Clowns & Jokers

Stuck in the middle.... Left, right, centre. It's a mess out there.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

In Hollands Defence

Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She’d lied on her asylum application apparently. But I learned in quick succession that - it wasn’t new news, Hirsi Ali was ‘surprised’, its all Hollands fault, Ritas fault, Europes fault, ‘Europe’ doesn’t deserve her and that finally the US is the only all embracing nation on earth that could give her the safe secure welcoming platform she deserves according to the blogosphere.

Well, umm, wrong. I think we all forget that this was a unique political experiment in unique times. It is Holland that gave her a chance and propelled Hirsi Ali into superstar status. And on that last bit *superstar status* therein lies the problem in politics. When theres a lot at stake ‘Et tu’ and all that. I thought the whole Clinton affair stuff was a load of baffling old bull but that didn’t stop him being hounded out.

In an age that has brought us the Theo van Gogh assassination, deadly riots over a series of Danish newspaper cartoons, the Pym Fortune assassination, the death threats against Salman Rushdie, Hirsi herself, Dr. Sultan, Ibn Warraq, among many others - , it requires truly remarkable courage to stand your ground and speak your mind - which these incredibly brave individuals have all done.. But doing that from within a political circle, full of all those ruthless self motivated and self serving agendas in election run up - you need to be superhuman and have your wits about you. The higher up you go the harder you will fall if you lose a strangle hold on whats going on around you. And that’s where I cant make up my mind anymore. Did she lose her grip or did she decide that cutting edge politics was not the platform to fight such far reaching ideological battles.

Rita Verdonk is well known for her strict immigration policy. She had become a very popular right wing minister. Her - and Ayaan's - party were gaining in the polls having been trounced by a strong muslim Labour vote earlier this year. The right were gaining ground. Indeed those Dutch friends of mine charted Ritas career with enthusiasm “Shes what this country needs”.

Just a couple of weeks ago she'd sent a young girl Taida Pasic - who lied to get into the Netherlands - back to her own country. Clearly she doesn’t mess about.

The documentary, essentially showed nothing new, [everyone knew Ayaan had lied]. But it was made by the tv station Zembla, owned by the Labour party. And its sole focus was her background and entry to Holland tracking all the way back to Somalia. They called it Saint Ayaan, i believe. Alarm bells.

In the dorg eat dorg world of politics why didn’t Hirsi anticipate this rather thorough sounding investigation highlighting -if not entirely focusing- on those awkward issues about her entry to Holland. Especially when her brother had accompanied the film makers to Somalia? It must have taken at least a few weeks if not months to pull that together. And coming on the back of the Pasic case, rise in the polls for the right and ‘Iron Ritas’ popularity, it all seems highly suspect timing that would have forced a stand by position discussed and agreed with the party in advance. Im amazed the calls Hirsi made to her party, where she was clearly concerned after seeing the final piece and with a warning of what might follow, came so late.

If Iron Rita was unflinching and too quick to react then the criticism I would level at Hirsi Ali is that she was somewhat cavalier. Given who she works for. Rita the minister who has vowed to take an incredibly hard line on immigrants, deportees, asylum seekers. Rita who wants to have the burqa banned. They are close friends. Women talk. You would think that they would have had this nailed well in advance had it been taken seriously.

As Theo van Gogh's Mother said: 'Labour laid a mouse-trap for Rita Verdonk, with Ayaan Hirsi Ali as bait.' All too easily.

Regards protection and her accommodation which led her to feel hounded out, she was afforded round the clock protection. The government had fought hard to find her alternative premises. There were a number of people in the building who opposed the eviction order mounted by some residents (who had feared for their lives) . And since her address had been made public I cant blame them for that. But surely even Hirsi Ali was aware of what was at stake now and how hard a battle this would be - and could take some comfort in the support she did have in the building. What was it Machiavelli said 'be feared but dont be hated'?

I don’t think things will be that much more reassuring in the US.

Dr. Sultan a Syrian American secular psychologist who lives in LA, has been very outspoken about Islam. She took on Al Jazeera TV and argued with the host and Dr. Ibrahim Al-Khoulisaid on the battle between what she called ‘modernity and barbarism’ which she summised Islam would lose. ‘Dr’ Ibrahim accused her of being a heretic (like Hirsi Ali). Sultan said she took those words [the "heretic" accusation by Dr. Ibrahim Al-Khouli] as a formal fatwa, a religious condemnation. Since then, she said, she has received numerous death threats on her answering machine and by e-mail.

One message said: "Oh, you are still alive? Wait and see." She received an e-mail message in Arabic, that said, "If someone were to kill you, it would be me."

Dr. Sultan said her mother, who still lives in Syria, is afraid to contact her directly, speaking only through a sister who lives in Qatar. She said she worried more about the safety of family members here and in Syria than she did for her own.

The polls showed after the affair that the public were split – 50:50 on supporting Verdonk and Hirsi over the who debacle. You could consider that many of those who supported Verdonk probably also think Hirsi’s views are worthy but that immigration is the key issue (which it is in the Holland of now). Parliament rounded on Verdonk and ripped her to shreds.

I don’t think you can therefore say in broadstroke terms that Holland simply hounded her out.

The problem with politics, its inclined towards scandal and has its limitations when your cause is as far and wide reaching as Hirsi Ali’s - and when you reach superstar status, all the knives come out. That’s as old as time. Hers was never ever going to be an easy task.

Hirsi Ali has bettered her life, and has bravely championed causes that NEED determined champions like her HERE. So I’ll admit it. Since the AyaanGate story broke ive been somewhat disappointed. In Hirsi Ali. She’s tougher than that. Stand your ground against the bitter blind twisted lefties! The very people who should be your champion.

Get out of politics since its run its course (and was always going to) but start your own think tank here! Easy for me to say. I know.

I don’t know what conclusion to draw other than that the experiment didn’t pay off. But taking everything into account above Im not blaming Holland for that. What concerns me is that perception is everything in the propaganda war and im none too thrilled to see how this is running its course in the blogosphere right now.

I refuse to give in to the idea that ‘the lights are turning out in Europe’. On that note I took heart when I read that where the Wall Street Journal cited the fleeing “Hans-Peter Raddatz” to support this lights out idea, ‘an Islamic-studies expert under police protection, recently moved to the U.S.”. One commenter over at the Brussels Journal, whose author is facing his own battles at the moment, set the record straight (hat tip anonymous at Pub Philosopher)

"That’s definitively wrong (re Raddatz), we met last week in Munich. He is living under police protection, that’s correct, after receiving a so called “prayer” via the Internet saying that Allah should destroy him and all those who follow him in what he is writing; he is author of five Islam-related books, among them “Von Gott zu Allah?” and “Von Allah zum Terror?”. Raddatz announced today, that he will stay in Germany”.


At Sunday, 21 May, 2006, Blogger ed thomas said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Monday, 22 May, 2006, Blogger James said...

After reading some of the stuff you've been writing on this, I think Verdonk really probably couldn't have done anything else in this situation. If you are going to implement the law in a certain manner you are going to have to do it consistently. And Hirsi Ali, other than as a figurehead, is probably now a spent force in Dutch politics, anyway...

At Monday, 22 May, 2006, Anonymous William said...

>. The documentary ... was made by the tv station Zembla, owned by the Labour party.

The TV station responsible for the documentary was the VARA (1), whose current affairs programme is called Zembla. Not so much owned by the Dutch Labour Party as affiliated (very strongly), but maintained and financed by contributions and taxes.

1. Vereeniging van Arbeiders Radio Amateurs (Association of Workers' Radio Amateurs). Note - my translation.

At Tuesday, 23 May, 2006, Blogger Pastorius said...

Good analysis, Alison. Very sophisticated.

You are, likely, correct in saying Hirsi Ali lost her grip.

However, sometimes, in my opinion, we need to cut the nuance, and return to broad principles. In my opinion, the person who really lost her grip was Verdonk. And, any Dutch person who followed her, as well.

Western Civilization is built on the idea that powerful institutions must be check by analysis and criticism. Religion, being one of the most powerful institutions in human culture, needs much criticism.

Americans have trouble with this notion also. See the uproar over PissChrist, or the Da Vinci Code. I'm guessing Salman Rushdie is in almost as much trouble in America as he is in Europe.

However, America doesn't threaten to make free speech illegal as the EU and the UN have done. We haven't arrested Pastors for speaking out against Islam, as has been done in Britain. We don't have anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in our media (to nearly the extent) that Europe does.

There is a signifigant difference between America and Europe.

The history of Holland is noble, and, recently, more than any country (with the possible exception of Denmark), Holland has stood its ground. That is commendable.

I am aware that my blogs and many other American blogs have been too hard on Europe.

One thing to understand is, usually, when we say Europe, we mean France and Germany.

But, that's no excuse really. We Americans need Europe to stick around. Maybe we can figure out a way to try to promote that idea.

At Tuesday, 23 May, 2006, Blogger DFH said...

This is a far more thoughtful analysis than anything I’ve produced, and I agree with much of what you say, but my gut reaction to this sorry episode hasn't changed. There was a right thing to do and Verdonk didn't do it.

At Tuesday, 23 May, 2006, Blogger Alison said...

Hi Pastorius

Europe is adapting to a world post 9/11 just as you are. At the same time politics is stagnant here and due for another evolution just as it has evolved in Europe over centuries Im confident it will again. Question is when and how. The when needs to be now.

...America is part of the West and will not survive without Europe. It is absurd that our leaderships are willing to send Americans to die to bring strangers democracy but remains indifferent to the loss of the heart of our civilization. I would have hoped useful US pressure on the cartoon issue would have been supportive not dismissive and appeasing.

The Europe is f**** attitude is no different to me than anti americanism.

I think it is more to do with Europes evolving secular identity than anything else as it struggles to find what to replace religeon with. Im just not as pessimistic about it because I live here and intend to stay :)

At Tuesday, 23 May, 2006, Blogger Alison said...

dfh- i felt the same way when Thatcher was ousted - pack of wolves, selfish, no scruples and only thinking of themselves. Hirsi Ali is no Thatcher. Thats how tough politics is especially if..excuse the are a one trick pony...I thought she was a tremendous and wonderful force but in a tough old battleground. I also think she should have stuck around. The women she supports face everyday dangers and insurmountable problems and needed her here.

At Tuesday, 23 May, 2006, Blogger Alison said...

Pastorius - have you heard of the Euston Manifesto by some members of the (blogging) British left? Theyve had good MSM coverage also and thousands,including some prominent people, sign up. To me this is good news and is a start to what i meant above by evolution. You can check it out on the blog below - heres their latest move on fascism/action.

The British Left and the shift in direction

At Wednesday, 24 May, 2006, Blogger Pastorius said...

Yes, I am aware of the Euston Manifesto, and I did post on it on both of my blogs.

It is a good idea.

I respect Norm Geras.

What do you say to my point that there are times when we have to put down nuance, and go back to broad principles.

You brought up Thatcher. Maggie and Ronnie were both very good at applying broad principles. Oftimes they were portrayed as bulls in a china shop because of the way they implemented solutions, knowing full well they would upset the apple cart.

At Wednesday, 24 May, 2006, Anonymous alison said...

Thatcher didnt fight on single issue politics and she had a solution to offer for the issues she raised. The broader principles came from Verdonk who had indeed upset the apple cart - that is why the Left used AHA to hoist her. Thats politics.

Re some other points on Western civilization that you raised - it is also founded on the Rule of Law - Verdonk couldnt sidestep this very easily.

And re free speech - true but then again frankly what use is free speech if everyone is afraid to use it.

AHA will go on to find a more useful platform outside of politics but she reached it thanks to Holland. I see that as more than commendable. Im very thankful.

I just HOPE that she is successful and reaches the women she wants to help. But i think it will be more difficult to do this aswell as open the minds of the multi cultis when you are siding with US neo-cons - the very people they love to hate.

Mainstream Dutch opinion of AHA is mostly positive I think if she had really wanted to AHA could have stuck around. But clearly from her background and how she even came to be in Holland - she is an opportunist. I hope it serves its purpose somehow. Hers is a powerful message but one im sorry to say I hadnt heard until i started blogging.

Ive already read many mixed opinions of her US arrival on US forums. She certainly polarizes people.

At Thursday, 25 May, 2006, Anonymous William said...

Polls taken after the parliamentary debate revealed that mainstream Dutch opinion is roughly fifty-fifty. Before the debate roughly 75% were against her.

Verdonk didn't have to sidestep the Rule of Law in AHA's case, as she had discretionary powers that would have enabled her to avoid stripping AHA of her Duych nationality.

We mustn't forget that the current Dutch polls show the beginning of a decline in the number of votes for the left. I think they were possibly aiming at precipitating a cabinet crisis in order to force premature elections so they could capitalize on a peak of popularity.

By the way, the Zembla programme was announced using the phrase "a message from the leftist church" (een boodschap van de linkse kerk).

At Thursday, 25 May, 2006, Blogger Alison said...

OK er RoL. but her reaction was down to her stance on immigration policies which were very popular - she cant very well bandy about her veto as she then opens herself up to all sorts of problems.

and i agree this all stinks of political posturing for the same age old reasons.

i agree with this guy who tho left leaning is quite measured in his approach and it kind of echoes what i was saying -


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