What a difference a year makes.
I say this on realizing that just over one year ago, Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders -- who has been on a multi-stop media and speaking tour of New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. -- that includes a screening of his film "Fitna," hosted by Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., in the U.S. Capitol -- was little known outside the Netherlands.
Indeed, most of what people seemed to know about him -- and I refer to those of us irresistibly riveted on Islamization as the great, ignored, existential peril -- was that Wilders, along with then-fellow Dutch parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali, had lived under threat of assassination since 2004. That was when a five-page Islamic manifesto calling for Wilders' and Hirsi Ali's murder was found impaled with a knife to the stabbed and bullet-riddled corpse of Theo van Gogh, a critic of Islam and great-great-nephew of Vincent van Gogh. Theo, as some will recall, was assassinated, ritualistically, his head nearly severed from his body, on the streets of Amsterdam on the morning of Nov. 2, 2004, by Dutch-Moroccan dual-national Mohammed Bouyeri. Linked to the jihadist Hofstad group, Bouyeri is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Bouyeri's motive? Criticism of Islam. Van Gogh and Hirsi Ali had together made a very short film titled "Submission" to call attention to the plight of women abused according to Islamic law; Wilders was an outspoken critic of Islamic law in the Netherlands. Bouyeri sought retribution, taking Van Gogh's life and consigning both Hirsi Ali and Wilders to the wary existence of perpetual prey, both of them requiring armed guards to help ensure their continued survival in their own country and beyond.
Hirsi Ali would eventually leave Dutch parliament and the Netherlands, finding renown in a peripatetic if guarded exile as the author of a bestselling memoir, "Infidel," and as a couture-sheathed subject for Vogue magazine. Wilders remained in Dutch politics, his stance against Islamization reported to the wider world in shorthand briefs about the so-called Dutch firebrand with the platinum-blond hair who opposed Islamic law, and wanted to halt Islamic immigration into the Netherlands.