The Dutch political establishment is freaking out about the (unconfirmed) return of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, of "Infidel" and "Submission" fame, the woman that the Netherlands was too small to hold.
As the story is being told by Dutch media, she's returned because the Dutch Cabinet refused to foot her security bill in the United States any longer.
It's impossible to know whether there's any scandal or ineptitude on the part of the Dutch government _ this time _ until we know the actual facts of the case, which so far have been noticeably lacking. No one in a credible position to know _ such as herself, her publicist, or the American Enterprise Institute _ has even publicly confirmed that she's back. That's kind of ridiculous, with Parliament demanding answers as to the circumstances of her return.
However, the Dutch government has certainly blundered in the past because of the institutional inexperience here at dealing with people whose life is under threat, and I take the confusion itself as evidence that it is doing so again.
after the murder of 'Submission' filmmaker Theo van Gogh, they had to put lawmakers Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders in unused prison cells to guarantee their safety. If that's not the world turned upside down _ politicians in prison, while the people threatening them are running free _ I don't know what is!
Everyone remembers the episode where Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk attempted to yank Hirsi Ali's passport (and I know how she feels) as the reason why she left the country.
But in fact, the real, immediate reason for her departure in 2006 was that her "Not In My Backyard" neighbors in the Hague had successfully sued to have her booted.
They argued that it wasn't fair that they had to put up with black limousines and bouncers coming and going at all hours of the day and night. If you put yourself in their shoes, that's actually not that hard to sympathize with.
So, the government should have a) seen it coming, b) arranged alternate accommodations and c) figured out ways to protect her while being less obtrusive in the meanwhile.
Other rookie mistakes: the Dutch OM (=Public Prosecutors=District Attorney) started to pull prosecutor Koos Plooy _ whose life was being threatened _ off a high profile case because it was getting to be too much trouble to protect him and his family.
In a similar vein, the OM floated the idea of NOT RELEASING THE NAMES OF JUDGES AND PROSECUTORS in criminal cases, to prevent them from becoming targets.
I trust no explanation of why these "solutions" would only have invited worse problems is needed.
In the U.S., prosecutors almost never need protection because criminals understand, the prosecutors are like interchangeable cogs in a machine, and there is no way to intimidate them into backing off a case. Trying to so only increases your chance of getting caught. That was a fight won the Feds won in the 1930s.
So, while in a better world Dutch politicians would be able to bike to work with no protection, that's not the planet Earth we live on.
Returning to the current situation: if it turns out the government has merely said it doesn't want to pay for Hirsi Ali's protection abroad any more, and given her fair warning that she has to choose between safety in Holland or whatever deal she can strike with American authorities, fair enough. As defenders of the (unconfirmed) governement decision point out, it's impossible for the Dutch government to know the threat level of all of its citizens living in foreign countries and or pay private firms to protect them indefinitely.
On the other hand, if Hirsi Ali is planning to immigrate to the U.S. anyway _ as her Green Card application implies _ the Dutch government could have just paid another $1 million (or $5 million! whatever. How much could it be?) to protect her until the U.S. takes over or she arranges for private security. Why take *another* black eye to the national reputation over Hirsi Ali, when a tiny bit of grea$e would solve the problem?
And, with due respect, there are not thousands of other Dutch Hirsi Ali's out there breaking the bank with their lavish security costs.
Of course, Hirsi Ali isn't above screwing the Dutch government around a little _ especially given that her political party is in the opposition _ in order to swing a better deal for herself. I don't think she's gotten *that* rich off being an author. Or maybe she's just here visiting friends!
We need to hear the full story, and know what her long term intentions are, in order to form an opinion.
But if it does turn out to be a short-sighted blunder on the part of the CDA Cabinet, I sincerely hope that Hirsi Ali decides to stay in the Netherlands. If her career so far is any indication, the political establishment will sorely regret it ever gave her a reason to return.