Brussels authorities shuttered the National Conservatism Conference on Tuesday, sending police to block entry to the conference and announcing that those inside would be permitted to leave but not to return.

However, the action was not the result of any public disturbances or threats. It was a political action by left-progressive politicians who do not like the views being ventilated at the conference—and who fear the increasing success of nationalist and conservative ideas in European politics.

Initial coverage of the incident is posted here and here, with no doubt more to come. And see this article by Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the incident. 

I am a trustee of the Edmund Burke Foundation, which is sponsoring the conference, and I have been chairman of its regular “NatCon” conferences in the U.S., U.K., and Europe for the past five years.

My colleagues and I have strong views on such urgent issues as uncontrolled immigration; the corruption of schools and cultural institutions by race and gender ideologies; the transfer of government authority from nations to international bureaucracies; and the erosion of freedoms of speech, religion, and inquiry. These are the central issues on the agenda at this week’s conference in Brussels.

All of our conferences are carefully planned to include top-tier conservative thinkers, writers, scholars, activists, and political figures, and to provide a good mix of speeches, panel discussions, and debates (with a few brave souls on the Left to keep us sharp).

Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts, who agrees with some NatCon positions but disagrees with others, has given terrific addresses at earlier conferences and has been received with enthusiasm and appreciation. Several other Heritage friends are at this week’s Brussels conference, although I have had to miss it myself because of commitments in the U.S. (now to my special regret!) (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s news and commentary outlet.)

That an earnest gathering of political officials, activists, and thinkers should be bullied by a mayor and sequestered by the police is, of course, outrageous and worthy of severe condemnation. And few liberal as well as conservative leaders have issued critical statements.

But there is a larger meaning to the incident. It demonstrates that forthright, unapologetic conservatism is gaining serious momentum in Europe as well as the U. S.—and that the progressive Left, in its desperation to stop us, is increasingly willing to employ means that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

Unfortunately, the progressives’ effort to anathematize national conservatives as a “far right” threat to democracy and civil order is being adopted by others who should know better. Some on the moderate left and right are portraying the Brussels “controversy” as a case for standing on principle for freedom of speech—even for those with so-called deplorable ideas and values, as if NatCons were Nazis marching through Skokie. Thanks for your support, guys, and have a nice free-speech day yourself.

The incident is actually the latest example of establishment timorousness and liberal decay. Two fancy Brussels venues, Concert Noble and a Sofitel hotel, abruptly canceled the NatCon conference at the insistence of city officials before the no-nonsense Tunisian owner of the Claridge event hall agreed to host us, refused to back down, and treated us to warm hospitality to compensate for the hostility of the city fathers.

This gentleman is in today’s avant-garde. The progressive strategy of meeting conservative ascent with shallow demagoguery and forceful suppression, rather than forthright argument or reform of their ruinous policies, is coming in for a richly deserved political reckoning.