In multiculturally totalitarian Belgium, however, you make such judgments at your own risk. Vlaams Belang, a conservative, free-market party that stands for Flemish secession from the French-speaking part of Belgium and opposes continued immigration, now stands trial in a Belgian court for a comment -- a comment! -- Dewinter made in 2005 to a New York publication, The Jewish Week. When asked why Belgian Jews should vote for a party that espouses "xenophobia," Dewinter replied: "Xenophobia is not the word I would use. If (it) absolutely must be a 'phobia,' let it be 'Islamophobia.' Yes, we're afraid of Islam. The Islamization of Europe is a frightening thing."
If convicted of the "crime" of "Islamophobia" ("1984," anyone?), the party would lose its state funding. In a country that effectively prohibits private political fund-raising, Vlaams Belang -- the largest party in Belgium -- would ultimately cease to exist. And so, too, would free speech in the center of Europe.
Before I met Vlaams Belang's Frank Vanhecke and Filip Dewinter in Washington, I believed Europe's rush to Islamize itself was a stampede, its transformation all but inevitable. Now, I think these men have at least earned Europe the benefit of the doubt. Studying their various statements and interviews, I found no evidence to support the crude slanders to which they are continually subjected in the media for being a right-wing party opposed to the massive Islamic immigration now transforming traditional European culture. Indeed, their statements on Israel are more supportive than any European party I know of. As Vanhecke put it in a recent speech, "They call us 'intolerant' because we oppose intolerance. They call us 'fascists' because we oppose Islamo-fascism.
They call us 'the children of holocaust perpetrators,' because we oppose Islamists who are preparing a new holocaust against the Jews.' " America must start paying attention to Europe. And to Vlaams Belang.
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