Monday, June 14, 2010

Getting into a right tangle

Andrew Bolt's blog in today's Melbourne's Herald Sun is really very funny and, I think, intentionally so. This blog would agree with everything he says, starting with the title: How dare Wilders not surrender freedom to Islam. Indeed, that is a subject on which I have written on numerous occasions before.

Mr Bolt, however, goes further and quotes from an unintentionally funny article in the New York Times. The article makes all sorts of derogatory comments about Mr Wilders and sounds shocked at the fact that his party has done rather well in the elections, while alluding to Pim Fortuyn's murder and the fact that Mr Wilders has to live under 24 hour protection. Could there be a connection between those aspects of Dutch politics and the "earthquake" that seems to be sweeping through it?

The funniest part of the article, as Mr Bolt notes, is the "problem" of including what the NYT calls "extremist politicians" in mainstream politics. Really, one cannot help having all those quotation marks.
The success of Mr. Wilders highlights the difficulties faced by mainstream politicians across Europe in dealing with the rise of populists and extremists: Include them and you have to take on board their unsavory policies; exclude them and end up increasing their appeal to protest voters.

Such a dilemma would have been unthinkable here a decade ago, when the Netherlands was as renowned for the dull, consensual predictability of its politics, as for its profusion of canals.

But the 2002 assassination of Mr. Fortuyn by an animal rights activist convulsed the country. Two years later, after making a documentary fiercely critical of Islam, Theo Van Gogh, was also killed in broad daylight.

Dick Houtman, a professor of political sociology at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, said that Mr. Wilders had built on Mr. Fortuyn’s legacy, successfully avoiding the overtly racist language of far-right politicians in other countries by highlighting issues like freedom of speech, female equality and gay rights.

“That serves to exclude Muslims from the Dutch political consensus,” he said.
Is Professor Houtman listening to himself? Is he really saying that there is something wrong with highlighting issues like freedom of speech, female equality and gay rights? Is that what he teaches at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam? And does he really think that if that excludes Muslims from the Dutch political consensus then it is the consensus, which developed from ideas of enlightenment that based itself on the work of humanists like Erasmus that should change?

No comments:

Post a Comment