May 8, 2002


Rightist in Netherlands Is Slain, and the Nation Is Stunned (MARLISE SIMONS, May 7, 2002, NY Times)
Mr. Fortuyn, a former Marxist who defended an eclectic mix of ideas of both left and right, had become the most hotly debated Dutch politician because of his frankness, his passion and his starkly anti-immigrant platform, directed particularly against Muslims, who he said posed a threat to cherished national values like giving full rights to women, and to gays.

Islam, he said repeatedly, was a "backward culture" because it refused modernity. Echoing the arguments of Mr. Le Pen or Austria's Jörg Haider, he said that immigration should stop because the Netherlands is "now full up." [...]

During a recent interview, Mr. Fortuyn talked freely on a wide range of subjects, including his homosexuality, the ingrained bureaucracy, the liberal Dutch social policies dealing with abortion, same-sex marriages and tolerance of soft-drugs, and the need to denounce the self-satisfied political class.

During the interview he was asked why he was so critical of Muslim immigrants. He said he found it shameful that foreign Islamic clergy here used offensive language against gays in this country, and that Muslim men tried to impose medieval rural customs in the Netherlands. "How can you respect a culture if the woman has to walk several steps behind her man, has to stay in the kitchen and keep her mouth shut," he said.

It's worth noting that what Mr. Fortuyn seems to have objected to in Islam was not its antidemocratic tendencies, which are a legitimate concern as we try to integrate Muslims into Western society, but its religious morality, which seem to me to be beyond the appropriate reach of the state, so long as its adherents conform to public legal standards. Mr. Fortuyn's rhetoric could equally well be directed at most believers in traditional Judeo-Christian morality, or even against the U.S. Congress and President Clinton who together passed the Defense of Marriage Act. Mr. Fortuyn seems to have met "intolerance" of homosexuality and abortion with an intolerance of religion, which certainly would have made him as much a threat to democratic pluralism as any of his foes. Posted by Orrin Judd at May 8, 2002 10:18 AM
Comments for this post are closed.