Tuesday, May 07, 2002
A strong article in the London Times on the Fortuyn assassination. This is a big, big story. I'm surprised it's getting such below-the-fold coverage here. It's certainly getting better play in the blogosphere.
It appears at this point that Fortuyn was killed by a white Dutchman. We don't know yet to what degree the hit was political and to what extent it was the action of a deranged individual. This could still be the work of a Dutch John Hinckley, acting out of motives that have nothing to do with politics. But even if that is the case, the killing could have huge repurcussions. Reagan, remember, got a huge boost in popularity from surviving the attempted assassination. That probably made the difference in his ability to ride out the 1982 recession as well as he did. Even if there's no politics involved, Fortuyn's killing could dramatically boost the fortunes of his party, short-term.
If the hit was political, the impact will be much more dramatic. It would presumably have come from the convert Muslim or a radical left-winger. In practice, there's not much difference; the former, in Europe, is a sub-set of the latter. There are already reports of celebrations in immigrant areas, and of riots by white supporters. Whoever grabs hold of Fortuyn's mantle is likely to be less of a maverick and more of a demagogue. Fortuyn made a strong, coherent, liberal case for the defense of European values. He was a liberal, a democrat, and something of a libertarian, but he understood that a common liberal culture underwrites the kind of free society he believed in, and that immigrants must embrace that culture if that culture is not to be torn apart. That's not the only case for defending that culture that can be made, but what are the odds that the next champion will be more liberal, as opposed to less?