Friday, March 28, 2008
No punning headline, no wisecracks for this post. The subject is dead serious.
Geert Wilders's anti-Muslim video, Fitna, which provoked no end of denunciation, worry and hand-wringing before its release yesterday, and caused Network Solutions to shut down the Web site on which it was apparently planned to be shown, nevertheless is out there. It can be accessed through the link to the right, at least for now. Even if that site is kneecapped, it won't keep Fitna from being seen, because it's undoubtedly been copied many times by now. The genie is out of the bottle.
As to its content, there isn't much, if anything, factually new in it. Wilders has compiled clips of atrocities and threats by Muslim firebrands, interspersed with verses from the Qur'an that he believes inspired them or are consistent with them. There is no doubt that he's made a whole that has a stronger emotional punch than the sum of its parts, and it's far more gripping to watch than to read about what it shows. Still, if you've been paying attention for the past seven years or longer, it won't tell you anything you don't know.
Fitna is very disturbing to watch; I don't want to see it a second time. Even so, Wilders has had the sense and judgment not to go too far: the people falling from the World Trade Center are seen at a considerable distance; the beheading of Jack Hensley to the tune of "Allahu Akbar" is faded just before the sword starts cutting, although his terrified screams are heard on the soundtrack. There is no voice-over, but music by Grieg and Tchaikovsky, of all things, is used as background. Maybe it's intended ironically to contrast products of Western civilization with Muslim barbarism, and it's effective, but I hope never again to hear that lovely music in such a context.
Should you watch it? That's your choice, and there's no reason to be ashamed if you think it will be too much to bear. Anyone with a normal human sensibility is bound to be revolted. This entry in Wikipedia gives, at the moment, a pretty fair description (although goodness knows it may be much re-edited by the time you read it).
What about the substantive issues Fitna raises? It is unlikely to change the debate over the West's position toward Islam. First, because most of the people who need to see it will go out of their way not to. Second, it will be dismissed as blaming the great majority of Muslims for the actions of a few.
I'm quite willing to acknowledge that most Muslims would not themselves commit acts such as Fitna shows. That doesn't mean that Islam is no threat to our way of life. Terrorism is only the most extreme expression of this politico-religious totalitarian system, but Islam is not compatible with a free society. And it doesn't need overt terrorism to succeed. Just immigration condoned by Western governing elites for their own agendas and stratospheric Muslim birth rates. As things stand, in a couple of generations there will be Muslim majorities or critical masses in most of Europe, Britain, Canada, and possibly the United States. That's far scarier than suicide bombings.
The liberal media, particularly in Europe, will also portray Wilders in as negative light as possible. (If you want to get a taste of typically biased reporting, check out this page from Der Spiegel Online.) They'll pay ritual lip service to freedom of expression, while claiming he is abusing it. Freedom of expression can be abused and is every day, by shock jocks and trashy gossip publications. Is it abuse, though, to comment on a subject of great — overwhelming — worldwide importance, however provocative?
And the ad hominems will flow freely. I've already read critics of Geert Wilders claiming that he is only trying to gain political advantage by appealing to anti-Muslim sentiment. Yep, getting hundreds of death threats, having to be guarded 24/7, changing locations and travel routes constantly — that's sure a great career move for a politician.
Could it be that Wilders is actually what he appears to some of us, and what the modern world of government is severely understocked with, a man of principle and immense physical courage?