The Wilders West
Once a place of free inquiry, Europe is slowly stifling itself.


Andrew C. McCarthy

For a prosecutor, it was a simple matter of cause and effect. First, I showed that the “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdel Rahman, called for acts of violence: He admonished Muslims that Allah commanded them to slay non-believers and precisely quoted Islamic scriptures to back up that admonition. Then I showed that Muslim terrorists responded to these scripturally based exhortations by plotting and carrying out terrorist acts.

For this, the Clinton administration presented me the Attorney General’s Exceptional Service Award, the Justice Department’s highest honor. For doing exactly the same thing, the justice department of the Netherlands presented Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders with an indictment.

I got the pretty glass eagle for the mantelpiece, and the Blind Sheikh got sent to prison. Wilders, by contrast, got to stand in the dock while the global Islamist movement got to savor the possibility of something far more valuable than a trophy: a white flag draped over the shriveling remains of free speech. Wilders has been acquitted, but his trial was nonetheless damaging to what remains of the Western tradition of free discourse and inquiry.

For demonstrating cause and effect, for graphically displaying — most notoriously in his short film, Fitna — that Islamic scriptures beget jihadist atrocities, Wilders was put on trial in the Netherlands. In this Kafkaesque situation, as Diana West reports, it would have been hard to conjure words more frightening than the ones that tripped off the Dutch prosecutor’s lips: “It is irrelevant whether Wilders’ witnesses might prove Wilders’ observations to be correct. What’s relevant is that his observations are illegal.”

And so they might easily have proved to be, in much of Europe.

Wilders was charged with speaking words and producing images that were discriminatory toward Muslims, and that insult and incite hatred against Muslims. Such speech is criminal in the Netherlands, as it is throughout Europe, which teems with defiantly non-assimilating Muslims and which has responded to the resulting cultural confrontation with the societal surrender known as political correctness. That the things Wilders has said may be true made no difference in the case. It is immaterial whether the bracing opinions he has expressed are grounded in fact, or that the success of a free society hinges on its being an informed society. Wilders, says the prosecution, was guilty simply for saying these things. In the new West, we are unconcerned with the pathologies that besiege us. But those who call our attention to the pathologies — who dare to puncture our “religion of peace” fantasy — must be quelled. After all, they may get Muslims upset, and you know what happens when Muslims get upset.

Here in America, I can still write the last part of that last sentence — for now. But maybe not for long, if President Obama has anything to say about it. Last spring, the administration joined with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to propose a United Nations resolution that condemns “negative stereotyping of religions.” The resolution exhorts all nations to take “effective measures” to “address and combat” incidents involving “any advocacy of . . . religious hatred” that could be construed as an “incitement” not just to “violence” but to any form of “discrimination,” or even to mere “hostility.”

We needn’t worry about that here, you tell yourself. We’ve got the First Amendment. Don’t be so sure. The anti-hostility resolution states that the “effective measures” it urges are compelled by each nation’s “obligations under international human-rights law.” When we look at one source of such law, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (foolishly ratified by the first President Bush, after U.S. Senate consent, in 1992), we find — nearly verbatim in Article 20 — the same speech-suffocating standard proposed by Obama and the OIC: “Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.”


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