May 15, 2002
Correcting Reuters on Fortuyn

The Los Angeles Times carries this Reuters report on the Dutch elections which has a few barbs that need to be highlighted.

The projected outcome was a surprisingly strong victory for the right-wing Christian Democrats

Only in Europe, Hollywood, or the fevered imagination of a reporter's mind could the Christian Democrats (especially in the Netherlands) be considered right-wing. They are centrist, perhaps a bit on the liberal side. The fact that they differ a bit from the Socialists and Labor parties does not make them "right-wing".

Irreverent, charismatic and a dapper dresser, Fortuyn attracted a huge following with his brash but ill-defined policies.

I really have trouble seeing a reporter applying labeling such as this to a left-of-center candidate, if his platform has been the subject of discussions for quite some time in the Netherlands and elsewhere. It wasn't ill-defined, it was ill-received in some quarters.

Although he was seen abroad as a something of a copy of France's Jean-Marie Le Pen, Fortuyn never fit conveniently into the image of "extreme right-winger."

Yet the media insist on applying that label to him, and invite comparison to somebody whose only real resemblance is his dislike of immigrants. Even that is a stretch, as the root cause of their animosity is totally different—Fortuyn feared that unassimilated immigrants will destroy a tolerant multicultural society, while Le Pen rails against immigrants because they are different.

Fortuyn was shot dead in the parking lot of a radio station after an interview on May 6. Police have arrested a 32-year-old animal rights activist whose motive remains unclear.

Hmmmm, maybe because Fortuyn advocated a resumption of the fur trade, and because of his clashes with environmental groups? This appears (at least to me) to be a pretty obvious case of intense dislike for Fortuyn's politics.

posted on May 15, 2002 07:43 PM


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