Russell Shorto

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Monthly Archives: March 2014

Wilders Slides Across a Line

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Geert Wilders, the flamboyantly anti-Muslim agitator of Dutch politics, headed into yesterday’s election with the expectation of becoming the country’s biggest party. Instead, lo and behold, he actually lost seats. Maybe as a reaction to the shock of the turnaround (he had been so confident that he appeared at a rally with the Rocky theme song playing), he stepped over a line he’d never crossed before. He has always been happy to bash Muslims: their holy book, their way of life. But this time he led his supporters in a chant against Moroccans. Targeting a specific nationality of legal immigrants is bold new terrain.


Sometimes a sound, an explosion from out in the world, dislodges a thought. Broken from the brick of the mind it becomes accessible as a thing of itself. There is a raw physicality to this occurrence. A thought is shaken into existence by a violent shudder in the material world. It may nevertheless not have clear edges. It may be at the same time instantly and vividly observable and of unknown contours and depth. It is about something, surely, but the nature of its referent is such that it unfolds. The structure of the thought, then, can be thought of as akin to a building covered in doors. Opening a door leads to a room. There are doors in most of these rooms. They lead to other rooms. Some doors lead back to the exterior. From here, you can observe some of the shape of the building, but you realize that its shape, its exterior feature, does not give you insight. So you open a door again.


There He Goes Again

Friday, March 14, 2014

Gert Wilders, the golden-haired golden boy of the Dutch far right, now leads the largest political party in the Netherlands. Often the growth in popularity of a radical politician comes with a softening and mainstreaming of the message. Not so here. Wilders said last week, while campaigning in The Hague, that voters should choose for “a city with fewer taxes and fewer Moroccans.” There seemed to be more Dutch outrage over the fact that another politician likened Wilders’ comment to Hitler than over the extremist’s extremism itself. Next Wednesday is the election for local offices.