When the Flemish politician Philip Dewinter heard the Belgian Supreme Court rule that his party, het Vlaams Blok, was racist and therefore illegal, he protested that in Belgium things were being forbidden that in Holland were official government policies. With this remark Dewinter unintentionally put his finger on the main cause of the polarisation of Muslims and non-Muslims in present-day Holland. Much as the Dutch government is now trying to pour oil on troubled waters after a series of attacks on mosques, Islamic schools, and churches following the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, they themselves should be held responsible for the turmoil in this traditionally tolerant and peaceful country.
After the murder of white supremacist Fortuyn two years ago Dutch conservative and liberal parties adopted his populist opinions about Muslims in the hope of winning back the large number of voters that had been drawn away by Fortuyn. What has become known as 'Fortuyn's heritage' is basically a swing to the right of political parties that choose to thrive on racist sentiments in Dutch society. Now that Fortuyn's own party has successfully dismantled itself after a series of hilarious internal conflicts and cases of fraude, the struggle for the votes of Fortuyn followers is in full swing again. Polls show that white supremacist Geert Wilders, recently ousted from the liberal party and now in the process of starting a party of his own, comes out on top.
Like Fortuyn, Wilders is a typical opportunist who feeds on unsavoury sentiments in Dutch society. More dangerous than this poor imitation of Fortuyn, however, is the fact that a conservative think tank, the Edmund Burke Foundation, has joined forces with Wilders, bringing along substantial funds. Although the Burke Foundation has refused to disclose its sponsors, it is a well-known fact that their money comes from conservative American funds. Moreover, Disinfopedia lists the Edmund Burke Foundation as a front for American corporations who use pseudo-academic think tanks for propaganda purposes. Disinfopedia's definition of such think tanks is: "an organization that claims to serve as a center for research and/or analysis of important public issues. In reality, many think tanks are little more than public relations fronts, usually headquartered in state or national seats of government and generating self-serving scholarship that serves the advocacy goals of their industry sponsors".
Considering the fact that the Burke Foundation has not only joined forces with Wilders but has also spread white supremacy views itself in pamphlets, lectures and interviews, and considering the probability that this foundation only serves the interests of US corporations, we wonder to what extent the polarisation of Dutch Muslims and non-Muslims is the result of American corporate interference in national affairs and which US industries could profit from such polarisation. (Let's not forget that at this moment the Netherlands are involved in an illegal Anglo-American war against the people of Iraq). Moreover, now that the Burke Foundation has not only shown interest in influencing public opinion in Holland but has also attempted to infiltrate Dutch parliament, we feel it's high time for the government to take a closer look at this foundation. In our view that would be a more substantial contribution to stabilising Dutch society than hitching a dangerous ride on racist sentiments and calming the population down with repressive measures on the one hand and media-staged gestures towards Dutch Muslims on the other.
For more information on think tanks:
The Edmund Burke Foundation: