Wilders can’t score
Holland or Turkey?
Tomorrow, March 15, is election day in the Netherlands. Will Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch nationalist party PVV (Party For Freedom) win?
I can’t pretend to know. I’m really not an expert. I may go out on a limb and predict that he will prevail, but only marginally, on the incumbent Mark Rutte.
What you can put your money on is that Thursday’s newspapers across the western world will contain high howls from pundits lamenting the horrible risk for the stability of Europe and the survival of democracy represented by the Ultra-Nationalist, xenophobic, Islamophobic far right movement led by Wilders.
Meanwhile his opponent got involved in a diplomatic fight with Turkey. The Dutch government banned a Turkish minister from giving a speech in Rotterdam; broken diplomatic relationships ensued. More importantly, Rotterdam witnessed a mass street protest by Turkish immigrants, with water cannons used by the police to disperse the unauthorized rally.
Could this be a move on Rutte’s part to try and steal some momentum from his opponent, playing the part of the tough guy?
We are being trained to focus on the least important bit. The real problem here is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of Turkey. Forget about “xenophobes”. Erdogan is becoming stronger and bolder. In a month he’s poised to obtain even more personal power through a referendum. It seems he’s following his ambition to become a 3rd pole of attraction for Islamist supremacists, after ISIS/Al Qaeda/others on one side, and Iran on the other. Only, this actor is part of NATO. The country he’s patiently turning Islamist was the only successful experiment of a secularist state in a Muslim majority society. But his dream seems to be that of reliving the glory days of the Ottoman Empire.
There’s no automated email warning, activated by a threshold, that you may expect to receive one day: “Please acknowledge that Mr.X has now reached the status of Dictator”.
This is the proper context to understand the political move of a Turkish government that is actively campaigning among expatriated Turks. Ethnic identity, religious fanaticism and political support are not stopped by borders. Especially in the emasculated Western Europe, taking in millions of Muslim immigrants, mostly strong young males.
Erdogan already played this game of organizing political rallies in Germany and other European countries before the Netherlands. Forcing his hand, causing a reaction from the foreign authorities, thus selling his message internally: we have enemies everywhere, they are literally Nazis! You better support me without hesitation, our future and identity is at stake.
Power in the motherland is then projected again on the outside. As you can see from the troubling slogan image up here.
Identity, momentum and ideology. They have it all.
A cohesive, strong and growing group that is in the position of playing the victim part. Perfect.
Of course the whole picture is more complicated than that. There are important ethnic divisions among “European” Muslims: Arabs, Moroccans, Algerians, Egyptians, Turks, Kurds, Pakistanis…
Rivalries notwithstanding, Muslims as a group, while never united, will be able to influence and gradually control European governments, eventually taking over in some cases. It’s only a matter of time.
Both in the voting booths and in the streets, those Muslims will continue seeing their country of origin as their real fatherland, their blond neighbors as strangers from a failing, tainted society that deserves to be Islamized.
Integrating immigrants from (almost) any background causes troubles, yet you could succeed anyway, eventually. But this is not true in the case of Islam. Not now, not when Islam is seen as a far better alternative to the decadent western civilization, a rising tide across the world.
How could you convince someone who’s feeling stronger and stronger by the day to leave his identity aside? “Please, be as weak as we are, so that we’ll be able to get along just fine!”
Moderates don’t matter. At all.
It’s true that many Muslims are trying to integrate in the European society. But wishful thinking won’t lead us anywhere: those who really want to adopt our values represent a small minority. And they won’t betray their coreligionists anyway. They’ll just go with the flow, if and when a full-fledged Islamization comes. This has nothing to do with terrorism, which is a marginal phenomenon. This is about a call to supremacy; about freedom of speech, women’s rights, violence and oppression against those who dare question Islam…
I’m trying to be a voice for realism here. Your personal attitude and beliefs don’t matter. You don’t stop history with mental gymnastics.
Here’s a powerful message about the majority of moderates from the brave Brigitte Gabriel:
If you want to get a grasp of what integration means, consider the unique example of France.
In France immigration from the ex-colonies caused a significant Muslim population to become an integral part of their society a couple of decades before other developed countries. Most of those Muslims became good French citizens: at the time, Europe seemed at the apex of civilization. France was flying Concorde supersonic planes and building nuclear power plant; Muslim countries, on the other hand, only had oil on their side. People follow and admire winners.
But the French-born children and grandchildren of those Muslim immigrants are facing a completely different scenario: Islam is on the rise, fascinating, powerful and connected to their roots; France is weak, declining, divided and corrupt. Now the sons of those good French citizens are increasingly hostile to their country, occasionally rioting and burning cars.
See? Even a successful integration wasn’t enough. The seed of Islamic identity and the call to the submission of the infidels was still there, dormant.
The problem is with the underlying assumptions of our modern liberal societies, that wanted to transform some very powerful pragmatic liberty provisions, perfectly suited for, say, England or the US Colonies, into a sort of absolute abstract value. Hence the idea that any religious view, even one that calls for the destruction of a civilization, shouldn’t be banned from said civilization.
When discussing immigration, Islam is the only thing that matters, and you are treating it as precisely the only thing that shouldn’t matter. By design, horrified by the very idea of questioning a religious belief as a direct threat to the existence of the society.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Muslims should be banned on principle from entering our non-Muslim countries.
I’m saying that, assuming there is a version of Islam that can be integrated within the western societies, those subscribing to it should make their position so clear-cut -and visible through their life and choices- that an Islamic supremacist wouldn’t even try to mingle with them.
Of course this is quite a difficult and painful thing to do. It must be distressing to live under constant suspicion, to have to prove your loyalty to a country time and again.
And yet, the example of France reminds us that “moderation” isn’t necessarily enough.
Elections, for now.
In the Netherlands, as in most of the West, people are confused and indecisive. That’s why in tomorrow’s elections the two main parties PVV and VVD are expected to get about 1/6th of the House seats each, with a very fragmented vote.
A typical sight of European elections is the Green Party, wasting away a few percents of the votes, the perfect choice for people that like the idea of being able to change the subject to something more reassuring. In the Dutch Parliament you can find not one, but two distinct Green or Animal-Lovers parties; they could manage to obtain a combined 25 seats, i.e. another 6th of the total! If this isn’t burying their heads under the sand, I don’t know what is.
The main reason for people’s uncertainty is that everybody craves for an effortless solution, preserving their beautiful society while avoiding conflicts and sense of guilt. Hence the quest for the magical recipe, for The N-th Pied Piper.
No party could deliver the impossible ideal. People keep looking. This explains the fragmentation and confusion in most European elections.
Tomorrow’s results will probably bring about a broad anti-Wilders coalition forming the new government, kicking the can down the road, waiting for the storm.
It doesn’t do Europe any good. The European Union will fall anyway. Today a majority has too much to lose, emotionally, to give their vote to Wilders and other “populist” candidates. In a future, seeing their world (and their liberties) rapidly shrinking, they may realize they’ve got nothing to lose. That’s also when they could muster the resolve to crown someone genuinely dangerous.
The most significant transformation we are witnessing is the growth of the Muslim minority, in connection with an increasing sense of alarm from the natives.
Even if Muslims in your country are just 8%, as brilliantly exposed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in a complex society the most intolerant wins: a small minority of uncompromising, determined activists could dictate their rules on everybody else.
It’s not just about defaulting to halal food everywhere, muezzins waking you up in the middle of the night if you happen to live near a mosque, or the social pressure to avoid eating in public during Ramadan. Think of western women forced to wear hijabs or heavy scarves (already happening in some European cities!) to avoid being publicly chastised or worse, raped. Think of criticism of Islam being already a huge taboo all across the western world. We could go on.
Remember: Sharia was usually implemented when the Arab rulers were still in the minority.
Young, fiery and excitable Muslims spending countless idle afternoons together carry an enormous weight compared to their older, meek, indecisive, guilt-ridden and increasingly isolated European neighbors.
Besides, you don’t need to see a Muslim majority trying to take control of an entire country to get in trouble. Nowadays most people have heard of Molenbeek, the Brussels district controlled by Muslims where outsiders are not welcome; but for years we’ve heard reports of town districts or villages that have fallen in the hands of Islamists, so that not even the firefighters are allowed in. How could anyone mistake this for integration? Multiculturalism?
When a certain region is only nominally part of your country, but you’ve lost control of it, how would you call this situation?
Things are going to evolve. Notice that letting Islamists separate themselves from the infidels is also forcing any wannabe moderate Muslim to conform to the dictates of the extremists. If you try to ignore the problem, you are betraying them too.
We are facing a future where a wall could mark a European border between a country where Sharia is the Law of the Land and non-Muslims are second-class citizens, and a country where it’s illegal to be a Muslim.
We’re still a long way from such a scenario.
Turning your face away and pretending that xenophobia is the real problem: this is the attitude that could only make matters worse.
Toldya: I don’t know the Netherlands… :-)
Seems like the polls didn’t underestimate the strenght of the dirty populist, this time. Projections indicated some 25 seats each for the 2 main parties (albeit with a decline of PVV in the last few days). But the traditional Right of the Prime Minister Rutte consolidated its position to 33 seats, despite a bit of a slump, while Wilders&Co. are stuck at 20 (which is still an increase compared to 2012).
As I said, there’s even more fragmentation now: on the left the Labour Party had a spectacular collapse, mostly due to their sin of supporting the government; but others advanced. The party of the immigrates (guided by a couple of Turks) obtains 3 seats in the new House.
At 19 seats there’s a tie for a close 3rd place between the Christian Democrats and the leftist Liberals of D66. The Socialists aren’t that far with 14. It’s little mess, if I may. The two green parties, if they were united, with a total of 21 seats would represent the 2nd party in the country!
All in all, my remarks remain valid. The only real news is represented by most Dutch voters running away scared from the xenophobic monster.
This is still a game based on how much you feel you’ve got to lose.