In its frenzied loathing of the Netherlands' most important politician, Geert Wilders, the Dutch press will do almost anything to attack him.
He's now in hot water for calling on a reduction in the number of Moroccans in the Netherlands. Tom-Jan Meeus of the leading newspaper NRC Handelsblad asked my opinion on this development. I wrote a response that both endorsed and criticized Wilders:
As is often the case, I disagree with Mr Wilders' tactics while sympathizing with his goals. It is entirely understandable that the indigenous peoples of a country feel stress when large numbers of immigrants from an alien civilization, more than a few of them hostile, move in.
Wanting to bring this transfer of peoples under control is sensible - just as Moroccans feel when Dutch and other Europeans turn up in Marrakesh, just as a Dutch newspaper reported in 2010 (see http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2010/05/european-immigrants-in-marrakech). That said, I wish that Mr Wilders went about protesting this issue in a more cautious way.
Meeus devoted a whole article to this little response, "Amerikaanse geldschieter neemt afstand van Wilders," which translates as "U.S. money-lender distances himself from Wilders."
This title is inaccurate in two ways: First, the Middle East Forum Education Fund did not lend money to Wilders but paid his lawyer to cover his legal expenses. Second, I did not distance myself from Wilders here but merely reiterated long-standing differences with him. In his article, Meeus also ignored my point that Moroccans likewise are uneager to have more Europeans live among them.
In brief, NRC Handelsblad dropped the nuances of my response to recruit me as another voice against Wilders. Shame on it. (March 22, 2014)
The print title reads "Sponsor: Wilders had voorzichtiger moeten zijn," or "Sponsor: Wilders should have been more careful" – a perfectly acceptable title to me. Also, the text there differs somewhat from the one in print. I asked Meeus in detail about these discrepancies – why they occurred, which textual version he wrote, whether he is responsible for either of the headlines – but he brushed me off by asserting that my headline, about his hating Geert Wilders "has no basis in the piece that was published." But I maintain that giving all this space to my reiterating a long-standing difference with Wilders is not newsworthy in the least; to devote to it such attention, plus impose an inaccurate title, means deploying me in NRC Handelsblad's hate campaign against Wilders.
(2) Dutch journalist Joost Niemöller, who interviewed me earlier this month about Wilders, responded to my blog above with a blog of his own, "Daniel Pipes over NRC berichtgeving Wilders: Schande!" (or "Daniel Pipes on NRC's Wilders report: Shame!"). In it, he notes that Meeus has acknowledged on television that he sees it as his goal to work on behalf of "traditional Dutch parties" against Wilders, thereby openly confessing that he is on a mission to bring down Wilders.
(3) A number of readers commented on the antisemitic tone of "U.S. money-lender distances himself from Wilders." This prompted me to ask several Dutch speakers if the same holds in their language: their response is not clear. Some say it does not convey this, others say it was a strange (as well as inaccurate) word choice. As one person put it, "donateur or geldschenker would both have been more accurate as well as less innuendo laden."
Mar. 24, 2014 update: Tom-Jan Meeus replied on Twitter to the above three points, "So if you quote @DanielPipes accurately, you are a Wilders hater in his point of view. Fact free activism."
In reply, I point the reader to the final sentence of (1) above: "giving all this space to my reiterating a long-standing difference with Wilders is not newsworthy in the least; to devote to it such attention, plus impose an inaccurate title, means deploying me in NRC Handelsblad's hate campaign against Wilders."