Memo from Washington D.C.: Wilders Wildly Well Received

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Geert Wilders, the Dutch Parliamentarian being prosecuted in his own country because of reaction to his film “Fitna,” and his remarks challenging the contention that Islam is a religion of peace, spoke yesterday morning at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. and in the evening at the Conservative Political Action Conference (C-PAC).

Whatever one’s views on Wilders’ provocative style, his courage cannot be denied, and it was fortifying to see defenders of free speech–that bedrock freedom which characterizes the American experiment and ensures our liberty–out in numbers.

Earlier this month Wilders was denied entry into the United Kingdom because of his remarks about Islam. He opened his talk at the morning event with the statement, “Thank you U.S.A., and thank you immigration authorities for letting me in to this great country.”

This statement and many others met with resounding applause from the crowd at the event, which was co-sponsored by the Center for Security Policy and the International Free Press Society. The latter distributed a flyer at the event recounting the story of the UK’s recent refusal to admit Wilders bearing the headline, “British Cowardice Kills Free Speech at its Birthplace.”

Later in the day at C-PAC, a crowd of about 300 cheered passionately for him as well.

Wilders said: “In a few years I may be considered a criminal, but whether or not I will end up in jail is not the pressing issue. The real question is: ‘Will free speech be put behind bars? And the larger question for the West is: Will we leave Europe’s children the values of Rome, Athens and Jerusalem, or the values of Mecca, Teheran, and Gaza?’”

Wilders charged that radical Islamists in Europe are free to say whatever hateful and vicious things they want, while their critics are subject to prosecution for “hate speech.”

“They can say whatever they want, ‘Throw gays from apartment buildings, kill Jews, slaughter the infidel, destroy Israel, jihad against the West,’ whatever their book tells them,” Wilders said. “Ladies and gentlemen, make no mistake, my prosecution is a full-fledged attack by the Left on the freedom of speech in order to appease Muslims.”

Following Wilders’ remarks, the assembled crowd watched “Fitna.”

Real footage of radical Muslim demonstrators in Europe highlights what they are allowed to say and do in Europe without facing prosecution, despite “hate speech” laws. Demonstrators bear signs that read: “God Bless Hitler,” “Take lesson from Theo Van Gogh…for you will pay with your blood” and “Be prepared for the REAL Holocaust.”

In addition to imposing a double standard in prosecuting him for “hate speech” while completely tolerating the above, Wilders believes his country’s leadership is bowing to radical Islamists and forfeiting its culture via what he views as unwise immigration policies.

“The Left once stood for women’s rights, gay rights, and free speech,” he said. “Now they favor immigration policies that will erode all this.”

Wilders pointed out that, while he was denied entry into the U.K. two weeks ago, this week the British allowed a Hezbollah spokesman into their country. “So,” Wilders said, “spokesmen for terrorism are welcome but Parliamentarians are not.”

Controversy erupted at a question-and-answer session at the morning event when a Dutch reporter present asked Wilders if he felt it was a conflict of interest for him, as a Dutch politician, to be seeking funds for his legal defense while in the United States. Wilders replied that he did not have the luxury of worrying about that because he needs funds to defend himself.

An attendee then asked the Dutch reporter if he confronts radical Islamists in his country to ask them where they get their funds. The reporter responded that in asking the question he had asked of Wilders, he was just doing his job.

This entry was written by and posted on February 28, 2009 at 8:41 pm and filed under Blog.