Following his provocative lecture on the “European Spring” to a conference of the American Freedom Alliance in Los Angeles on Sunday, I sat down with Dutch political leader Geert Wilders, who leads a party that demands an end to immigration from Islamic nations and advocates leaving the European Union.
I found Wilders cordial and sincere in his beliefs, though sweeping in his generalizations. He acknowledged that there were Muslims who embraced Western values of freedom and tolerance, but seemed unconcerned that a ban on Muslim immigration would keep such people out–and denied that they were Muslims at all.
At one point, I asked him (6:40) to define more precisely the European values that he is defending:
Breitbart News: So what is the essence, then, of the European value system that you want to protect? What is the essential value?
Wilders: Well…the first and most important thing is our identity: we are not Islamic nor should we become Islamic.
Wilders later added: “Maybe the answer is freedom, respect, and not wanting to rule any minority.” But if Europe primarily knows itself in relation to the Islamic “other,” how can it hope to survive, much less thrive?
“What is happening to Europe today will happen to America tomorrow,” Wilders warns. But is that true, when Christianity–weakened, somewhat, but still strong–remains a foundation that Europe has long neglected? Is that true when ideals of limited government are still more widely shared here, even in the age of Obama?
Wilders has important things to say against cultural relativism, and is careful to distinguish his own party from those he considers racist and extremist in other parts of Europe. But is illiberalism the answer to illiberalism? I have made my own skepticism plain; here, below, is the full interview, for you to decide.