Netherland’s extreme right-wing Party- the Netherlands Freedom Party (PVV)- launched its campaign last Saturday, where firebrand leader, Geert Wilder, lambasted Netherland’s Moroccan population, labelling them ‘scum’. “The Moroccan scum in Holland … once again not all are scum … but there is a lot of Moroccan scum in Holland who make the streets unsafe, mostly young people … and that should change”. The comment follows a similar sentiment Mr. Wilder made last year at a rally, where he asked a crowd whether they wanted ‘fewer or more Moroccan’s in the country’, to which they chanted back, ’fewer, fewer’, and he replied, ‘we’ll see to that’. He was later trialed and found guilty for inciting discrimination over the comments. Clearly, many liberals have found Mr. Wilder’s rhetoric on Moroccan’s and, more importantly, Islam, strident and extreme, and his potential policies reprehensible, for they ironically deny freedom of speech and expression; the same right the court purportedly denied him.
Mr. Wilder’s rhetoric eerily mimics President Trumps and hence, is popular amongst ultra conservatives and increasingly centrists- who have been deterred by the insipid response to immigration by liberals.
Even though Mr. Wilder offered the caveat ‘not all are scum’, his sheer use of ‘scum’, indicates how needlessly provocative and divisive his rhetoric has been, and is indicative of the policies he hopes to employ. These policies include a ‘De-Islaming’ of the Netherlands, a process that would see an immediate halt in immigration from majority Muslim countries, a banning of any headscarf worn at public functions, a banning of the Koran and the closure of Mosques and Islamic Schools. Mr. Wilder considers these extreme restrictions necessary, for he believes Islam, at its core, rejects assimilation and is inherently violent. As one of his supports noted, “Muslims have a completely different view on society, gender, sexuality, different values. In some cities whites are a minority now. People don’t feel at home. They feel unsafe”.
The liberal response to the PVV’s growing popularity has been as ineffective as the liberal response in the United States. Publications, such as Breitbart, have accused The Observer and BBC, ostensibly liberal publications, as reporting ‘fake news’ in relation to Mr. Wilders ‘scum’ comment. The Breitbart article claimed that both the respective publications took Mr. Wilder’s quote out of context, making it sound like he called all Moroccans ‘scum’. Both articles from the BBC and Observer could definitely be construed as such- and as was seen with President Trump, denouncing a candidate who preys on fear and an uninformed public is not done effectively by using smear tactics and exaggeration. The only way the liberals can successfully denounce a potential demagogue is by treating him seriously, understanding the danger of reporting fact without bias.