February 23, 2009

Geert Wilders in the US (updated)

“Oriana has always been my idol, my point of reference, and I am proud to receive this award,” Geert Wilders said in an interview with Il Giornale (in Italian) the day before receiving the “Premio Oriana Fallaci” (Oriana Fallaci Award, see here his acceptance speech). Asked how he felt about the UK government’s decision to ban him from entering the country, he said: “It was a scandalous event and Gordon Brown is the greatest [ “*” … what follows is a “compliment” with reference to the presumed lack of courage by the UK Prime minister] of Europe. This is what I was expecting from Jordan and Indonesia, where I am persecuted because of Fitna, not from England.”

Now, Geert Wilders is about to fly to the United States from Rome. He is scheduled to make public appearances in Washington this week, including a Feb. 27 press conference at the National Press Club. The chief sponsor of the event, reports Newsweek magazine, is Frank Gaffney, the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., a prominent neoconservative think tank.

Geert Wilders, writes the National Review, “is the latest victim” of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), an “enormous world machinery,” a unique organization with no equivalent in the world, which unites the religious, economic, military, and political strength of 56 states and whose aim is to punish and suppress any alleged Islamophobia, around the world but particularly in Europe :

In its efforts to defend the “true image” of Islam and combat its defamation, the organization has requested the UN and the Western countries to punish “Islamophobia” and blasphemy. Among the manifestations of Islamophobia, in the OIC’s view, are European opposition to illegal immigration, anti-terrorist measures, criticism of multiculturalism, and indeed any efforts to defend Western cultural and national identities. The OIC has massive funding from oil sources, which it lavishly spends on the Western media and academia and in countless “dialogues.” It influences Western policy, laws, and even textbooks through pressures brought by Muslim immigrants and by the Western nations’ own leftist parties. Hence, we have seen Kristallnacht-like incitements of hate and murder against European Jews and Israel conducted with impunity in the cities of Europe — where respect for human rights is supposed to be one of the highest values.

This reminds me of a dialogue I had some days ago with one of my readers. The subject, which is very much to the point, was Oriana Fallaci. “Rob, isn’t Fallaci a tad, shall we say, excessive if not distasteful? I’m all for being vigilant but ... there are limits, no?” he told me. I answered him that, in my view, Oriana was a kind of lay prophet who turned out to have been right on all fronts. She was never a right-wing hawk, nor a “fanatic Christian fundamentalist.” On the contrary, she was an agnostic and secularist journalist, trained, so to speak, in the school of facts and objectivity. Of course she was very provocative, and her latest writings—actually a very peculiar “literary genre”—were imbued with a sense of urgency that makes them both disturbing and enlightening. If she was “excessive,” I argued, it was because of the “excessiveness” of our times. Well, actually I find that what happened to Wilders in his own Country and in the UK is “excessive,” as much as what happened in Milan and in Bologna on January 3 was “exaggerated.” And if so many people—here in Italy, as well as in other European countries—who, to speak frankly, are not and have never been extremists, who have always been respectful of other’s religious beliefs, political views, and opinions on life and the world, have become or are becoming aware that it’s time to wake up and to start facing facts, does this mean that they have suddenly become crazed fanatics and extremists?

Geert Wilders is maintaining that Europe's is rooted in the values of Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, and not in Mecca? What is wrong with it? Is this a crime? It would seem so, if we pay attention to some European governments, or the mainstream Western media and their grotesque mischaracterization of Wilders’ unequivocal defense of free speech. “Demonizing Wilders, and imposing de facto limitations on his free speech criticism of Islam—not matter how reasonable his concerns may be—is a task for which our craven, lemming-like media elites are far better suited,” writes Andrew G. Bostom on American Thinker.

Last but not least, to those who pretend that Wilders is an insignificant personality who makes “provocative” statements only in search of fame, along with the above mentioned National Review’s article we can answer that “if his motivation were self-interest, he could do far better by courting the OIC’s favors — as so many Europeans are doing, consciously or unconsciously — rather than risking his freedom and indeed his life.”


Cassandra has interesting updates on Geert Wilders. Here is the clip of Wilders’ interview with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News (the one which Steven mentioned in the comments):

The Wager

While browsing my Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, I found an effective synthesis of the famous Pascal’s wager, so I thought it might be useful—above all for my younger readers—to share at least a portion of the item. Here it goes:

The ancient and popular (or vulgar) view that belief in God is the ‘best bet’, given its classic formulation in the Pensées of Pascal. Suppose that metaphysical argument leaves us knowing nothing about divine matters. Nevertheless, we can ask if it is better for us to believe in God. If God exists then it is clearly better: infinitely better, given the prospect of eternal bliss for believers, and eternal damnation for non-believers. If God does not exist, then we lose nothing, and may even gain in this life by losing ‘poisonous pleasures’. So belief is the dominant strategy. It can win, and cannot lose. The wager is ‘infini-rien’: infinity to nothing.

Pascal knew that you could not just chose to believe because of this kind of consideration, but thought, perceptively, that beliefs are contagious, and you could deliberately deaden you’re your intelligence by choosing to associate with people who would pass their belief to you. You would thus end up believing, and the argument has shown that this is the most desirable strategy.

And to complete the job, here is how the wager is described by Pascal himself in the Pensées (from Wikipedia):

If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible, since, having neither parts nor limits, He has no affinity to us. We are then incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is [...].
[..] "God is, or He is not." But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up. What will you wager? According to reason, you can do neither the one thing nor the other; according to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.
Do not, then, reprove for error those who have made a choice; for you know nothing about it. "No, but I blame them for having made, not this choice, but a choice; for again both he who chooses heads and he who chooses tails are equally at fault, they are both in the wrong. The true course is not to wager at all."
Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since you must of necessity choose. This is one point settled. But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.
"That is very fine. Yes, I must wager; but I may perhaps wager too much." Let us see. Since there is an equal risk of gain and of loss, if you had only to gain two lives, instead of one, you might still wager. But if there were three lives to gain, you would have to play (since you are under the necessity of playing), and you would be imprudent, when you are forced to play, not to chance your life to gain three at a game where there is an equal risk of loss and gain. But there is an eternity of life and happiness. And this being so, if there were an infinity of chances, of which one only would be for you, you would still be right in wagering one to win two, and you would act stupidly, being obliged to play, by refusing to stake one life against three at a game in which out of an infinity of chances there is one for you, if there were an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain. But there is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite.