The Dutch melting pot has turned into a boiling pot, as public indignation rises over the Amsterdam murder of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh by a young Islamic radical. The morning of November 2, the killer emptied a clip into Van Gogh, and then used a knife to almost sever his head. The killer also left a letter stabbed into Van Gogh’s chest declaring Jihad on unbelievers generally and Dutch politicians specifically.
Van Gogh was under a death threat ever since he produced a 10-minute film called “Submission,” about Muslim women who are the victims of domestic abuse.
Brought to the forefront are issues of race, immigration and integration, radical Islam, and freedom of speech.
Should Islamist immigrants be allowed “freedom” to practice the tenet of Sharia law which states, “The penalty for contempt of the Holy Prophet?is death and nothing else?” Clearly the answer is no, and the most cursory examination of the question reveals there are limits to freedom, especially license masquerading as freedom. Freedom needs to be circumscribed by an assumed responsibility to uphold the basics of civilized behavior. Where there is intransigence on this point, a societal collision is bound to occur, but it cannot fairly be said to be automatically the fault of the host country.
Should Islamists in the Netherlands?or the U.S. for that matter?be free to promote the execution of gays and the beating of women? Is it overreaction for Dutch leaders to worry about strategies by Islamists to actively promote Jihad, the killing of Western leaders, female circumcision and to portray unbelievers as “firewood for hell?” At what point does tolerance of such intolerance threaten freedom in society?
A Boston Globe editorial, noting recent retaliatory attacks against Mosques and schools, claims that “[J]ust below the surface of Holland’s open society runs the molten lava of xenophobic intolerance.” An L.A. Times article dated April 18, 2004 said that the Dutch were casting a “harsh eye toward immigrants.” The article also cited fears “that the nation is failing at integration.” A Reuters analysis piece dated November 3 noted a “rise in hostility to foreigners.” The New York Times, in a slouchy November 5 editorial, opined, “The problem is not Muslim immigration, but a failure to plan for a smoother transition to a more diverse society.”
In other words, the onus is on the Dutch government to do more to successfully integrate Muslims. Had the Dutch integration program met New York Times standards, then Mohammed wouldn’t have tried to cut Theo’s head off. There’s no comment about the “more diverse society” desired by radical Islamists being one that makes room for execution of homosexuals, circumcision of girls, and women receiving 100 lashes if they lie to their husbands. The absurdity of so many editorials on the subject is evident from the reticence to assign responsibility for societal disruption to radical Muslims actually causing the disruption.
The simplistic editorials also ignore a universal tenet of Islamism, taught from Sudan to Sonoma, that Muslims should actively resist all attempts at integration. Indeed such attempts are often portrayed as a Western plot to usurp the latent power of Islam in the world. Resistance to integration is accompanied by the teaching that once Muslims are in a majority, the rule of the host country needs to become an Islamic theocracy. The real problem is radical Muslims who refuse to integrate and who support the breaking of Dutch law in order to uphold their religious and cultural values.
Meanwhile, Western media often remain pitifully disinclined to criticize a religious and pan-ethnic group ideology if it’s not predominantly held by white people. Where are the editorials urging Islamists to stop balking at integration? Where are the editorials decrying the uncivilized teachings and behavior of radicals?
Are we really to believe that all religious and cultural values are equal including those which allow for rape victims to be punished by being murdered? A willingness to accept all racial, ethnic and religious groups as worthy of equality is not the same as pronouncing all of their cultural norms as egalitarian or even legally compatible with those in the West.
Integration and the maintenance of civilized society is a complex two-way street, and media should not treat as taboo core issues related to either one. Public debate often rides on the rails media have set down, and when the media are squeamish, evasive and dishonest in reporting of destructive Islamist activity overseas and in the U.S., we are on the fast track to a dangerous self-delusion whose end will be as violent as Van Gogh’s murder.