Letter to the Echo

Dear Editor,

I write in response to Mr Ankersmit’s letter of February 16th 2009.

I also agree that it is wrong to refuse the Dutch MP Geert Wilder entry into the UK. The only way to combat people who hold extremist views is not to ban them, but actually allow open debate. If you stifle debate and hide issues away then we see a rise in votes for extremist parties such as the BNP – where you do not allow for discussion, people will use their vote as a protest.

But this incident with the Dutch MP is not the only attack on our civil liberties by this government. Labour are trying to introduce ID cards which I feel always has the potential to be abused. Attempts to push through 42 days detention with out trial, and also the growth in the database state have been phenomenal.

As Barak Obama said: “We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals”.

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One response to “Letter to the Echo

  1. Richard

    To my view its sadly even worse than you describe it.

    Keith Vaz MP (who as Chairman of the Home Affairs committee was responsible for this decision) had failed even to watch FITNA prior to taking the decision and seemed not to know or understand any of it’s content. In a subsequent Newsnight interview he said there was no limitation to freedom of speech as people were free to travel to Holland to debate the film!?!

    Of course this is somewhat irrelevant since the film itself was shown in parliament albeit without the possibility of calling its producer to account. which seems to me perhaps the most unsatisfactory outcome.

    In addition Labour has acted with effect to magnify public awareness of the man and his views, and to greatly increase the amount of publicity his film received.

    They have also by implication written off the substantial number of British (and even more Dutch) supporters of Mr Wilders outlook as extremist / racist / offensive without in anyway addressing or combating why they have these feelings.

    Ironically one of the big issues in Holland is that people feel that they’re freedom of speech is being undermined, which in turn has stoked the resentment people feel and their consequent support for the “Freedom” Party.

    Labour appear to have acted only to give credence to such arguments – presumably because they recognise that they could not possibly defend their position.

    Lastly, whilst we can all appreciate that this country has no duty to tolerate those likely to incite or cause violence, Geert Wilders was banned on the basis that he might give offense, which to me smacks of far too low a threshold to apply fairly and universally.

    What’s more whilst people may take offense at the (misleading) way in which he presents and links facts / ideas together it’s my understanding that Wilders doesn’t say anything that is strictly ‘untrue’ in the sense that a holocaust denier might. Indeed the fault lies in his attributing an extremist viewpoint (by inference / association) to ‘moderate’ individuals.

    Watch the Newsnight piece here it’s staggering the contempt labour appears to hold dissenting opinions and its well worth 10 minutes of you’re time:

    http://www.wikio.co.uk/video/845871

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