Jewish World Review May 15, 2002/ 4 Sivan, 5762

Wesley Pruden

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A valuable lesson
in wooden shoes | Volkert van der Graaf will never be a household name in America, but he is making things uncomfortable in certain liberal precincts.

He's the man who shot Pim Fortuyn, the improbable Dutch politician. That wouldn't be so bad, in the reckoning in certain precincts, since Mr. Fortuyn was something of a conservative as conservatives are measured in Europe, but the man who shot him was an environmentalist and animal-rights fanatic.

We all know, or are expected to know, that environmentalists and people who slaughter carrots, murder onions and assassinate eggplants, just to avoid a juicy New York strip (medium rare), are pure of heart, perfectly behaved at all times and serve only the interests of nature.

The wrong man shot Pim Fortuyn. Pity. The New York Times, which seems to regard the arrest if not necessarily the murder as news barely fit to print, describes Mr. van der Graaf in the delicate terms that it accords few murder suspects: "this quiet man," with "a taut, ascetic look," a "strict vegetarian" who has been "consumed by his fight to reduce the suffering of animals reared in industrial quantities for food, fur coats or medical experiments."

Mr. van der Graaf has not been charged with murder, but he has been detained, after an arraignment held in secret, for another 10 days to give government prosecutors time to get their evidence together. Then, the prosecutors say, they will file a murder charge.

For the Dutch, perhaps the most self-righteous of the Europeans (others are contending for that distinction), the fingering of Volkert van der Graaf is just too awful to believe. It's tough on some of our newspapers, too. You can almost feel the quivering reluctance to put the words down on paper.

"For many Dutch," reports Marlese Simons in the New York Times, "almost as shocking as the murder has been the discovery [that] the suspect is an environmentalist, from a movement with a strong following [in the Netherlands]. The news prompted an outpouring of furious e-mails and telephone threats against other environmental groups, whose members fear that a broader hate campaign may be building up." No revulsion here for the hate that drove an environmentalist to murder, merely concern that "a broader hate campaign" may be building up against a movement that produced the "activist" who shot a man in the back five times with hollow-nose silver-tipped bullets, which are designed not only to kill but to eviscerate.

Mr. van der Graaf is identified as a member of an organization called Environment-Offensive, whose name probably tells us something, but Mzz Simons describes it merely as a think tank with lawyers: "Unlike more interventionist groups it fights exclusively through legal action."

Sure it does: When Dutch cops searched the van der Graaf home, they found documents on the hard disk of his computer pointing to links to an arson attack on a factory that produces feed for minks, which grow up to be fur coats, and other documents linking to a succession of attacks on a Dutch poultry farm. A more chilling find, however, were floor plans of the Fortuyn home and the homes of three other Fortuyn candidates for the Dutch parliament. All three men now have the police protection that the government had denied to Pim Fortuyn.

Pim Fortuyn was a puzzle to most Dutchmen, and he probably owes his death to the European hysteria over the mild success of Jean-Marie Le Pen. In the careless media jihad that passes for careful journalism, Mr. Fortuyn was painted with the same brush and in the same ink used to describe Mr. Le Pen. In the media world, precise distinctions are for sissies.

Mr. Fortuyn was painted in the Western media as a racist because he recognized the threat of radical Islam to Western civilization, and a Le Pen clone because he expected arriving immigrants to give up their 12th-century notions of intolerance, repression of women, dehumanizing of homosexuals, and suppression of every religion but their own; to learn the language, get rid of their bigotries and assimilate to their new culture.

Pim Fortuyn was just the kind of figure the dominant media, which gorges on stereotypes, abhors because he couldn't be stereotyped. He was openly homosexual and conservative. He wanted to curb immigration but not, as the sloppier journalists led their readers and viewers to believe, eliminate it. His most fervent support was not from right-wing fuddy-duddies, but from twentysomethings. He typically arrived at rallies in a chauffeured limousine, with a lap dog under an arm.

The murder of Pim Fortuyn, a politically incorrect politician on the verge of success, was inconvenient. (Best not to assassinate politicians, even unsuitable ones.) But the arrest of Volkert van der Graaf, as politically correct as you can get, was a tragedy. How to explain it? If you can't, you don't. There's a lesson here, but the elites may be too thick to learn it.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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