Geert Wilders, the Dutch Freedom Party leader and one of the most notorious anti-Muslim bigots in the world, announced that this week two Members of Congress will host him at events in Washington, DC.
Representatives Steve King and Louie Gohmert are reportedly helping provide a platform for Wilders at two events, a breakfast sponsored by the Conservative Opportunity Society, founded by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and later in the day at a reception.
ADL wrote to Representatives King and Gohmert to make sure they know that Wilders’ rhetoric, comparing the Muslim religion itself to Nazism, crosses the boundaries of civility and religious tolerance.
Wilders routinely says “Islam is evil” and calls for the closing down of Muslim schools and mosques, as he did in November 2014 at the most recent David Horowitz Freedom Center Restoration Weekend in Florida. Wilders considers every Muslim an extremist, stating that "according to the Qur'an, there are no moderate Muslims." He further claims that the fact most Muslims are law-abiding citizens and have no connection to terrorism is irrelevant, because Islam is an expansionist and aggressive ideology. His profile as a purveyor of ugly anti-Muslim bigotry went global in March 2008, when Wilders released an online film called Fitna. The film simplistically depicts Islam as a violent religion, interspersing verses from the Qur'an with footage of terrorist violence.
Even a radically anti-Muslim lawmaker like Wilders is entitled to express his opinions. But Americans are entitled to expect their elected representatives to avoid promoting and legitimizing those odious ideas.
Another instance of such derogatory and hateful rhetoric by Members of their caucus about immigrants drew swift condemnation by House Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) and then Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R–VA) as well as Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee Chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC). Speaker Boehner called on legislators to reject hateful comments that he said were “deeply offensive and wrong and said they did “not reflect the values of the American people or the Republican Party.”
We hope Speaker Boehner and the House leadership take note of this page from their own playbook and follow their own example again.
Confronting violent extremism from Islamist movements is an urgent and serious task for governments and lawmakers all over the world.
Providing a platform for the basest kind demonizing of Muslims, or of any faith, does little to make Americans safer. America’s highest ideals of religious liberty and the need to confront terrorism from groups like ISIS and al Qaida with real policy solutions compels Congress to do better.