Today was a black day for Britain. A democratically elected member of the Dutch Parliament with no criminal record has nevertheless been treated like a criminal, seized at Heathrow airport and sent home. A man who has not preached a word of violence, but has been the subject of death threats, has been summarily ejected from this country in an uncivil and in every way uncivilised fashion, by a Home Office that welcomes criminals and terrorists with open arms. The expression “Churchill would be turning in his grave,” hyperbolically trotted out on certain American websites in reaction to a banned piggy bank or re-naming of Christmas lights, now fits.
It applies, I still think and hope, to our despicable, gutless politicians, rather than to most of my fellow citizens. As Jerry Gordon points out, polls in the Daily Mail and even The Guardian, editorials in our newspapers and related readers' comments are overwhelmingly against the ban. Even the duplicitous Ed Husain of the Quilliam Foundation is against it, believing that “the bigot” should be heard.
It is the politicians who have the power, however. Foreign Secretary David Miliband, to whose imagined sense of decency his Dutch counterpart appealed, has power far out of proportion to his limited abilities. From the BBC:
Foreign Secretary David Miliband told the BBC's Hardtalk: "The home secretary made a decision on an individual case as she is required to do."
He added that the film contained "extreme anti-Muslim hate and we have very clear laws in this country".
Mr Miliband also said: "We have profound commitment to freedom of speech but there is no freedom to cry 'fire' in a crowded theatre and there is no freedom to stir up hate, religious and racial hatred, according to the laws of the land."
What has “fire in a crowded theatre” got to do with it? This is merely the theatre of public opinion; the only immediate and present danger, if that is what Miliband is bumbling towards, is the threat from Muslims. And what of those “very clear laws”? Fitna, as Wilders himself points out a clip from the piece linked above, was first broadcast on Liveleak, a British website. Tonight it will have been shown in Parliament itself – in the House of Lords, where Wilders, now branded a threat to public security, had lunch only last December. Was Fitna illegal then? Is it now legal only for peers of the realm and those with broadband? Unsurprisingly, David Miliand admitted that he had not actually seen the film, but stated that he did not need to as he knew what was in it. How, as Edmund Standing of Harry’s Place asks, is he different from those Muslims who burned The Satanic Verses without knowing what was in it?
David Miliband is Jewish. Whether from craven appeasement or profound ignorance, his words will not save him if emboldened Muslims start enforcing Sharia.
And what of our Home Secretary, the frivolously named “Jacqui” Smith, who has the ultimate responsibility for the ban? What time Ms Smith can spare from trampling on free speech, she has devoted to fleecing the taxpayer. UK readers will know that she has been exploiting loopholes in the already over-generous expenses allowed by making false claims about her main residence. Nest-feathering and greed are common among politicians, but her actions do not even surprise us. Her pettiness over this is at one with her reflexive banning of what she has not troubled to understand: both come from a mean spirit and a small mind. And how small a mind. Is “Jacqui” the best we can do? Lawrence Auster criticises female politicians for showing too much cleavage. In Ms Smith's case this is too harsh: she was merely exposing her thinking parts.
Fitna will have been screened by now in the House of Lords, and a lively debate should ensue. I hope and pray that the events of the past few days will serve to deepen the contempt of the British people for this Government. If anything may be salvaged from this day’s events it is that those – a majority, surely – who had not heard of Geert Wilders have now, and will watch Fitna and learn from it. Learn we must, in the hope that this will be Britain's darkest hour.