Monday 17 January 2022

Dutch media round on Wilders’ ‘deeply menacing’ message

Two Dutch broadcasters and the right-wing populist daily Telegraaf have taken the unprecedented step of publishing website editorials condemning Geert Wilders’ anti Moroccan stance.

Wilders ‘is manipulating his voters at the expense of an entire group of Dutch citizens with a Moroccan background. He is effectively sidelining all Moroccans in the country,’ the Telegraaf said in its online statement.

‘This has nothing to do with normal politics, nor is it decent or respectful.’

The Telegraaf goes on to say that those who place themselves outside the constitution ‘by consciously turning their political message into the sort of deeply menacing politics which we saw off in the past will find himself sidelined by society. If he doesn’t see this himself he will become completely alienated,’ the paper concludes.

Hitler comparisons

BNR News Radio editor Sjors Frohlich says in his editorial that his first action as an editor was to abolish editorials – ‘BNR only reports and has no opinions’ – but that Wilders’ latest action convinced him to write his own personal commentary.

 

Earlier comparisons of Wilders with Hitler he dismissed as over the top but ‘after last night I at least understand where the people who make the comparison come from. Especially since Wilders was consciously and deliberately manipulating his audience,’ Frohlich said.

Wilders, Frohlich suspects, is aiming for a conviction which will see him in jail. ’Here is the PVV’s new campaign image: the leader of free speech thrown in jail. His will be the martyrdom usually reserved for extremist Muslims,’ he writes.

There are many Moroccan listeners to BNR because they make good entrepreneurs, he said.

‘They also make excellent radio staff, I know. Wilders has been trying to stigmatise them all. But entrepreneurs and journalists don’t get upset very easily, no matter how hurtful Wilders’ comments were. They are on to him. But what about 8, 9, 12 year-old children. What were they greeted with when they went to school the next morning?’

Walk out

BNR, he says, will continue to report the news without expressing an opinion. Nevertheless, he calls on politicians to finally act.

‘The sometimes cowardly and half-hearted reactions no longer suffice. It would be a magnificent gesture if the first time Wilders speaks in parliament everybody would get up and walk out.

‘Independence and freedom of speech are precious but sometimes you have to make a statement. I call upon all politicians: make that statement!,’ he concludes.

Memories

RTL editor Pieter Klein’s editorial takes the shape of an open letter to Wilders entitled ‘Shame on you Geert’. Klein also mentions the lack of an editorial opinion: ‘We don’t have one on the euro, on loose pavement tiles, on Moroccans’, he writes.

‘The reason I’m writing you this letter is that you’ve done it: even RTL News feels you have gone too far. That chant. Knowingly using the oldest rhetorical trick in the book and than that empty, idiotic promise: “We’ll sort it!”. Sickening. (…) How can you be surprised at the comparisons with the past? You were aiming for them. Juden Raus, Hitler, Goebbels, memories of deportation.’

 ‘You won’t care, but for the first time in 25 years RTL News is taking a stand. That is, you are forcing us to take a stand. Precisely because The Netherlands belongs to all its citizens we can’t not say anything. This is still not a real editorial but it’s getting close. Your “fewer Moroccans” remark stinks. You are so far off the scale of decency that silence is no longer an option,’ Klein writes.

Old tricks

Klein supposes that Wilders will probably use his ‘old trick’ of grouping RTL with other media hostile to the PVV. ‘But you can say what you like about RTL News. We don’t care.

‘Meanwhile we will produce balanced reports on the explosive debate you have caused and we will hear all parties. (…) You will always be welcome in our studios and you will be treated as we have always treated you: fairly and without prejudice.’

Klein concludes by exhorting Wilders: ‘Geert surprise us: hang your head in shame.’

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