College Republicans Go For A Dutch-Flavored Controversy
Written by Bwog Staff
Ah, fall. The falling leaves, the earlier sunsets, and the inevitable campus controversies. And just when it looked like Columbia might escape a fall controversy, the Columbia Republicans have stepped up to the challenge, bringing strident anti-Islam Dutch MP Geert Wilders to campus on October 21st, at 8 p.m. The event is being cosponsored by CPU, CIRCA, CUIRF, as well as the campus chapters of the Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (a faculty group) and the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
“Wait,” most readers are saying, “who?” Well, Wilders is the head of the Party for Freedom, a right-wing party particularly noted for its hardline views on immigration and Islam; far from being a fringe movement, the party finished 2nd, with 17% of the vote, in the recent EU elections. His anti-Islam film Fitna has received international condemnation, with most countries refusing to allow its airing. For more, let’s kick it over to the smart people at the Economist: “[Wilders] has publicly questioned the loyalty of two cabinet members with dual nationality (ie, Turkish and Moroccan as well as Dutch). He called a third minister “barking mad” because of her liberal integration policies. And he has demanded a ban on immigration from Muslim countries. Mr Wilders might seem just a provocateur. But his power lies in the rhetoric that he uses to contrast such liberal notions as gay rights and female emancipation with the image of an intolerant and anti-modern Islam…Polls show that the Dutch rate freedom of speech as one of their most important values—and many see Mr Wilders as its champion.”
The CUCR, for its part, is pitching the invite on the grounds of free speech (the subject Wilders has been invited to speak on), saying the “Columbia University College Republicans has found his silencing by the governments in Europe to be a gross violation of free speech.” Somehow, though, we think the whole “anti-Islam” thing just might come up during the Q&A, and that’s when we recommend breaking out the popcorn.