As someone who is writing against the trend of the current articles in this node, I feel I should include some sort of disclaimer, lest the downvoting begin in earnest.

I am not racist.

There, that's that out of the way. Let's get down to business.

Pim Fortuyn (who I hadn't heard of until his untimely death) was, as far as I can tell, not right-wing. This may come as a shock to people who have read the mainstream media (BBC's coverage was especially narrow-minded), but I hope I've got enough ground to stand on, so I may be able to convince people of this.

Firstly, his stance on immigration. A typically right-wing stance is to close the borders of the country, and kick out any non-native people. While Fortuyn indeed wanted to close the Netherlands' borders, his stance on the current immigrant population was one of integration into Dutch society, so they could be as productive and self-sufficient as any native. If you'll excuse the rhetoric question, how is this right-wing?

Fortuyn's excuse for closing the borders was that the Netherlands are already overpopulated as it is, and with (figures I found from a Google search, they're from the 90's, that's all I can tell) a population density of ~1,000 people per square mile (as a comparison, the rest of Europe (excluding Russia) has a density of ~250 people per square mile), he's got a reasonable point.

Secondly, his desire to remove the anti-discrimination clause from the Dutch constitution - this became a self-fulfilling prophecy. As far as I can tell from interviews, this desire was motivated by the fact that political correctness has gone insane. Open discussion about any subject of a reasonable taboo (race, sexuality, religion, immigration, etc) is shouted down by reactionaries attempting to appear liberal, whereas they're just censoring people's right to free speech.

While I agree that discrimination against a person (because of their sexuality, race, colour, country of origin, etc) is inexcusable, I also can see how current laws (a general policy of "you can't say that!" in western cultures) aren't making the situation any better. Keeping quiet about a problem isn't going to make the problem go away, it's just going to keep getting worse until it can't be ignored anymore, and then it'll probably be too late to do anything about it.

Finally, his views on Islam. Now, this has been a very dodgy subject around Fortuyn, and always the one that comes to the fore when the media is looking for a juicy quote to slap on him. Most 'quotes' (and I use the term loosely, because most of them only actually contain one word that came out of Fortuyn's mouth) go something along the lines of:

'Fortuyn, who described Islam as a "backwards" religion'

Now, while this appears bad, it's also taken out of context to the point that it has absolutely no relevance. Fortuyn was talking about how certain practices in Islamic countries (arranged marriages, persecution of gay people, keeping women as second-class citizens) are completely unprogressive and at conflict with liberal societies.

Now, this is where the minefield begins - how can I say I support freedom of religion (that is, the right for women to choose to be treated as second-class citizens and to choose to be forced to marry complete strangers) and freedom of expression (the right for people to say such practices are fucked-up)?

Easy. People can choose any way of life they want - as long as it doesn't hurt anyone who doesn't agree with it (and if those aren't themselves hurting anyone). So, if the people involved have chosen to be involved in unprogressive stuff, then that's fine. But I think they're idiots. But that's a moot point, and just my opinion.

Anyway, I'm wandering off-topic. So, that only leaves Islam's persecution of homosexuals, which (I hope everyone can support me, here) is fucked up, and an archaic attitude from an era best forgotten. Also, I doubt that the homosexuals in question chose to be persecuted, so freedom of choice isn't an issue. Ergo, Islam's policies can be seen as retrogressive and, in a sense, 'backwards' by our Western values.

I'll sum up. I hope I've shown people that there may be a lot more in what Fortuyn said than the mainstream media would have us believe, and that he's not simply an extremist right-wing bigot.

Two last things - he's openly gay, and when was the last time you read about a gay right-winger? This also means that by removing the anti-discrimination clause he'd be taking away some of his own rights, making him a true hero. Or something. And, the person now in charge of his party is Joao Valera, an immigrant from islands off the west coast of Africa. Now, while he could be a stooge, put in charge of the party in order to make people like me thing that Fortuyn wasn't right-wing, I can't see any evidence for that, and so have to accept that he's innocent until proven guilty.

Oh, yes, the BBC's 'interview' with Fortuyn.

This is a joke, surely? From an interview of (roughly) thirty five paragraphs, eight of those contain any speech from Fortuyn, and half of those are less than four lines long (and half of those are half the width of standard paragraphs, being obscured by a photo of (surprise) Le Pen). Hardly what I'd expect from an in-depth interview with a man who has a lot to prove. The BBC's correspondant seems far more concerned with drawing comparisons with Jean-Marie Le Pen than actually listening to what Fortuyn has to say, which was basically "Stop comparing me to Le Pen!".

Kirsty Lang, the interviewer, tries to undermine Fortuyn's stance by saying (and this is the feature quote of the interview, one that appears in a seperate box, specifically designed to stand out) "Every time I try to speak, he cuts me off and rants". This is surely understandable, because "Journalists keep on ringing him and comparing him to France's Jean-Marie Le Pen", and now another one's doing exactly the same, only in person.

The second section of the interview is occupied solely with the interviewer's predeliction for interior design, as she notes similarities between Fortuyn and Le Pen's residences.

She ignored everything her interviewee has to say, which in my opinion does not make for a good interview.

Her final statement, "You may not be a racist but the people who vote for you are" only goes to show the current state of politics - if idiotic bigots want to vote for a candidate because they misunderstand his policies (or because they have been misinformed by the pigeon-holing antics of the media), then how is that the fault of the candidate? Fortuyn's answer of "So what?" shows that he was one of the very few politicians who is prepared to withstand a backlash for his views, rather than be content with towing the party line.

It's only a shame that his assassin couldn't appreciate that.

Thanks to everyone who's /msg'd me, I've corrected my spelling of 'racist' (I never can remember when the English language inserts a random superfluous letter, like in 'fascist'), and removed (reluctantly, but willfully) the term "XP pack-rape". I can't help it, I've got a weak spot for that phrase.

Oh yeah - I meant 'retrogressive', not 'retroactive'. Thank you active /msgers!