Former Republican Congressman Peter Hoekstra had a rocky reception as the new ambassador to the Netherlands when reporters raised a false statement that he made in 2015 when he said “the Islamic movement has now gotten to a point where they have put Europe into chaos. Chaos in the Netherlands, there are cars being burnt, there are politicians that are being burnt. And yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands.” When confronted by the reporters that no such chaos occurred, Hoekstra denied making the statement. He insisted “I didn’t say that. That is actually an incorrect statement. We would call it fake news. I never said that … it’s not what I said.” The reporter then played the tape and Hoekstra stumbled with “I didn’t call that fake news. I didn’t use the words today. I don’t think I did.” If Hoekstra thought that that would be the end of it, he was mistaken. This week he held his first press conference and was in for a rude awakening.
Here is that confrontation: Hoekstra interview
Hoekstra has remained silent about the controversy despite the continued outcry among the Dutch media. When Hoekstra called his first press conference at his new residence in the Hague, he hoped the matter was behind him. It wasn’t.
It did not go well. Hoekstra declined to retract the comments or give specific examples to back them up. Indeed, he refused to answer questions. After one reporter failed to get an apology or answer, Roel Geeraedts, a political reporter at the Dutch television station RTL qouted John Adams who was the United States’ first ambassador to Holland. Adams said that his greatest hope is that only “honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.” Then came the killer question: “If you’re truly an honest and wise man, could you please take back the remark about burned politicians or name the politician that was burned in the Netherlands?” Hoekstra simply responded “Thank you.” When Hoekstra tried to move on, Geeraedts said “Excuse me, I asked you a question.”
Another reporter then shouted out “Mr. Ambassador, can you mention any example of a Dutch politician who was burned in recent years?” Hoekstra did not respond.
Another reporter then said “This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions.”
Now that is a novel concept. Too bad it never seemed to make it across the Atlantic.