Imagine if America woke up tomorrow to discover that Rush Limbaugh had been savagely murdered on the sidewalks of New York by a Islamic jihadist in protest of Limbaugh's political statements. All hell would break loose in this country, or at least 52% of it. Now double, or even treble that hell, and you'll have an idea what is happening in Northern Europe, where the cornered Dutch people have been forced to pull their collective finger out of the dike holding back the war on terrorism.
On November 2, exactly 911 days after 9/11, a Muslim terrorist and Dutch-born Moroccan living in the Netherlands gruesomely murdered filmmaker Theo van Gogh. After firing his gun six times at van Gogh as he bicycled along an Amsterdam bike path and knocked him to his knees, the assailant, whom police call Mohammed B., approached his victim. Wounded and bleeding, van Gogh pleaded aloud for mercy and (typical for a Dutchman) attempted to engage his assailant in conversation. Mohammed's response was to cut vigorously but patiently through van Gogh's throat, very nearly decapitating him.
Then, in the nauseatingly precious understatement of AP and other news services, this murderer "pinned" a five-page letter of protest to van Gogh's chest. The "pin" happened to be a knife the size Jim Bowie favored, and Mohammed buried it to the hilt. A crime scene photograph of van Gogh's draped body shows the pornographic outline of the long knife handle projecting from his stilled heart, a violent phallus, erect and determined on further murderous impalements.
Make no mistake, that knife is intent on violence. It bides its time for the next fatal thrust into the perceived soft belly of liberal, tolerant Netherlands. The pinned letter contains a list of prominent Dutch citizens scheduled to be murdered. It includes both the Jewish mayor and Moroccan-Dutch vice-mayor of Amsterdam, along with the head of Dutch immigration and several members of parliament and anyone else who offends any self-righteous Muslim with a knife or gun. The letter also promises that "hair-raising screams will be squeezed from the lungs of the non-believers."
This sort of brutality is not new to the Dutch, who remember occupying Germans stringing up by the neck random citizens and leaving them there for a few days as a reminder they didn't like being offended, especially by the Dutch resistance. I'm looking right now at an old photograph of 20 bodies dangling in an Amsterdam square.
Now, the Dutch, along with their soft-socialist neighboring countries, have until last week exercised appropriate, politically correct, and Kerryesque handwringing anguish and self doubt regarding how to treat immigrant Muslims.
But no more. They've had their 9/11, and it's arguable their reaction is stronger than was ours. Top government officials now compare radical Muslims to Nazis of days of old. While not voting on a formal declaration in Parliament, many have publicly announced that the Netherlands is now at war against terrorism.
WITH THE MURDER OF Theo van Gogh, a crazed hell that only his great grand-uncle, Vincent, might have painted in his most anguished of fits has broken loose in the Netherlands. Suddenly, 15 million Dutch regard the 1 million resident Muslims with a genuine fear. Or at least they so regard the 300,000 Muslims who, in a recent poll, fervently support the continuation of the most radical, fundamentalist Muslims centers and schools.
Of course there is a sort of remnant PC craziness in these first days of shock. Throughout the Netherlands, TV stations are canceling or refusing to run van Gogh's ten minute film, "Submission." Management claims it's afraid it will invite violence and death to its employees. Van Gogh made the film with liberal Dutch Parliament member, Somali refugee Ayaan Hirsi Ali, now an ex-Muslim.
"Submission" tells of a Muslim woman forced into an arranged marriage. Her husband abuses her, an uncle rapes her. A famous scene shows a woman in see-through clothes, her flesh covered with welts from a whipping alongside the inked lines from the Koran. (View the English language film online linking through the most excellent blog, www.zachtei.nl, and clicking its November 5 edition). It's hard to believe any group can be more sensitive than our own ever-aggrieved American liberals, but apparently the entire Dutch Muslim community was in an uproar over the film. Maybe I'm insensitized, but I see Hollywood TV treat Christians and conservatives with a sharper sword on a weekly basis. By our standards, van Gogh's "Submission" is safe fare.
Directly across the square from a Rotterdam mosque, a Dutch artist protested the murder by painting a mural of an angel ascending into heaven with the Biblical commandment (which is also part of the Koran, or I am much mistaken) "Thou shalt not kill," on the exterior of his own wall! Turns out them's fighting words for the Moroccan youths who crowded to spit on the mural.
It gets crazier. The mosque complained (about the mural, not the loogie-launching youth), and the Rotterdam mayor order the mural removed. (Let us note that the offended mosque was not the one the murderer Mohammed B. regularly attended, which distributed books instructing Muslims to chuck homosexuals from the top of tall buildings! Headfirst!!!)
And crazier. Police arrested a video crew recording the event, taking away their video tape. At the same time, police in Amsterdam converged in certain neighborhoods to prevent likely Muslim riots.
These vestiges of liberal supplication have only served to harden the anger and determination of the greater Dutch population.
In Amsterdam neighborhoods, thousands of insensitive blue-eyed Dutch banged on pots and pans and honked horns to protest the murder.
A quick but scientific poll showed 3 out of 4 Dutch want the government to take radical measures in dealing with the terrorists, but now.
The Moroccan vice-mayor warned that people with dual-citizenship who do not accept the Netherlands' practice of free speech should promptly pack up and move (yes, he's on the terrorist hit list, and why the heck doesn't America have an outspoken Muslim of this order?).
Topping that, the vice prime minister of the Liberal Party stated, "We are now at war with the terrorists!"
Not to be outdone, Deputy Prime Minister Gerrit Zalm took his turn to announce the Dutch Cabinet has declared war on Islamic extremism, saying the murder of van Gogh is an "attack on the rule of law".
The government is hurriedly preparing to give itself the power to strip the Dutch half of dual citizens who pose a threat to the Netherlands and give them a one-way ticket to their other home. They don't expect a long debate on the subject. For one thing, they have the full support of Moroccan vice-mayor of Amsterdam, who warned that people with dual-citizenship who do not accept the Netherlands' practice of free speech should promptly pack up and move.
The government is also preparing to close radical mosques.
And punish (yes, punish) imams who want to punish the Dutch for being Dutch.
In the hurried works are efforts to clamp down on possible terrorist-financing schemes.
Blank checks are being written to fund anti-terrorist efforts and such.
Go ahead, call the Dutch insensitive. They won't be offended. They're enraged, they're afraid, and they're fighting a war. And they won't forget it as quickly as many Americans have.
BEGINNING IN THE Netherlands' Golden Age, the Dutch allowed great latitude in freedom of speech. It's where Europe's religious fanatics went before America came along as a safer and more distant haven. We can mock their legalization of cannabis and prostitution apparent secular amorality all we want, but in truth it's arguable the Dutch take their freedom of expression more seriously than we do in America. And the heart of the current terrorist crisis in the Netherlands is not the murder of a citizen, but the murder of a man who freely expressed his opinions in the public forum. I think that hit the Dutch harder than would have the slaying of a few dozen innocent train commuters.
Theo van Gogh was 47. He produced numerous films, mainly for television, wrote a regular political column, put out books. One of his films was a version of Romeo and Juliet with a Moroccan pizza delivery boy and a blue-eyed hockey playing girl. He'd just finished a film on the assassinated anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn (an animal rights activist pulled that one off). He was often crude and brash and outlandish but always strived to be honest. Politically, he was deeply upset and concerned by the unwillingness of Muslim immigrants to become part of Dutch society.
Van Gogh is often compared to Michael Moore. True, they are both portly and frazzled looking and they've both made controversial political films. But where van Gogh admired Moore's black humor and sarcasm, he thoroughly detested his rampant fabrications and fictions. And this: "Niet alleen vertrouw ik Moore's morele verontwaardiging niet, ik vind 'm ook een beetje dom." Translation: "Not only do I not trust Moore's moral indignation, I also find him rather stupid."
If van Gogh were alive, he might well say the same of the New York Times' recent editorial on the crisis in Holland, which stated:
"Urgent efforts are needed to better manage the cultural tensions perilously close to the surface of Dutch public life. The problem is not Muslim immigration, but a failure to plan … a more diverse society. One very real danger is that the public trauma over the van Gogh murder may lead to a clamor for anti-Muslim policies that could victimize thousands of innocent refugees and immigrants."
Get that? Small wonder jihadists have hope for success. America's leading newspaper states the problem isn't that 300,000 Dutch Muslims fervently support the centers that promote jihad and violence against the West, the problem isn't murdered Dutch citizens, the problem isn't the continued threat and reality of murder, the problem isn't the stifling of free speech, the problem isn't Moroccans spitting on "Thou shalt not kill."
The problem, says the NYT, is that the Dutch didn't have a plan! (Hurry, call Kerry Consulting, Int.). The problem, sayeth the NYT, is the Dutch might allow themselves to be "traumatized" (code for whatever the NYT wants it to mean) by seeing their filmmakers' and politicians' throats slit and homosexuals hurled from skyscrapers (headfirst, don't forget), and therefore, possibly, maybe, who knows, hypothetically and willy-nilly infringe and otherwise "victimize" on the oh-so-delicate sensitivities of a culture that violently refuses to assimilate. Da noive a dem dutchies! Da noive!
Fortunately, the Dutch aren't reading American editorials. They're reading the "pinned" letter on Van Gogh's butchered chest: "Allah willing, this letter is an attempt to silence your evil for all times. You will be crushed by Islam.… I am certain that you, the Netherlands, will go to ruin." (Just for the record, those are the words of Muhammed B., not the NYT.)
Take cheer. The otherwise mild and amiable Dutch have been "traumatized" into action. They've pulled their fingers out of the dike. Enough is enough, even in the heart of northern liberal Europe, a tiny, plucky little country is preparing to out-Bush Bush. Not waiting for a global test, it has up and (if unofficially) declared a war. Reason and courage will prevail and the war will be won.
Theo van Gogh will not have died in vain.
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