HOW “FAR-RIGHT” WAS FORTUYN?

Not very. Because he believed that large numbers of unassimilated immigrants, especially Islamic ones, could destabilize Dutch society, the mainstream media often talked of him as far-right. But he wanted current immigrants to stay and adopt national customs; his party had ethnic minority candidates; he was openly gay; he wanted smaller, more efficient government. He was no more “far-right” than Silvio Berlusconi or Iain Duncan-Smith. He was an admirer of Euroskeptic Margaret Thatcher. With regard to tackling the Brussels bureaucracy, he once said, “I will borrow that handbag from Margaret Thatcher, bang on the table and say I want my money back.” A man after my own heart, and as I assimilate the news of his death, my mood darkens. The world is not an easy place to espouse the mixture of ideas and views Fortuyn did. He did so with aplomb and humor. He was defiantly and proudly gay, but his appeal was far broader than that, and by reaching out to the center and right, he did much to help the integration of gay men and women into mainstream European politics. In this he was an ally, even an icon of sorts. And it’s chilling to think that this combination of ideas – if poised to reach political power – could be grist for assassination. In Holland, of all places. The enemies of liberalism are many – on the far right, the far left, and the Islamist fundamentalist orbit. For these reasons, Fortuyn should be hailed as another martyr for gay visibility, along with Harvey Milk. But what’s the betting that the gay left won’t go near this story? Here’s hoping they will.