Pete Hoekstra, Donald Trump's choice for ambassador to the Netherlands, completely failed in his first day on the job as reporters grilled him on bigoted anti-Muslim conspiracies he pushed.
Donald Trump’s choice of ambassador to the Netherlands was humiliated on his first day on the job, and he only has his own bigotry and Trump’s poor judgement to blame.
Pete Hoekstra, former Republican congressman, met with the Dutch media after presenting his credentials to Dutch King Willem-Alexander in The Hague.
There, reporters asked him about his comments in 2015, when he claimed that Muslims had created mythical “no go areas in the Netherlands.” He was also asked if he could give an example “of a Dutch politician who was burnt in recent years,” a reference to his previous false claim that “there are politicians that are being burned” in Europe.
Instead of defending or apologizing for his allegations, which have their roots in bigoted right-wing lies pushed by outlets like Fox News, Hoekstra just froze up and would not answer the reporters.
The reporters would not accept his evasion. “This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions,” one of them said.
REPORTER: Why don’t you answer the question, answer the question.
REPORTER: Answer the question.
REPORTER: Mister Ambassador, can you mention any example of a Dutch politician who was burnt in recent years?
WOMAN: Can we go to Bonnie?
REPORTER: Good morning, ambassador.
HOEKSTRA: Good morning.
REPORTER: This is how the press works, guys, come on.
REPORTER: This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions.
REPORTER: Please, this is not how it works.
REPORTER: He didn’t answer his question, he didn’t answer his question.
WOMAN: If we don’t have any further questions then we can move on.
REPORTER: No! We do.
Hoekstra made a mess of the issue in December, when he first told a reporter who asked him about his bigoted comments that he had never made them.
“We would call it fake news,” Hoekstra said. “I never said that.”
The journalist then showed a video of Hokestra saying exactly that, Hokestra amazingly denied that he’d denied it, saying, “I didnt call that fake news.”
He later issued a statement, saying, “I made certain remarks in 2015 and regret the exchange during the Nieuwsuur interview. Please accept my apology.”
The episode is a perfect encapsulation of the toxic combination of bigotry and incompetence that has been a hallmark of Trump’s tenure. Someone who has made comments like Hoekstra did should not be the face of the United States, especially as the top representative of the country with an ally.
But for Trump, racism and discrimination are pluses. Hoesktra’s regurgitation of anti-Islamic smears and conspiracy theories is in line with Trump’s own expressed beliefs. The man who tried to ban Muslim entry to the United States does not have the sensitivity to religious tolerance needed to truly lead.
Pete Hoekstra froze like a deer in headlights when reporters overseas highlighted his and Donald Trump’s toxic hatred. American journalists might find it worth their time to take a note or two.