Wilders vs. Spinoza
Geert Wilders did not win the Dutch election, as many had feared; but that does not mean his ideas have lost. As the Dutch confront the results of their most consequential election in decades, they should heed the lessons of their most famous philosopher and not allow themselves to be governed by fear and hate.
MADISON – A Dutch demagogue stirs up his followers in a campaign against immigrants. Appealing to the public’s fears and nativist passions, he declares the culture of the immigrants antithetical to Dutch values and denounces their religion, which “scandalizes Christians,” as a kind of infectious disease.
In speeches and essays, he claims that the faith of these immigrants, while perhaps sincerely held, “does not have God as its source.” If they cannot be converted, they should be expelled from the country and sent back to the lands from which they came.
Sound familiar? It certainly recalls Geert Wilders, whose Partij voor de Vrijheid (Party for Freedom, or PVV) set the tone in the Netherlands’ just-completed election, which was won by other parties that appropriated parts of his xenophobic message.