A clueless James Taranto from the Wall Street Journal interviews Geert Wilders and makes sure he leaves a few escape hatches open for himself:
“A champion of Western values on a continent that has lost confidence in them”
Â James Taranto in the reliably dhimmi Wall Street Journal is not sure whether or not Geert Wilders is simply an “anti-Islamic provocateur.”
(You can see my interview with Geert Wilders, in six parts, at theÂ Jihad Watch YouTube channel.)
“‘Our Culture Is Better’: Champion of freedom or anti-Islamic provocateur? Both,” by James Taranto in theÂ Wall Street Journal, November 28Â
By his own description, Geert Wilders is not a typical Dutch politician. “We are a country of consensus,” he tells me on a recent Saturday morning at his midtown Manhattan hotel. “I hate consensus. I like confrontation. I am not a consensus politician. . . . This is something that is really very un-Dutch.”Yet the 45-year-old Mr. Wilders says he is the most famous politician in the Netherlands: “Everybody knows me. . . . There is no other politician — not even the prime minister — who is as well-known. . . . People hate me, or they love me. There’s nothing in between. There is no gray area.”
To his admirers, Mr. Wilders is a champion of Western values on a continent that has lost confidence in them. To his detractors, he is an anti-Islamic provocateur. Both sides have a point.
It is a pity that Taranto would characterize speaking accurately about how Muslims use Islamic texts and teachings to justify violence and Islamic supremacism as being an “anti-Islamic provocateur.” In this he plays into the hands of the stealth jihadists in the U.S. and the OIC initiatives at the UN — both of which defame all Islamorealism as “Islamophobia.”
In March, Mr. Wilders released a short film called “Fitna,” a harsh treatment of Islam that begins by interspersing inflammatory Quran passages with newspaper and TV clips depicting threats and acts of violent jihad. The second half of the film, titled “The Netherlands Under the Spell of Islam,” warns that Holland’s growing Muslim population — which more than doubled between 1990 and 2004, to 944,000, some 5.8% of the populace — poses a threat to the country’s traditional liberal values. Under the heading, “The Netherlands in the future?!” it shows brutal images from Muslim countries: men being hanged for homosexuality, a beheaded woman, another woman apparently undergoing genital mutilation. […]
Harsh, yes, but whence the harshness? WasÂ FitnaÂ accurate or not in depicting how jihadists make use of the Qur’an to justify violence? See the answerÂ here.
Having his own party liberates Mr. Wilders to speak his mind. As he sees it, the West suffers from an excess of toleration for those who do not share its tradition of tolerance. “We believe that — ‘we’ means the political elite — that all cultures are equal,” he says. “I believe this is the biggest disease today facing Europe. . . . We should wake up and tell ourselves: You’re not a xenophobe, you’re not a racist, you’re not a crazy guy if you say, ‘My culture is better than yours.’ A culture based on Christianity, Judaism, humanism is better. Look at how we treat women, look at how we treat apostates, look at how we go with the separation of church and state. I can give you 500 examples why our culture is better.”
Those who would cry “Racist!” to this should consider whether stonings, amputations, death for apostasy, and other provisions of Islamic law are really something they consider to be ingredients of a just and harmonious society.
He acknowledges that “the majority of Muslims in Europe and America are not terrorists or violent people.” But he says “it really doesn’t matter that much, because if you don’t define your own culture as the best, dominant one, and you allow through immigration people from those countries to come in, at the end of the day you will lose your own identity and your own culture, and your society will change. And our freedom will change — all the freedoms we have will change.”The murder of van Gogh lends credence to this warning, as does the Muhammad cartoon controversy of 2005 in Denmark. As for “Fitna,” it has not occasioned a violent response, but its foes have made efforts to suppress it. A Dutch Muslim organization went to court seeking to enjoin its release on the ground that, in Mr. Wilders’s words, “it’s not in the interest of Dutch security.” The plaintiffs also charged Mr. Wilders with blasphemy and inciting hatred. Mr. Wilders thought the argument frivolous, but decided to pre-empt it: “The day before the verdict, I broadcasted [‘Fitna’] . . . not because I was not confident in the outcome, but I thought: I’m not taking any chance, I’m doing it. And it was legal, because there was not a verdict yet.” The judge held that the national-security claim was moot and ruled in Mr. Wilders’s favor on the issues of blasphemy and incitement. […]
An organization called The Netherlands Shows Its Colors filed a criminal complaint against Mr. Wilders for “inciting hatred.” In June, Dutch prosecutors declined to pursue the charge, saying in a statement: “That comments are hurtful and offensive for a large number of Muslims does not mean that they are punishable.” The group is appealing the prosecutors’ decision.
That is a key case. If it becomes punishable to offend Muslims, as the OIC is trying to establish, then it will no longer be possible to speak about the ideology of those who would subjugate us. And so that subjugation will proceed while we remain mute.
In July, a Jordanian prosecutor, acting on a complaint from a pressure group there, charged Mr. Wilders with blasphemy and other crimes. The Netherlands has no extradition treaty with Jordan, but Mr. Wilders worries — and the head of the group that filed the complaint has boasted — that the indictment could restrict his ability to travel. Mr. Wilders says he does not visit a foreign country without receiving an assurance that he will not be arrested and extradited.”The principle is not me — it’s not about Geert Wilders,” he says. “If you look at the press and the rest of the political elite in the Netherlands, nobody cares. Nobody gives a damn. This is the worst thing, maybe. . . . A nondemocratic country cannot use the international or domestic legal system to silence you. . . . If this starts, we can get rid of all parliaments, and we should close down every newspaper, and we should shut up and all pray to Mecca five times a day.”
It is difficult to fault Mr. Wilders’s impassioned defense of free speech. And although the efforts to silence him via legal harassment have proved far from successful, he rightly points out that they could have a chilling effect, deterring others from speaking out.
Mr. Wilders’s views on Islam, though, are problematic. Since 9/11, American political leaders have struggled with the question of how to describe the ideology of the enemy without making enemies of the world’s billion or so Muslims. The various terms they have tried — “Islamic extremism,” “Islamism,” “Islamofascism” — have fallen short of both clarity and melioration. Melioration is not Mr. Wilders’s highest priority, and to him the truth couldn’t be clearer: The problem is Islam itself. “I see Islam more as an ideology than as a religion,” he explains.
CAIR’sÂ Ibrahim Hooper said much the same thing. Could Honest Ibe himself be an “Islamophobe”? Who’d have imagined it? Will James Taranto characterize Hooper’s view of Islam as “problematic”?
His own view of Islam is a fundamentalist one: “According to the Quran, there are no moderate Muslims. It’s not Geert Wilders who’s saying that, it’s the Quran . . . saying that. It’s many imams in the world who decide that. It’s the people themselves who speak about it and talk about the terrible things — the genital mutilation, the honor killings. This is all not Geert Wilders, but those imams themselves who say this is the best way of Islam.”
Note that Wilders characterizes his views as being the views of Islamic imams and the statements of the Qur’an, and Taranto nonetheless willy-nilly reports this as “his own view of Islam,” which is “fundamentalist.” That there are indeed so many “fundamentalist” imams in Europe and elsewhere, and that mainstream, authoritative Islam does indeed teach these things, doesn’t seem to interest him. Certainly there are voices within Islam that Taranto would consider “non-fundamentalist,” but how much influence do they have? Is their following larger among non-Muslims than it is among Muslims? Taranto should have considered these questions.
Yet he insists that his antagonism toward Islam reflects no antipathy toward Muslims: “I make a distinction between the ideology . . . and the people. . . . There are people who call themselves Muslims and don’t subscribe to the full part of the Quran. And those people, of course, we should invest [in], we should talk to.” He says he would end Muslim immigration to the Netherlands but work to assimilate those already there.
Wilders “insists” that he has no “antipathy toward Muslims.” When a writer uses “insists,” generally he thinks that the facts are other than whatever position his subject is insisting upon. In other words, Taranto here seems to reveal his own assumption that someone who reports and warns about Islamic jihad and Islamic supremacism is doing so simply out of some irrational “antipathy toward Muslims.”
His idea of how to do so, however, seems unlikely to win many converts: “You have to give up this stupid, fascist book” — the Quran. “This is what you have to do. You have to give up that book.”Mr. Wilders is right to call for a vigilant defense of liberal principles. A society has a right, indeed a duty, to require that religious minorities comply with secular rules of civilized behavior. But to demand that they renounce their religious identity and holy books is itself an affront to liberal principles.
Does Taranto realize that his last two sentences contradict one another? Does he have any idea that to comply with “secular rules of civilized behavior,” Muslims would have to discard large portions of the Qur’an and Sunnah and the Sharia rules that are derived from them? Probably he doesn’t. Nonetheless, when the religion’s foremost and central authorities teach that the religious law must dominate, and also teach supremacism, violence, the oppression of women and more, and justify these teachings by reference to the religion’s core texts, thereÂ isÂ a conflict when those who hold to the religion move into countries full of unbelievers. That conflict will eventually come to a head one way or another, unless the host country capitulates without any kind of resistance.
Maybe Wilders’s call for them to discard the Qur’an is quixotic and unrealistic, and in any case I myself oppose any call to ban any book. Ideas should be fought with better ideas, not with censorship. Maybe Wilders would gain more traction calling for serious, honest reform based on a genuine rejection of literalism in interpreting the Qur’an and Sunnah, and upon a searching reevaluation of the legal superstructure of Sharia. In any case, neither one is likely to happen. But as long as James Taranto and those of his ilk are unable or unwilling to come to grips with the reality of the problem of Islamic supremacism, and slyly vilify people like Wilders who are standing up to it, one thing is certain: Islamic supremacists will continue to erode the freedoms and rights that have up to now been enjoyed by the free citizens of the West.
Gorin: The Spineless, Castrated Non-men of the Wall Street Journal
Julia Gorin discusses the WSJ’s James Taranto’s gingerly distaste for Dutch freedom warrior Geert Wilders, and related matters:
Over the weekend, Robert SpencerÂ called outÂ Wall St. Journal drone James Taranto on hisÂ cynicismÂ about the intentions of the man who is most adamant about preserving Western civilization, Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders.Specifically, as Spencer points out, Taranto finds Wilders’ views on Islam “problematic” and isn’t sure whether or not Geert Wilders is simply an “anti-Islamic provocateur.” To which Spencer replies, “It is a pity that Taranto would characterize speaking accurately about how Muslims use Islamic texts and teachings to justify violence and Islamic supremacism as being an ‘anti-Islamic provocateur.’”
Indeed, it’s like calling a public official an “anti-rapist provocateur,” or “anti-Manson-cult provocateur.” Taranto is also skeptical when Wilders “insists that his antagonism toward Islam reflects no antipathy toward Muslims.” On which Spencer again calls Taranto: “When a writer uses ‘insists,’ generally he thinks that the facts are other than whatever position his subject is insisting upon. In other words, Taranto here seems to reveal his own assumption that someone who reports and warns about Islamic jihad and Islamic supremacism is doing so simply out of some irrational ‘antipathy toward Muslims.’”
Yet why is it so hard to believe that one may harbor no ill will toward Muslims even while realizing that the so-called religion they subscribe to is whack? No doubt there were plenty of likable people who were followers of Rev. Jim Jones and drank the poisoned Kool-Aid. That doesn’t mean they should have been members of that cult and that the cult should have existedâ€”which it no longer did after it was exposed, seeing as how no one picked up the mantle. Same thing with Waco’s David Koresh. In another example, the world loved Michael Jackson even though he belonged to the wacky Jehovah’s Witnesses. And much of the world (or at least Germany) will still love him despite his recent conversion to something that’s 666 times crazierâ€”Islam. (Which will allow him to molestÂ childrenÂ legally.)Spencer also calls Taranto on his characterizing of Wilders’ views on Islam as “fundamentalist,” despite those views being the ones that dominate in the Muslim world itself. Taranto closes with a screaming contradiction: “Mr. Wilders is right to call for a vigilant defense of liberal principles. A society has a right, indeed a duty, to require that religious minorities comply with secular rules of civilized behavior. But to demand that they renounce their religious identity and holy books is itself an affront to liberal principles.”
Pointing to the contradictionâ€”thereby beating Taranto at his own favorite “find the contradiction” game (which the latter does to microscopic perfection and on far pettier matters)â€”Spencer writes, “Does he have any idea that to comply with ‘secular rules of civilized behavior,’ Muslims would have to discard large portions of the Qur’an and Sunnah and the Sharia rules that are derived from them?…James Taranto and those of his ilk are unable or unwilling to come to grips with the reality of the problem of Islamic supremacism, and slyly vilify people like Wilders who are standing up to it…”
That Taranto sees so much to grapple with in one of the only European (or American) politicians who can be classified as a mammal is a reflection of his newspaper’s bottomless servility to our Muslim masters. And in no realm does that servility find greater expression than the Balkans, whose white Muslims the Journal editors get to love unconditionally, un-conflictedly, and risk-free.
So much so that even a shocking revelation about organs being extracted from living Serbs and others by our Albanian “allies” is met with a shrug or a laugh by the editorial board, which still insists on believing in the righteousness of the Bosnian and Kosovo wars, and therefore doesn’t analyze or examine eitherâ€”at least not since the passing of theÂ less gullibleÂ Daniel Pearl, whose memory the newspaper dishonors by parroting the Muslim propaganda that became official U.S. policy in the 1990s through today.
In April, the first sentence of WSJ’sÂ coverageÂ of the reluctantly mentioned organ-trafficking story was this: “Incendiary allegations in a new book by a prominent European prosecutor are further stoking anti-Western tensions in Serbia ahead of pivotal elections.”
To the Journal, the Christian suffering at the hands of the Muslims we’re forcibly subjugating them to boils down to yet another annoying monkey wrench that could prevent Serbs from behaving themselves and electing the quisling leaders we want them to, so they can continue rolling over as we continue eroding their borders and security. The same piece put the acquittal of the brutal, hands-on Albanian war criminal Ramush Haradinajâ€”and the witness-killing and -intimidation that expedited his acquittalâ€”in the context of being a win for “Serbian nationalists.”
The news article was in the tradition of the standard WSJ editorial that’s dragged out of the eye-rolling staff on those days when the Balkans simply can’t be ignored, and therefore another piece titled “Serbian Intransigence” or “Serbian Nationalism” has to be writtenâ€”despite the Serbs being the ones who are offering all the compromise solutions to the issue of Kosovo’s status, while their negotiating “partners” offer the only the words “No compromises,” and alternately threaten the international community and the Serbs with violence.
In an editorial on March 20th, when Western might once again made right in the Balkans as NATO troops heavy-handedly arrested and paraded former courthouse workersâ€”mostly womenâ€”who were squatting there to get back the jobs they’d been sacked from in 1999, the WSJ titled an editorial “The Serb Problem.” (In reference to what other ethnic group do journalists allow themselves such Hitler-speak? Certainly you won’t see any pieces titled “The Arab Problem” in The Journal.) The editorial opened with: “Slobodan Milosevic must be smiling in his coffin. Earlier this week, a Serbian mob took over a United Nations courthouse in the northern Kosovo city of Mitrovica to protest Kosovo independence.”
In fact, the “mob” is what NATO made sure the scene would escalate into, including by choosing the very dates that four years earlier saw an organized Kosovo-wide pogrom against Serbs. And never mind that the Serbian women were protesting that the international community was about to give those old jobsâ€”originally promised back to the Serbsâ€”to their Albanian tormentors, who already have the run and rule of the rest of the province. As head of the UN administration in Kosovska Mitrovica Gerard Gallucci understated upon resigning over the unnecessary provocation, it “seemed almost designed to inflame Serbian sentiments.”
To respond to thisÂ rare show of Serbian sanityÂ in the face of Western-imposed annihilation by saying that Milosevic must be smiling in his coffin is like commenting about the recent student protests in Iran with: “Look at those crazy Iranians screaming ‘Death to Ahmadinejad’. The Shah must be smiling in his grave.”
Of course, “Serbian sentiments” are precisely the to-be-ignored-and-ridiculed element in any Balkans “coverage” by the Wall St. Journal, whose job is to toe the State Department’s line in the region. Indeed, The Journal was only slightly outdone by Foggy Bottom on the organ-harvesting issue when spokesman Sean McCormack quite literallyÂ laughedÂ over the grisly ordeal:
QUESTION (from Greek reporter Lambros Papantoniou): “…[S]enior figures in Kosovo Liberation Army, who were aware of the affair in which hundreds of young Serbs were taken by trucks from Kosovo to Northern Albania, where their organs were removed for sale in the international market. Any comment?”MR. MCCORMACK: “What are you talking about? (Laughter.) I’m sorry. I have not heard any such thing. I’m happy to look into it to see if there’s anything that would substantiate that claim.”
It is no accident that every time I ever approached the Wall St. Journal’s editors with a war-on-terror-related Balkans story, the response was: “Oh, Balkans stuff? Try the European edition.” It is therefore no accident that just two months after 9/11, when a WSJ article extensivelyÂ outlinedÂ bin Laden’s Kosovo/Albania connections, it was WSJ-Europe. Since then, I’ve noticed that all such articles are relegated to the European or Asian editions of the paper (with the exception of this past year, when the Balkans once again demanded reluctant attention).
But the main edition prefers to publish the terrorists who wrested the land from the Serbs and who oversaw the organ-harvesting horror show. Specifically, both the hard copy of the paper and James Taranto’s Opinion Journal have published Kosovo’s war-criminal former ‘prime minister’ Agim Cekuâ€”making the case for Kosovo independence, naturally. (See “Wall Street Journal Publishes a Terrorist.”) This is what happens when someone wants to hear and know nothing about jihad in the Balkans, as James Taranto repeatedly stressed to me in our interactions over the years.
So much so that when I, along with other guests, had the chance to ask Geert Wilders a question at a dinner that Taranto and I both attended in January 2005â€”a meeting that was meant to introduce the then unknown-to-Americans Dutch politician to some New York mediaâ€”I resisted. The question I wanted to ask was for a comment about the irony that Holland was battling a very similar, and related, scourge to that which Slobodan Milosevic had been battling and for which he was sitting on trial at the Hague–in Holland. I didn’t ask the question for three reasons: First, everyone was getting antsy after the endless stream of far more boring questions and long answers. Second, I dreaded the prospect of getting the same, unsatisfying, double-standard-based non-answer from Wilders that I always got from everyone else, especially since he was, after all, a politician. Third, I was acutely aware of Taranto being at the other end of the table and could already feel the rolling of his eyes as I asked the predictably Balkans-related question. (This “journalist” practically banned me from saying the word “Kosovo” in his presenceâ€”for the simple fact that he wasn’t interested in the region and knew very little about it.)
And yet the same year I stumbled upon a Wall St. Journal editor who on the phoneâ€”and practically in whispersâ€”had the same assessment of the Balkans that I did, admitting that he or she (to protect him or her) was mystified by the paper’s pro-Islamic position against Christians in Kosovo, all the more since the position didn’t change after 9/11. Although this editor assured me that he or she very much wanted to publish my article about the ethnic cleansing of Christians and other non-Albanians from Kosovo as the world smiled on, he or she explained that doing so would be “like kicking my boss down the hall in the stomach.”
This is journalism at The Wall St. Journal: such personal investment in a falsehood that to publish anything contrary to the official narrative would be a personal blow. The editor added that the only other person he or she could even talk to about this bizarre bias was a clerk in the research department, which the two did only discreetly.
Even The Journal’s travel section didn’t neglect its pro-Islamic-Kosovo duties amid the flurry of Kosovo pieces that kept the paper busy in the early part of 2008. In June there was a long piece titled “Europe’s Unlikely Charmer,” which obliged in calling the self-proclaimed state “the newest nation on earth.” The writer, a Stan Sesser, said he never felt in danger the whole time there, though “most Kosovars will look at you warily — until you tell them you are from the U.S., which led the bombing of the rampaging Serbian forces in 1999.” (In other words, being American gives you the Serb-killing creds you need to get through Kosovo.) On the subject of rampaging, meanwhile, no reference is made to the much more recent and regular rampaging by Albanian mobs. If Sesser never felt threatened, it’s because he didn’tÂ try speakingÂ in aÂ Slavic languageÂ to an Albanian male. Sesser tops it all off by recommending a stop to visit the “small Goran ethnic community” in Brod and go hiking there–without mentioning that these Slavic Muslims’ way of life and livelihood isÂ under siegeÂ from the province’s Albanian masters whom The Journal cheers on. The Gorani survive thanks only to help from NATO and Serbian Red Cross.
Recently, I discovered that I probably wouldn’t have been disappointed by what Wilders might have answered that night at the dinner, had I asked my question. In a speech this past September, titled “America as the Last Man Standing,” Wilders brought up Kosovo as being “on the front lines of jihad.”
No wonder the spineless, castrated non-men of the Wall St. Journal would take issue with a mammalian breed like Wilders.Â And Spencer.