Europe’s Man of Destiny is Geert Wilders, the 35-year-old leader of Holland’s tiny Freedom Party. He has provoked the world Muslim community in order to draw the violent jihadists out of the tall grass, and he seems to be succeeding. Call what Wilders has done nasty but necessary, and blame Europe’s so-called mainstream leaders for abandoning their posts, and leaving the standard in the hands of a young man with the courage to grasp it. At the moment the Dutch government is quaking over the consequences of a 10-minute film that Wilders plans to release in April denouncing the Koran.
Strictly speaking, I do not quite agree with Wilders that the Koran should be banned along with Hitler’s Mein Kampf as an incitement to violence. Nonetheless, he is doing precisely the right thing. A house divided against itself cannot stand, as Abraham Lincoln quoted the Gospels as he made ready to tear down the half that was misbehaving. No civilized state can abide a rival from within who contests the monopoly of violence of legitimate government. If governments refuse to act, the optimal course of action is preemptive: bring matters to a decision as fast as possible before the rot destroys the entire house.
Wilders has succeeded in getting the world’s attention. “Should it come to riots, bloodshed and violence after broadcasting the Koran movie by PVV leader Geert Wilders, then Wilders will be responsible,” the visiting Grand Mufti of Syria threatened the European Parliament in January.
Geert Wilders emphatically is not a right-winger; on the contrary, he is the last remnant of a European mainstream which has melted down into a mush of appeasers. He will have nothing to do with Europe’s racist fringe. He is a Catholic, and an admirer of Israel, where he spent two years as a young man. As he said in an interview posted on his website: “As a liberal, I feel close to the conservatives and liberals, but I am not sure they want to cooperate with me. I definitely would not like to work with [Jean-Marie] Le Pen [of France] and like-minded parties – fascists – in whose category many people mistakenly place my party.”
Delaying a war that must be fought is the most dangerous course of all, as Europe learned in 1914 and again in 1939. If only Germany had attacked France during the First Morocco Crisis of 1905, I have speculated in the past, Europe would have had brief and bloody reprise of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, rather than the ruin of all contending parties.
One might describe Europe’s civil condition as a low-intensity civil war. Outright violence is limited to the sort of rioting by Muslim youth gangs that erupted in France in October 2006, and on a smaller scale in Denmark during the past week. But the threat of violence, including widespread intimidation of public figures, is continuous. Wilders lives under constant police protection. The courageous Ayaan Hirsi Ali, co-maker of the film that cost Theo van Gogh his life in 2004 and the author of a bestselling tract against Islam, remains in constant danger of assassination. Her predicament sets in relief the moral bankruptcy of Europe’s governments.
Not since lions tore apart slaves for the prurient enjoyment of the Roman mob has Europe witnessed a spectacle as revolting as Hirsi Ali’s appearance last week before the European Parliament. She has lived under guard since Theo van Gogh’s murder in 2004. To its shame, the Dutch government has stopped paying for her security. On February 14 she asked the European Parliament to fund her security, saying: “The threats to my life have not subsided and the cost is beyond anything I can pay … I find myself in a very desperate position. I don’t want to die. I want to live and I love life. I’m going to do anything legal to get help.”
Before the eyes of the world, a leading citizen of the Netherlands begs the legislature of Europe to protect her against assassins whose declared goal is the destruction of Europe’s liberties as well as its civilization. The Dutch government turns its back. Europe’s Parliament listens politely and refers the matter to committee. A group of French members of parliament has invited her to apply for French citizenship so that the French government might offer her protection.
Thus far, the authorities of Europe have made clear that they will do nothing to prevent the murder of a prominent citizen. If Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose plea to the European Parliament made headlines, can expect no help from the authorities when her life is at imminent risk, what succor can the anonymous victims of Islamist violence expect?
I am ashamed to say that it did not become clear to me that Wilders has taken the only appropriate course of action until I read carefully the Archbishop of Canterbury’s now-infamous “sharia” speech. Stripped of casuistry, he proposed that Muslim women subject to forced marriages, genital mutilation, or domestic violence should be handed over to Muslim religious courts, rather than be offered the protection of English Common Law. To my knowledge, this is the first time that one of Europe’s spiritual leaders has proposed to abandon innocent victims to their fate.
Archbishop Dr. Rowan Williams, to be sure, has a point. But he should have stated plainly what he really thinks. What he wanted to say is more or less: “To protect a few hundred or a few thousand colored ladies, the English state will have to put its big boots on, kick down the doors of Muslim homes, trample through Muslim living rooms, tear up the fabric of Muslim communities, and disrupt the social order. Why not turn such cases over to religious courts and wash our hands of them?” I reiterate: this is satanic hypocrisy.
If decent and well-meaning men like Dr. Williams are so afraid of communal violence as to abandon the founding principles of common law and Judeo-Christian ethics, it is long past time to debate the fine points. Blessed are the pre-emptors, for they will get on with it.
Wilders recalls that authentic American hero, John Brown, the anti-slavery “extremist” whose 1859 raid on the Federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry hastened the outbreak of civil war in 1861. Strictly speaking, I do not approve of armed bands seizing Federal arsenals any more than I propose to ban the Koran, but Brown also did precisely the right thing. Without his provocation, the Union never might have won the Civil War. American conservatives like to twit the Europeans for temporizing, but few governments waffled in the face of manifest evil like the American government before the slave interest during the 1840s and 1850s. It was left to anti-slavery provocateurs to trigger the right war at the right time.
Abraham Lincoln stands out as America’s greatest statesman precisely because he pushed America into war at the earliest opportunity. But the kindly, paternal figure of American memory who called for “charity towards all, and malice towards none” couldn’t have done it without John Brown.
Enlightened opinion blames the outbreak of wars on reckless jingoism with little thought for consequences. On the contrary, the governments and peoples of many countries had to be dragged kicking and screaming into a war they needed to fight, but would much rather back away from. Blessed are the pre-emptors, for they will make you fight the good fight even when your heart is in your boots.
If America’s Civil War had not broken out in 1861, the Union probably would have lost the war, and the Southern slave system would have spread like cancer through South America. If the South had bought time to ally with France under Napoleon III, who invaded Mexico in 1862, and Britain under Lord Palmerston, the Union never could have imposed a blockade on the Confederacy. The highly motivated Southern armies, which took casualties amounting to nearly 30% of military-age Southern men, would have worn down the North with sufficient materiel.
If the South had not seceded with a violent tantrum, firing on Fort Sumter in April 1861, the North might not have mustered the support for a civil war. The secession of the South was of no economic consequence to New England manufacturers who bought its cotton, and was remote to the Midwestern farmers who eventually won the war under General W T Sherman. Northern outrage against the Southern initiation of hostilities gave a military mandate to Lincoln, who had won less than 40% of the popular vote in the 1860 presidential election.
John Brown takes a great deal of the credit for the missteps of the South. His 1859 raid on the Harpers Ferry arsenal with 21 men ostensibly sought to distribute the 100,000 firearms on hand to revolting slaves. It had no chance of success, but it persuaded slave-owners that their worst-case scenario was to have their throats slit by mutinous slaves. Fear guided Southern policy rather than rational calculation, and the war came soon enough for the Union to triumph. Oft evil will shall evil mar, as Tolkien said. Brown’s name still makes bile flow in the South. Blessed are the pre-emptors, for they shall set up the hostiles for a sucker punch.
Of course, there is no need for Geert Wilders to suffer the sad fate of John Brown, who was hanged for his heroism. I hope he survives the death-threats to serves as his country’s prime minister long enough for the faces of his opponents to turn the colors of the Dutch flag. Blessed are the pre-emptors, for they may redeem you yet. And do unto others before they do unto you.