Repression carried out in the name of tolerance

screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-18-02-08Dalrymple points out that the judge in the Geert Wilders case

had to maintain that the Moroccans were a race, because the law does not recognise nationality or national origin as grounds for legal protection from insult and critical comment. This gave rise to a certain amount of hilarity. If nationality were to be confounded with race, Dutch law would henceforth have to recognize a Belgian race, a Swiss race, etc.

The idea, writes Dalrymple,

that there are certain groups in need of special protection from offence is incoherent and condescending, partaking of the qualities that the idea is supposed to be eliminating from the wicked human mind. The number of human groups that have, or could be, subjected to humiliation, discrimination, or worse is almost infinite. Persecution on economic grounds, for example, has been at least as frequent as persecution on racial grounds. To select a few groups for special protection is irreducibly discriminatory. It is a little like protecting certain species from the ravages of hunters because they are threatened with extinction and unlike other species are unable to protect themselves by fecundity, say, or by camouflage.

A couple of members of the Belgian race

A couple of members of the Belgian race

On the one hand, when Wilders

asks a crowd whether it wants more or fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands, I try to put myself in the position of a Moroccan, or Dutch citizen of Moroccan descent, and imagine what it is like to be regarded by a popular politician, almost ex officio, as a nuisance or a plague, even though all I want to do is to fit in with the society around me. It takes little imagination to understand how uncomfortable it would be.

On the other hand,

it would be incumbent upon me as an immigrant or descendent of an immigrant to try to understand why the majority population might not want their society to be fundamentally altered by immigration and why they might be in favour of a limitation of numbers of immigrants. In fact, it is by no means uncommon for members of immigrant groups themselves to wish such a limitation, for fear of provoking a backlash.

Tact, and imaginative sympathy for others, cannot, says Dalrymple,

be legislated. The clumsy attempt to decree tolerance has inflamed the opposite.

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