IN AN article in Canada's National Post, the author did a great job depicting Geert Wilders and his mission. The author, Jonathan Kay, was surprisingly fair and open-minded. It is as if he just listened and didn't pre-judge.
I've read the Koran twice now, and what Wilders says here is accurate. Here is an excerpt from Kay's article:
"Now, you can certainly make a distinction among the people," says Wilders. "There are moderate Muslims — who are the majority in our Western societies — and non-moderate Muslims."
"But Islam itself has only one form. The totalitarian ideology contained in the Koran has no room for moderation. If you really look at what the Koran says, in fact, you could argue that 'moderate' Muslims are not Muslims at all. It tells us that if you do not act on even one verse, then you are an apostate..."
Mr. Wilders sees Islam as akin to communism or fascism, a cage that traps its suffering adherents in a hateful, phobic frame of mind. Mr. Wilders describes Muslim as victims of bad ideas, in other words. In this way, his attitude is entirely different from classic anti-Semites and racists, who treat Jews and blacks as debased on the level of biology.
Of course, in the modern, politically correct Western tradition, hatred expressed toward a religion typically is held on the same level of human rights opprobrium as hatred expressed toward a race or an ethnicity. But Islam is not really a religion at all, as Mr. Wilders sees it, but rather a retrograde political ideology with religious trappings.
He notes that while other religions draw a distinction between God and Caesar, between the secular and the spiritual, Islam demands submission in every aspect of human existence, both through the wording of the Koran itself and the Shariah law that has developed in its shadow. The faith also supplies a justification for aggressive war, vilifies non-believers and pronounces death upon its enemies. In short, Mr. Wilders argues, it has all the ingredient of what students of 20th-century history would recognize as a fully formed totalitarian ideology. "I see Islam as 95% ideology, 5% religion — the 5% being the temples and the imams," he tells me. "If you would strip the Koran of all the negative, hateful, anti-Semitic material, you would wind up with a tiny [booklet]."
It's easy to see why many Europeans casually jump to the conclusion that Mr. Wilders is a hatemonger. He wants to halt non-Western immigration to the Netherlands until existing immigrants can be integrated, and he wants to deport any foreigner who commits a crime — the same sort of policies as those advocated by genuine xenophobes.
But even so, his insistence on the proper distinction between faith and ideology is an idea that deserves to be taken seriously. For it invites the question: If we permit, and even encourage, the excoriation of totalitarian cults created by modern dictators, why do we stigmatize, and even criminalize, such excoriation in the case of arguably similar notions attributed to a 7th-century Bedouin taking what is claimed to be divine dictation?
It's a good question. And as far as I know, Geert Wilders is the only Western politician taking it seriously.