“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”

This extraordinarily important Western value has finally been realized by Geert Wilders’ trial. The controversial Dutch politician has been acquitted after an enduringly long trial for saying what he thinks. He is anti-Islam and an overall radical conservative, and it was comments such as a comparison between the Koran and Mein Kampf that led to his trial. I don’t agree with all of his views, but he is one of the few politicians in the Netherlands who is speaking out about the threat facing the Netherlands and the rest of the Western world, whether or not he properly understands what that threat is. 

The fact that he was put on trial is a stain on the Western democratic world. No-one should ever be prosecuted for airing opinions just because some people find them extreme and offensive. As Ed West writes on his Telegraph blog, half a century ago the idea that anybody would be put on trial in Holland for speaking their mind would have been inconceivable. Yet that has happened. Wilders has said that his acquittal is “a victory for freedom of speech”, but that he was even put on trial makes it crystal clear that, as he says, free speech, liberty, equality, Dutch and Western culture are under enormous threat.

So where are the newspapers, the so-called “liberals” who go on about wanting to protect civil liberties, the “conservatives” who want to preserve our culture? Where are they in applauding the verdict while condemning the fact that a man can be put on trial for his views, in supposedly the most freedom-loving country in the world? Don’t ask me.

I don’t agree with his way of dealing with this threat, or that the threat is Islam itself and not radical Islamism. I don’t agree with banning the burka in all public places (though I do think it should be banned in public and some private buildings), temporarily freezing non-Western immigration, taxing headscarves or introducing Israeli-style administrative detention.

On the other hand, I have to contend that things are a lot worse in the Netherlands than we’re having to deal with. It’s hardly well-known, but it’s fair to say that many gays in Amsterdam are afraid to go out in public, for fear of being beaten up by Muslims. White people living in Muslim-majority suburbs encounter random abuse (skip to about 8 minutes in the video below). Immigrant women are not safe.

That fact that he could have been put on trial in what used to be the most liberal, freedom-loving country in the world, is absolutely incredible, but he’s now been cleared of all charges, so he won’t be sent to a physical prison. He’ll remain in a prison of constant death threats and 24-hour police protection. He is risking his life for his beliefs.

This makes me even more glad we at least now have a government that understands the threat of radical Islam to our freedom, understands that it stems from multiculturalism (by which I mean the idea that immigrants should not adapt and integrate into the culture of their new country of residence), and is actually doing something about it. Touch wood, we hopefully won’t end up in as bad a situation as the Netherlands. Let’s not get too complacent though.

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My mixed feelings about David Cameron’s immigration speech

Well this morning, David Cameron made a speech about how mass immigration has “discomforted and disjointed” communities and therefore Labour’s open-door immigration policy must take part of the blame for the rise of the BNP and other extremist organizations.

To an extent I think this is true. Whilst the previous government can at least be credited for finally deciding a couple of years ago that yes, maybe they had gone a bit too far, they took a pretty long time to do it. Their blind support for mass immigration, and especially multiculturalism, certainly did allow the BNP to attract disenchanted Labour voters (from whom they get most of their votes), and to say the established parties were ignoring the people’s concerns.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

But his solutions? He wants to ban spouses under 21 from being imported into the UK (similar to what the Danish government has done). He wants to dramatically shrink the numbers of skilled workers coming in and tighten rules for student visas, so that immigration levels will go from hundreds of thousands a year to the tens of thousands that came in the Thatcher and Major years.

That first suggestion would do a lot of good, and would certainly go far in stopping forced marriages, but I’m wary about the second proposal. Labour’s policy of completely uncontrolled immigration, which allowed over 2 million people to settle here under the 13 years of Labour government that we had, was clearly unacceptable. But do we really need to bring immigration levels back to how they were in the ’80s and ’90s?

Whilst for most of those years I wasn’t even alive, I do know it was a completely different time. We didn’t have as many pensioners and we didn’t have as few young people as we have today. Britain does need skilled immigrants to help pay for the health and pensions of old people, so that when they make up half the population by 2050 or whenever (and so the Tories will probably be permanently in government!), our whole economy won’t collapse. We should certainly stick to the points system that Labour eventually introduced, and make some steps to further lower immigration, but why not be a bit flexible on work permits so we get a lot of skilled and hard-working people coming to temporarily work here, and instead focus most of our controls on permanent settlement?

Also, why not leave the EU so we can control immigration from inside as well as outside Europe? Why not ban the burka in all public buildings as well as schools and banks (but not everywhere as the French have done, nor go down the silly route of banning minarets as the Swiss have done)? Mr Cameron’s speech is helpful, and it’s not irresponsible and unwise as Vince Cable has said. It’s far less “inflammatory” than probably any speech that any issue-denying Labour politician has ever made. But in some ways it goes too far and in other ways it doesn’t go far enough.

Above all, let’s stop dishonestly making out that we can control immigration properly and be part of the EU at the same time. Eastern European immigrants are on course to be at least as big in number as any group of non-European immigrants, so there’s no point in controlling non-EU migration when you can’t control EU migration as well.