Geert Wilders' McCarthyism

15th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

Nativism rears its head in dual nationality row. Lesley Thomas, of American-Dutch dual nationality, takes a long, hard look at the issue.

US Senator Joseph R. McCarthy's aim was to purge the United States of "un-American" citizens and communists. Loyalty to the United States in the 1950's was a big issue then. Whereas McCarthy was bent on hunting down communists, leader of the Freedom party (PVV) Geert Wilders' obsession is in damning politicians who have an Islamic background and have dual nationality.

During the McCarthy era of the 1950's many careers and lives of innocent victims were destroyed. Little evidence was necessary when it came to making accusations and in finding someone guilty. The “dual nationality” hysteria Wilders has created around State Secretaries Ahmed Aboutaleb, Nebahat Albayrak and Labour MP Khadija Arib is damaging to these politicians’ careers. They have been accused of being potentially disloyal and their reputations have suffered.

In Wilders' column in NieuwNieuws, he states that with the addition of the two new state secretaries Ahmed Aboutaleb and Nebahat Albayrak to the Dutch cabinet, the Moroccan and Turkish governments have infiltrated the heart of the Dutch power centre. Instead of the red scare, in Wilders’ eyes we are dealing with an Islamic one.

Wilders' wild man act in the House of Chambers is entertaining and receives public attention but is it politically moral or even correct considering the personal abuse inflicted? What happened to civility in the Chamber? Are there no limits?

And what about the voice of the large coalition parties? Of course it was said that the politicians discredited by the PVV, are exemplary symbols of integration and Arib will probably be allowed to continue her advisory work for the Human Rights Council in Morocco. But why hasn't Premier Balkenende and/or his party spoken up about the coalition’s position on this topic? What is with the silence?  Do the coalition partners secretly fear that their grassroots support quietly agrees with Wilders?

No wonder Aboutaleb made the comment on provincial Election Day that he had never felt so unsafe in the Netherlands as in the past days. In reply to Geert Wilders' motion of no-confidence, he referred to the "undercurrent in Dutch society that does not want me here." 

Considering the poll taken by Maurice de Hond, you cannot just wave away Wilders and his nativist agenda. He is supported by an increasing larger group in the Netherlands. As Expatica mentioned earlier, the electorate seems to be rewarding Wilders for the commotion he has stirred up. A poll from Maurice de Hond estimated that if the Freedom Party had participated in the provincial elections, it would have received 14 seats, five more than it actually holds in Parliament at the moment.

PvdA Publicist and Professor Paul Scheffer of the University of Amsterdam (www., describes Wilders' insinuation that dual nationality and loyalty to the Netherlands are not compatible, as "fatally confusing". Maybe this is what you get when you have a party (PVV) which is not backed by professors. In a recent Volkskrant article, liberal conservative Bart-Jan Spuyt, the founder of the conservative think tank Edmund Burke Stichting, says that Wilders’ approach "dirties the Islam debate which is a crying shame".  Wilders "prefers to be surrounded by flunkeys instead of heavyweights," according to Spuy.

Scheffer does plead for a rational debate around the issue of having dual nationality and holding a high political position. The whole debate around dual nationality is a real 'can of worms'. You can’t exactly allow some nationalities dual citizenship and others not. Also some countries, such as Morocco, don’t allow their citizens to relinquish their nationality, making dual nationality inevitable.
*quote1*As a reader of Expatica, Mark Kallmeyer, pointed out, the United States (a country where massive immigration takes place) might frown upon dual nationality but the US Supreme Court has ruled it unconstitutional to enforce such a law. The

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