Thursday 12 February 2009

Wilders latest

Earlier this afternoon Radio 5 Live interrupted its regular book review slot to bring us a brief interview with Geert Wilders - I think he was at the airport, having just been refused entry to the country. The Dutch MP repeated his view that, if people disliked what he said about Islam, they should have a debate about it, rather than attempt to silence him.

After the interview, one of the two authors being featured on Simon Mayo's programme said he wished he had the freedom to ban this bigot's freedom of speech, while the other described Wilders as a 'wanker' whom he wished would shut up. So much for open debate.

It's a sad day when a far right politician comes across as more liberal than the liberal literati - or for that matter, than a Labour government.

Wilders' political orientation makes it easy for liberals to justify their support for the ban. In fact, there's nothing 'right wing' about his critique of Islam - similar arguments  have been put forward from the left. Would those who endorse the government's move against Wilders be happy to see Maryam Namazie or Ibn Warraq treated in the same way?


bob said...

Similar arguments? That the Koran should be banned? I don't think Namazie, Standing, etc argue that do they?

Martin said...

Maybe not, Bob. But I think the 'ban the Koran' thing is a bit of a red herring. Insofar as they've been at all coherent about their reasons for excluding Wilders, the government have only referred to his 'extremist' views about Islam and the likelihood that they will 'stir up hatred'. I agree, though, that his call for a ban does confuse things and makes him an even less likely poster boy for the cause of freedom of expression. Still no reason to send him home - his intolerance doesn't excuse ours....But I take your point.