You cannot be a better person, but you can be a good person.
* It started in September of this year. Labour party member Geke van Velzen, city councillor for Amsterdam, had just nicknamed the upcoming national government “Brown I”. Maurice Limmen of the Christian Democrats, the party that was about to collaborate with Geert Wilders in said national government, got indignant. He asked for and got the mike: “Can you tell me what you associate with those words? For me ‘brown’ is indelibly connected to the Second World War.”
The best defence is a good offence. Geert Wilders party PVV are the philosophical heirs to the NSB, the Dutch Nazi party that collaborated with the German Nazis during the occupation. Calling a group that collaborates with the PVV ‘brown’ is just not that far fetched. But Limmen got what he presumably wanted, as the right wing press started its hate campaign against Van Velzen.
* Next stop was parliament itself. As you might imagine, Geert Wilders pretends to be the law and order type. And as you can imagine, that probably means rather a lot of his party members have broken the law themselves once or twice, because that is how these things work. When RTL News decided to test the hypothesis in November, they found out that about 25 % of the party consist of criminals. Or rather, 25 % as far as they could tell, because former policeman Hero Brinkman, already well-known for starting bar brawls, refused to co-operate with them.
(It later turned out that once, while a cop, Brinkman ignored a alcohol check when driving. His fellow police offers went in pursuit, and caught up with their colleague just as he got home. The head start gave him the seconds he needed to start drinking from a brandy bottle as soon as he got out of his car. It is left as an exercise for the reader why that was the first thing he did.)
Wilders response to allegations of bad behaviour by his MPs? An indignant “My group is not a bunch of criminals. You are damaging people […]. You must stop.”
I am sure not everyone associated with the Mafia has actually committed crimes. Yet the Mafia are rightly considered “a bunch of criminals”. But Wilders managed to convince his fan base that this was yet another example of the so-called smear tactics of the Left. If elections were to be held today, his party would even gain a seat. Not a chink in their armour.
* So now we get to this week.
In the following I am going to use the name Indymedia. Don’t beat yourself up if you have never heard of them (it’s a them). Indymedia are an organisation for publishing alternative, often left-wing or anarchist news. Their lack of fame and success are the embodiment of the falsification of every conspiracy fantasy about the press that Noam Chomsky has ever held.
(It would not matter one iota if every news venue on the planet were controlled until the last damned exclamation mark by champagne swilling illuminati, because the people would still get the news they prefer either way.)
Despite managing to sideline themselves pretty effectively, Indymedia managed to become a household name when they portrayed Amsterdam mayor and labour party member Eberhart van der Laan as a fascist in a photo collage. Not that anyone would have noticed if the story had stayed at Indymedia and Van der Laan had treated it with derision or even a “no comment”. But Van der Laan just had to get indignant, condemning the cartoon in the harshest of terms.
That to me suggests two things:
- Indymedia do indeed have a reader.
- Van der Laan thinks of himself as a fascist.