Secretary Van Ardenne of International Development alienates herself from her own civilization by uttering unacceptable criticisms of freedom of speech in an Arab newspaper
It was a small, but useful diplomatic victory. Thanks to secretary Ben Bot (CDA party or Christian Democrats, AD) the European Union has altered a statement on the Danish cartoons in order to make sure it couldn't be interpreted as support for those who felt an apology on the part of the Danish was in order. There is no reason whatsoever to meet extremists halfway.
Not quite as useful was the article that Bot's fellow CDA member Agnes van Ardenne wrote for Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat. The secretary of International Development painted 'those that make a lot of racket about freedom of expression' as dangerous 'fundamentalist secularists' who use the guise of tolerance to target religion. Whereas, according to Van Ardenne, it is 'an undeniable fact' that religion constitutes 'one of the binding factors of our time'.
To those that have seen the Twin Towers in New York collapse, or who have read the Qu'ran, this fact may not seem as self-evident. But the most painful result of Van Ardenne's statements is that they constitute a knife in the back of advocates of free speech such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders, brave politicians who need around the clock security in order to be protected against the 'binding' effects of Islam.
The secretary used a visit to Yemen to plead for 'reconciliation rather than alienation', but alienated herself from her own civilization by launching an unacceptable assault on criticism of religion.
The (free market, AD) VVD party was angry because the secretary went against the policies of the Dutch administration. But the reality is much worse. Agnes van Ardenne has committed intellectual treason against the foundations of liberal democracy.
Gerry van der List
(This article was originally printed in Dutch news weekly Elsevier. Reprinted with kind permission of editor-in-chief Arendo Joustra of Elsevier. Please respect Elsevier's copyright. Translation mine.)