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Willem Engel takes wing'd flight
The Dutch anti-lockdown activist has evolved into a trenchant critic of the parlous state of Dutch democracy
It took me awhile to figure out Willem Engel. He emerged during Pandemic Year One as a prominent anti-lockdown, pandemic-skeptical activist. One chilly March Sunday I crossed the Museumplein, a large grassy square in central Amsterdam, where a motley collection of pandemic protesters had gathered in civil disobedience of the maximum group size order. It was not officially an organized protest, but they were gathering to “drink coffee together”.
On the opposite side of Museumplein, a phalanx of police was assembling, and shortly after I passed by they swept the square clean of these dissenting “coffee drinkers.”
My modest introduction to Willem Engel. My original skeptical reaction was based primarily on my distrust of libertarian ideas. At the time, I didn’t think that “you are taking away my personal liberties” was a particularly helpful attitude in the context of an alleged pandemic.
Later as I became more skeptical of the Covid narrative I came to see that Engel and his merry band of scruffy coffee-drinkers had a point; libertarians (whether Engel et al self-identify nor not as such) did in fact get some important things right about the crisis. We, the happy, carefree citizens of Western Liberal Democracies, got a wee bit too complacent about our civil liberties. Mea culpa.
Willem has since emerged as perhaps the most coherent, articulate, and persuasive critic of lockdown policy and the emerging authoritarian bio-security state here in the Netherlands.
In weekly broadcasts on Café Weltschmertz, Willem and a small group of fellow activists, including his stalwart compagnon the jurist Jeroen Pols, plough with humor and tact, with inifinite patience, love, and perseverance, the Augean Stables that is the current Dutch polity. “We zijn de nette mensen”, says Willem. “We’re just decent people.”
For English-speaking readers, see this recent podcast of Robert F Kennedy Jr: Jailing Dissonance with Willem Engel
Willem’s website is viruswaarheid