Five years ago I was convinced that this moment would prove to be a watershed. Surely now the Netherlands, and Europe, would wake up. Surely now the aggressive wing of the muslim community would be dealt with, would be cut down to size.
With 20/20 hindsight we must conclude that it was a watershed moment, but not in the way I envisioned.
What made the day so memorable was the obvious panic coming over our political classes and the dignified calm that the general populace displayed despite everything. There were no riots. No bands of enraged citizens were roaming the streets searching out muslim victims to exact revenge upon. No headscarfs were forcefully torn off or spat upon. Mosques did not go up in flames, Korans were not torn up in the streets
And yet our intrepid prime minister Balkenende and the equally purposeful Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen kept urging us to remain calm. To not lash out, to not destabilize the situation further. As if Theo van Gogh was not murdered by an (ignominiously failed) would-be shaheed. As if this whole thing was some kind of awkward misunderstanding, that had absolutely no bearing on islam occupying the public space ever more aggressively. As if the population as a whole would seize this moment to go out and quench our lowest lusts at the expense of defenceless immigrants.
The day after the murder then-minister of Justice Justice Piet Hein Donner thought it the opportune moment to revive the articles of law on grievous blasphemy, sending the rather unambiguous signal that this government thought van Gogh has brought his gruesome death on himself. Minister Donner was not made to stand down and would go on suggesting that Sharia law should be possible in the Netherlands.
In the days following the murder we saw Mayor Cohen visiting the family of the murderer and the mosque he used to frequent. Our queen did not go out and meet with the family of the victim to pay her respects. But she did find the time to sit down with muslim youth to assure them that the government would be there to protect them. Protect them against an ‘anti-muslim backlash’ that never materialized and never was on the cards to begin with.
The van Gogh murder was the moment that our elites openly adopted a standard of operating that was to become so depressingly familiar in later years. In Slotervaart ‘youth’ were allowed to torch cars with impunity for days on end. But when the population threatened to react to the senseless murder of Rinie Mulder the entire neighborhood was virtually put under martial law.
No, from the royal family denying there is a Dutch identity to our political classes frantically and hysterically trying to prevent Fitna from premièring or their betrayal with regard to the EU Constitution, I mean the Lisbon treaty, I mean the Turnip, they have only reinforced the feeling they are there for everyone BUT the Dutch. That they are actively attempting to destroy Dutch identity. And that they will shamelessly employ any means at their disposal to de-legitimize any attempt to defend what we’ve built.
Even now, with new elections looming, a campaign seems under way to paint Geert Wilders, his PVV and those that would vote for them as the equivalent of Nazis and a threat to democracy. Needless to say: Geert Wilders and the PVV are not Nazis, they certainly are not a threat to democracy. Rather, they are a threat to the current political classes.
When Theo van Gogh was murdered, our elites came out against us, the people whom they pretend to serve. That was the moment when for the first time they did so openly, brazenly even. It definitely was a watershed moment. It was that exact moment that showed the Dutch that our leaders cannot be trusted.
And it will prove to be the moment that has decided the fate of many of them. Not tomorrow. Perhaps not even in another five years. But it will. Inevitably, inexorably the moment will arrive when the Saxon wakes and will seek a reckoning.