Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Will Obama Stand With Geert Wilders?

During his recent visit to the United States, I had the opportunity to hear Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders when he appeared at a synagogue in Stoughton, Massachusetts – about 17 miles south of Boston. (The video of his talk can be found here as well as at YouTube.)

Unlike his rude reception in Great Britain where he was told his “presence will threaten community harmony and therefore public safety,” he was warmly received in this country. After a showing of his documentary film Fitna he entered the room to a standing ovation.
It was not the first time I had seen Fitna.

Indeed, I reviewed it here in April 2008. But it is one of those works that must be seen from time to time just to remind ourselves of the evil that motivated the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and could rear its ugly head here again.

Fitna is also worth seeing because Wilders faces prosecution in The Netherlands for making the film and could spend up to two years in jail. If that wasn’t enough Jordan is seeking to extradite Wilders for blasphemy. If extradited and convicted Wilders could face execution. Wilders isn’t taking any chances. Before traveling abroad he obtains a diplomatic letter from the destination state promising he will not be extradited.

The Middle East Forum has established a legal defense fund for Wilders. ( HYPERLINK “) However, Wilders has few illusions noting, “I lost my freedom four years ago when my 24-hour police protection started.” Perhaps the greatest irony about Fitna was that the content of the film was not made by Wilders:

It is not made by me. It is made by Muslim extremists. It is made by the Koran. It is made by the Islam itself. And if Fitna is considered hate speech then what is the Koran itself?

Simply put if Wilders goes to jail for Fitna then shouldn’t the Muslim leaders who call for the murder of Jews, Christians and others they deem non-believers also face time in prison? Wilders called for the withdrawal of all hate speech legislation in Europe as it only applied to people critical of Islamic extremism not Islamic extremists who call for the destruction of Israel and other terrorist acts.

Evidently in Europe some speech is more equal than other speech. Indeed, Wilders quoting Orwell said, “If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they don’t want to hear.” Here is a sample of what too many in Europe do not want to hear:
The lights in Europe may go out faster than you can imagine.

An Islamic Europe means a Europe without freedom, without democracy, an economic wasteland, an intellectual nightmare, a loss of military might, a loss of an ally for America as its allies it will turn into enemies. With an Islamic Europe it will be up to America alone to preserve the heritage of Jerusalem, of Rome and of Athens. What would you rather have? An ally which has the values of Rome, Athens and Jerusalem or the values of Tehran, Mecca and other countries?

When asked about the current political conditions in Europe he noted there are many who are fed up with Islamic extremism and are making their voices heard at the ballot box and said “so there is hope for change.” However, he warned:

My problem is that unfortunately it is not five minutes to eight; it is five minutes to twelve. We have very little time left. We should make an enormous effort and combine forces. And we need the help of America because once again America is losing Europe. You are losing an ally to an ideology of hate. Please don’t let it happen.
So what if America loses Europe to Islam in, say, the next four to eight years? What if Wilders is correct to say that it is five minutes to twelve? What is President Obama going to do about it if anything at all?

I did not have the opportunity to ask Wilders to ask a question during the Q & A session. However, I did get to meet him briefly behind the synagogue where he was enjoying a cigarette with his security entourage. After praising him as a role model and a paragon of virtue I put forth my query. I asked him if he thought he was going to get President Obama’s help given his commitment to make nice with Iran. Wilders declined to answer the question as he preferred not to get involved in our politics stating that was up to us.
Fair enough.

Wilders needs all the friends he can get.

The fact Wilders was on American soil already puts Obama several pegs above British Prime Minister Gordon Brown whom Wilders referred derisively as “the biggest coward in Europe.” Obama hasn’t said anything against Wilders much less has the U.S. government tried to restrict his activities. So Wilders has no beef with Obama. Well, that is for now.
If President Obama sees fit to “restore America’s reputation in the world” by meeting face to face with Iranian President Ahmadinejad to tell him “we are not a nation of torturers” can Geert Wilders’ mission to preserve freedom and liberty in Europe be high on Obama’s priority list?
In fact, I cannot think of anything that would more anger the Islamic world be in the Middle East, Europe or America than if Obama were to speak out on behalf of Geert Wilders. Obama would become more hated amongst Muslims than President Bush. Supporting Wilders could get more than a pair of shoes thrown at him.

While there is little doubt a significant segment of America admires and supports Geert Wilders there is a great deal of doubt whether President Obama would support him even if meant saving Europe. If it is a choice between America’s popularity in the world and the preservation of freedom and liberty in Europe I do not believe President Obama would sacrifice the former to save the latter.