May 8, 2002
National Review Online's Rod Dreher starts out his column on the meaning of the Fortuyn assassination with a caveat: "We will not be able to gauge the full impact of Pim Fortuyn's murder on European politics until we know who killed him, and why." Well, I've settled the first question, thanks be to Google: the murderer is Volkert van der Graaf, a 32-year-old environmentalist described (but not named), in this Reuters story, as a "vegan animal rights activist." The story cites an internet posting authored by the assassin, and it was easy to google him from there. Van der Graaf is an activist in Milieu-offensief [Environmental Offensive], an eco-militant who, describing his passion for the cause, wrote:
"People think it normal that you eat animals, and that you let fish suffocate in nets when you catch them. But inside me arose a sense of justice; such things shouldn't be happening in a civilized country."
Sound familiar? It should. For this was the rallying cry of the politically correct Left and its "conservative" equivalent against Jean Marie Le Pen: such things shouldn't be happening in a civilized country. Who knows what phrases, picked up out of the media ether, a madman will recognize as a license to kill? But when he finds an echo of his own inner anger on the front pages of all the newspapers, calling out to him to do his duty – how can he refuse?
THE LE PEN-FORTUYN CONNECTION
Fortuyn hotly denied any affinity for Le Pen or the French National Front, and Dreher writes that Fortuyn was "often unfairly compared to Le Pen," but the programmatic similarities are there for all to see.
There are some differences, but they are only of degree: while Fortuyn feared the bureaucratic excesses of the EU, unlike Le Pen he never called for pulling out altogether. Fortuyn is often called a "libertarian," but this seems to apply to his very public private life as much if not more than his politics. Although Andrew Sullivan identifies as a "libertarian" on the basis of his professed admiration for Maggie Thatcher – and, it seems, the slain Dutch politician's homosexuality – Le Pen's early affiliation with the radical libertarian Poujadist tendency in French politics is more of a credential. The Poujadists, after all, did not limit their free market activism to the writing of policy papers, but took direct action against the State. In addition, Le Pen called for the abolition of the income tax and the death tax: Fortuyn merely called for the abolition of the sales tax.
Both Fortuyn and Le Pen railed against Islam as an "alien" presence, called for an immigration moratorium, and extolled the unique virtues of their own little corner of Europe. Both provoked hysteria in the Euro-left and its conservative enablers, and were vilified as Hitler clones. I can't resist adding that Pat Buchanan received the same treatment at the hands of the same sorts of people in the United States, and for many of the same reasons. Buchanan, too, called for an immigration moratorium, and, like Fortuyn, wrote an entire book about the dangers of Third World immigration. Of course, Fortuyn is openly gay, and so gets the Andrew Sullivan Neocon Seal of Approval, whereas Buchanan and Le Pen are consigned to the outer darkness.
THE LEFT CRIES 'WOLF'
However, all three are examples of a new global phenomenon, an admittedly very broad category of parties and ideologies that I call "market nationalist." The response to this growing phenomenon – in Japan, Austria, and Italy as well as France and the Netherlands – on the part of the ruling elites in government and the media has been uniformly virulent and unrelenting. The rise of Junichero Koizumi, in Japan, was heralded by a wave of articles in the Western media describing the alleged revival of Japanese right-wing militarism. To hear the round-eyes tell it, the samurai were on the march and would soon be reclaiming their lost "Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere" in the name of the Divine Emperor. It was all bullsh*t, of course.
The triumph of Berlusconi's "House of Freedom" coalition in Italy, with its "post-fascist" element, provoked a similar outcry from Euro-crats and the socialist Left: the combined Socialist-"ex"-Communist governing coalition and their international echo chamber conjured visions of a new Mussolini about to march on Rome.
THE PRODI DOCTRINE
Romano Prodi, whose zeal in denouncing the Italian rightists was unmatched in all Europe (except for Belgium, of course), had this to say about the French electoral results:
"Today, the French people have once again demonstrated that their nation belongs to the heart of Europe.The extremist, isolationist policies of Jean-Marie Le Pen have been rejected and crushed."
He might have been Leonid Brezhnev, extolling the crushing of the Prague Spring. There is indeed an ominously Soviet quality to the hate campaign being scared up against the European "far right," an Orwellian "Hate Week" climaxed by the shooting death of Fortuyn. Le Pen put it well, as the [UK] Guardian reports:
"A far from despondent Mr Le Pen told campaigners at his headquarters in the Paris suburb of St-Cloud that Mr Chirac's victory was 'an equivocal one, acquired by Soviet methods and with the combined help of all the social, political, economic and media forces.'"
The Washington Times added:
"He went on to accuse his opponents of lying, cheating and carrying out 'a hysterical campaign, orchestrated by the entire power in place.' Le Pen berated Chirac for refusing to debate him prior to the second round, and of 'drafting school children' to demonstrate against him."
As they burned Le Pen's effigy in the Place de la Bastille, the denizens of the French left danced in the streets, and the world media echoed their triumph, crowing that "fascism" had been vanquished and the rise of another Hitler averted. Fortuyn's assassination, coming as the wave of Euro-lefty self-righteousness reached a crescendo, was the culmination and logical consequence of a hate campaign against the twin evils of "right-wing extremism" and "xenophobia."
HAMMERED INTO SUBMISSION
Mickey Kaus correctly identifies the Fortuyn phenomenon as a coherent "libertarian/nationalist ideology, "but then makes the mistake of falling for the Sullivan-Michael Gove line that it is "unique" and "sharply distinguishable from Le Pen's." No matter. His analysis of the meaning of the Fortuyn assassination is succinct and dead-on accurate:
"The nail that stuck out was hammered down."
That's what happens to dissenters in a totalitarian society, where incorrect thoughts are criminal offenses and "democracy" consists of a ritual ratification of the staus quo: they get hammered down. Fortuyn and some of his Western fans may turn up their noses at Le Pen, Joerg Haider, and the Italian Lega Norda, but the Left treats them all the same. In the United Socialist States of Europe, which is now taking shape before our eyes, there is to be no place for the "far right" – which will be, in effect, semi-legal. With laws preventing "hate speech" and the German precedent of illegalizing any party to the right of the Christian Democracy, the stage is set for a new Soviet power to rise on the ruins of the old.
Just getting on the ballot, this time, for Le Pen was a task that many thought he would never surmount, and partly for this reason he was largely written off prior to the start of the campaign. Under French law, all nominees for the presidency must get the signatures of 500 office-holders. The task is usually a formality, but this time the word was put out – by the conservative opposition – that no one was to cooperate. Le Pen, characteristically, made this is an issue in the campaign and managed to garner support from the very people who spent the second round denouncing him as a danger to democracy.
There has been open talk of outlawing the National Front, and Le Pen was barred from taking his seat in the European Parliament on the grounds that he engaged in "violence" – he was prosecuted for defending himself and his supporters from a disruptive "demonstration" at a National Front function. Official harassment of the Front and its activities has been systematic. As the Washington Post reported in 1997, on the occasion of the National Front's three-day conclave held in Strasbourg:
"Catherine Trautmann, the Socialist mayor of this eastern French city on the border with Germany, embodies the dilemma of French leaders. She granted permission to the National Front to meet in a municipal facility here rather than stand accused of prohibiting a legal party's right to assemble – as she was five years ago when she did just that. At the same time it is Trautmann who organized and will lead Saturday's main anti- National Front march in front of the facility."
The Times of London [March 29, 1997] reported that Trautmann,
"Unable to prevent the National Front congress, has called in additional national police in anticipation of violent clashes between the lepenistes and their opponents. National Front officials said they expected trouble from 'establishment thugs.'"
The "establishment thugs" have struck again, this time, to deadly effect, in the Netherlands.
SENDING A MESSAGE
We know who killed Fortuyn, but why did he do it? Regardless of what the assassin might say in the future, the real message of this assassination should be clear to all and sundry: Don't go there! Immigration? National sovereignty? The growing role of the European super-state? Don't raise these issues, don't question, and, for God's sake, shut up! Don't make us prosecute you, ban you, or – yes – even kill you, if it comes to that. Because, you see, we will….
Volkert van der Graaf is no doubt a nobody, another "lone nut" with an axe to grind and ready access to firearms (in a country, mind you, with strict gun control laws). But the mind of the assassin reflects the mindset of the new Europe – the spirit of a new totalitarianism.
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