IN DEATH, VICTORY?

The situation in the Netherlands is so fraught right now that any prediction is risky. But doesn’t it make sense that the murder of Pim Fortuyn could propel his party and its allies to even bigger gains than were deemed possible yesterday? For an anti-crime figure to be gunned down in the street, after the government refused to give him adequate police protection, is hardly a reason to vote for the failed old politicians. The London Times’ Michael Gove has the best analysis I’ve read so far. Check it out. An important passage:

Fortuyn and his allies developed a critique of the establishment notably different from those pioneered by the politicians with whom he has been compared, Jörg Haider and Jean-Marie Le Pen. Fortuyn was uncompromisingly neo-liberal. An advocate of laxer rules on euthanasia, greater drugs liberalisation, more use of the private sector in healthcare and tax cuts, he was very far from Le Pen’s hearthland politics of Vichyiste nostalgia. He may have been a “cultural protectionist” like Le Pen. But the culture he wished to protect was the Dutch libertarianism so familiar to many Britons from their weekends in Amsterdam, so congenial to him as a gay man, and so threatened, he claimed, by the incursions of Islam.

Amen. Fortuyn was not a threat to liberalism. His assassination is. What Fortuyn dared to say is that Islam itself, when converted into a political agenda, is a direct threat to the values and tolerance that are the signal achievements of the West. This is not racism; it is a cultural fact. Islam deserves respect as a great religion, but its attitudes toward women, toward homosexuals, toward the freedoms and privacy and social experimentation that are one of the guiding triumphs of Western culture, is a danger to liberal democracy and a free society. Fortuyn was brave enough to say this. One way to respect his legacy and defy the violence that felled him is to follow his example and keep stating what we know to be true.

BOOK CLUB: My take on Bjorn Lomborg’s dense, but largely persuasive book, “The Skeptical Environmentalist,” is now posted. Over to you. A week of debate will follow.

SATEL’S STRAW MAN?: “Every physician I have known in this hotbed of political correctness (Manhattan) begins her/his admission note mentioning the race of the patient immediately following their age. We were all taught in medical school that certain groups are at risk for certain conditions (i.e. smokers and lung cancer; old people and Alzheimer’s; women with multiple partners and cervical cancer, etc.), and considering this is not age discrimination, lifestyle discrimination, or discrimination against smokers. By using the term “Racial Profiling” and setting up the “Politically Correct” medical establishment as a strawman, it certainly is not surprising that Dr. Satel had an easy time making herself appear to be enlightened.” – this and an obit of Peter Bauer, emotional intimacy, and John Rawls – all on the Letters Page.

‘REACTIONARY’ FORTUYN: Check out this Guardian profile of Pim Fortuyn. The Euro-left keeps describing him as a ‘reactionary.’ This profile says: “He succeeded in blending liberal and reactionary ideas in a quite unique fashion.” Now scour the piece for anything that could be called ‘reactionary.’ It’s this kind of condescending blindness that gave Fortuyn an opening. Check out this passage from the New York Times today:

During a recent interview, Mr. Fortuyn talked freely on a wide range of subjects, including his homosexuality, the ingrained bureaucracy, the liberal Dutch social policies dealing with abortion, same-sex marriages and tolerance of soft-drugs, and the need to denounce the self-satisfied political class. During the interview he was asked why he was so critical of Muslim immigrants. He said he found it shameful that foreign Islamic clergy here used offensive language against gays in this country, and that Muslim men tried to impose medieval rural customs in the Netherlands. “How can you respect a culture if the woman has to walk several steps behind her man, has to stay in the kitchen and keep her mouth shut,” he said.

I couldn’t agree more. We’re often asked by some Islamists to respect others’ cultures, even when we find much in them to be dismayed by. Fair enough. But is it too much to ask that they also respect ours? Especially when they live in the West?

KRUGMAN NAILS IT: For once, I agree with him. The shameless, unjustified, vast hand-out to rich corporate farmers – that’s money taken from you and me, guys – is one of the worst fiscal decisions to come out of Washington in the last couple of years. It’s corporate welfare, backed by greedy Democrats and a spineless president, who recently seems like the kind of guy who never saw a big government spending bill he didn’t want to sign. Krugman is also sharp about divorce and illegitimacy and crime rates in the “heartland.” And no, I haven’t gone completely nuts. The evidence for Middle America’s dependency on the public teat is irrefutable.

SONTAG AWARD NOMINEE: “Ariel Sharon has arrived in Washington, carrying with him The Arafat Dossier – a 91-page report allegedly documenting the Palestinian leader’s intimate involvement in “terrorism” against Israel. For good measure, the dossier accuses all the usual suspects of helping Yasser Arafat in his terrorism: Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hizbullah, plus – interestingly – Saudi Arabia, the European Union and even elements in the United States. Whether the documents actually prove any of these things is beside the point; the point is to generate headlines in the US that will excite Republican Congressmen of the sort who last week proposed the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.” – Brian Whitaker, the Guardian (where else?), May 6.

CHRIS PATTEN’S BLATHER: There are few more condescending, Eurocratic, arrogant fools among European elites than one Chris Patten. A former Tory, he now clings to the Conservative Party as a way to win further unelected office in the Brussels bureaucracy. His piece today in the Washington Post, designed to answer George Will’s recent column bemoaning the rise of European anti-Semitism, is chock full of prejudices. There’s the sad attempt to argue that America was soft on Nazism because Joe Kennedy once was. And there’s the belittling of anti-Semitic violence in Europe by the canard that it is balanced by anti-Islamic agitation. He also has the gall to associate himself with a democratic Europe, while he represents the least democratic institution on the continent, the European Commission, and is in the vanguard of further stripping democracy from the elected governments of EU member states. He seems appalled by the idea that the same Europe that gave us the Holocaust should now be seen as anti-Zionist or in some way hostile to Israel. Who does he think he’s kidding? Visceral loathing for Israel permeates the entire European establishment of which
he is an integral part. He brings up the issue of private American financial support for the IRA. He’s right that such support is vile. But the American government never sent millions of dollars direct to the IRA to foment terrorism against Britain. Yet the EU funnels vast sums to Yassir Arafat’s terrorist organizations, with no checks, no standards, no accountability. That money is used to kill Jews. And Chris Patten helps dispense it. And that’s largely all you need to know.