Standing With Geert Wilders

Mark Steyn's forward to Geert Wilders' new book is up at The Corner. It makes me ashamed because I confess from press stories I had the idea Wilders was a bit of a right-wing fanatic -- someone one is put in the awkward position of defending against Islamic extremism but with whose ideas one really doesn't wish to associate. (I don't care how crazy you are or how provocative what you say is, Islamic youths don't get to kill you on the streets of a Western democracy.)

As Steyn shows, this opinion is the product of lazy journalism. Discussing a big flap in Oz when an Aussie politician had the gall to want to meet Wilders and size him up in person rather than relying on rumor, he writes:
In that Cory Bernardi flap Down Under, for example, I’m struck by how much of the Aussie coverage relied on the same lazy shorthand about Geert Wilders. From The Sydney Morning Herald:
 “Geert Wilders, who holds the balance of power in the Dutch parliament, likened the Koran to Mein Kampf and called the Prophet Muhammad a pedophile . . . ”
The Australian:
“He provoked outrage among the Netherlands’ Muslim community after branding Islam a violent religion, likening the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and calling the Prophet Mohammed a pedophile.”
Tony Eastley on ABC Radio:
“Geert Wilders, who controls the balance of power in the Netherlands’ parliament, has outraged Dutch Muslims by comparing the Koran to Hitler’s work Mein Kampf and calling the Prophet Muhammad a pedophile . . . ”
Golly, you’d almost think all these hardworking investigative reporters were just cutting-and-pasting the same lazy prĂ©cis rather than looking up what the guy actually says. The man who emerges in the following pages is not the grunting thug of media demonology but a well-read, well-traveled, elegant, and perceptive analyst who quotes such “extreme” “fringe” figures as Churchill and Jefferson. 
 Well, that's what you get for believing anything you read in the papers. Mea maxima culpa.

Steyn opens the forward by saying he considered not writing it because he's had enough of his own struggles with Islamist extremists trying to shut him down, brand him an extremist or threaten him with death and who needs it? But then he felt ashamed of that impulse. He concludes:
I have no desire to end up living like Geert Wilders or Kurt Westergaard, never mind dead as Fortuyn and van Gogh. But I also wish to live in truth, as a free man, and I do not like the shriveled vision of freedom offered by the Dutch Openbaar Ministrie, the British immigration authorities, the Austrian courts, Canada’s “human rights” tribunals, and the other useful idiots of Islamic imperialism. So it is necessary for more of us to do what Ayaan Hirsi Ali recommends: share the risk. So that the next time a novel or a cartoon provokes a fatwa, it will be republished worldwide and send the Islamic enforcers a message: Killing one of us won’t do it. You’d better have a great credit line at the Bank of Jihad because you’ll have to kill us all.