"Volkert van der Graf, 32, is a slender, blond-haired Dutchman whose pictures reveal nothing special except perhaps a taut, ascetic look.
"But for almost a decade, friends and associates say, this quiet man and strict vegetarian has been consumed by his fight to reduce the suffering of animals reared in industrial quantities for food, fur coats or medical experiments."
Sounds like a description of St. Francis of Assisi, doesn't it? But it is not. These are the lead paragraphs in The New York Times story that describes the enviro-fanatic charged with gunning down Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn outside a TV studio this week.
What the Times does not describe is the pivotal role played by the European establishment and media in creating the climate of hysteria and hate in which a fanatic like Volkert van der Graf might feel morally justified in murdering Fortuyn.
Since Jean-Marie Le Pen carried 17 percent of the vote in the first round of the French election, it has been Hate Week across Europe. The Left has gone berserk, savaging populist leaders who challenge the EU or demand tougher immigration laws.
Fortuyn, whose party was running first in some polls for the Dutch elections this month, got the full treatment. Denounced as a "dangerous man" by the Dutch finance minister, he repeatedly protested that he was being demonized. Yet, day after day, it continued. He, Le Pen and Jorge Haider of Austria were painted as extremists or neo-fascists. Europeans were admonished to unite to stop the spreading menace. In Europe's media, it is open season and the Populist Right has become a free-fire zone.
The results are now in, and the European establishment is as much to blame for this man's death as the Likudnik fanatics were for the murder of Yitzhak Rabin, whom they painted as a traitor and Nazi for his willingness to trade land for peace.
In the two weeks between the first round and the run-off of the French election, there were riots against Le Pen, he was shouted down when speaking to the European parliament and his press conference had to be canceled because of threats of disruption. And who protested these fascist tactics? Meanwhile, President Chirac was given a free pass as he trashed French tradition and refused Le Pen's challenge to debate.
The message sent by the Euromedia: The Populist Right is an illegitimate force in the New Europe and tactics that might be judged fascist if used by the Right may be used against it, and absolution is available. Umberto Boss, whose Northern League is a partner in the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, said Fortuyn was killed in a "climate which the left has created and continues to create throughout Europe with the help of the media aimed at demonizing all who oppose what they think."
What were the sins of Pim Fortuyn for which it was acceptable for the Dutch finance minister to brand him a "dangerous man," and for others to call him an extremist and neo-fascist? What made this liberal and open homosexual a man of the Right, whom it was acceptable to vilify? Fortuyn had linked immigration to crime, called Islam a "backward" religion, and was campaigning to maintain the ethnic and cultural identity of the Dutch nation and people.
That Fortuyn had thrown off the morality of his church did not matter. His unpardonable sin that cried out to heaven for vengeance was that he rejected the higher truths of multiculturalism.
There is a new totalitarianism afoot in the West. Unlike the Stalinist form, it does not use police-state violence to command conformity. Its method is to redefine Rightist positions as evil, the product of a hate-filled or diseased mind, then read the Right out of the human race. Thus, anyone who argues that immigration has become so huge it threatens national cohesion or security is a "xenophobe." Oppose racial quotas, and you are a "racist." Defend the all-male military schools like VMI and the Citadel, and you are a "sexist." Oppose homosexual marriages, and you are a "homophobe" who hates and fears homosexuals.
Scholar Paul Gottfried has called it "the dehumanization of dissent." First, you strip away an opponent's claim to decency and fair treatment by painting him as a right-wing extremist and hater, then you wash your hands of culpability when some wacko concludes he is doing the world a favor by murdering him -- like they murdered Pim Fortuyn.