Europe’s Words War May Make Wilders a Hero

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Five years ago, I wrote a column about Dutch political leader Geert Wilders, who was then on trial for his impolitic Islam-related speech.

Wilders is a notorious figure in the Netherlands, where his criticisms of Islam are widely unpopular with the Dutch political elite. In my column, I noted that in a situation comparable to that to the trial in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” a Dutch “kangaroo court” was working hard to convict Wilders, the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, for simple “hate speech.”

Unlike the U.S., most European nations have speech codes that can result in fines or even imprisonment. These hate speech laws are just one component of the politically correct elites, and/or the Islamists, seemingly never ending three-part grand strategy to restrict Islam-related speech.

These are: 1) The initiation of legal proceedings, known as “lawfare” —  hate speech laws outside the U.S., and in the U.S., frivolous or malicious lawsuits which often do not even hope to succeed in court and are reluctant to reach discovery to avoid disclosing information, but which therefore seem intended, on charges of hate speech or defamation, to harass and financially crush the defendant; 2) Threats of violence, or violence itself; or 3) pressure applied based on political correctness, e.g., attempts to smear reputations by alleging “racism,” “Islamophobia,” or other epithets.

The Wilders speech trial, which began in 2008, was a shocking farce. The three Dutch judge panel deciding the case — there was no jury — forced the reluctant prosecutors to prosecute, only to have the case eventually collapse when it was exposed that one of the judges had actually met with a witness to bully him into testifying against Wilders.

This led to a dismissal of that case. A new trial was called for, before new judges.

At that point, I predicted a bad end for Wilders, “In Alice in Wonderland, the Trial of the Stolen Tart’s ends when Alice wakes up and realizes that the entire kangaroo court was nothing but a fanciful dream. The Geert Wilders case is unlikely to end in such a pleasing manner . . . it seems likely that Wilders will be convicted of something…”

But, surprisingly, that year, the court acquitted Wilders.

I was wrong, or so I thought.

In 2016, another Dutch court ruled quite differently. In this, his third speech trial, another three-judge Dutch panel ruled that some comments by Wilders were “demeaning and thereby insulting towards the Moroccan population.” The speech in question was made during a 2014 post-election rally, when Wilders had asked a roomful of supporters if they wanted to have “more or fewer Moroccans” in the country, and the crowd shouted back “Fewer!” He then replied, “Well, we’ll take care of that.”

He later reiterated these comments.

Over 6000 opponents of Wilders and his party then flooded the Dutch court system, prompting this new prosecution based on violations of articles 137c and 137d of the Dutch Criminal Code. Article 137c prohibits publicly and intentionally insulting a group of people based on their race or religion, while Article 137d makes it an offence to incite hatred, violence towards, or discrimination of people based on their race or religion.

The Dutch court convicted him of insulting language, but cleared Wilders of the charge of inciting hatred. The court imposed no fine or jail sentence.

This decision matters, regardless of whether you like what Geert Wilders has to say.

In the Netherlands, and throughout much of Europe, it is currently illegal to discuss certain politically sensitive matters. Not just Islam; other topics are also off limits. The huge influx of mostly Muslim immigrants, which has led to problems of rising crime and terrorism, violence, welfare spending, and the spread of ISIS, al-Qaida, and the Muslim Brotherhood, cannot be debated in Europe without running afoul of these hate speech codes.

Year after year, more and more subjects become verboten.

As Wilders’ earlier trial demonstrated, the Dutch elite is quite willing to corrupt and violate its own trial procedures to make sure that such “hate speech” is punished.

And as the final trial showed, the elite was not prepared to let Wilders escape his “guilt.”

Verdict first. Trial afterwards.

Ironically, Geert Wilders may yet get the last laugh.

This hate speech conviction may not have harmed him politically, as the court hoped it would. Instead, it may have done just the opposite. Dutch voters go to the polls in March and Mr. Wilders’ Freedom Party is currently favored to win the biggest number of seats.

The Dutch elite may have won their battle with Wilders, only to lose the war.

Originally published at Newsmax:

Photo credit: Michael Probst/AP

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