ban on headscarves in municipal bodies and all other institutions, foundations, or associations, if they receive even one penny of subsidy from the municipality. Thus an immediate ban on headscarves, get rid of that woman-humiliating Islamic symbol. And for all clarity: this is not however meant for crosses or yarmulkes, because those are symbols of religions that belong to our own culture and are not—as is the case with headscarves—a sign of an oppressive totalitarian ideology.Wilders has made a distinction that no other politician or mainstream intellectual in the West will make: Islam is NOT like other religions, and therefore banning the aggressive symbols of Islam from public spaces does NOT require, for the sake of “equal treatment,” the banning of Christian and Jewish symbols. The reason for this is very simple. Islam is alien and threatening to Western society, while Christianity and Judaism are a part of it. Therefore Islam should not be treated equally with Christianity and Judaism.
It is often said of Wilders—he says it himself—that he is a liberal, not a conservative. The paleoconservative Paul Gottfried attacks and dismisses Wilders because Wilders believes in democracy, meaning Wilders is a liberal (see the exchange on this between Gottfried and me). Yet in reality Wilders has repeatedly demonstrated the genuinely conservative ability to understand essentials and differentiate between substantively different things, an ability that almost all Westerners, including today’s “conservatives,” lack, because the liberal ideology to which they subscribe tells them that all substantive things are really the same and therefore the worst sin is discrimination.
Diana West expands on this point at her blog, showing how when France banned the hijab in schools, it also banned the yarmulke and the cross as well.