A Dutch journalist just asked new U.S. Ambassador Pete Hoekstra why he said there are “no go” areas in the Netherlands, where radical Muslims are setting cars and politicians on fire.
Hoekstra denied it, and called the claim “fake news.”
The report cut to a video clip of Hoekstra at a 2015 conference hosted by the David Horowitz Freedom Center saying: “The Islamic movement has now gotten to a point where they have put Europe into chaos. Chaos in the Netherlands, there are cars being burned, there are politicians that are being burned.”
“And yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands,” he added in the clip.
Then things got extremely weird.
When the reporter pressed, Hoekstra denied using the term “fake news,” which he'd uttered moments before.
“I didn’t call that fake news,” he said. “I didn’t use the words today. I don’t think I did.”
Hoekstra was being interviewed by reporter Wouter Zwart for current affairs program Nieuwsuur. The interview is not playing well in the Netherlands. (One sample headline: “The new Trump Ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, lies about his own lies.")
But the former congressman was always going to be a tough sell for one of Europe's most liberal countries.
Though Hoekstra was born in the Netherlands, his family emigrated to Michigan when he was a toddler. He served as a Republican congressman for a decade and a half, eventually chairing the House Intelligence Committee.
In that time, he adopted several positions that are at odds with core Dutch values. Hoekstra is opposed to same-sex marriage and gay rights. In Congress, he voted repeatedly to limit women's rights to abortion. He supports the death penalty and has argued passionately that refugees are a threat to European security.
Hoekstra has given several talks at the anti-Islam American Freedom Alliance, which has also hosted Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders. In 2015, Hoekstra blamed a “secret jihad” for the “chaos” in the Netherlands.
After Trump announced Hoekstra's appointment, Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant observed that Trump “put a Dutchman in the Netherlands — but it is a Dutchman from the Netherlands of the ’50s.”
Of the appointment, liberal politician Sophie in ’t Veld said: “We are looking forward with interest to cooperating with Mr. Hoekstra. We will certainly remind him his roots lie in a country that values tolerance, equality and inclusion. … We expect the representative of our friend and ally the United States to fully and wholly respect our values and to show that respect in all his acts and words.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated where Hoekstra made his remarks.