Thursday, March 02, 2017

The Dutch Trump-- Worse Than The Dutch Oven


Look, I like a good harira and a sumptuous tagine as much as anyone. But I haven't been to Morocco more than a dozen times because of either. I first visited Morocco early in 1969; it was my first trip to a "non-Western" country. I loved everything about it, but it was the generosity and welcoming nature of the Moroccan people that blew my mind. That's not just why I keep returning but it was in part why I immediately embarked on a 2 year journey that took me through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, all Muslim-majority countries (as well as India which has over 170 million Muslims-- considerably more people, of all faiths, that live in Russia or Mexico).

1969 was also the first time I visited Holland, though more briefly than my stay in Morocco. Eventually though, I settled down in Amsterdam, got a job and lived there for almost 4 years. I wasn't happy a couple weeks ago when Dutch Trumpist politician Geert Wilders referred to Moroccan immigrants as "scum" while campaigning among Dutch versions of the Trump voters. What always shocks me about racists like the average Trump supporter and like Wilders is that they feel perfectly comfortable chastising an entire race or ethnic group based on their experience with generally desperate impoverished immigrants.

Campaigning, in his own weird way, is what Wilders is doing now. Even as Putin installs neo-Nazi Marine Le Pen (first round April 23, runoff May 7) as president of France, he has a March 15 general election in Holland to win-- for Wilders. Wilders' party, the far right PVV is on track to electing the most members of the House, doubling its number since the 2012 general election. Is he even worse than Trump? The NY Times described him as wanting "to end immigration from Muslim countries, tax head scarves and ban the Quran... omnipresent on social media but lives as a political phantom under police protection, rarely campaigning in person and reportedly sleeping in a different location every night. He has structured his party so that he is the only official, giving him the liberty to remain, above all things, in complete control, and a provocateur and an uncompromising verbal bomb thrower." It's not likely he'll be able to put a coalition together that makes him prime minister next month but he could exercise effective control over the whatever dysfunctional Dutch government is formed. Like Señor Trumpanzee, he's "unafraid to say things in the most direct, divisive, dismissive, and often disparaging and insulting of ways [and] many of his supporters feel buoyed and relieved that he is giving voice to what they cannot say, or feel they are not supposed to say." Sound familiar?
Geert Wilders, far-right icon, is one of Europe’s unusual politicians, not least because he comes from the Netherlands, one of Europe’s most socially liberal countries, with a centuries-long tradition of promoting religious tolerance and welcoming immigrants.

How he and his party fare in the March 15 elections could well signal how the far right will do in pivotal elections in France, Germany and possibly Italy later this year, and ultimately determine the future of the European Union. Mr. Wilders (pronounced VIL-ders) has promised to demand a “Nexit” referendum on whether the Netherlands should follow Britain’s example and leave the union.

“The Netherlands is kind of a bellwether, a lot of trends manifest themselves here first,” said Hans Anker, a Dutch political strategist who has worked both in the Netherlands and the United States.

“I wouldn’t rule out that Wilders could be prime minister,” he added. “This one is fundamentally unpredictable.”

Remarkably, Mr. Wilders, 53, has managed to build a movement despite his infrequent public appearances. Living under threat since the police discovered plots against him in 2004 has turned him into a politician ahead of his time, using the internet and later social media to talk to voters without the filter of journalists.

It has proved a particularly effective means of reaching disillusioned citizens. Other politicians have followed his lead but almost none have done it as effectively, Dutch experts said.

“He’s the most strategic, smartest politician out there,” said Sarah de Lange, a political science professor at the University of Amsterdam. “He’s very skilled. He’s a very good debater. He has media savvy. Internationally, he’s compared to Trump. But with Wilders every tweet is thought through, calculated. With Trump it’s emotional.”

Right now Mr. Wilders’s party looks set to win more seats than any other or to come in second. However, he has historically polled better before elections than he has performed in them. Still, after pollsters underestimated the likelihood of both Brexit and the victory of Donald Trump last year, no one is relying on predictions.

But whether Mr. Wilders’s party wins the most votes, or enters a government, hardly matters. He has already succeeded in one of his main ambitions-- to push politics in the Netherlands to the right and make possible a conversation about shutting out immigrants and dismantling the European Union that was unthinkable not long ago.

...Wilders describes himself as an outsider. Yet he is the third-longest-sitting member of the Dutch Parliament and has spent his life in politics since he was about 28... He maintains the image of being present through carefully dispensing Twitter posts, videos and television interviews. His rare public appearances guarantee that every time he ventures out he attracts a media circus.

Last week, he suspended his campaign appearances altogether after reports that a member of his police security detail was suspected of leaking his movements to a Dutch-Moroccan criminal gang.

Still, he manages to travel to give speeches outside the Netherlands, including at the Republican convention in Cleveland, where he spoke at the “Milo Yiannopoulos Wake Up Party,” a gathering of [severely mentally ill] lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people for Mr. Trump... He is described by political compatriots as friendly with Benjamin Netanyahu, the right-wing Israeli prime minister... [He] seems to try to outdo himself more for shock value and to grab attention than for practical effect, particularly on immigration.

“In 2012 his position was no new mosques in the Netherlands; now it is ‘close all the mosques,’ ” said Michiel Servaes, a Labor Party member in Parliament who has served with him. “In 2012 it was limit asylum seekers to 1,000 a year; now it’s ‘no new asylum seekers.’”

Yet Mr. Wilders’s stands have brought the mainstream right to advocate strict limits on aid for immigrants and helped spawn new small right-wing parties, all with strong positions against immigration and in support of stricter rules to push immigrants to accept Dutch culture, Mr. Servaes said.

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At 11:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd suggest the US wars in the middle east, and the refugees they necessarily create ... and who flee to nearby Europe, have much more to do with the re-blooming of fascist European racism and anti-immigrant violence than Putin could ever hope to accomplish ... assuming, however irrationally, that actually is his strategy.

The apparent US psyop to claim Putin is supporting neo-fascists certainly distracts from our own resurgence of domestic fascism and, as usual, relies on the proud and unwavering ignorance of Americans. But it is hardly going to be accepted as any more than tired cold war antic by the Russian populace that suffered the loss of thirty million of their predecessors who died fighting the invading Nazis in WWII.


The magnitude of the number of Muslims in India might also be emphasized by saying that said population is sufficient to rank it as the world's eighth most populous country.

John Puma

At 5:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Putin's goal is to cause NATO to dissolve bwo splintering members politically.

I was just thinking THANK GAWD americans aren't the only unfathomably stupid and evil people on the planet.

Maybe all white people are this bad.


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