Mainstreaming Hate

Geert Wilders is slowly but surely making Islamophobia an accepted element of political rhetoric in the Netherlands — and he's got his eyes on the United States, next.

Ferry Biedermann in Foreign Policy:

ScreenHunter_01 Oct. 06 11.20 A handful of people holding umbrellas and white balloons defied the driving rain in the center of Amsterdam one Thursday in September to protest the imminent formation of a government with the support of the anti-immigrant, anti-Islam far right. They listened to a few less-than-rousing speeches and some Muslim-friendly poetry, then they popped the white balloons, “to make some noise,” as one speaker put it, and quietly dispersed. But otherwise, the rise of the far right has hardly caused a ripple in the Netherlands, where the response has been a mixture of equanimity and stunned silence. In Sweden, by comparison, thousands of people took to the streets when the first far-right MPs were elected that same month.

The Dutch coalition deal was done before the end of September, marking the political whitewashing of the previously unacceptable Geert Wilders, the brash, provocative, and peroxide-blond political wunderkind MP, and his right-wing Party for Freedom. He has agreed to lend his support in parliament to a minority government of conservative Liberals and the smaller Christian Democrats. In return Wilders has been given freedom to pursue many of his favorite policy projects, including anti-immigrant measures and several openly anti-Muslim initiatives, including a burqa ban and closer monitoring of Islamic schools.

More here.