If today’s rally against the Park51 Islamic center was an exercise in contradictions about tolerance, then Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders was the perfect pick for keynote speaker. In his remarks Wilders repeatedly lauded America’s record of tolerance while asserting that “openness can never be open-ended. A tolerant society is not a suicidal society.”
“We must never give a free hand to those who want to subjugate us,” Wilder said. “New York is rooted in Dutch tolerance. New York is tolerant, not intolerant. What if New York was intolerant?” Then it “would not be New York, it would be Mecca.”Wilders, called “a modern-day Churchill” by rally host Pamela Geller, quoted Abraham Lincoln: “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”
“These important words are key to our survival,” he added.
“We must draw the line,” Wilders said, “so that New York, rooted in Dutch tolerance, will never become ‘New Mecca.'”
Wilders also warned against those who want to impose sharia law on America: “America, New York and sharia are incompatible.” The plan for Park51, which he called “a mosque, a house of sharia,” is “not only a provocation. It’s humiliation.”
“The West has never harmed Islam until Islam harmed us,” he said.
For someone so emphatic about the importance of tolerance, Wilders himself has a questionable record. He supports a ban on the Koran, a ban on the construction of new mosques and told The Guardian in 2008 that “Islam is not a religion, it’s an ideology.” The “ideology of a retarded culture,” as he termed it.
[TPM SLIDESHOW: ‘No More Mosque!’: Protesters Rally Against Park51 Islamic Center]