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Dutch Courage, Liberal Cowardice
by Jacob Laksin
As a parable on the cluelessness of the liberal commentariat about the threat of Islamic extremism, Slate magazine's feature "explaining" why the Netherlands is supposedly more "anti-Islam" than other nations is hard to top.
The idea that Holland is uniquely given to "Muslim bashing," as Slate's headline writers put it, is itself highly suspect. Even the most of prominent of the Dutch Muslim "bashers," Dutch politician and provocateur Geert Wilders, who went on trial this week for the ludicrous charge of insulting Islam and inciting discrimination against Muslims, has taken pains to differentiate between Islam as a militant ideology and its many peaceful Muslim followers.
It is also worth noting that much of what the popular press has derided as "Muslim bashing" is actually a well-warranted anxiety on the part of the Dutch populace about the increasingly restive, radicalized, and unassimilated Muslim immigrants in their midst. From the killing of libertarian politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002, to the 2004 murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh by a Dutch-Moroccan Islamist, to the upsurge in violent attacks on gays in Amsterdam by Moroccan street thugs, to the death threats and daily harassment that have driven critics of radical Islam like Ayaan Hirsi Ali from the country, the Dutch have become acutely aware of the wages of the country's immigration policy from the Muslim world. At the same time, the official appeasement of Islamic sensibilities, represented most recently by the Wilders trial, and the crisis of national confidence exemplified by a Dutch justice minister's notorious assertion that Islamic Shari'a would be welcome in the Netherlands so long as it was democratically introduced, have underscored just how attenuated the country's defenses against Muslim religious radicalism have become.
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