Why Wilders was not Wilders

Why (as we discussed yesterday) was Geert Wilders’s speech at the anti-mosque rally this past Saturday so uncharacteristically weak? Why did he strike such excessive liberal notes about the wonders of “tolerance,” when, in reality, the cult of tolerance is the very reason we have a significant Muslim population in our society and find ourselves unable to resist their demands?

I see two possible reasons. First, there was the decision by the team of Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer to hold the anti-mosque rally on September 11. This deeply offended those people, particularly the families of the victims, who see September 11 as a non-political day of commemoration, not as a day for controversy and contention. The hostility to the rally over that point pushed the rally organizers to soften their message so as to placate their critics.

Second and more important, there is the fact that the only problem that Pamela (“I love Muslims”) Geller and Robert Spencer seem to have with the Ground Zero mosque is its location. By their reasoning, every mosque in America is ok, except for a mosque within two blocks of the former World Trade Center. This position is analogous to that of the mainstream-conservative anti-jihadists who say that Islam is fine, except for a small minority of Islamist extremists. Given that the rally had such a minimalist anti-Islam position, there was no way that Wilders could be true to the spirit of the rally and convey his usual message, which is that Islam itself is a deadly threat to us, that all Muslim immigration must be stopped, and that sharia-believing Muslims should be made to leave.

In short, the reason for Wilders’s uncharacteristically weak and liberal message was that he chose to speak at a rally organized by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.

This outcome is the exact opposite of what I have hoped for over the past year. I have said several times that the fact that various mainstream-conservative Islam critics support Wilders as a man, even though they don’t support his hard-line positions, would ultimately push them to support his positions as well. Instead, Wilders’s association with Geller and Spencer has pushed Wilders to soften his positions.

Moreover, this is the first time to my knowledge that Wilders has ever done this. In his career as an internationally known Islam opponent over the last six years, he has adopted consecutively harder-line positions on Islam, never reverting to an earlier, weaker position once he had taken a stronger position. Among Wilders’s many admirable traits is his remarkable consistency. So I found his speech on Saturday not only disappointing, but unsettling.

Pamela Geller, a passionate activist, deserves credit for having driven the mosque issue. But the way she has driven the mosque issue may well have had the effect of weakening the anti-Islamization cause, by reducing the meaning of anti-Islamization to “no mosque at Ground Zero.”

- end of initial entry -

LA writes:

I sent the above entry to Dean E. with a note saying that he might disagree with me on it, and he replies:

Of course I do agree that the liberal message of freedom and tolerance and “no mosque here” is a weaker defense against Islam than the whole truth: that Islam is a permanent mortal threat to infidels and so Muslims in significant numbers must never be allowed into infidel countries, period. But politics is the messy art of the possible. Given the confused, demoralized, and self-loathing state of America’s citizenry after steeping 50 years in Liberation theology, given the venue, given the organizers, that 9/11 rally, with that message, is what was possible. It was better than nothing. And when something better comes along that will be, well, better. In politics you have to take what you can get. It’s indicative of where America is at that the keynote anti-mosque speaker, Geert Wilders, is a foreigner who had to be imported. The remarks of the only American speaker of national stature at the rally, John Bolton, were unremarkable. There are many non-liberal Americans left yet in America. Why do they not have a passionate, consistent, articulate, courageous national political leader? Ronald Reagan was just a generation ago. Are Reagan’s people all gone? Why has no one stepped into his shoes? It’s a mystery. But let us be patient, and have faith. Our leader will come when he is ready. When the time is right. Please God.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 13, 2010 08:17 AM | Send

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