Freedom is like a muscle: without exercise, it atrophies. Consider the case of Geert Wilders, which I mentioned in this virtual space yesterday. Last week, Gordon Brown’s government could have exercised the freedom muscle and allowed Wilders entry into Britain to address the House of Lords and to screen “Fitna,” his 15-minute film about the Koranic roots of Islamic terrorism. Instead, Mr. Brown’s government took the lazy way out. Much easier to turn back a duly elected Member of Parliament at Heathrow than risk the unhappiness of an intolerant minority. Easier, that is, today, when it might seem that the only person’s freedom directly at stake is a controversial foreign politician.
That’s the thing about the freedom muscle, though. You neglect to exercise it today for the sake of something that seems marginal, and tomorrow you find yourself incapable of deploying it to defend something that seems much closer to home.
An invaluable new website called The International Free Press Society carries a transcript of the address Wilders planned to deliver at the House of Lords last Thursday. It makes for interesting reading. Wilders’s provocative thesis–it is a prominent leitmotif in his film “Fitna” as well–is that although “there might be moderate Muslims, . . . there is no moderate Islam.” He explains:
Islam will never change, because it is build on two rocks that are forever, two fundamental beliefs that will never change, and will never go away. First, there is Quran, Allah’s personal word, uncreated, forever, with orders that need to be fulfilled regardless of place or time. And second, there is al-insal al-kamil, the perfect man, Muhammad the role model, whose deeds are to be imitated by all Muslims. And since Muhammad was a warlord and a conqueror we know what to expect.
You may have heard some well-meaning politicians tell you that “Islam” means “Peace.” Not so. As Wilders points out,
Islam means submission, so there cannot be any mistake about it’s goal. That’s a given. The question is whether the British people, with its glorious past, is longing for that submission.
We see Islam taking off in the West at an incredible speed. The United Kingdom has seen a rapid growth of the number of Muslims. Over the last ten years, the Muslim population has grown ten times as fast as the rest of society. This has put an enormous pressure on society. Thanks to British politicians who have forgotten about Winston Churchill, the English now have taken the path of least resistance. They give up. They give in.
There is a great irony about Wilders’s remarks as posted on the website of the International Free Speech Society. It had been no secret that the British Government was lees than thrilled by the prospect of his appearance at the House of Lords. But although Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, had made her displeasure known, Wilders assumed he would in the end be allowed into the country. Hence these remarks:
Thank you very much for letting me into the country. I received a letter from the Secretary of State for the Home Department, kindly disinviting me. I would threaten community relations, and therefore public security in the UK, the letter stated.
For a moment I feared that I would be refused entrance. But I was confident the British government would never sacrifice free speech because of fear of Islam. Britannia rules the waves, and Islam will never rule Britain, so I was confident the Border Agency would let me through.
So one might have thought. After all, as Wilders went on to observe,
you have invited stranger creatures than me. Two years ago the House of Commons welcomed Mahmoud Suliman Ahmed Abu Rideh, linked to Al Qaeda. He was invited to Westminster by Lord Ahmed, who met him at Regent’s Park mosque three weeks before. Mr. Rideh, suspected of being a money man for terror groups, was given a SECURITY sticker for his Parliamentary visit.
Lord Ahmed, by the way, is the Muslim Labor Lord who agitated for banning Wilders and, after he succeeded, immediately went to the Pakistani press to boast by the achievement. Wilders’s concluding remarks about this issue must give anyone who cares about liberty a queasy feeling:
Well, if you let in this man [i.e., Rideh], than an elected politician from a fellow EU country surely is welcome here too. By letting me speak today you show that Mr Churchill’s spirit is still very much alive. And you prove that the European Union truly is working; the free movement of persons is still one of the pillars of the European project.
How do you reckon Mr. Churchill’s spirit is faring now? How about freedom and “the European project”? How’s that doing?
As Wilders noted, a few weeks ago, an Amsterdam Court ordered his criminal prosecution for making “Fitna” and for expressing his views about Islam. He had, as he put it, “committed what George Orwell called a ‘thought crime.'”
You can, as of February 15, 2009, anyway, still find “Fitna” on the internet–here, for example. Take a look. Much of the film is devoted to juxtaposing verses from the Koran with images from what Home Secretary Jacqui Smith insists we call “anti-Islamic activity,” but what most of us would call Islamic terrorism, e.g., Boeing 767s piloted by Muslim fanatics slamming into the World Trade Center, a train in Madrid incinerated by other Muslim fanatics, Theo Van Gogh stabbed to death in broad daylight in Amsterdam by yet another Muslim fanatic, etc., etc. So here’s another irony that Wilders points out. Although his name is on the film’s credits, there is an important sense in which he was not the true author of the film. “It was made for me,” observes Wilders. “It was actually produced by Muslim extremists, the Quran and Islam itself.” Indeed.
Last week–are you listening, Gordon Brown?–last week they came for Geert Wilders. Who will it be next week?