MEP Daniel Hannan reports on his blog in the Telegraph that Dalrymple was awarded the 2011 Freedom Prize on Tuesday by the Flemish think tank Libera!. Bart De Wever, chairman of the Belgian political party N-VA, who Hannan calls “the winner of the most recent Belgian election, and easily the most popular politician in the country”, presented Dalrymple the award.
Flemish N-VA Party Chairman Bart De Wever (left) and Theodore Dalrymple
Most of the news stories on the event are in Dutch, and Google’s translations aren’t always easy to decipher, though some make for fun reading. Google translates this one in the Gazet van Antwerpen as “House ideologue N-falls sharply against diaper culture”. The story appears to say something close to this: “Dalrymple has become a bit like the house ideologist of De Wever’s party”. De Standaard calls him De Wever’s “ideological mentor”.
Libera! President Christophe Van der Cruysse noted that winners of the prize typically come from the Netherlands and Belgium, and appears (if Google can be trusted) to have called Dalrymple “a much needed voice in the Dutch public debate.”
The Libera! website purportedly says the prize “reflects special merit in the fight for freedom in our region” and that Dalrymple, unfortunately, currently has no Dutch counterpart.
From Hannan’s piece, entitled “In praise of Flanders, Right-wing intellectuals and Theodore Dalrymple“:
…it’s wonderful to see Theodore Dalrymple getting the recognition he deserves. His books sell massively in Flanders and the Netherlands. He is a well-known figure, too, in American conservative circles; but he hath no honour in his own country.
Why not? Largely because there is little space in British public life for Right-wing intellectuals. You can be a conservative commentator if you have a populist bent. There will always, I’m happy to say, be slots for the Kelvin MacKenzies, the Richard Littlejohns, the Jeremy Clarksons. But Theodore Dalrymple writes about Koestler’s essays and Ethiopian religious art and Nietzschean eternal recurrence – subjects which, in Britain, are generally reserved for the reliably Left-of-Centre figures who appear on Start the Week and Newsnight Review. It is Theodore’s misfortune to occupy a place beyond the mental co-ordinates of most commissioning editors.