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Islamophobia And The Rise Of Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders is not Pim Fortuyn, the Dutch anti-immigration politician who was gunned down in the Netherlands in 2002.  The question about the now-dead Fortuyn is not why he was just about the most popular politician in the country but why his brand of xenophopbia was so acceptable in a society where marginality had become not simply chic but a rule.  Actually, the answer is easy.  Fortuyn and his followers were against Muslim immigration to Holland, and their reason was that the Muslim immigrants endangered the tolerance and liberality of their country.

Fortuyn might have become the prime minister of the Netherlands.  Nobody as yet said that Wilders' Party For Freedom, which has nine out of 150 seats in the Dutch parliament, is on its way to heading the government.  But Wilders himself as voted "politician of the year" in a poll run by public broadcaster NOS, according to Thursday's Financial Times: "Dutch pick anti-Islamic outsider as top politician...Popularity reflects immigration fears."

The situation in America is quite different.  It does not tap into Islamophobia.  In fact, there is very little Islamophobia into which to tap in the U.S., and that's because the Arab immigrants include many Christians who want really to be Americans.  The fact is also that many, even most Muslim newcomers have broadly accepted the contract at the Golden Door, too: leave the wars of the old country behind you.  The others can be dealt with by stringent applications of the law.