April 15, 2003

WHAT IF?:

Fortuyn gunman spared life term: Van der Graaf could be freed in 12 years (BBC, 4/15/03)
The man who killed Dutch anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn has been jailed for 18 years.

Prosecutors had asked for a life sentence for 33-year-old Volkert van der Graaf, who shot Fortuyn as he left a radio studio last year.

But the court in Amsterdam ruled that Van der Graaf should receive the lighter 18-year sentence to give him the chance of rehabilitation. He could be freed by 2014.

Van der Graaf said he killed Fortuyn - the then leader of the Pim Fortuyn List (LPF) - to protect Muslim immigrants and other "vulnerable" members of society.

The shooting in Hilversum on 6 May, 2002, stunned the Netherlands - it was the country's first political killing since World War II.

Van der Graaf's lawyers had argued that a life sentence - usually reserved for serial killers who show no remorse - would be extraordinarily harsh in this case.

The judges told the court on Tuesday that they agreed.

"All considered, a sentence of life imprisonment would not be appropriate in this case," said presiding judge Frans Bauduin. "Therefore we are giving a fixed term of imprisonment."

The judges said they had taken into account that the murder had damaged Dutch democracy, had been premeditated and had been carried out "at close range and with deadly precision".

"The political values and the way we engage in the democratic debate were violated in an extreme manner and the crime has shocked the legal order severely," said Mr Bauduin.

But he said there was only a small possibility of Van der Graaf offending again, and he deserved a chance to be rehabilitated.


One of the staples of speculative fiction and late-night barroom chatter is the "what if...", and few what if's are more popular than: what if someone had assassinated Hitler before he turned Europe into a charnel house. Of course the tenor of such discussions is almost uniformly that it would have been a very good thing. So, one wonders why it is that when a new European demagogue, his politics equally fueled by racial hatreds, and this one an open advocate of child-rape to boot, is actually assassinated, the event is greeted with such uniform horror. Van der Graaf is an obvious nut--his lunatic claim, after the fact, to be acting on behalf of Muslims is unworthy of serious consideration--who should never be let out of prison, and the Dutch judges would seem to have set a damned low price on their democracy, but the canonization of Pim Fortuyn is indicative of intellectual vacuousness on the part of many people who should know better. Posted by Orrin Judd at April 15, 2003 1:35 PM
Comments

Would assassinating Hitler have made the difference people claim it would have?



Wouldn't somebody else have perhaps taken advantage of the same forces that Hitler did ten or fifteen years down the road for a similar purpose i.e. the subjugation of Eurasia?



Regarding Fortuyn I think he was the harbinger of a trend which will continue for some time into the future and intensify as demographic pressures become more apparent.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at April 15, 2003 3:28 PM

Yes, assassinating Hitler would have made the difference people claim. While all mainstream politicians in Weimar Germany favored total or near-total revision of the Treaty of Versailles, the movement to recover lost territories and international rights needn't have come with a genocidal master-race philosophy attached.



I won't comment on his ideas about man-boy love, but I never got the impression that he was a racist or that he ever considered the Muslims in the Netherlands as inherently bad. He seemed to demand assimilation to the country's laws, which I think most readers/contributors to this blog can appreciate. I think the analogy to Hitler is extremely forced.

Posted by: Matt at April 15, 2003 4:00 PM

Hmmm, what if Willem the Silent hadn't been

assassinated?

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 15, 2003 11:45 PM

I think you're too hard on Fortuyn. True, he was gay and (like many in Holland) very left on many issues. But he was brave (and correct) to bring up the problems of large numbers of unassimilating Muslims in the country.

Posted by: PapayaSF at April 16, 2003 3:39 PM

He was an advocate of paedophilia.

Posted by: oj at April 16, 2003 4:49 PM
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