Well well well. Stephen Pollard appears to have removed all comments from the two “Vlaams Blok” entries on his weblog (I’ve seen the future: it’s scary and Belgian (The Times) and Facts are facts, whatever the critics might shout).
update: Turns out it’s the fanatics (from both sides of the debate) that have ruined the discussion for the rest of us 🙁
update 2 Turns out Stephen Pollard is a Senior Fellow of a the Centre for a New Europe, a Brussels conservative think tank co-founded by Paul Belien, husband of Alexandra Colen, member of parliament for the Vlaams Blok. One of Paul Belien’s idées fixes is secession, witness “Secessie, kwartaalblad voor de Studie van Separatisme en Directe Democratie”, the magazine he founded (with his wife).
This explains where he got the inspiration for the article. At the very least this obvious conflict of interest should have been declared.
My questions remain:
“…accused me of everything short of paedophilia. (I can’t imagine why that word came to mind when I thought about the Belgian establishment.)”
Well, you’ve just lost whatever credit you had with me there. Would you care to say what exactly you meant by that offhand comment?
And while we’re at it, would you care to list your sources for the Times article? Those that aren’t the Vlaams Blok by way of http://www.flemishrepublic.org (which you quote almost verbatim on a number of occasions), that is.
Pollard of course has every right to refuse or even delete comments on his personal website, but I suspect it was getting embarassing. As I said:
You know, this is actually a good thing. We, as well-informed Belgians, can now see first-hand how lack of information about the realities of a complex situation can make a normally scrupulous journalist write an article that sounds plausible but is in actual fact completely wrong on all possible levels.
And this is Belgium, a country that’s just on the other side of the Channel, well within the same European judeo-christian frame of reference as the UK. And these are facts that can be verified objectively.
Ah well 🙂
And as someone else said:
I agree with you, Michel. 🙂
I’d been revering British journalism until I came accross Mr. Pollard’s piece. What’s the most disturbing, in my view, is that our “hate speech” laws can indeed be criticized – there’s no question about it. There were literally hundreds of ways to defend a certain idea of absolute free speech against the court’s decision. But Mr. Pollard’s chose to take the VB’s arguments for granted. That’s rather embarrassing.
The point is that this is a complex issue, that Stephen Pollard was fed the Vlaams Blok party line, that he apparently–and until proof of the contrary–never bothered to check the facts or talkt to anyone else, and that the Times published the story without any fact checking either.
I wonder if Stephen Pollard realises that Vlaams Blok president Vanhecke (the man who wrote the article at http://www.flemishrepublic.org) made an appearance on the most watched Sunday morning debate programme, triumphantically brandishing the Pollard article and claiming it confirmed everything the Vlaams Blok had been saying?
No, this was a completely irresponsible thing to do, unworthy of a journalist and unworthy of the Times.
Seem to have hit a nerve there.