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November 27, 2023 04:30 PM UTC

Geert Wilders: Fascism With Bad Hair Is On The March

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  • by: Colorado Pols
Geert Wilders speaks in Denver at the 2012 Western Conservative Summit.

Last week, parliamentary elections in the Netherlands resulted in what’s being described as a shocking victory for the far right, with Dutch anti-immigrant demagogue Geert Wilders’ so-called Party of Freedom winning enough seats to (hypothetically) lead a coalition government. AP:

He’s been called the Dutch Donald Trump. He’s been threatened with death countless times by Islamic extremists, convicted of insulting Moroccans and Britain once banned him from entering the country.

Now Geert Wilders has won a massive victory in a Dutch election and is in pole position to form the next ruling coalition and possibly become the Netherlands’ next prime minister.

An exit poll revealing his landslide appeared to take even 60-year-old political veteran Wilders by surprise…

The Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor explains the significance of Wilders’ win:

For years, it seems, we’ve talked about the erosion of the “cordon sanitaire” in Western politics. Far-right parties have been making steady inroads into parliaments across Europe. Some factions descended from explicitly neofascist movements. Others embraced a set of extremist views once considered beyond the pale on a continent still largely defined by a 20th-century liberal-democratic consensus, born out of the traumas of World War II. Even as the far right’s vote shares and ranks of elected lawmakers grew, more mainstream parties vowed to never form alliances with them or enable their entry into government.

But in the 21st century, Europe’s far right is firmly ensconced in the mainstream, and reflects political attitudes no longer harbored simply by a fringe minority. The Dutch parliamentary election last week offered the clearest evidence yet of the new status quo.

Geert Wilders’ entire political career has revolved around stirring up resentment against nonwhite immigration to Europe generally and immigration by Muslims in particular. Geert has repeatedly called for a ban on mosque construction in Europe and even a ban on the Koran itself, comparing the book to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Wilders calls Islam a (pardon us) “retarded culture” and claims it’s “not a religion.” Wilders’ unrepentant hate speech got him briefly banned from traveling to the United Kingdom, and in 2016 Wilders was convicted by a Dutch court of “collectively insulting” the people of Morocco.

In short, Geert Wilders has been using Donald Trump’s xenophobic playbook for years before Trump made it a successful strategy to become President of the United States. And after years in the political wilderness, Wilders has now ridden the right-wing backlash across the Western world in the era of Trump to a possible prime ministership. Even though Wilders’ party expanded its ranks, it still remains for Wilders to broker a majority governing coalition–and his political toxicity is already making that difficult.

If you’re wondering by this point why Geert Wilders’ election in the Netherlands rates a mention at Colorado’s political blog, it’s because Colorado knows Geert Wilders. Ten years ago–again, years before Donald Trump–Wilders was a featured speaker at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, the annual B-list political conference hosted by Colorado Christian University’s political wing the Centennial Institute. Responding to Wilders’ call in that speech to ban mosque construction, former Colorado Senate President now Fremont County commissioner Kevin Grantham praised Wilders to the Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning:

Regarding Wilders’ suggestion that Western governments ban construction of new mosques, Grantham said it was worth considering.

“You know, we’d have to hear more on that, because, as he said, mosques are not churches like we would think of churches,” Grantham said. [Pols emphasis] “They think of mosques more as a foothold into a society, as a foothold into a community, more in the cultural and in the nationalistic sense. Our churches — we don’t feel that way, they’re places of worship, and mosques are simply not that, and we need to take that into account when approving construction of those.”

This appalling characterization of mosques as subversive “nationalist” outfits instead of churches stood out in 2012 and was roundly condemned by local Muslims. At the time, it was troubling evidence that a global movement toward hate was counterintuitively taking root in a state that even then was shifting blueward politically.

Ten years later, it’s a relief to say that although Geert Wilders’ brand of hateful politics still has many adherents and the WCS still convenes every year albeit in reduced numbers, they never succeeded in taking power in Colorado. All we can say is that in 2012, we wouldn’t have predicted Wilders ever having a shot at becoming the prime minister of the Netherlands–or for that matter, Donald Trump becoming President of the United States.

Like losing your right to abortion, Wilders’ frightening agenda is only one election away from reality.

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