The sensational conversation of Humo with Filip Dewinter has the advantage of clarity. “One pack of condoms in Africa, in a few years that will mean twenty illegals and ten criminals less in our country,” says the Antwerp VB leader in the interview. It is yet another nasty pearl that he adds to a chain of racist statements, which also includes, among other things, ‘your pension in Mohamed’s pocket’ or the ‘cat born in a fish shop’.
It’s not a one-off slip-up. Dewinter neatly explains what he means: in Africa – in the VB politician’s mind apparently a country and not a continent – there must be birth control in exchange for development cooperation and in an aging Europe, subsidies for large families. And Dewinter is just as good at it when he talks about city neighborhoods: “In some ghetto neighborhoods, the mayor and the police commissioner have been replaced by the imam and the drug baron,” he believes. And so on.
The worst answer that opponents, inside and outside politics, can give is to send the police and the public prosecutor’s office to Dewinter now. The man makes incendiary and offensive statements that can easily be interpreted as a violation of anti-racism legislation. Yet it is not a good idea to combat this political disease through the courts. That would once again push Dewinter into the cherished role of victim and ‘enemy of the establishment’. It is a strategy that will be counterproductive and will gain Dewinter allies he does not deserve.
On the contrary, let us take the statements for what they are: the statements of a man who, as a national list pusher and local party leader in Antwerp, is still a celebrated figurehead of his party. That party, Vlaams Belang, has the ambition to become the largest in Flanders. She hopes to break the cordon sanitary locally and perhaps even in the next Flemish government and participate in governance.
That prospect leads to despair among the competition, which is not even incomprehensible. At N-VA, top politicians such as Bart De Wever and Zuhal Demir sincerely want to do everything they can to avoid cooperation with the radical right, but others have a much more nuanced view about ‘together a majority’. Elsewhere too, opinion makers, entrepreneurs and talk-makers on the right suggest that the cordon may be allowed to collapse after all. By creating the appearance of deradicalization, VB chairman Van Grieken is further fueling doubts.
Filip Dewinter reminds everyone once again how deeply the VB will remain permeated with pure xenophobia in 2023. The doubters who all along said ‘why not?’ have started to think or hope, have received an answer to their question. The idea that the VB is an ordinary party with which an ordinary coalition can be formed is still a dangerous illusion. Filip Dewinter should not be prosecuted because he has made that crystal clear once again. Actually, he should be thanked for it.