The Corner

Dutch Courage

Last year, The New York Times ran a story (front page, above the fold, gosh) on my troubles with the Canadian “thought police”, at the end of which I’m quoted as follows:

Western governments are becoming increasingly comfortable with the regulation of opinion. The First Amendment really does distinguish the U.S., not just from Canada but from the rest of the Western world.

The latest jurisdiction to get way too “comfortable with the regulation of opinion” is the Netherlands. As Andrew noted below, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal has ordered prosecutors to put the politician and film-maker Geert Wilders on trial for “making anti-Islamic statements”.

The Dutch, like the Canadians, think they can maintain social peace by shriveling the bounds of public discourse and bringing what little remains under state regulation. But one notices that the coercive urge, which comes so naturally to Euro-progressives, only goes in one direction. The Swedish Chancellor of Justice shuts down the investigation into the Grand Mosque of Stockholm for selling tapes urging believers to kill “the brothers of pigs and apes” (ie, Jews) because that’s simply “the everyday climate in the rhetoric”. The masked men marching through the streets of London with placards threatening to rain down another 9/11 on the infidels are protected by a phalanx of Metropolitan Police officers. The PC nellies of the Canadian “Human Rights” Commission, happy to hound the last neo-Nazi in Saskatchewan posting to the Internet from his mum’s basement, won’t go anywhere near Abou Hammaad Sulaiman Dameus al-Hayitia, the big-time Montreal imam whose book says infidels are “evil people”, Jews “spread corruption and chaos”, and homosexuals should be “exterminated”.

Instead, the state’s response to explicit Islamic intimidation is to punish those foolish enough to point out that intimidation. You don’t have to be as intemperate as Minheer Wilders can sometimes be: In the Netherlands even the most innocuous statement can get you into trouble. To express his disgust at Theo van Gogh’s murder, the artist Chris Ripke put up a mural outside his studio showing an angel and the words “Thou shalt not kill”. But the cops thought this was somehow a dig at the local mosque and so came round, destroyed the mural, arrested the TV news crew filming it, and wiped their tape. The Dutch have determined to commit societal euthanasia, and dislike fellows pointing out it might not be as painless as they’ve assumed.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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