Pressed on False Claims About Muslims, U.S. Ambassador Goes Silent

“Do you now reach the conclusion that you were wrong when you stated that politicians and cars were being burned?” a reporter asked the ambassador, Peter Hoekstra, in his first news conference with Dutch journalists. “Was that a wrong remark, was it false?”

“I issued a statement, I expressed my regrets and my apology for the comments that I made,” the ambassador replied. “And I am not revisiting the issue.”

.. The ambassador repeated that he did not want to revisit the remarks and that he had expressed his regrets. He then stopped replying, looking silently around the room as journalists continued to question him

.. “Any example of a Dutch politician who is burned in recent years?” one reporter asked.

“This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions,” another said, as Mr. Hoekstra remained silent.

“Please, this is not how it works,” another reporter said.

.. The comments were captured on video, but Mr. Hoekstra denied ever having made them in an interview last month with Wouter Zwart, a reporter with the Dutch news program Nieuwsuur.

.. “I didn’t say that. That is actually an incorrect statement,” Mr. Hoekstra told Mr. Zwart. “Yeah, we would call it fake news.” Shortly after that, in the same interview, Mr. Hoekstra denied having used the term “fake news.”

The Consequences of Trump Being Trump

Many are unmoved by incidents such as the ill-timed “Pocahontas” crack or even the anti-Muslim retweets, because they see the anger over these incidents as an expression of either political correctness or a desire on the part of the media and the Left to silence worries about Islamist extremism.

.. most in the GOP to treat the president’s faults as an acceptable price to pay for putting Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, along with the reversal of many Obama policies and victory over ISIS.

.. Nor has he been able to use the bully pulpit of the presidency to establish an aura of competence or a sense that the country is in good hands. To the contrary, the tweets and the gaffes have fed a narrative that Trump is out of control.

.. With each such absurdity, Trump chips away not only at his own stature but also at the ability of his party to unite Republicans or to win independents and centrist Democrats.

.. The assumption that a Trump presidency could consolidate or expand Republican control of Congress — the necessary predicate for any of the policies or changes that conservatives claim to want to implement — is being undermined primarily by Trump, not the criticisms of his opponents. Each episode of Trump behaving poorly and demonstrating bad judgment — such as the tweets that can be interpreted as an embrace of a conflict with all Muslims rather than just Islamists — obscures his achievements and reinforces the image of his administration as a circus.

.. Trump is providing an otherwise leaderless and intellectually bankrupt Democratic party with exactly what it lacked in 2016: the ability to mobilize its base of minorities and educated whites by giving them a reason to turn out in the kind of numbers they failed to do for Hillary Clinton.

.. If Trump continues to be Trump, and there’s no sign he can be reined in, Republicans are bound to pay a price for it.

France’s Weinstein scandal is also about Islam

“It’s not about the victims, nor even about Ramadan as a sexual predator anymore, but about two clashing views on secularism and the place of Islam in the political debate,”

.. Ramadan — the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, founder of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood — has vigorously defended Muslim communal life in ways that have alienated French intellectuals on the political left and right.

.. Ramadan is sometimes seen as attempting to explain — and even condone — the actions of the attackers

.. As he wrote in 2012: “The young people who join extremist groups are clearly suffering from massive deficiencies in religious knowledge, and are often politically gullible (when they are not attempting to salve pangs of conscience by cutting themselves off from a life of delinquency).”

.. French Muslim leaders have attacked what they see as a double standard: intense public outrage over abuses alleged against a prominent Muslim but nothing comparable in other cases, such as the rape allegation against the former presidential hopeful and International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2011.

.. “We have Islamized a question of law and ethics, if you will. Instead of focusing on the crimes at hand, the trial of one man has become the trial of the entire Muslim community,”

We Are Not the World

From Brexit to Trump to the rise of nationalist parties across Europe, the old division between left and right is giving way to a battle between self-styled patriots and confounded globalists

 Supporters of these disparate movements are protesting not just globalization—the process whereby goods, capital and people move ever more freely across borders—but globalism, the mind-set that globalization is natural and good, that global governance should expand as national sovereignty contracts.

The new nationalist surge has startled establishment parties in part because they don’t see globalism as an ideology. How could it be, when it is shared across the traditional left-right spectrum by the likes of Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair, George W. Bush and David Cameron ?

.. In the 1930s, nationalists were also expansionists who coveted other countries’ territory. Today, Mr. Trump and his ideological allies mostly want to reassert control over their own countries. Their targets are such global structures as the EU, the World Trade Organization, NATO, the U.N. and the North American Free Trade Agreement.

.. Little unites the new nationalists other than their shared antipathy toward globalism. Mr. Trump’s economic program is as far to the right as Ms. Le Pen’s is to the left. Nor do they have credible plans for replacing the institutions of globalization that they want to tear dow

.. In 1957, six European countries signed the Treaty of Rome, creating what would become the EU, hoping that economic and political integration would make war unthinkable.

.. Between 1987 and 2008, total U.S. wages adjusted for inflation rose by 53%, while the profits that U.S. companies earned abroad soared by 347%.

.. President Bill Clinton signed Nafta in 1993 in part to embed a pro-American government in Mexico

.. The late political scientist Samuel Huntington applied the caustic label “Davos man” to those who see “national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing.” For globalists, this was a badge of honor, symbolizing not just an outlook but a lifestyle of first-class departure lounges, smartphones and stock options.

.. In 2000, Mr. Clinton blessed China’s entry into the WTO. Echoing Truman, he predicted China’s membership was “likely to have a profound impact on human rights and political liberty.”

It didn’t. China adhered to the letter of its WTO obligations while systematically violating their spirit with discrimination against foreign investors and products and an artificially cheap currency.

.. Economists warned that Italy, Spain and Greece couldn’t compete with Germany without the safety valve of letting national currencies periodically devalue to offset their faster-rising costs. Sure enough, their trade deficits ballooned, but low-cost euro loans at first made them easy to finance. The loans proved unsustainable, and the resulting crisis has still not run its course.

.. Chinese and German trade surpluses could wreak havoc thanks to expanding cross-border finance. To globalists, its growth was as inexorable as that of trade. In early 2008, President George W. Bush’s treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, put out a report arguing that globalization had made much of U.S. financial regulation obsolete. The priority was to maintain “American preeminence in the global capital markets.

.. Globalists were blind to the nationalist backlash in part because their world—entrepreneurial, university-educated, ethnically diverse, urban and coastal—has thrived as whiter, less-educated hinterlands have stagnated.

.. Many globalists now assume that the discontent is largely driven by stagnant wages and inequality. If people are upset about immigration, they reason, it is largely because they fear competition with low-wage workers.

In fact, much of the backlash against immigration (and globalism) is not economic but cultural

.. in the 1980s, economic issues such as taxes and welfare became less important than noneconomic issues such as immigration, terrorism, abortion and gay rights.

..  voters were bothered less by competition from immigrants than by their perceived effect on the country’s linguistic, religious and cultural norms.

.. Europeans’ opposition to immigration was driven less by pocketbook concerns than by worries about how changes to “the composition of the local population” would affect “their neighborhoods, schools and workplaces.”

.. Yet the new nationalism often thrives on xenophobia. Mr. Trump has been criticizing free trade since the 1980s, but his candidacy took off when he started attacking Mexican immigrants and Muslims. American Jewish groups heard unsettling echoes of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories when Mr. Trump accused Mrs. Clinton of meeting “in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty.”

.. In short, there is ample reason for skepticism about whether the new nationalists can prove themselves a genuinely secular, democratic alternative to globalism.

.. That globalization’s winners can compensate its losers makes impeccable economic logic, but it rings hollow among those too old to retrain or move.

.. globalists should not equate concern for cultural norms and national borders with xenophobia. Large majorities of Americans, for example, welcome immigrants so long as they

  • adopt American values,
  • learn English,
  • bring useful skills and
  • wait their turn.