And Some Cartoons For You
I actually have no idea how much coverage in the U.S. has been given to Dutch politician Geert Wilders and his new short film, Fitna ("Strife" in Arabic). Wilders is a self-proclaimed defender of free speech and harsh critic of Islam, who has sought to restrict immigration into the Netherlands from non-Western countries. (Where, it must be noted, they have had some significant problems with immigration and assimilation.) Particularly since the assassination of filmmaker Theo van Gough, Wilders (like then fellow MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali) has been under 24-hour protection due to threats on his life.
Fitna is a 16-minute film that can basically be classed as a propaganda video. It is based on real passages from the Qur'‚n and features media clips of what we might call "strong images". I am hosting this video on my server and making it available to view on this page (below). By doing this, I don't (necessarily) endorse the viewpoint of this film.
What I do strongly endorse is Wilders' right to put forth this viewpoint. And I condemn the numerous, credible, vile threats of dire physical violence that have been intended to silence him. I condemn the replacement of free speech and dialogue with religious intolerance and intimidation, which represents a terrible threat to liberalism, and free society, and the hard-won gains of the Enlightenment and centuries of civilisation.
I question the reaction of the Dutch government and Prime Minister who have publicly fretted that Wilders is endangering Dutch citizens and soldiers and interests around the world. (Obviously, it would be violent extremists who would be doing the endangering.) I question the Dutch television stations who declined to air it unedited; and the Dutch venue which declined to host a premier absent crippling security costs.
I condemn Iran and Syria, who have made threats should the film be shown. I condemn Pakistan and Google, who have colluded to ban the material within Pakistan. I particularly condemn the hosting provider of the website, Network Solutions, who on March 22 replaced the page with a message stating that the company "is investigating whether the site's content is in violation of the Network Solutions Acceptable Use Policy." Notoriously, they did this at the same time they were hosting the domain of the terrorist organisation Hizbollah. (I'll be considering parking all of my domains somewhere other than good ole NetSol.)
And I'm providing the video here so you can judge for yourself. While I'm at it, I think I'll also (belatedly) publish those Danish cartoons. A case can certainly be made that if any system of thought could stand an Englightenment-style critique (and Voltaire-style skewering) it's Islam. But whether that's true or not, as long as there are free societies these critiques can be made. And if the Islamic world doesn't like it, then as the saying goes they can lump it. But the point is this: all those Western news organisations who declined to publish this material have made a serious error they have not only submitted to a veto of violence over free speech in the heart of the West, but they have made us all less safe. If, on the other hand, everyone mocks Muhammed (PBUMN), then they can't kill everyone. Dissenting opinions welcome.
As long as I'm at it: If you'd like a much more reasoned, much less imflammatory critique of Islam not to mention a brilliant and seemingly effortless smack-down on some classic, brain-dead, liberal, anti-Americanism here's Ayaan Hirsi Ali on a Canadian program from last year. God love her.
And some cartoons for you (which you're free to find funny or not funny though probably funnier if you speak Dutch and I'm free to publish).