Saturday, March 05, 2005


How to really deal with internal subversion

Steve Gilliard's News Blog offers the kind of hard-headed liberalism we should all be quoting to every right-wing hack we can find.
Liberty has to be protected
2 Dutch Deputies on the Run, From Jihad Death Threats


THE HAGUE - Every evening, plainclothes police officers escort two members of the Dutch Parliament to armored cars and take them to hiding places for the night. One of them, Geert Wilders, has been camping out in a cell in a high-security prison where his life, he said, has become "like a bad B-movie." His colleague, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, has grown increasingly miserable sleeping on a military base.

The special treatment would certainly seem warranted: both have received a deluge of death threats since they strongly criticized the behavior of militant Muslim immigrants in the Netherlands.

After two previous political assassinations, Dutch officials are taking the threats seriously, treating the safety of the two lawmakers both as a matter of personal protection and as an issue of national security. Several politicians have said that in the country's present polarized mood, public violence could erupt if either of the two were killed.

But the two legislators themselves have disturbed the officials' plans, choosing to reveal their whereabouts to protest the conditions under which they live. Neither has had a permanent home since November, when a filmmaker, Theo van Gogh, was shot and knifed to death on an Amsterdam street. A 26-year-old Dutch-Moroccan, Muhammad Bouyeri, has been charged with the murder.

The decision by Mr. Wilders and Ms. Hirsi Ali to reveal their secret lives, one in a jail cell, the other on a naval base, has raised a question that is troubling many Dutch: is it acceptable for legislators in a Western democracy to be forced to go into hiding, to live like fugitives on the run in their own land?

"Of course this is an outrage," said Abram de Swaan, a prominent sociologist. "It's not bearable. The government must come up with better solutions, like putting them in protected homes. That's the way it happens in other countries."

The NRC Handelsblad, a leading daily newspaper, ran an editorial recently headlined "Unacceptable." A situation in which legislators are "hampered in carrying out their tasks puts democracy in question and makes terror successful," it said, adding that the official bureaucracy evidently "does not know how to deal with the new reality" in which Muslim terrorism may also threaten Dutch politicians.

Officials point out that the government is prosecuting several men for death threats and has adopted tough laws against terrorism suspects, including voiding their Dutch nationality. Late last month the Justice Ministry announced that it planned to expel three Muslim preachers for spreading radical Islamic ideology at a mosque in the city of Eindhoven.
In the US, if you were stupid enough to threaten a Congressman, you would wind up in a federal prison cell as soon as the FBI caught you. The idea that these people are allowed to flourish is offensive to democracy. These people should be caught and deported. Clearly, these people do not want to live by Dutch or Western rules.

This kind of ineffective policing is simply unacceptable. In the US, people would be running from immigration for this crap. One of the core rules of US politics is that we do not allow anyone to threaten politicians without vigorous police reaction. Why? Because it undermines the democratic state.

People should be roused from their beds and dragged to court for this. People should be shitting their pants at fear of not the police, but Royal Dutch Marine Commandos coming to pay a little visit like the SAS did in Northern Ireland. This is a threat to national security and it is dangerous to pretend it is anything but. You don't need a patriot act or void basic EU civil rights, but you can start acting like this is a serioud threat, use military force, and make no mistake, when the FBI goes hunting for those people who killed the judge's husband and mother, they will come loaded for bear like a bunch of 11B's on a home visit in Tikrit.

To protect civil rights, you have to protect them.

But this problem is an outgrowth of the way these people are treated in European society. They need to be encouraged to be Europeans, the way they would be encouraged to be Americans in the United States. They are already isolated, and become easy picking for radicals. You have to have a two-pronged approach. One, an open welcoming society, two, swiftly and definitively punish those who upset the public order.

When the racists of the South wanted to violate federal law, the Army was sent, by more than one president, to enforce that law. The Dutch are taking the worst of both worlds, isolating immigrants, and refusing to protect their civil order. You can do both, but you need to act like it's not a drug case, but a threat to the order of the state.

Europeans are quick to lambast the US for it's human rights violations, but this situation requires more than talk and moving people about. It requires the best and hardest kind of law enforcement. What you have now is a Republic of Fear. An ineffective state, unable to forcefully deport and punish people threatening legislators, yet refusing to integrate them into the wider society, perpetuating their isolation. You can't leave these people outside the state's commonweal, then expect them to adapt to your society's rules. What stake do they have in it? Crappy education for their kids? An inability to get a job commensurate to their education?

You have to give them a stake in playing by the rules and punish the hell out of them when they don't. Make threatening elected officials with death worth 10 years in jail and deportation.

But this is not a small deal. I'm hardly idealistic about Europeans view of their new countrymen, but this kind of situation in the US would be intolerable. The US has had long and bitter experience with political violence and we take that extremely seriously. The Dutch would do well to act with a lot more vigor in this case.
Liberals are often accused of being "soft on crime," by which right-wingers mean that we actually believe in "innocent until proven guilty." And yet, who is being soft here? Gilliard isn't calling for playing patty-cake with these thugs. He isn't calling for them to be "understood" or coddled or negotiated with or permitted to go their merry, murderous way. He's calling for them to be punished, persecuted, hounded, destroyed.

He's wrong about one thing, however. The US might go after foreign terrorists with some of the vigor Gilliard commends to the Dutch, but we have our own homegrown murderous bastards, such as Matthew Hale's friends and colleagues, and we have never gone after rightwing, white nationalist, fascist and Nazi thugs with anything like the efficiency and zeal with whcich we have pursued leftwing, black nationalist, and other "un-American" terrorists. Hale is in prison, but someone who listens to him (maybe even someone who talked to him) is suspected of murdering the family of a Federal judge in Chicago. Take the gloves off and treat true internal subversion with the same seriousness and lack of compromise that we direct against foreign bad guys who threaten us. America is under at least as much threat from the former as we are from the latter.

Other than that, Gilliard's post is brave, honest, and true.
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