THE HAGUE, The Netherlands -- Having run the polite-but-grim gauntlet of Dutch government security to gain access to Geert Wilders, I finally understood what the 24-hour security requirements of the man's continued existence really mean: To make the survival of Western-style liberty in the Netherlands his political cause, this Dutch parliamentarian has to live under high-tech lock and key.
This stunning paradox, with no end in sight, illustrates how far political freedom in the West has already eroded. Think of it: For writing about the repressive ideology of Islam, for arguing against the inequities of Sharia (Islamic law), for making a video ("Fitna") to warn about Islamic jihad, Wilders lives in his own non-Islamic country under a specifically Islamic death threat.
If it is politically incorrect to notice this, it is also indisputably true. True, too, is that, sans state security, this death threat could conceivably be carried out anytime, anywhere -- from the picturesque streets outside the Dutch parliament, to the house Wilders hasn't slept in since 2004. That, of course, was when, on an Amsterdam street, a Muslim assassin plunged a knife into Theo van Gogh's corpse, thus attaching the Islamic manifesto threatening both Wilders and his then-parliamentary colleague, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, with death.
Not long ago, political debate in the Netherlands met with, well, more political debate. Now, however, with a growing Muslim minority -- and it's politically incorrect to notice this, too -- political debate sometimes meets with Islam-inspired political assassination. At least it has, traumatically, twice in recent years: once, with the 2002 murder of the anti-Islamic-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn by an animal rights activist who claimed Fortuyn was scapegoating Muslims; and the following year with the ritualistic Islamic murder of Van Gogh, director of "Submission," a short video made with Hirsi Ali about Islamic mistreatment of women. In all, such Islam-inspired violence has been enough to chill Islam-inspired debate.
And that's just the situation at home. This week, even as Amsterdam's chief public prosecutor, Leo de Wit, announced that no charges would be brought against Wilders for "discrimination" or "incitement to hatred" related to Wilders' writings or video ("We find Mr. Wilders' remarks were limited to Islam as a religious movement," De Wit said), Jordan announced it is bringing a "Fitna"-related criminal case against the Dutch parliamentarian.
In other words, Jordan will indict a Dutch politician according to Jordanian (read: Islam-inspired) law. "Jordanian authorities are not aiming to arrest" the Dutch leader of the Freedom Party, Radio Netherlands Online reports. "They say the decision to prosecute was taken in order to send a signal to the Netherlands."
A "signal"? How about a gag? Of course, like other Western peoples, the Dutch seem content to censor themselves, happily mouthing multicultural platitudes that effectively rationalize their own culture's Islamization. Not Wilders.
I recently asked the 44-year-old Dutchman what was stronger in his country: Islam or multiculturalism.
"Unfortunately, they are both strong," he replied, seated in his lightly furnished but heavily guarded office. "But cultural relativism is the biggest problem." He went on to explain: "Multicultural society would not be that bad -- I don't really believe in it -- but it would not be that bad if, at least, we would be strong enough to say that our culture is better and dominant. But when you combine multicultural society with a dominant sense of cultural relativism, you are heading in the wrong direction. You are committing suicide when it comes to your own culture."
He continued: "I am not advocating a monocultural society. I just want what the Germans call leitkultur (leading culture). I want our own culture to be dominant -- not the only one, but to be dominant. I have a big problem with the cultural relativists who say every culture is equal. I don't believe every culture is equal."
Hoping to preserve the primacy of Western culture in this Dutch corner of the West, Wilders advocates a halt to Islamic immigration. "I'm not saying that every Muslim in the Netherlands is a criminal or a terrorist," he explains. "We know the majority is not. Still," he continues, "there is good reason to stop the immigration, because the more we have an influx of Muslims in the Netherlands, the strength of the (Islamic) culture will grow, and the change of our societies will increase." He sees his efforts as "a fight against an ideology that I believe at the end of the day will kill our freedom, kill our societies and change everything we stand for."
He's right -- and, yes, it's politically incorrect to say that, too. Everything the West stands for, starting with freedom of speech, is already changing as our institutions, up to and including, for example, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, increasingly proscribe critical references, or indeed, any references to Islam. While it's clear that the European manifestation of Islamic ideology has already killed Wilders' personal freedom in the Netherlands, the general impact on freedom throughout the West has yet to be fully appreciated.
"I have a mission," Wilders said. "I believe very strongly in what I say, and my party fortunately shares this view. And nobody in the Netherlands is doing (what I do). And somebody should. And I pay a high price for it."
What is the expression -- freedom isn't free? This is literally and acutely the case when it comes to this heroic and dedicated Dutchman.