Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dutch Member of Parliament
Target of Planned Suicide Attack

The attack was to be carried out by first shooting the political leader, then exploding a van full of explosives. As one commentator put it: "Many innocent people were to die in the chaos."

'All the News We Want to Print?'

This assassination plot is a hot topic in parts of the blogosphere. Geert Wilders is a very conservative political leader in the Netherlands who has clearly-defined and unflattering opinions about Islam.

The planned shooting/van bomb attack may be in the news somewhere, but I haven't been able to find it: not in English-language news, at least.

How come? This item seems to have the elements of 'news' to me:
  • A European political leader, who is
    • Outspoken
    • Relatively photogenic
    • Articulate
    • Deeply committed to one side of a controversial topic
  • This politico is threatened by assassins who have a specific plan
    • Which would involve massive carnage
  • Bonus: The would-be assassins are religious fanatics
And yet, the assassination plot seems to be a non-event that never happened.

We probably wouldn't have heard about it at all, if it weren't for a report that Geert Wilders filed with the Haaglanden police. Politically incorrect bloggers found the report, and have been writing posts on the topic. (Infidel Bloggers Alliance and 1389 Blog - Antijihadist Tech, for example)

To be fair, traditional news outlets have been writing about the Netherlands' Geert Wilders: "In Netherlands, Anti-Islamic Polemic Comes With a Price" in the "Washington Post," (February 1, 2005), for example.

Why Would News Agencies Ignore Wilders' Death Threat?

There are at least three explanations: two reasonable, the other not so much.
  1. As important an assassination plot against Geert Wilders would be to him, personally, and to the Netherlands' politics, news editors may have decided that the event was not interesting enough, globally, to be 'international news.'
  2. There may be no assassination attempt. There may have been no Haaglanden police report. Crazy stories can spread in the blogosphere: as the recent Torrentfreak / Dependent Records SNAFU showed.
  3. Non-Christian, non-EuroAmerican, religious fanatics plotting to kill a very conservative politician who disapproves of their beliefs may not be among the major news agencies' preferred article topics.
These three possibilities aren't mutually exclusive: any two, or all three might be true. The significance of Geert Wilders and the Islamic assassins depends partly on why the press is ignoring it.
  1. The fate of one Dutch politico, and the Hollanders near an exploding van, may not be a major event in the great scheme of things. It may not even be interesting enough to hit the Terneuzen front pages. I'm not sure that this is very likely: Particularly since Wilders' actions to date have been considered newsworthy, and part of what seems to be a sea change in Dutch politics.
  2. Bloggers generally don't have the staff and resources that outfits like the Associated Press, Reuters, and United Press International do. In fact, I don't know of a blogger who does. Worse, many bloggers have more enthusiasm than training in research and analysis. The alleged death threat is plausible, though. Back when the assassination of Theo van Gogh was on more people's minds, the "Washington Post" wrote about Geert Wilders, and online video clips that featured the Dutch politician: " 'He is an enemy of Islam and he should be beheaded,' the narrator of one video clip posted on the Internet says in Arabic, against the crackle of gunfire. Behead him, 'and you will earn a place in paradise.' " Besides that, Netherlands police had found a hit list that included MP Wilders' name.
  3. Unhappily, I think it's possible that news editors may simply not like the story because it doesn't match their vision of the world. Geert Wilders is the sort of person that the American press, at least, does not approve of:
    • Very, very "conservative"
    • White, and intolerant of other ethnic, racial, and/or religious groups
    • Quite successful in making his beliefs known
    The alleged Islamic assassins are people who do seem to be on the 'approved' list:
    • Followers of a non-Christian religion
    • Members of a group whose roots are not in the soil of northwestern Europe
    • Presumably "oppressed" by the religious and ethnic majority of America (and, dare I say it, Europe?)
    If my comments about "3" make you think that my parka hood is a tad too tight, try this:
    As a sort of thought experiment, consider a hypothetical situation, with another cast of players. I'm setting it in America, since I'm more familiar with my homeland's culture. Remember, this is hypothetical: make-believe, if you will.

    Myron X, Black Muslim and Senator from California, is a prominent supporter of Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, and co-sponsor of a bill to remove all immigration barriers. A Simi Valley police report shows that a white supremacist group plans to shoot X, and then detonate a truck-full of explosives at a Conservation Club rally.

    Even if the report was dubious, don't you think that this story would be on the national news - with a good chance of going global?
    I'd like to believe that reason "3" is silly. But I do have the impression that what started as a laudable response to real injustice and prejudice a half-century ago has become a sort of prudish unwillingness among journalists (and others) to discuss the failings of non-WASPs.

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    Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

    Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

    In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.