A member of the Dutch Parliament, Geert Wilders, who was banned last week from entering the United Kingdom because of his inflammatory anti-Islamic views is about to be welcomed to the United States by some notable conservatives.
Geert Wilders—who has publicly compared the Koran to "Mein Kampf"—is scheduled to make public appearances in Washington next week, including a Feb. 27 press conference at the National Press Club. Wilders is seeking to promote his movie "Fitna," an incendiary short documentary film that depicts Islam as a religion of terrorists.
But Wilders's U.S. tour seems to be testing the limits of free speech even among hard-core conservatives. Some seem to be keeping their distance—apparently fearful of associating with a right-wing political figure (Geert Wilders) widely seen in Europe as a dangerous extremist and self-promoter.
See my prior post, Saturday, February 14, 2009, What does the Vlaams Belang Party, Racist Dutch MP Geert Wilders, Neo Nazi's and the "Atlas Shrugs" Blog Have in Common, Everything !
The organizers of next week's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington—a splashy gathering with prominent speakers like GOP Chair Michael Steele and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee—have yet to decide whether Wilders will be welcome to speak.
See my prior post, Wednesday, February 11, 2009, Dutch Neo-Nazi Geert Wilders Banned From Britain and Must Stand Trial in Holland, Far Right Bloggers "Atlas Shrugs" & "Hot Air" Whine.
That is not an unreasonable fear given Wilders's history. The leader of a right-wing Dutch political faction called the Party for Freedom, Wilders has transformed himself into a political performance artist, pursuing a high-profile, high-risk personal crusade against what he asserts are deeply rooted violent tendencies in Islam.
In a recent New York Times op-ed, the writer Ian Buruma, who wrote a book about the Theo van Gogh case, said that Wilders has brought much of his trouble on himself by crossing the line from criticizing the radical elements within Islam to insulting one of the world's largest faiths. "If Mr. Wilders were to confine his remarks to those Muslims who do harm freedom of speech by using violence against critics and apostates, he would have a valid point," Buruma wrote.
Buruma's recommendation: Rather than hailing Wilders as a courageous free-speech champion, or prosecuting him (as a Dutch court recently threatened to do), the best approach is far simpler: Ignore him.
Bill Warner.....private investigator