Dutch populist politician and producer of the anti-Islam film 'Fitna', Wilders (above), intended to tear off and burn pages of the Koran. Or, at least, show such acts in his propaganda movie. I cannot but justify the countermeasures of Dutch Government, intended to control the damage that would have been done by such a provocation, as it sought international support and condemnation of Wilders' provocations, encouraging Dutch Muslims to appeal to their countries of origin to react calmly. "We are Holland, too", they said. And, generally, it worked. There is no general Muslim upheaval.
The government, and first of all its major participant the christian-democratic party CDA, had it's day on the first of April in the The Hague Parliament, when it exposed, documents at hand, Wilders' blackmail. Wilders had sought to turn public condemnation against the Government, stating (with the help of US-based Ajaan Hirsi Ali), that they had "exaggerated" his intentions, and "capitulated" to world Islam, while his movie was so innocent.
Why the Dutch damage-control was needed and successful - with regrettable exceptions...
In recent days, it became clear, that the severely wounding of three Dutch servicemen in the Afghan province of Uruzgan by roadside bombs, was not (only) caused by American poppy-destruction actions in the region (without the Dutch knowing about it - a scandal in itself), but has to be considered as a revenge of the Taliban against the publication of the Wilders film. A Taliban website claimed so.
At first, Dutch public opinion tended to disbelieve the very impopular Government, but after a second look into the recordings of the parliamentary debate and after having seen Wilders' very infantile reactions, as well as realizing the damage that has been done to the country and to the values it stands for, Wilders is losing rapidly ground. A yesterday poll shows a virtual loss within two days of two of the eleven parliamentary seats of Wilders ' PVV party.
Wilders has nothing against Muslims - if they accept to behave as "Untermenschen"...
Like the German anti-Islam activist Udo Ulfkotte, Wilders claims, that he is only against the Koran (Q'uran) and the Sharia Law, but that he is no racist, for he is not against Muslims as persons. But Muslims should not be allowed to live in Holland, for their religion is incompatible with Dutch values. In so far as it it not possible to make them leave, they should be put under strict supervision and be denied the right to free speech, to having their own organizations, mosques and habeas corpus rights.
In following a 2.000 posts long public discussion thread at the NL. Nu website about Wilders' debate with Government and the other parties, that started in the evening of April 1st and continued through Tuesday 2nd and Wednesday 3rd, I observed this change of perception, from pro-Wilders to anti-Wilders, at the end of the thread.
Wilders weakened - Verdonk carries the struggle forward...
With Wilders considerably weakened, a new phenomenon appeared in the evening of April 3. Former Minister of Immigration, Ms Rita Verdonk, whose harsh anti-immigration- and anti-Muslim policies were disavowed by the newly elected parliament in September 2007, held a well-designed roadshow in an Amsterdam establishment. "Iron Rita", who was instrumental in chasing her "friend" Ajaan Hirsi Ali from Holland to the US in 2006, was excluded from the (conservative) Liberal Party and she runs a one woman show since that moment.
Like Wilders' movement, she has no members or caucuses. People may express their opinions, but Rita decides. The Dutch legislation on party-financing is rather outdated, and that helps Wilders and Verdonk to get themselves money through corporate and other undisclosed institutional donations. Wilders got, at least indirectly, support from Pfizer and from sponsors at the American Enterprise Institute. Verdonk gets her money from the same group of real estate owners and -speculants as the late Pim Fortuyn did.
There is some money-laundering involved, but the main reason for the tycoons to spend some money on her, is, that she guarantees the existing gigantic tax-cuts on loan-repayments for housing that exist in Holland. The European Union is working to harmonize those regulations between the memeber states, which would certainly mean, that prospective buyers of real estate will have less money to spend in the near future.
Verdonk's Xenophobia is larger than Wilders'...
Verdonk's political programme, or the trunks of it, that are known at this moment, is potentially broader than Wilders'. Broader in the sense, that it is more consequently xenophobe. Not only against muslims and immigrants, but also against Europe and any non-Dutch influence.
A poll, held today, gives her 22% of the vote. As parliamentary elections are not expected before 2011, this is of a limited interest. What is more interesting, is the question, if her consumerist/populist approach, will durably seduce such a large part of the voters. A one (wo)man party that steps out of the firm Dutch traditions of consultation, compromise and grassroots democracy, would, if it keeps so much support and sympathy as it gets at this moment, become a major cultural change in Dutch traditions.
Her "movement" is called "Proud of Holland", which touches a sympathetic string in the mind of this blogger. The Dutch have many things, values and people to be proud of, but they tend to be so only in private, while publicly disavowing their country, language and culture. One of our characteristics is our well-developed flexibility and adaptability. That is how we made so much profit in trade, in publishing books that are banned in other countries and in providing prohibited drugs to those who are in need of them.
An undutch proudness...
The Verdonkian proudness doesn't seem to imply those national and typical qualities. Under Verdonk, we, Dutchmen, would also be obliged to hide our proudness of non-Dutch heroes and values from our continent, Europe. Verdonk's proudness has a distinct provincial flavour.
In my opinion, the cultural paradox of "Trots op Nederland", will make itself felt very soon. For instance, she intends to suppress the twelve Dutch Provinces (regions). But our Frisians, who love their own language and traditions, will likely not ne very fond of letting go their own Province, that guarantees many aspects of their distint identity, they are so proud of...
Verdonk's action has to be considered as another blow to the construction of a viable European Union and the values it stands for.