“Any news medium that reports on Baudet [leader of the FvD party, eds] pressing charges for slander and defamation, without mentioning that Baudet wants to purge slander and defamation from the penal code, is complicit in a PR-stunt”. This was the tweet yesterday by Rob Wijnberg [editor of De Correspondent, eds.], regarding charges by Baudet against Ollongren [Dutch vice-premier and interior minister, eds.].
The irony is that this makes Wijnberg also complicit in that PR-stunt.
And now I am too.
Like clockwork: a meta-perspective is written about the disproportionate and unjustified media attention for Baudet, as a result of which the written becomes a direct part of that problem.
In this piece, now, the exact same happens.
We are trapped in it. The man has two parliamentary seats. Nevertheless, he keeps us constantly occupied and fuels the media-and opinion machine.
We smell danger. Understandably. We are triggered by news messages about race theories, about purification and superiority. It cannot be, we think, we believe, that these sort of archaic ideas are back in public discourse. So there is a fuss. So there is attention. The media spirit soothes hunger with it.
But precisely because of that, by spitting out our indignation, by devoting articles to it, we give the discussion, and therefore also its views, legitimacy. If someone claims something nonsensical and you call out “WHAT NON-SENSE”, then you have entered into a conversation. A ridiculous conversation, but a conversation nonetheless. “Is it really nonsense?” you hear someone say, and then another person, and another person.
Having a discussion about something ridiculous makes it increasingly less ridiculous. At first you are still stunned that you are having it at all, and then the bewilderment ebbs away.
And so it gets bigger. We all float on a wave heading for something ugly. The wave swells and looks more and more dangerous. Helplessly, we are dragged along. There are no arguments, opinions or articles that can stop the wave. On the contrary: they only make the wave bigger. I also hereby made the wave even stronger.
There is no way back. “Ignore him!” some call out. But it is no longer possible. Even by “Ignore him!” you give him attention. We’re stuck. The media beast must eat. Twitter continues to shit. Facebook continues to puke. Opinion pages must be filled.
There is no innocent, sober, intellectual meta-way to write about Baudet. No matter how far you zoom out, as soon as you write about him you become a dot on the terrain you tried to map.
Notes Originally published online on 5 February 2018 on www.henkvanstraten.nl/de-golf/. Translated from Dutch by Eva Sancho Rodríguez.