zondag, september 12, 2010

 

Dutch soap opera in New York

Mr. Wilders has addressed the New York opponents of the Islamic Centre and Mosque near Ground Zero. His speech can be seen here. He was introduced by a lady who called him her ‘hero’.
Wilders had to get used to his American audience, which is, compared to a Dutch audience, usually overenthusiastic. But he clearly enjoyed it.
Two questions can be raised: 1. why was Mr. Wilders talking in America, the building of mosques over there being apparently none of his business and 2. why didn’t he quasi daftly insult anybody?
So why was Mr. Wilders talking in New York?
Wilders’ party the PVV (Partij Voor de Vrijheid; Party For Freedom) doesn’t gain any contributions from its members, for unlike other Dutch parties it has no members. So it has to gain its income from somewhere else. The financing of PVV is until now not very clear. But it is said he gets his money amongst others from American (or even Israeli) anti-Muslim and pro-Jewish organizations. However, nothing can be said for sure about that until his party is transparent about its incomes. But it is clear he has a lot of sympathy from these organizations. So to start with it is a matter of courtesy from Mr. Wilders to support his allies in the United States.
Further on, for a Dutch audience it is something very special if a Dutchman has so much success and gets so much American and indeed international attention. It is feeling like ‘look, this normal Dutch guy from our small country has made it in big and powerful America and they like him’. His voters, and even other voters, will be proud of him. This makes him even more popular in his own country as there has been no major Dutch politician who has publicly said something in the U.S. with so much success. It will also give Dutch voters the idea that Mr. Wilders is the real powerbroker behind the new conservative coalition which is presently trying to form a new government with the support of PVV. The leader of one of the two coalition parties, Mr. Verhagen (of CDA, the Christian Democrats), is presently foreign secretary (and has been for some years) but voters have never seen him talking like Mr. Wilders for a life American audience. For many voters it is not important what Mr. Wilders says, but the fact that he is there and speaking to a cheering audience ís important to them.
And last but not least: Mr. Wilders really believes Islam is a danger to Western civilization. International support for that idea is most welcome to him and he knows he will have international attention with his Ground Zero speech.
And why didn’t Mr. Wilders insult any important political figure?
Earlier in England, Mr. Wilders insulted the Turkish prime minister Mr. Erdogan, calling him a ‘total freak’. So everybody was eager to know if he would insult any important international leader, for instance president Obama or any leader of an Islamic country. He didn’t. He openly disagreed with Mr. Bloomberg, mayor of New York and criticized imam Rauf of the Islamic community centre near Ground Zero. And that was all. Of course his remarks about Mr. Bloomberg were also meant for Mr. Obama. But he didn’t insult anybody. He didn’t even say Islam is ‘a fascist ideology’ as he usually says.
There were two good reasons for Mr. Wilders not to do so.
First, there is a difference between insulting Mr. Erdogan and any American politician in power. America is an ally of the Netherlands and the Netherlands are among the staunchest allies of the United States. Insulting an American politician in power, in his own country might be counterproductive for Mr. Wilders and his cause.
Second, Mr. Wilders supports the formation of new Dutch minority government of the right wing bipartite coalition of VVD (Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie, People’s party for Freedom an Democracy, pro market liberals) and Mr. Verhagen’s CDA. With Mr. Wilders’ support in parliament this minority government will be allowed to govern with a majority of 76 of the 150 seats in parliament. Some time ago talks about this model collapsed as some Christian Democratic mps had some trouble with their consciences. However, after one of these dissidents was replaced, Mr. Wilders is prepared to continue the negotiations about his support for the minority government. So he cannot permit himself to be too radical and senseless in an international speech like this.
All together, the American anti Islamic platform has probably given Mr. Wilders a popularity boost in his own country where he is sowing discord. Discord unprecedented in post WW II Dutch history. We’ll keep you posted about that.
VLR

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