The Show Trial of Geert Wilders – Part 2

Monday

The following was written by Babs Barron. If you missed Part 1, here it is. Both of these articles were originally published on FaithFreedom.org and are reprinted with permission.

The verdict is in. Geert Wilders, after a three ring circus of a trial in Amsterdam in which he stood accused of anti-Islam hate speech because he called for the Koran to be banned because of the hate speech and incitement to violence in it, just as Mein Kampf is banned in Holland, he has finally been acquitted of the charges against him.

The court ruled that his anti-Islam statements, while offensive to many Muslims, fell within the bounds of legitimate political debate.

Presiding judge Marcel van Oosten said Wilders' claims that Islam is violent by nature, and his calls to halt Muslim immigration and ban Muslim holy book the Koran, must be seen in a wider context of debate over immigration policy. The judge described statements about a "tsunami" of immigrants as "crude and denigrating", but legally legitimate given the wider context and his acknowledgement that those who integrate are acceptable and do not call for violence.

The Amsterdam court said his public statement could not be directly linked to increased discrimination against Dutch Muslims. It found that Wilders' rhetoric was "on the edge of what is legally permissible" but not illegal.

As regards Wilders' 2008 film, Fitna, the judgement said, "Given the film in its whole (sic) and the context of societal debate, the court finds that there is no question of inciting hate with the film...”

The specific charges against Wilders were:

Intentionally offending Muslims
Inciting hatred against Muslims
Inciting discrimination against Muslims
Inciting hatred of non-western immigrants

These have at least one aspect in common: They rely solely upon the subjective experience of those allegedly offended or hated, with the possible exception of the third above and even that is open to debate.

In short, the verdict's message is that just because a person may feel offended — and Islam is very ready to feel offended, even when it is exposed to the same criticisms levelled at other faith systems — this cannot necessarily mean that he/she has actually been offended.

That these charges, based on subjective experience as they were, represented the essentials of the case against Wilders and were nevertheless proceeded with at considerable cost to the Dutch taxpayer, highlights the difficulties faced by Western judicial systems in the face of the overemotional and exaggerated sense of entitlement of Islam to be treated as a special case.

Given the distinctly bizarre conduct of the trial, which I have described
elsewhere, the verdict is surprising indeed, for from the beginning it seemed that the court was determined to find Wilders guilty.

Whatever one may think of Wilders' politics there can be little doubt that he was singled out for particular opprobrium. Why? Because he dared openly to criticise what he sees as the malign influence of Islam in the West and particularly in his native Holland, as evidenced by more vocal Muslims' slavish adherence to its hate-filled scriptures.

It is customary for western media, most of which have lost touch with reality or any sense of ethics, to inveigh against the influence of the so-called Jewish/Zionist lobby but why is it that we hear not one peep from them about the Muslim lobby whose influence seems so strong in Holland that a democratic legal system continued to persecute Wilders? If the travesty which passed for Wilders' trial was not unduly influenced by Muslim pressure, then why had the Dutch judiciary taken leave of its collective senses to persist in this venture?

Could it have been to open the charges to such scrutiny (sunlight, of course, being the best disinfectant) and to create such a strong precedent that no future legal action based on beliefs-as-facts rather than on objective evidence and based on the Muslim hair-trigger sense of grievance and their demand to be treated as a special case rather than to take their place among other citizens of Holland and to be treated only as fairly as those other citizens are treated, can ever again see the light of day in a Dutch court?

Or could it simply have been that the very conduct of the trial rendered a "guilty" verdict untenable and it would very easily be overturned on the appeal which would surely follow?

I would welcome readers' opinions.

This verdict, although eminently sensible and just, is but a small victory in the battle against Islamist and other supremacist belief systems. In spite of it there can be no doubt that double standards still prevail in the West as regards the licence afforded to Islam to insult and deride other faiths or beliefs without let or hindrance, as opposed to the iron fist which could descend if any in the UK for example should ever criticise Islam in the way in which Wilders did.

All Western governments, and European governments in particular, have been groomed into fear of giving offence by the overreaction of Muslims to any perceived criticism. The more cunning among Muslim leaders will continue play upon the emotional discomfort of our politicians' cognitive dissonance and their fear of being thought to be politically incorrect, which confuses and prevents them from speaking out against Islamic excesses and overinflated sense of entitlement.

Thus, bit by bit, Islam will still try to make our laws malleable to suit its purpose. It has been allowed to do that because of the cowardice of our leaders in the face of threats of violence, their lack of understanding of the true meaning of
multiculturalism, and their woeful naiveté in failing to perceive Islam's true intentions even when these are being played out before them.

Although the verdict has set a welcome precedent for the right to freedom of expression in Europe and in the West, I believe that there is still a long way to go before the overinflated demands of Islam, which it believes it has the right to impose on the rest of us, can be contained. We dare not take our eye off the ball. We need to remind our leaders of the outcome of this trial and of the money wasted in the continuing of it against the advice of prosecution counsel, whenever they attempt to silence justified criticism in future of Islam's attitude to other faiths, to its women, and of its exaggerated sense of entitlement and hair-trigger sense of grievance.

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Geert Wilders Cleared of All Charges!

Thursday

This from Sky News: A Dutch court has cleared Geert Wilders of inciting hatred, and his anti-Islam comments were deemed legitimate political debate.

Geert Wilders said he was "incredibly happy" after being cleared of all charges. The MP faced five counts of inciting hatred among Muslims following his controversial statements attacking Islam, which he compared to Nazism.

But the court ruled his comments, while offensive to many Muslims, fell within the bounds of legitimate political debate and cleared him of all charges.

Presiding judge Marcel van Oosten said Mr. Wilders' public claims must be seen in a wider context of debate over immigration policy.

Outside the courtroom, Mr Wilders said he was "incredibly happy" with the decision. "It's not only an acquittal for me, but a victory for freedom of expression in the Netherlands," he said. "Fortunately you're allowed to discuss Islam in public debate and you're not muzzled in public debate. An enormous burden has fallen from my shoulders."

Mr. Wilders is widely known for his anti-Islam message, calling for a halt to Muslim immigration and to ban the Islamic faith's holy book, the Quran.

Soon after he made the comments he had to be put under police protection following a number of death threats.

Before proceedings got under way last year, he claimed: "I have said what I have said and I will not take one word back." He argued his statements represent the views of millions of Dutch voters and they are protected by freedom of speech law.

Mr. Wilders also claimed the charges against him were politically motivated and his trial was adjourned last year after he accused the judges of bias.

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If the Majority of Muslims Are Peaceloving People, Do We Really Have Anything to Worry About?

Saturday

On one side of the debate, we have people who say, "The majority of Muslims are peaceloving people." The implication is that because of this, we can all just relax, because the growing presence of Muslim people in our midst is not a problem. On the other side, we have people who say Islam is a totalitarian, aggressive ideology that has already made inroads into Western countries with the aim of usurping our governments and replacing our laws with Sharia.

It's possible both sides are correct. Let me explain.

First of all, I think everyone can agree that there are a few dedicated jihadists who commit violence in the name of Islam. They are not "peaceloving people" by anyone's definition but their own. They may think of themselves as peaceloving because they think that once the whole world has submitted to the rule of Islam, the world will be at peace. But the methods they use to achieve that peace are car bombs, beheadings, and flying planes into buildings.

There are also a number of Muslims committed to forcing Sharia law on the world by rioting and the threat of riots. These are the ones who protest and riot when a Danish cartoonist publishes cartoons about Muhammad, for example. The ensuing riots killed 187 people. It is a violation of Muslim morality to draw Muhammad or to criticize him, and the violence intimidated many others in Western democracies into restraining themselves from re-publishing those cartoons, and in this way, the threat of violence enforced Sharia law on Western democracies.

The same thing happened with Draw Muhammad Day on Facebook, and with the pastor who burned a Koran. The violence and threat of violence by Muslims around the world affected the behavior of people in free countries, curtailing their freedom. The end result is the enforcement of Sharia law in Western democracies — not by changing what is written in the lawbooks, but by scaring people into doing what orthodox Muslims insist non-Muslims must do.

The people doing the rioting may, in fact, be "peaceloving people" in their daily lives in the opinion of everyone who knows them. It could be argued that everyone has a breaking point; anyone can lose their temper if the offense is great enough, and perhaps they love their Prophet or their Koran so much, that criticizing him or burning it was just too much for them to stand, so they went berserk, but really they are just normal, peaceloving Muslims in the rest of their lives.

Another sizable percentage of Muslims are dedicated to legally and nonviolently gaining concessions for Islam within Western democracies. They are pressing for halal food in public schools, pressing for Islamic limits on free speech (pressing for censorship in the media so Islam is never criticized — see some examples here). They are doing it in individual countries, and they're also doing it at the UN. The Organization of the Islamic Conference is the largest voting block in the UN and they are putting pressure on the rest of the countries to impose worldwide limits on free speech — the kind of limits Islamic law demands.

All these people working for the legal imposition of Sharia law may very well be peaceloving people.

A very large percentage of Muslims do not protest against the violent ones. Silence implies consent, usually, but they may keep silent out of fear. The violent ones are, of course, capable of violence, and peaceloving people could be afraid to speak out in protest against such violence in the name of Islam. And they may not feel that they have an ideological leg to stand on since the violence is sanctioned by Islamic doctrine and protesting against that violence is prohibited by it.

Another large percentage pay their zakat — it is a mandatory tithe to the mosque. This money is often used for charity (to help Muslims, according to Sharia law, and never to help non-Muslims). This money also sometimes goes to fund jihad. The people paying the zakat may be considered peaceloving people by most standard definitions.

Another group of Muslims are creating avenues for "Sharia finance," which also gives a certain percentage of that money to Islamic charities, some of which also fund jihad. Those who put their money in Sharia financial institutions or pay the fees could be peaceloving people, even though they are, wittingly or unwittingly, helping to finance the killing or subjugation of non-Muslims.

A sizable percentage of Muslims, according to polls, wish to have some measure of Sharia law, including things like Islamic limits on free speech and the death penalty for apostates (Muslims who leave Islam). In some places, a majority of the Muslims feel this way. But they do not commit any violence themselves and would be considered by many as peaceloving people.

When Muslims immigrate to Western democracies, they often form "enclaves" — whole areas where primarily Muslims live. The larger the number of Muslims in the area, the more hostile some of them are to the non-Muslims living there, so those non-Muslims move away. More and more Muslims move to the area until it becomes, for all intents and purposes, a small Muslim state within a Western democracy.

These enclaves are creating "no-go zones" where legitimate law-enforcement officers are reluctant to go, or where legitimate government authorities bend to the Muslims' demands (for fear of violent reprisals). There are more enclaves and no-go zones in Western democracies with every passing year in Sweden, France, Germany, and many other European countries. The United States just got its first Muslim enclave.

Wherever Muslims gain a sizable majority, the most dedicated among them begin pushing for local manifestations of Sharia law.

But it would probably be correct to say that most of the people who move to a Muslim enclave from a Muslim country are peaceloving people. They are just families who are moving to an area where they have relatives, and they want nothing more than to raise their children and be happy.

Let us assume they don't know much about Islamic doctrine, and even if they do, they have chosen to quietly ignore the violent or political parts of it. They are still unwittingly helping to accomplish Islam's prime directive in many ways — they are helping those who are actively trying to convert Western democracies into Islamic states — even if they don't mean to.

Muslims around the world have lots of children. Some of them immigrate to Western democracies and go on welfare, so the raising of their children is being paid for by the non-Muslim taxpayers. But most of these people are probably not violent. They raise their children, telling them that they are Muslims and that the Koran is the word of Allah, but they don't explain to their children the political mandates of Islamic doctrine.

When the kids become teenagers, some of them are susceptible to recruitment by the more orthodox (politically active or violent) Muslims because the teenager has already been primed — a primary identity they have is "I am a Muslim" and the recruiter only has to say, "read your Koran and discover your obligations." And so we see that second-generation Muslims in Western democracies are more likely to become jihadists than their parents, even though their parents are peaceloving people.

This is another way peaceloving Muslims are unwittingly helping jihadists accomplish their mission.

Another couple of groups I should mention are Muslim leaders and oil billionaires. There are quite a few prominent Muslim leaders who exhort their followers to pursue Islam's prime directive. These are not isolated leaders with little influence and few followers. These are heads of state and influencial people with huge numbers of followers (read more about them here).

And there are Muslim billionaires (primarily Saudi Wahhabis) who are pouring their money into building mosques and madrassas all over the world. They fund 90 percent of the world's Islamic institutions. Unfortunately, they are promoting Wahhabism, which is a branch of orthodox Islam — dedicated to jihad; dedicated to Islam's prime directive; dedicated to eliminating all democracies and establishing Islamic law for all people. This is not as impossible as it sounds. The world is far more Islamic today than it was even 20 years ago.

These oil billionaires have built and maintain most of the mosques in the United States and Canada, for example, and 80 percent of these mosques are actively promoting jihad (read more about that here). Promoting the violent overthrow of the government by jihad or any other means is against the law, but it is overridden by the protection of religious freedom. Because the jihad they preach is not extraneous to their religious teachings, but inherent in them, freedom of religion has protected them.

The oil billionaires and the Muslim leaders may have never done anything violent in their lives, and may only want a peaceful Islamic world, so they may be "peaceloving people" by most peoples' definitions.

One final idea we should consider is that it doesn't take a majority to cause serious trouble, which means that if the majority of Muslims are peaceful, it would be irrelevant (read more about that here).

So let's get back to our original question: If the vast majority of Muslims are peaceloving people, do non-Muslims really have anything to worry about?

Yes we do.

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$115 a Barrel For Oil is Too Cheap

Wednesday

It's too cheap, at least according to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Millions of Americans would disagree.

The Iranian state news website quoted Ahmadinejad on oil's value on Friday while attending an international petrochemical exhibition in Iran:

"Oil at $115 dollars a barrel in today's market is a deceiving figure, oil is a strategic commodity and should find its real value."

This week the contract price for crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange ended on a record close of $116.69 dollars a barrel on Friday. It had earlier reached an all-time record peak price of $117 dollars earlier in the day. Some predict that oil will reach $150 a barrel this year.

Higher crude prices will cause even higher gasoline prices in the coming days and weeks forcing higher food and consumer goods costs and pain at the gas pumps for millions of Americans.

- Originally posted on Food and Fuel America.

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If You Have a Gas-Only Car, You're Already Paying Jizya

Tuesday

Americans paid $80 billion for oil in 1999 and they paid $900 billion ten years later. This is equivalent to a "33 percent increase in income taxes across the board."

The cause of this increase is OPEC. When they decide on their production levels, it is for the purpose of raising or lowering the world price of oil. They have chosen again and again in the last ten years to raise it.

We're paying a lot more now than we were paying then — for the same product. It doesn't seem like we've been spending that much on gas, but the money we pay for oil doesn't only go into our own car's gas tank. The "income tax" is across the board. Rising oil prices increase the cost of everything shipped somewhere, which means just about everything.

And just like in Muhammad's time, they are using the kafirs' jizya to pay for jihad.

In the article, Achieving Energy Victory, Robert Zubrin writes:

Until the Saudis started racking up billions in inflated oil revenues in the 1970s, the Wahhabi movement was regarded by Muslims the world over as little more than primitive insanity. Without rivers of treasure to feed its roots, this horrific movement could neither grow nor thrive.

It is the Saudis’ unlimited funds — over $200 billion in foreign exchange earnings in 2006 — that have allowed them to buy up the faculties of the Islamic world’s leading intellectual centers; to build or take over thousands of mosques; to establish thousands of radical madrassas, pay their instructors, and provide the free daily meals necessary to entice legions of poor village boys to attend.

Those boys are indoctrinated with the idea that the way to get into paradise is to murder Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Taoists, and Hindus (not to mention moderate Muslims). Graduates of these academies are today killing American soldiers in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Arab oil revenues have underwritten news outlets that propagandize hatefully against the United States and the West, supported training centers for terrorists, paid bounties to the families of suicide bombers, and funded the purchase of weapons and explosives. We have been subsidizing a war against ourselves.

And we have not yet reached the culmination of the process. Iran is now using its petroleum lucre to fund its nuclear program and to insulate itself from economic sanctions imposed on it. Once produced, Iranian nuclear weapons could be used by the Iranian regime itself or be made available to terrorists to attack U.S., European, Russian, or Israeli targets. This is one of the gravest threats to international peace and stability — and, again, we are paying for it ourselves with oil revenue.

Our responses to these provocations have been muted and hapless because any forceful action on our part against nations like Saudi Arabia and Iran could result in the disruption of oil supplies that the world economy is utterly dependent upon.

We cannot stand up to our enemies because we rely upon them for the fuel that is our economic lifeblood. We pay them for their oil and they make war on us.

In light of these realities, U.S. energy policy for the last three decades has been a scandal. The time has come for change. To liberate ourselves from the threat of foreign economic domination, to destroy the economic power of the terrorists’ financiers, and to give ourselves the free hand necessary to deal forcefully with them, we must devalue their resources and increase the value of our own. We can do this by taking the world off the petroleum standard and putting it on an alcohol standard.

There is a bill in the House of Representatives right now that aims to do just that. Please go to OpenFuelStandard.org right now and find out how you can help put America on an alcohol standard.

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A Heartwarming Picture

Saturday

This is a billboard in Memphis Tennessee. Click on the picture to see it larger.

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The Show Trial of Geert Wilders – Part 1

Thursday

The following was written by Babs Barron, first published on Faith Freedom International:

Definition -
show trial - a trial held for show; the guilt of the accused person has been decided in advance.

Some background:

Geert Wilders is a Dutch politician who is outspoken about the influence of Islam in Dutch society, a point of view which has attracted much support there as well as opprobrium.

Wilders has campaigned to stop the "Islamisation" of Holland. He compares the Qu'ran with Mein Kampf in terms of the violence it advocates against Jews and other non-Muslims who refuse to convert to Islam, and has campaigned to have the book banned in Holland. Even more contentiously, he advocates ending immigration from Muslim countries, and supports banning the construction of new mosques. He was a speaker at the "Facing Jihad" Conference, in Jerusalem in 2008, which discussed the dangers of jihad, and has called for a hard line against what he called the "street terror" exerted by minorities in Dutch cities. His controversial 2008 film about his views on Islam,
Fitna, received international attention and placed his life in danger from Islamists.

Wilders has been quoted as saying about Islam, and the reader will note the distinction made between Islam as an ideological system and Muslim people:

"Islam is not a religion, it's an ideology, the ideology of a retarded culture. I have a problem with Islamic tradition, culture, ideology. Not with Muslim people."

And about the Qu'ran:


"The Koran (sic) is a fascist book which incites violence. That is why this book, just like [Adolf Hitler's] Mein Kampf, must be banned. The book incites hatred and killing and therefore has no place in our [Dutch] legal order."

He is not alone in his perception of and conclusions about the Qu'ran. Dr Wafa Sultan, in her book "A God Who Hates" writes:

"…God, as described in the Koran…is highly strung, violent by temperament, lacking in foresight, capricious, fearful of being disobeyed or gainsaid. His fear is reflected in the nature of his commands, and he attacks without mercy and avenges himself evilly upon those who rebel against him …." (p174)

Elsewhere in the book she takes the longest chapter of the Qu'ran ("The Cow" 2:1 – 286) and points out that kill and its derivatives appears at least twenty-five times in a chapter which is no more than fifty pages long.

The difference between the circumstances of Dr Sultan and those of Geert Wilders is that Sultan lives in the USA, where freedom of expression is still prized, whereas Wilders lives in a country where Islam has been allowed to make its presence felt in a combative, threatening way. Dutch laws cannot, will not protect him from the threats against his life because he spoke out against the influence of Islam in Holland but allows those who threaten him to walk free. The Dutch record in that regard is woeful:

Pym Fortuyn, Wilders' friend and a fellow politician, was murdered for expressing negative views about Islam, as was Theo Van Gogh, another friend of Wilders, who made a film about the treatment of women in Islam. Mohammed Bouyeri shot Van Gogh eight times as he was cycling to work in the early morning of 2 November 2004, and Van Gogh died on the spot. He also tried to decapitate him with one knife and stabbed him in the chest with another. The two knives were left implanted; one attached a five-page note to his body. The note (translated at the link) threatened Western countries, Jews and Ayaan Hirsi Ali (who went into hiding). It also referred to the ideologies of the Egyptian organization Takfir wal-Hijra.

The Trials

Dutch prosecutors, as far back as June 2008, had initially refused to bring charges against Wilders, arguing that he was protected by the right to freedom of speech and that he had spoken out not against Muslims per se, but against the threat to Dutch society posed by the growing assertiveness of Islam in Dutch political and social life. Nevertheless on 4th October 2010, Wilders went on trial in Amsterdam charged with "sowing hatred" after an Appeals Court ruling. The nonsensical nature of such a trial on such a charge was pointed up by Soern Kern.

That first trial unexpectedly collapsed in disarray on its final scheduled day of hearings after Dutch newspapers reported that Tom Schalken, one of the judges who had ordered Wilders to stand trial, had dinner with Hans Jansen, a leading Dutch expert on Islam who also happened to be a defense witness. Jansen said that Schalken had improperly tried "to convince me of the correctness of the decision to take Wilders to court." (An English-language translation of Jansen's accusations can be found here.)

After the allegations about Judge Schalken's behaviour came to light, Wilders' counsel asked the court to summon Jansen so that he could be questioned and cross-examined, but the court refused. In response, Wilders' counsel formally protested that the judges were biased against the defendant and should be dismissed; he also called Schalken's contact with Jansen "scandalous."

A separate review panel was then convened to consider the complaint, which it upheld by ordering a retrial with new judges. Judge G. Marcus said the panel understood Wilders' "fear that the court's decision displays a degree of bias ... and under those circumstances accepts the appeal." At the time, Wilders — who had called the trial a farce, a disgrace and an assault on free speech — welcomed the decision, saying: "This gives me a new chance with a new fair trial."

At the same time the prosecution renewed their requests for the case to be dropped. In spite of this, however, on 23rd May 2011 presiding judge Marcel van Oosten refused their requests saying Wilders' "right to presumption of innocence had not been violated."

The trial proceeded smoothly from then on, although natural justice and proper procedures had been and were still being circumvented or ignored, see below 1. Finally on 1st June 2011 Wilders made his final speech to the court.

The court's verdict is awaited shortly. Given the three ring circus aspect of the trial, Wilders may well be found guilty and if so could face prison and a large fine. The implications of a guilty verdict for freedom of speech and thought in Holland and elsewhere in Europe and the West are almost too dire to contemplate. The conduct of this case from beginning to end offers yet more evidence, if evidence is needed, of the double standards which obtain in the West about Islam, where a supremacist ideology is allowed to engage in hate speech and violence almost without let or hindrance just because it feels that it is not sufficiently respected, and yet is allowed to stifle disagreement by using the protection of Western democratic process, which it openly rejects, to defend itself against the consequences of what it has said and how it behaves.

Footnotes:

Wilders' counsel was not allowed to cross examine Hans Jensen, a Dutch expert on Islam, about his allegation that he had been approached by one of the trial judges, Tom Schalken, and about other aspects of the trial which had discussed, actions which were in themselves inappropriate.

Also at that first trial, before the judges were finally replaced because of Schalken's inappropriate behaviour, Wilders' counsel had requested that they be removed and announced that Wilders would maintain his right to silence throughout the trial unless they were. Jan Moors, the then presiding judge then noted that Wilders had been accused of being "good in taking a stand and then avoiding a discussion" of the issue. "By remaining silent, it seems you're doing that today as well," he said. The judge had no right to voice such an opinion.

Witnesses:

Wilders' counsel requested 18 witnesses in his defence. These witnesses fell into three categories: renowned legal experts on freedom of speech; experts on Islamic ideology; and jihadist “experiential experts,” such as the killer of Theo van Gogh. The first category of witnesses would argue that harsh critique or rejection of a religious group by a politician is legal, as long as there is a factual basis and a public interest in the things he says. The second category of experts would state that the Koran and Islam form a violent and totalitarian ideology. The third group of witnesses would testify they observe Islamic law by practicing jihad. The court rejected all but three of the eighteen, including the entire third group, (of which one was to have been Mohammed Bouyerie, the convicted murderer of Theo Van Gogh). The testimony of those accepted, which included Dr Wafa Sultan, was heard in camera.

By hearing so few experts on Islam, the court showed no interest in learning the facts about the religion which could define Islam as a totalitarian threat to Dutch open society. This would have given Geert Wilders the legal right to speak out against it outside of parliament.

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Keeping the Saudis Wealthy

Wednesday

The following is an article by Gal Luft in the Baltimore Sun:

At a time when Americans are engaged in a heated debate about cutting domestic social services and entitlement programs, we are forced to fund more and more social programs — for other nations. How so?

In February, after seeing fellow Sunni Muslim regimes destabilizing throughout the Middle East, Saudi King Abdullah rushed back from New York, where he was recovering from a back injury, to the kingdom to stave off any potential spillover. After all, if Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had been ousted, anyone could be. In an attempt to pacify its subjects, the House of Saud announced a "stimulus package" that included an increase in subsidies, a 15 percent salary raise to all government employees, and housing benefits to military and religious groups in exchange for support of his ban on protests.

In total, $133 billion was committed — equivalent to 86 percent of the Saudi regime's $154 billion 2011 budget approved before the disturbances. (For the sake of comparison, the $787 billion economic stimulus plan implemented by the Obama administration constituted 25 percent of the U.S. federal budget.) Saudi Arabia is not the only country where money was used to pacify disgruntled masses. Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Ahmad Al Sabah increased his country's budget liabilities by nearly 10 percent, committing to provide each of the country's 1.12 million citizens some $3,572. In addition, he offered citizens free essential foodstuffs for one year, at the cost of $1 billion.

Why should we care about this? Because — thanks to the inflexibility of our gasoline-dependent energy system — the bill for keeping these Persian Gulf monarchies in power is now being footed by every American.

Saudis and Kuwaitis pay no income tax, and oil revenues provide 90 percent of the government's money. For years, the Saudis, who de facto control the OPEC oil cartel, have ensured that oil revenues are sufficient to balance their budget and ensure cradle-to-grave services to their booming population. When the budget grows, so does the need for higher per-barrel prices. According to a recent Bloomberg survey of oil analysts, the expensive response to the protests increased the break-even price of oil by an extra $15.50 per barrel. No wonder that the Saudis announced last month a production cut of 800,000 barrels per day, despite the fact oil prices are above $100.

The premium on the price of oil exacted by the increase in Gulf social spending adds about 35 cents to the price of a gallon of gasoline Americans pay at the pump, or roughly $6 per fill-up. Since oil goes into everything we buy, from food to plastics, propping up the House of Saud could add $1,500 annually to the expenditures of the average American family.

Buckets of ink have been spilled trying to explain high oil prices. Members of OPEC have laid the responsibility on anything from market speculation to the weakness of the dollar and the Federal Reserve's monetary policies. These all may have some impact, but the reality is much plainer: The price of crude is the price the Saudis need to exact from their clients to balance their budget.

The Saudi birthrate is among the highest in the world. With 40 percent of the population under age 15, this means that the pressure on the House of Saud to generate ever more oil revenues will only grow. So will the amount of wealth countries around the world, rich and poor alike, will be forced to transfer to authoritarian regimes that buy their legitimacy with our money.

This scandalous practice will last as long as the new cars rolling onto U.S. roads can run on nothing but oil-based fuel.

The bipartisan Open Fuel Standard Act was introduced recently by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, Republican of Western Maryland, along with his colleagues Reps. John Shimkus, an Illinois Republican; and Eliot Engel and Steve Israel, both New York Democrats. It would ensure that cars sold in the U.S. are opened to fuel competition so drivers can compare prices per mile and make on-the-fly choices between gasoline or diesel and nonpetroleum fuels made from natural gas, coal and biomass.

The wholesale price for methanol, a natural gas-derived alcohol, is $1.28 a gallon — without any subsidies. As methanol packs less energy per gallon than gasoline, a consumer would pay $3.25 to travel the same distance, well below the current national average of $3.95 for gasoline. Other fuels, such as ethanol, compressed natural gas and electricity, are also fully competitive with gasoline. But unless we have choice at the pump, we will not be able to enjoy their lower cost — and sclerotic regimes will continue to use our money to bribe their subjects to prevent them from storming the palaces.

Gal Luft is executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security. He is co-author of "Turning Oil into Salt: Energy Independence through Fuel Choice." His email is luft@iags.org.

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A Tremendous Resource

Saturday

Bill Warner, of Political Islamspeaks about Islam in the fifteen-minute video below from the first inaugural Signature Series event in Nashville, Tennessee:


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The Final Remarks of Geert Wilders at His Trial in Amsterdam, June 1, 2011

Wednesday

Mister President, members of the Court,

I am here because of what I have said. I am here for having spoken. I have spoken, I speak and I shall continue to speak. Many have kept silent, but not Pim Fortuyn, not Theo Van Gogh, and not I.

I am obliged to speak. For the Netherlands is under threat of Islam. As I have argued many times, Islam is chiefly an ideology. An ideology of hatred, of destruction, of conquest. It is my strong conviction that Islam is a threat to Western values, to freedom of speech, to the equality of men and women, of heterosexuals and homosexuals, of believers and unbelievers.

All over the world we can see how freedom is fleeing from Islam. Day by day we see our freedoms dwindle.

Islam is opposed to freedom. Renowned scholars of Islam from all parts of the world agree on this. My witness experts subscribe to my view. There are more Islam scholars whom the court did not allow me to call upon to testify. All agree with my statements, they show that I speak the truth. That truth is on trial today.

We must live in the truth, said the dissidents under Communist rule, because the truth will set us free. Truth and freedom are inextricably connected. We must speak the truth because otherwise we shall lose our freedom.

That is why I have spoken, why I speak and why I shall continue to speak.

The statements for which I am being tried are statements which I made in my function as a politician participating in the public debate in our society. My statements were not aimed at individuals, but at Islam and the process of Islamization. That is why the Public Prosecutor has concluded that I should be acquitted.

Mister President, members of the Court,

I am acting within a long tradition which I wish to honour. I am risking my life in defence of freedom in the Netherlands. Of all our achievements freedom is the most precious and the most vulnerable. Many have given their lives for freedom. We have been reminded of that in the commemorations of the month of May. But the struggle for freedom is much older.

Every day the armoured cars drive me past the statue of Johan de Witt at the Hofvijver in The Hague. De Witt wrote the "Manifesto of True Freedom" and he paid for freedom with his life. Every day I go to my office through the Binnenhof where Johan van Oldenbarneveldt was beheaded after a political trial. Leaning on his stick the elderly Oldenbarneveldt addressed his last words to his people. He said: "I have acted honourably and piously as a good patriot." Those words are also mine.

I do not wish to betray the trust of the 1.5 million voters of my party. I do not wish to betray my country. Inspired by Johan van Oldenbarneveldt and Johan de Witt I wish to be a politician who serves the truth end hence defends the freedom of the Dutch provinces and of the Dutch people. I wish to be honest, I wish to act with honesty and that is why I wish to protect my native land against Islam. Silence is treason.

That is why I have spoken, why I speak and why I shall continue to speak.

Freedom and truth. I pay the price every day. Day and night I have to be protected against people who want to kill me. I am not complaining about it; it has been my own decision to speak. However, those who threaten me and other critics of Islam are not being tried here today. I am being tried. And about that I do complain.

I consider this trial to be a political trial. The values of D66 [a Dutch leftist liberal party] and NRC Handelsblad [a Dutch leftist liberal party] will never be brought before a judge in this country. One of the complainants clearly indicated that his intentions are political. Even questions I have asked in parliament and cooperation with the SGP are being brought as allegations against me by Mr Rabbae of GroenLinks [the leftist Dutch Green Party]. Those on the Left like to tamper with the separation of powers. When they cannot win politically because the Dutch people have discerned their sinister agenda, they try to win through the courts.

Whatever your verdict may be, that is the bitter conclusion of this trial.

This trial is also surrealistic. I am being compared with the Hutu murderers in Rwanda and with Mladic. Only a few minutes ago some here have doubted my mental health. I have been called a new Hitler. I wonder whether those who call me such names will also be sued, and if not, whether the Court will also order prosecution. Probably not. And that is just as well. Because freedom of speech applies also to my opponents.

My right to a fair trial has been violated. The order of the Amsterdam Court to prosecute me was not just a decision but a condemning verdict by judges who condemned me even before the actual trial had begun.

Mister President, members of the Court, you must now decide whether freedom still has a home in the Netherlands.

Franz Kafka said: "one sees the sun slowly set, yet one is surprised when it suddenly becomes dark."

Mister President, members of the Court, do not let the lights go out in the Netherlands.
Acquit me: Put an end to this Kafkaesque situation.

Acquit me. Political freedom requires that citizens and their elected representatives are allowed to voice opinions that are held in society.

Acquit me, for if I am convicted, you convict the freedom of opinion and expression of millions of Dutchmen.

Acquit me. I do not incite to hatred. I do not incite to discrimination. But I defend the character, the identity, the culture and the freedom of the Netherlands. That is the truth. That is why I am here. That is why I speak. That is why, like Luther before the Imperial Diet at Worms, I say: "Here I stand, I can do no other."

That is why I have spoken, why I speak and why I shall continue to speak.

Mister President, members of the Court, though I stand here alone, my voice is the voice of many. This trial is not about me. It is about something much greater. Freedom of expression is the life source of our Western civilisation.

Do not let that source go dry just to cosy up to a totalitarian regime. "Freedom," said the American President Dwight Eisenhower, "has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed — else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die."

Mister President, members of the Court, you have a great responsibility. Do not cut freedom in the Netherlands from its roots, our freedom of expression. Acquit me. Choose freedom.

I have spoken, I speak, and it is my duty — I cannot do otherwise — to continue to speak.

Thank you.

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