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A dark day for the Enlightenment
by Bruce Bawer
Since 9/11, there has been a series of red-letter dates that should figure in any future history of the Islamization of Europe. One thinks, for example, of the Madrid train bombings on March 11, 2004, and of the general election three days later, in which Spanish citizens, apparently bowing to the terrorists' wishes, voted in the Socialists, who had promised to pull the nation's troops out of Iraq. One thinks, too, of the London bombings on July 7, 2005; of the international violence that followed the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten's publication of cartoons of Mohammed on September 30, 2005; and of the shameful episode in which editor Vebjørn Selbekk, under intense pressure from craven Norwegian government leaders, apologized to a gathering of imams on February 10, 2006, for having bravely reprinted the cartoons.
Many of these red-letter dates have been concentrated in the Netherlands, a small country that once upon a time—not so long ago, in fact—was perceived around the world as a beacon of freedom and tolerance. The murder of professor, author, and Islam critic Pim Fortuyn in Hilversum on May 6, 2002, was followed by that of filmmaker, raconteur, and Islam critic Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam on November 2, 2004, and by the resignation of politician and Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali from the Dutch Parliament on May 16, 2006. Ali's resignation came as the result of a cowardly effort by her legislative colleagues to remove from their ranks the voice of a heroine of liberty, whom they plainly perceived as nothing more than a troublemaker in a country whose political and cultural elite has, in modern times, been less driven by principle than by consensus and compromise.
Today, alas, is also a red-letter date in the terrible history of this period, and once again the setting is the Netherlands. The figure at the center of today's infamy is Islam critic Geert Wilders, member of the Dutch Parliament, head of the Freedom Party, and currently the most popular politician in the country—a man who, like Fortuyn eight years ago, looks like a strong prospect to be his nation's next prime minister. Yet if Wilders enjoys strong backing from the Dutch electorate, he is also—again like Fortuyn, and for that matter like van Gogh and Hirsi Ali—despised by the Dutch political, cultural, educational, media, and business establishment, which has plainly decided not to fight the Netherlands' Islamization but rather to help the process go as smoothly as possible.
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