Yesterday BBC Radio 4 broadcast a programme in a series called The Choice. As the name suggests, this series deals with difficult and life-changing decisions. This week, Michael Buerk interviewed Dutch politician and defender of the West, Geert Wilders.
The programme is available, both in the UK and internationally, for the next six days on BBC i-Player. Click here to listen – I strongly recommend it.
It is very unusual, although not unknown, for the BBC to air any views critical of Islam. The World Service, in particular, is careful not to offend our “friends” the Saudis by doing so, so this may be the only opportunity Americans get to hear anything like this on the BBC. The BBC is still the BBC, of course, and as you might expect, the interviewer was less than sympathetic to Wilders’ views. It is one thing to play devil’s advocate – a good interviewer should do this – but quite another to take the devil’s side. Listeners should prepare themselves for the usual idiocies. For example, when Wilders states, correctly, that Israel is “too soft” on the Palestinians, Michael Buerk calls this view “extreme”. He accuses Wilders is demonising all Muslims and “tarring all Muslims with the same brush”, despite Wilders’ clearly argued case that it is Islam the ideology, not Muslims the people, that are the problem, except insofar as Muslims follow the Koran. Buerk trots out the usual platitudes about violence in the Old Testament, and even states, laughably, “You’ve read the Koran; you know that much of it is blameless,” making it obvious that he himself has not read the Koran.
To be fair, despite these failings, Buerk gives Wilders plenty of opportunity to speak, and it is Wilders, not Buerk, which makes this interview worth listening to.
Wilders handles the interview admirably indeed it is his calm, level-headed but determined response that causes Buerk to lose his composure somewhat. He makes all the points he needs to make: Islam is uniquely dangerous, “not just another fruit on the tree”; its adherents are growing in numbers (from 54 one hundred years ago to 1 million today); there is no moderate Islam; neighbourhoods are unsafe; Western civilisation is at stake and the matter is urgent.
My favourite part is this exchange on the subject of Fitna:
Buerk: Wouldn’t you have achieved more by making a film that reached out to Muslims, rather than offending them?
Wilders: We’ve reached out to Muslims since the end of the Sixties. We’ve pampered Muslims in every possible way, with Social Security, not asking them to speak Dutch, giving them housing – and never asking anything in return. The time of reaching out is gone…If Muslims want to continue to live here, it must be on our terms.
With no trace of self-pity, Wilders describes the constraints on his life, and on that of his family, but he is steadfast in his conviction that he has made the right choice.
The interview lasts about half an hour, but if you don’t have time to listen to it all, just listen to the first five seconds. You will hear a noise that goes something like: Khhhlhhhlliiiiiiiieeeeerrrrrt. No, your PC isn’t broken - this is Michael Buerk saying “Geert”. It’s good to know how to say it. I’ve been pronouncing it, lazily, as “Girt”, and I bet I’m not the only one.