Is the controversial Geert Wilders exactly what Europe needs?

Geert Wilders is in a quandary at the moment. The only internationally known Dutch parliamentarian is on trial for “group insult of Muslims, incitement to hatred and discrimination against Muslims due to their religion and incitement to hatred and discrimination against non-western immigrants” as the official court summons states. He is currently being kept in the Hague on trumped up charges, and partly for his own safety, since he’s been under 24 hour bodyguard protection, has had to sleep in a different location each night for over five years, and can see his wife and kids only once a week. He is reviled by rival politicians and the press in his country, and by critics around the world who accuse him of being a fearmonger, racist, and troublemaker. These days, his very name conjures up images of hatred and paranoia, and rile people up to argue and protest.

Yet in some ways, Wilders couldn’t have it better. His once struggling Party for Freedom (the Dutch acronym is PVV, Partij voor Vrijheid) is now a major contender, having earned an unprecedented 4 seats in the European Parliament and 9 seats in the lower house of the Dutch parliament in the past year, astounding larger and more established parties. After being prevented from setting foot in Great Britain last year for no apparent reason, Wilders finally got to visit the British parliament and present his short film “Fitna” to the House of Lords this past week. The crowds of Dutch who came to cheer on Wilders outside the courtroom are as large as the ones decrying him. After being unable to agree on whether to extend or terminate Dutch military involvement in Afghanistan, the Dutch government recently collapsed, and major Wilders rival Wouter Bos resigned as Labor Party head. Talk that Wilders may become Dutch prime minister soon are no longer just hushed whispers or speculation; they’re becoming an ever more imaginable possibility.

Wilders still has quite a few challenges facing him, to put it lightly. Because he is one the few people with enough guts to take action on illegal immigration to Europe and enough influence to make a difference, he’s faced countless death threats from Islamic terrorists, and the endless contempt of the media and political establishment. The PVV is still in its nascent state, and may not have as much clout as it seems to possess. Yet there is still much more hope compared to just several years ago, when the PVV first started in 2006. More and more Dutch and Europeans are beginning to listen to and support what Wilders has to say, and that’s a good thing not only Europe, but America.

Many Americans may have never even heard of his name, but this is unfortunate, because Geert Wilders is proving himself to be a valuable ally for America, a consistently strong supporter of Israel, and an assertive enemy of terrorism. On all of these points, Wilders differs radically from most European politicians, who regularly condemn America and blame it for a myriad of international problems, and are less than supportive of Israel. Anyone who accuses Wilders of being a far right lunatic and racist needs only to look at the fact that he’s visited Israel 40 times in the past 25 years and glowingly praises Israel as “a democracy…it’s everything we stand for”, as well as the fact that various far-right parties and neo-Nazis frequently denounce Wilders as a “Zionist pig” for being a friend of Israel and a friend to scholars like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, former Dutch parliament member and Somali immigrant.

Wilders has made a career and reputation for himself by one of the very few voices arguing that all is not well in Europe today, particularly due to immigration, and particularly due to Muslim immigration. While critics claim Wilders merely hates nonwhites and is simply playing on voters’ fears to gain votes and power, Wilders is sadly not mistaken. Studies consistently show over the years increasing crime rates, violence, anti-Semitic attacks, and racially segregated communities occurring all over Europe, and notable news stories over the previous decade include terrorist bombings in London and Madrid, the killings of Dutchmen Theo van Gogh and Pim Fortuyn. All of these events are rooted in a growing radical Islamic presence in Europe, brought about by unfiltered immigration from the Middle East and collective failure of European society to assimilate immigrants successfully. Vastly different values, languages, and cultures are causing Muslims to hate and act against Western society, and the disastrous results include more terrorism, more societal breakdown, and more chaos.

What’s even worse is the ostracism a few courageous people like Wilders get when they try to speak the truth and find a solution. Most European politicians still deny reality, choosing to cover up the disasters their countries are facing and pursuing the same agendas that got them into this mess. Wilders correctly identifies Europe’s belief in multiculturalism, political correctness, and cultural relativism as the reasons why Europe is in socioeconomic decline, since these ideas hinder genuine integration and cooperation between different peoples. Wilders has a clear and straightforward agenda to deal with these issues; he wants to deported convicted criminals, limit immigration and reform immigration laws to separate trustworthy immigrants dedicated to really becoming integrated Europeans from terrorists, and toughen laws on crime. Wilders’s language is fiery and his plans are tough, but an assertive leader committed to new ideas and reform is exactly what Europe needs now.

Wilders already has an outline of goals he would work to achieve as prime minister, a set of ideas that would drastically change his country for the better. Unlike conventional European politicians, Wilders is determined to breathe new life into European society and economy by downsizing the welfare state and scrapping socialism in order to promote more competition, innovation and growth in the sluggish Dutch economy. These would be massive and welcome changes because for decades, Europe has seen little or no rise in its economy precisely due to socialist economic controls that inhibit business, setting Europe behind the rest of the world economically. Wilders would also push to have a law passed in the European Union that he describes as Europe’s version of the American First Amendment, in order to protect basic civil liberties that he is being denied at the moment. In addition to expanding the role of the Netherlands in the War on Terror by deporting convicted criminals and engaging in the Middle East, Wilders would also break up the influence of the EU, which limits the independence of individual European states and receives little interaction and input from ordinary European residents. Many of these proposals by Wilders make perfect sense; Europe currently suffers from economies lacking growth, rising crime rates, crumbling welfare systems that no longer seem worth the cost in taxes, a distant EU bureaucracy that generally records voter turnout no higher than 40% from European voters, and a general sense of confusion as to what Europe’s role in the world is today.

Paradoxically, Wilders also supports banning the Koran entirely in the Netherlands, similar to a ban on Mein Kampf that already exists in his nation. This is odd for a man so devoted to defending free speech, and makes Wilders hypocritical on free speech. In other certain issues, Wilders comes off as uncompromising and harsh. He favors a five year moratorium on immigration from non-Western nations, an end to dual citizenship, and some people close to him accuse him of being obsessed with Islamization to the point of being domineering controlling his entire party. But I would expect this from a successful politician; so many notable leaders were hard-hitting in order to push their goals forward, and Wilders has to play hardball in order to survive in the political arena.

For now, Wilders is stuck in the Hague, forced to be on trial just for making brutally honest statements over the years that provoke others. Even opponents of Wilders– and I for one don’t agree with Wilders entirely – should be outraged that he has to be tried for expressing his opinions and needs to sometimes sleep in jails for his own security, and that the European political establishment is bent on persecuting Wilders so severely. With luck, Wilders will emerge from the trial unscathed, and will continue his fight for rejuvenating Europe and making it safer and more prosperous. As prime minister, Wilders is sure to be a friend to America, and will work to combat terrorism with fervor.

Wilders’s stock is only getting higher at the moment, and for good reason. People across Europe are beginning to find and support their own Wilders, and hopefully, Wilders will lead a revival of Europe to make it an active member of the world economy and culture once again. Till then, we can only continue to hope for the best.

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Derek Sun

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