European Union

In Defense of Geert Wilders

Everyone deserves the freedom to offend

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When discussing—and, in this case, defending—radical Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, it is de rigueur to begin with emphatic caveats and disclaimers. Mr. Wilders, a fulminating critic of Islam and advocate of closing Holland's borders to further immigration, is something of an extremist, a man with whom most will find difficulty attaining common ideological ground. The Koran, he says, is a Hitlerian text ("Ban that wretched book like Mein Kampf is banned!"). To those who contend that radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution, Wilders scoffs: "Moderate Islam does not exist." Mohammad, he says, was a "terrorist" and "war-criminal." And so on.

Now Wilders, whose Freedom Party holds just five seats in the Dutch Parliament, has boiled his hatred of Islam down into a ten minute film called Fitna—variously translated in the media as the Arabic word for "strife," "challenge," or "chaos." The film, which has not been released, will doubtless be a retread of Wilders' reductive reading of the Koran. Regardless of the substance of the film, and however much one disagrees with his interpretation, Wilders should be defended, without reservation, by free speech advocates both in Holland and abroad; a position made even more necessary considering the lukewarm defense proffered by Western governments and intellectuals.

In response to the controversy surrounding Fitna, Wilders' website was knocked offline by his American host, Network Solutions; he has been repeatedly denounced by the government of Jan Peter Balkenende as a liability to Dutch "interests"; the country's shriveled monarch, Queen Beatrix, admonished that free speech doesn't allow one the right to offend; and last week 1000 "anti-racism" activists protested Fitna in Amsterdam's city center. As one demonstrator told Reuters, "There should be restrictions on what Wilders can say… it is a very bad example to people to let him say whatever he wants." Similar demonstrations on behalf of free speech and the freedom to mock, insult, and defame religion have yet to materialize.

Rather than assigning blame to the knuckle-dragging troglodytes who have threatened Wilders and Dutch commercial and diplomatic interests abroad, many have warned of an inevitable "blowback" from indignant Muslim masses. Addressing the European parliament, the Grand Mufti of Syria told his audience that "If there is unrest, bloodshed and violence after the broadcast of the Koran film, Wilders will be responsible." Prime Minister Balkenende sighed that in Holland such statements were indeed legal, "but there is the possibility, once the film is released, that there will be a court case." Dutch state radio produced a YouTube video chronicling the journey of a concerned Muslim who wonders why Wilders wasn't simply arrested and prosecuted. The Netherlands Islamic Federation has petitioned a court in The Hague to set up a censor board that could adjudicate on whether the film should be banned.

That Wilders possesses extremist views, that his interpretation of Islam is both reductive and puerile, is of no particular relevance in this case, unless one subscribes to the view that there exists an arbitrary boundary between right to free speech and freedom from offense. Once Fitna is broadcast—either via non-state television or the Internet—it is incumbent upon on those who value a society where freedom of expression is respected, and a society free of intimidation against those who question the probity of prophets, to engage the film on its intellectual merits.

But two great, and often unspoken, fears are governing the reaction to Wilders, ones that were similarly made plain during the so-called Danish cartoon crisis. First, it is important for members of both Europe's mainstream and radical left not to be seen as endorsing the views of a hard right politician, even if they make clear that they are merely defending the right to free expression. Second, despite Europe's deeply held secularism, Muslim immigrants are often, in both media and parliamentary debate, seperated from their religion, reclassified in a purely racial (or "other") context. In Sweden, when the controversial "Ecce Homo" photography exhibit premiered in 1998, which depicted Jesus as suffering from AIDS and featured leather-clad priests having sex inside a church, it came under sustained fire from Christian leaders. The country's editorial pages circled the wagons in defense of the artist's right to offend. Those very same pages, though, denounced Jyllands-Posten's Mohammad cartoons as gratuitous, distasteful, and offensive. None reprinted the drawings.

In Holland, the situation is similar. The reaction of the pathetic and spineless Balkenende government is typified by Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen. In an interview with Dutch state television, Verhagen bellowed that it would be "irresponsible to broadcast this film. That's because Dutch companies, Dutch soldiers and Dutch residents could and will be in danger." This is, as the Danish example suggests, doubtless true, though to do so is to blithely submit to the blackmail and gangsterism of Islamic militancy.

In focusing on Wilders' very real extremism, Western critics risk missing the larger point of the recent religious crises in Europe; from the scribbling of the Danish cartoonists to the alleged blasphemy of novelist Salman Rushdie. To suggest that it is simply Wilders' particular vision of Islam, the harshness of his language, with which his enemies disagree is foolish. To think that, for instance, a documentary version of Christopher Hitchens' best-selling and thoughtful anti-religion book God is Not Great, focusing only on the sections critical of Islam and broadcast on European state television, would not produce a similar backlash—or threatened backlash—is wishful thinking. Again, one only need think back to the vile fatwa that hamstrung the life of Mr. Rushdie to understand that it takes very little—a largely unread novel—to drive the ultra-pious into a murderous rage.

But it is also important that we not allow the chest-thumping histrionics of America's talk show circuit to reduce the Wilders affair to one of moderate critic versus those opposed to freedom of speech. On his Headline News television program, conservative radio host Glenn Beck, after first mischaracterizing Wilders (whom he referred to as "Gilt Whatshisface") as merely "critical of extremist Islam," sputtered about the "censorship" of Fitna's American web host, Network Solutions. It bears repeating that Network Solutions is a private company and is thus securely within its rights to suspend the accounts of any client with whom it isn't interested in doing business. Threats to free speech come not from private companies acting in their own self-interest, but from both governments and those who desire to silence heterodox—and yes, extreme—voices with implicit or explicit threats of violence.

Islamic extremists have been depressingly successful in frightening the Netherlands into assuming that a short film of little consequence will precipitate hideous amounts of "retaliatory" violence. And herein lies an important lesson for other religious crackpots, Muslim, Christian, Jewish or Wiccan. Full protection of "prophets" and deities can be attained by repeated, credible threats of violence. And to not support Wilders, alas, is to acquiesce to such bullying.

Michael Moynihan is an associate editor of reason.

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134 responses to “In Defense of Geert Wilders

  1. Bravo. More of this, please.

  2. Ah yes, the fairytale “right to not be offended”.

    I really wish we could put the final nail in that coffin here in the USA.

  3. If they ever make a remake of Death Wish, Wilders should star in it.

  4. I really like America’s constitution, where freedom of speech, even offensive speech, is paramount and protected. It’s one of many significant areas where the American system of government is superior to that of most countries in Europe.

    Of course, Moynihan is also absolutely right that if this guy’s web host wants to cancel his account, they also have that right. As long as the government isn’t involved, people should also have an absolute right to avoid doing business with others that have points of view-that goes hand in hand with free speech itself.

  5. This is why the courts here have been so wise to ignore–for the most part, anyway–the so-called heckler’s veto. Letting the most easily offended dictate the content and direction of discourse is the profoundest folly. Besides, what it really does in this type of situation is reward speakers who seem more threatening. Screw that.

  6. I don’t have to like either of them.

    The troll, or the people who go loony when he trolls them.

    Nor do I have to like the government that might restrict his ability to troll them.

    Nor do I have to like the people who tell me I need to pick a side.

    Nope. Screw you guys, I’m going home.

  7. One of the difficulties in defending freedom of speech is that you have to defend the most odious of speakers. The ACLU and Libertarians alike get it. I’m offended by others speech on a regular basis. I like to think I offend others as well. Too fucking bad for me. Too fucking bad for others.

  8. I really wish we could put the final nail in that coffin here in the USA.

    The final nail? Methinks you need a few more nails. Visit a school, then ask for my nail gun.

  9. Fuck the draft.

  10. “Ban that wretched book like Mein Kampf is banned!”

    It’s a pity Mr. Wilders has dubious credentials as a defender of free speech. Free speech advocates always seem to have to defend all sorts of loonies who don’t believe in free speech themselves when it comes to the viewpoints opposing them.

  11. “Ban that wretched book like Mein Kampf is banned!”

    There seems to be some irony there; intended, I’m sure.

    CB

  12. Free speech advocates always seem to have to defend all sorts of loonies who don’t believe in free speech themselves when it comes to the viewpoints opposing them.

    I resemble that remark!

  13. I would love to see a U.S. president address the EU Parliament and denounce their speech restrictions.

    “It’s not 1946 anymore. The Nazis aren’t coming back. Embrace liberty, and deny the thugs the outlaw glamor they thrive on.”

  14. “I would love to see a U.S. president address the EU Parliament and denounce their speech restrictions.”

    Me too, joe… just not THIS president.

    CB

  15. I don’t want to see this President do anything, even if it seems like a good idea. He’d find a way to fuck it up.

  16. The lesson from this little episode, so far, appears to be that “violence works.”

    European opinion leaders are falling all over themselves to denounce Wilders’ silliness, when they have no problem with other statements or works of art that push boundaries and offend certain people.

    I’m a First Amendment fundamentalist. If you’re offended by something I say, stop listening.

  17. While I may not agree entirely with Mr. Wilders point of view, to characterize his “interpretation” of Islam and the Koran as reductive and puerile is ill-informed. The Koran states in plain language that “people of the Book”, Christians and Jews, are given reduced rights under the coming world Muslim Caliphate. Others, atheists, agnostics, Hindus, etc., are to be offered conversion or death. I see no room for “moderate Islam”, in this language, nor do I see any evidence of moderate Muslims anywhere.

    There is more to this than just a freedom of speech issue. The ongoing pretense that there is such a thing as moderate Islam really must be put to rest. This form of political correctness could prove to be a very expensive hobby. Pretending that these terrorists are a tiny minority within the Muslim community simply masks the overwhelming evidence that Muslims everwhere agree with the use of terrorism to achieve Islam’s goals. It’s just that not all Muslims have enough of the courage of their convictions to blow themselves up.

  18. Me too, joe… just not THIS president.

    It would probably sound something like this:

    “My fellow world-people,

    Amurica has the right to free speak,

    …and a lot of people are working hard to keep that rights safe…
    …they are fighting for free speak in Iraq…
    …and our economy is strong because of free speak…
    …so you should honor our free speak, like free speak zones and McCain-Feingold…
    …because you’re either with us or against us…

    God bless all Europers, and good night…”

  19. To make giving offense punishable in any manner is perhaps the ultimate perversion of the western tradition of liberalism as the term used to be understood.

    Of course, giving offense is punishable only if the offender is a native, not a designated minority, and not a Muslim. Members of these groups are encouraged to give offense and to insult and threaten the majority. They are entitled to special rights and privileges denied to the native majority.

    Whether the pot boils over in time to crush the offensive minorites, smiting them hip and thigh, and thus save Western Civilization, remains to be seen.

  20. Oh, Islam. Nothing like proving your religion isn’t violent by threatening to kill a critic and blow up the Netherlands.

  21. Yeah, Bush is an idiot. Too bad the Democrats were able to find someone even more stupid to run against him in 2004.

  22. The Corner linked to a quote from some lefty Rabbi in Canada who said the following about censorship over sensitivity

    “This was my stance more than a decade ago when Show Boat was staged in Toronto and some members of the black community objected on the grounds that it was racist. Many of my friends thought otherwise. For all I know, they may have been right, because it’s difficult to describe Show Boat as a racist musical. Nevertheless, I felt that if some blacks thought that it was, their feelings were more important to me than my own artistic judgment. I think tolerance is also about that.”

    That is where this kind of thing leads; to where you can’t play a 1950s musical because someone is offended. If you let the fact that people are offended censor speech, you end up losing your freedom and in the end all of your decent art because someone is offended by virtually anything. All that is left is bland PC crap. In the name of “tolerance” you end up with a society that tolerates nothing.

  23. I’m just going to say you don’t see American Muslims doing this shit even though we have the strongest free speech protections in the world.

  24. I’m just going to say you don’t see American Muslims doing this shit even though we have the strongest free speech protections in the world.”

    That is because American Muslims are much more assimilated and less isolated than European ones and are thus much less succeptable to the influence of the nuts.

  25. I couldn’t resist posting; as interesting as the article and the issues involved are (and as disturbing as the double-standard censorship is e.g. as noted in Sweden), I couldn’t help but laugh at the dichotomy of accompanying banner ads to this article (presumably automatically inserted because of keywords) for “Muslima.com” with a picture of a woman wearing a hijab, with the description, “The International Muslim Matrimonial Site!”.

  26. While I may not agree entirely with Nostradamus’ point of view, to characterize his “interpretation” of the Guahead and the First Wave as reductive and conciliatory is ill-informed. The Guahead states in plain language that humans are given reduced rights under the coming world Gua Assembly. I see no room for “moderate Gua”, in this language, nor do I see any evidence of moderate Gua anywhere, other than Joshua.

    There is more to this than just a freedom issue. The ongoing pretense that there is such a thing as moderate Gua really must be put to rest. This form of blindness could prove to be a very expensive hobby. Pretending that these aliens are a tiny minority within the human population simply masks the overwhelming evidence that Gua everywhere agree with the use of infiltration and murder to achieve Mabus’ goals. It’s just that not all Gua Acolytes have enough of the courage of their convictions to blow their husks up.

  27. “That is because American Muslims are much more assimilated and less isolated than European ones and are thus much less succeptable to the influence of the nuts.”

    Well, its a lot easier for a minority to assimilate in a settler/colonial nation than in a blood-and-soil one.

    I don’t think Europe is made for immigration.

  28. I don’t think Europe is made for immigration.

    Sure it is. But just for other people of European descent.

  29. As a Westerner living and working in Kabul, Afghanistan (have done for the last 5 years – I’m a non-military contractor) I’ve been through the riots & protests surrounding the Danish cartoons & the pre-release hype of Mr. Wilders’ movie.

    While the movie definitely poses a major inconvenience to me, and is costing the donor community millions (one aspect that hasn’t been noted in any media I’ve seen is that the UN is under ‘white city’ or lockdown PENDING the movie’s release) he’s got the right to publish his position.

    Assuming the movie doesn’t fall into the category of ‘hate’ literature, or violates laws against pornography etc… then let it be. Whether or not the content has validity or not is irrelevant. Whether or not he tweaks the nose of people of a certain belief is irrelevant. The fact that many of those who hold those certain beliefs will likely react in a violent and destructive manner really only serves to prove Mr. Wilders’ point.

    The very fact I elect to hide my name in this post demonstrates that I genuinely think this movie WILL cause major disruptions to my safety & sanity here in Kabul. But the very fact that a simple movie (that hasn’t even been shown yet!) can be the source of such tension highlights the value of free speech.

    Mr. Wilders, you may have goofy hair, and you may be missing the boat focussing exclusively on Islam rather than religious beliefs as a whole, but go ahead and have your 15 minutes of fame.

  30. American Muslims are too busy working, watching TV, and saying “Honey? I think I like the other kind of room deodorizer better than the new kind,” just like eveyone else, to engage in this kind of foolishness.

    But, of course, that can’t be true. Somebody who doesn’t actually know any Muslims told me on a comment thread.

  31. As much as I hate to say it, you might see more of that stuff in the USA if recent Muslim immigrants constituted the same percentage of the population here as they do in the Netherlands.

    The USA has traditionally been more of a haven for Middle Eastern Christians fleeing all of that wonderful Sharia law over the last century or so.

  32. They constitute a higher % in Michigan. No riots.

  33. We’re going to be getting a lot of Iraqis coming here in the next 10-20 years, mark my words. Foreign intervention has a way of following you home.

  34. Part of it to is that Americans have more backbone than Europeans. Even the nuts know they wouldn’t get away with this crap in the US. We just wouldn’t tolerate it like the Euros do. That and the fact that vast majority of US Muslims are just not radicals makes this sort of thing pretty unlikly here.

  35. The fact that many of those who hold those certain beliefs will likely react in a violent and destructive manner really only serves to prove Mr. Wilders’ point.The very fact I elect to hide my name in this post demonstrates that I genuinely think this movie WILL cause major disruptions to my safety & sanity here in Kabul
    It all means people are affraid and manupulated by the leaders also in Holland.

  36. Cesar,

    But the Iraqis are not radical nuts the way some of the Afghans and Pushtans are. You don’t hear about riots in Baghdad do you? Part of that is that they have other things to deal with and part of that is that Iraqis tend to be pretty secular. I don’t worry about immigration from Iraq causing these kinds of problems. If you look at where most radicals actually come from, they come from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Europe. All three of those places have some serious pathologies and resentments going on that luckily we haven’t experienced here yet.

  37. John I didn’t say they would necessarily be a problem, just saying. I actually think we should take more refugees because its really unfair to dump them all on places like Sweden when its kind of our responsibility.

    After all the Vietnamese have been very successful here.

  38. Re: Cade Foster | March 27, 2008, 1:40pm | #

    Unadulterated claptrap. How did you miss out on the Heaven’s Gate expedition?

  39. Yeah, Bush is an idiot. Too bad the Democrats were able to find someone even more stupid to run against him in 2004.

    And again in 2008.

    The fact that many of those who hold those certain beliefs will likely react in a violent and destructive manner really only serves to prove Mr. Wilders’ point.

    That’s the really stupid part of the whole thing. Absent the threat of violent protest this particualr movie would have sunk out of sight in minutes.

  40. Ibrahim – it isn’t Dutch leaders that scare me, its the reactionaries in the city where I live that scare me.

    Actually, they don’t particularly scare me personally, but they are likely to make my week ahead a royal pain in the ass with suicide bombings, protests, an overall increase in security presence, traffic jams, a general barrier to my ability to function effectively & get my work done…

  41. Unadulterated claptrap. How did you miss out on the Heaven’s Gate expedition?

    Uh Jsub, my man, unless you got my joke, you didn’t get the joke. This is what the joke refers to, as well as being a riff off of Michael Foster’s earlier post.

    You know, it would be nice if somebody got the reference once in a while.

    If you got the joke, then I am pleased and ignore the previous.

  42. Also, I think most immigrants to America, not just Muslims, appreciate our reverence for free speech. In America, while we libertarians complain about censorship and whatnot, probably have the freest of free speech in the world, so in Europe, it’s less taboo and ridiculous to talk about banning books or words on an arbitrary basis. Americans disagree on a lot, but we generally accept each other’s rights to be disagreeable; I don’t think the same could always be said in Europe.

  43. They constitute a higher % in Michigan. No riots.

    Recent Muslim immigrants are 10+% of the population in Michigan? Doubtful. But your point is taken.

    I also think we get a somewhat “higher class” of Muslim immigrant in this country. More doctors and engineers and fewer semi-literate folks going on the dole. Muslim immigrants were initially brought into Europe to do manual labor, and that seems to have set the pattern, even though manufacturing is leaving Europe just like it is here.

  44. “…the scribbling of the Danish cartoonists …”

    Why is it de rigueur to look down one’s nose at the infamous cartoons? A lot of them were pretty funny — funnier, maybe than “The Satanic Verses,” which got pretty heavy-handed at times. They weren’t just “free expression,” they were good free expression.

    As for Geert, I’m not a fan — I mean, that pompadour has got to go — but his interpretation of the Koran is no more offensive than any number of pronouncments on Christianity and Judaism coming from Islamic sectors. A global Enlightenment is still a long way off.

  45. Chris0 from what I understand certain towns in Michigan around Detroit look like they could be smack in the middle of Egypt, but we don’t have riots like the French suburbs.

  46. Chris0 from what I understand certain towns in Michigan around Detroit look like they could be smack in the middle of Egypt, but we don’t have riots like the French suburbs.

    True. I suspect that more of the Muslim folks in Dearborn have jobs and prospects, compared to Clichy-sous-Bois. And that’s even with the de-industrialization of Michigan.

    But a couple of suburbs don’t equate with the political muscle that the Muslim community is able to generate in the Netherlands. If the Detroit area as a whole was 70% Muslim, that would be more akin to the Dutch situation (cf. Rotterdam).

  47. Don’t be hating of the Satanic Verses, now.

    That is a great book.

  48. The fact that many of those who hold those certain beliefs will likely react in a violent and destructive manner really only serves to prove Mr. Wilders’ point.

    “Dance”, the evil puppeteer cackled, “Dance you fools”.

  49. The bottom line is, as long as any community has economic oppourtunnity the nuts will be kept to a minimum.

  50. I predict that very soon, maybe even within a few months, a hurricane will strike the eastern seaboard of the United States, and that there will be much whining about FEMA in the media.

    So sayith Taktix?…

  51. Chris0 from what I understand certain towns in Michigan around Detroit look like they could be smack in the middle of Egypt, but we don’t have riots like the French suburbs.

    Too fucking cold most of the year to riot, and who wants to waste the few good months.

  52. “Don’t be hating of the Satanic Verses, now.

    That is a great book.”

    Seriously, is it really Joe? I have heard it is long winded and slow, but I have never read it and always wondered. Is it worth the time to read it?

  53. Uh Jsub, my man, unless you got my joke, you didn’t get the joke.

    Sure didn’t. I’m somewhat chagrined. My TV viewing muscles have atrophied over the years.

  54. This is how the article posting appeared to me:

    Everyone deserves the freedom to offend Michael C. Moynihan

  55. “If you don’t respect freedom of speech in someone you despise, you don’t believe in it at all” -Noam Chompsky

    I think that as long as anyone uses their religion to justify murder – and as long as a large group of their fellow worshipers supports, applauds, apologizes for or ignores their actions – then everyone else is justified in saying whatever they want about those people, their religion or their culture…no matter how vile, disgusting or untrue it may be.

  56. “If you let the fact that people are offended censor speech, you end up losing your freedom and in the end all of your decent art because someone is offended by virtually anything.”

    Right now, I’m working on “Dog Piss Muhummad”

    Come here, Spot! Here, boy…

  57. Ooops…misspelled ‘Chomsky’

  58. Recent Muslim immigrants are 10+% of the population in Michigan? Doubtful. But your point is taken.

    Dunno for sure and TLTG, but Dearborn (Henry Ford’s hometown)is probably higher. Amazingly enough, property values have not plummeted. An few years ago, an Arab ran for mayor and got 30% of the Arab vote. Assimilation does not seem to be that big a problem. The recent immigrants do have crappy taste in furniture, but what can you do?

  59. The article is right on all counts, but I wish you had put in more of a plug for ending the whole business of state sponsored censorship. Why is Mein Kampf still banned? same for holocaust denial. These are silly and unnecessary bans and lead logically to demands for banning Wilders, or banning the Quran for that matter.

  60. I blame Isabella, Torquemada and Ferdinand. If they had just let the “Moors” stay, then today it would be the Christians complaining about the Jesus cartoons but maybe not blowing stuff up.

  61. Film is online now.

  62. complaining about the Jesus cartoons but maybe not blowing stuff up.

    Maybe you missed that whole IRA thing in Ireland a few years back…Christian can blow stuff up just as readily as anyone else.

  63. the Grand Mufti of Syria told his audience that “If there is unrest, bloodshed and violence after the broadcast of the Koran film, Wilders will be responsible.”

    So, the Grand Mufti is a living charicature of what Wilders believes Islam to be? Great… this debate will be easily settled.

  64. Ooops…misspelled ‘Chomsky’

    Yeah. Should be S-O-C-I-A-L-I-S-T D-I-C-K.

  65. Maybe you missed that whole IRA thing in Ireland a few years back…Christian can blow stuff up just as readily as anyone else.

    They’re not nearly as effective at it, though.

  66. Forgive me, but I am compelled to repost:

    Pro Libertate | February 15, 2006, 11:25am | #

    DENMARK: (to Muslims) We made a fair move. Screaming about it won’t help you.
    U.S. STATE DEPT.: (interrupting) Let them have it. It’s not wise to upset a Muslim.
    DENMARK: But sir, nobody worries about upsetting a Christian.
    U.S. STATE DEPT.: That’s ’cause Christians don’t pull people’s arms out of their socket when they get offended. Muslims are known to do that.

    One can substitute other names for either role, of course.

  67. John,

    I’ve read it maybe 4 times (I do that with books I like), but I have somewhat unusual tastes.

    It’s a good book, it you like magical realism. And it’s not what anyone would describe as an easy read. It’s not beach-bag material.

    My favorite part is when the Muslim-immigrant mother from India is chastising her daughter for dressing like a whore (ie, showing her midriff. The daughter gets sick of it and yells, “Jesus, Mom!”

    “JESUS!?!”

  68. As regards this article, Jamie, he’s a socialist dick who supports free speech…which puts him miles above and ahead of either Wilders or most practitioners of Islam

  69. Thanks Joe

    I will have to give it a shot sometime.

  70. It’s a good book, it you like magical realism.

    I couldn’t get past the first chapter…and I like a lot of odd things. I found it slow and difficult to understand. He uses very complex and arcane metaphors and very long sentences.

    I fund even his children’s books depressing dense and hard to get through…

  71. The first chapter is the weirdest. It might as well be in verse.

    I think Rushdie was trying to deliberately disorient his readers for effect with that chapter. The rest of it is more straightforward – but only relatively so.

  72. Maybe I’ll give it another look see on that recommendation, joe

  73. that whole IRA thing

    The “troubles” were never about religion.

  74. while i like midnight’s children more, the satanic verses is really fucking good too.

    the end of midnight’s children kinda sucks it, though. well, sort of. ehh. it’s hard to explain.

  75. Cesar | March 27, 2008, 12:47pm | #

    I don’t want to see this President do anything, even if it seems like a good idea. He’d find a way to fuck it up.

    If this president supported a popular idea, he would make it unpopular merely by the fact he supports it.

  76. Just think of me when reading my husband’s books. I read them in the nude.

  77. I second the recommendation of the book.

    It shares some strong ties (what joe called magical realism – nice description joe) with much of what Tom Robbins has written. But it also has some of the Ancient-Secret-Societies-Shaping-The-World stuff from Foucault’s Pendulum, or even Davinci Code.

    Good stuff.

  78. The “troubles” were never about religion.

    You could make a good case along those lines, I suppose.

    But since the participants got started due to religious differences and consistently broke down against largely denominational lines – Catholic v Protestant – I think saying it was “never” about religion is leaving out a big chunk of the story.

    Only my opinion, to be sure.

    I suppose one could make an equally good case that Middle Eastern terrorism is not really about Islam.

  79. madpad,

    The core difference was nationality, not religion.

    Religious sect was just the easiest shorthand, as the Orange side had pretty much become a species of Irish by the 20th century.

    It was never a holy war – the Catholic Church used to excommunicate Fenians. It was about an empire colonizing another country.

  80. It was about an empire colonizing another country.

    joe…my ultimate aim was to (A) assert that Christians (whether acting in a holy war or not) can often use violence to justify there actions and (B) to make a point on the real and declared motives that make ‘the troubles’ in some ways similar to Middle East terrorism.

    With that last comment, you pretty much made my point for me.

  81. Ironic.

    The author goes out of his way to say that the things the film says about Islam being violent and out of control are extreme views, but the whole article is about a bunch of people who are afraid the film will, wait for it, be opposed VIOLENTLY by the Islamic folks.

    “Don’t you DARE make a film saying we are violent, or we will KILL you!”, seems to be the refrain.

    Which just proves the point doesn’t it?

  82. Fitna was released today and it’s nothing like you describe in your piece, ignorant fool.

  83. I sometimes have to read articles twice to make sure the first time I wasn’t mistaken. Wilders is the bad guy here? For taking their words, their acts and using it against them? I always think I’m past being shocked and then I read an article and bam…the shock that someone, anyone with normal thinking abilities, would find offense at Wilders and not radical Islam is beyond me.

  84. Michael,

    Good article! I watched first 7 minutes of Wilders film. This film would have been an excellent opportunity for moderate Muslims (the ones we need their assistance in fighting extremism) to provide counter argument to Wilders claims (and there are many holes in Wilders interpretation of the verses, but to his credit he’s using the same interpretation that the extremists use). Unfortunately, because of the loud extremists angrily responding to the film by threats and violence are given all the media attention. All the noise is silencing the moderate Muslims. Then people complain “Where are the moderate Muslims? Why don’t they speak up? Well, if we listen to them, may be they will be encouraged to speak up louder than the extremists. But some in the West are so into giving the extremists the microphone and not the moderates.

  85. Please, close quotes after the second question mark.

  86. So according to Michael Moynahan criticism of a religious ideology for its inherently violent tenets is “extremism”, or is it because Wilders is anti-open immigration. I’d say its the latter and as everyone knows libertarianism is mainstream and being against an inflow of violent immigrants is quite out of the mainstream. Perhaps it’s Moynahan who is the “extremist”.

  87. Hey, how about holding the Grand Mufti responsible for any violence committed in response to his deliberate, insulting assault on free speech rights we in the West hold sacred.

    What’s good for the goose, etc., etc.

    See, this is where the West’s flaccid, so-called leadership classes lose me — by not drawing a bright line here and calling bullshit on this sort of shakedown.

    “Nice country you got here, Geert. Shame if anything were to happen to it. Wanna know how to keep it that way?”

    What a disgrace. Out with a whimper . . .

    Vinny Vidivici
    Holy City of Houston

  88. Me too, joe… just not THIS president.

    Only Nixon can go to China

  89. Don’t be hating of the Satanic Verses, now.

    That is a great book.

    It is a piece of shit.

    Imagine a book about Mohamed being a woman then imagine it being written by an illiterate 12 year old.

    Joe just wants it to be good cuz he actually wasted the time to finish it.

  90. John,

    It’s actually a very good book. Mr Rushdie’s style takes a bit of getting used to, but once you do, it’s a good read.

    I’d recommend it, if for no other reason than to see what upset the Muslims that were all bent out of shape over it.

    Major Bill

  91. The Geert Wilder film Fitna has just been released. We have it up now at Libertarian Republican blog.

    http://www.libertarianrepublican.blogspot.com

    It is just as shocking as all the advance hype and the trailers indicated it would be.

  92. The film is also at LiveLeak.com

  93. Why didn’t you stop prior to the last para? if you wish to defend speech, do you really want to end your piece whacking someone for their speech, even if they are an idiot? the right to be a vocal idiot is included in free speech, without which I would be mute.

  94. Typical Reason leftwing libertarians. Deflect from the main issue. Don’t address the threat Radical Islam presents to our civil liberties, our Western culture, and our very fundamental way of life. Rather deflect the issue, and focus in on side issues like the Dutch government’ reaction.

    Hey Reason leftwingers. It’ the threat of Radical Islam that’s the issue here.

    If any libertarian doubted how much Radical Islamists hate libertarian values, check out 9 minutes into the film, the burqa-clad protestor holding up the sign:

    FREEDOM GO TO HELL.

    Fitna film now up at http://www.libertarianrepublican.blogspot.com

  95. also check out the Demographic trends this film mentions. Europe as we know it is literally on its death bed.

  96. Radical Muslims are scary. This is my first post that’s kind of on-topic but mainly a shill for my blog, which you can reach by clicking on my name.

  97. Many terrorists are, in fact, Muslim. This is my second post that’s kind of on-topic but mainly a shill for my blog, which you can reach by clicking on my name.

  98. I would be very, very unhappy if Radical Muslims succeeded in forcing me to wear a burka.

  99. Giuliani is the only person who can save us. Eventually I plan to write a post explaining this on my blog.

  100. Did I say Giuliani? I meant to say Mitt Romney.

  101. But, Jennifer, both are out now. Are you going for Root or McCain.

  102. Fuck off, Ali. Unless you’ve passed out pamphlets barefoot in the snow, you have no idea what it means to be a REAL libertarian.

  103. Jennifeeeeeeeeroooooo

  104. I’m from the Netherlands and I want to express my great compliments for this great article. It’s a perfect analysis of the situation.

    Additionally, it’s interesting to know that some Dutch critics and journalists suggest that the Christian Democrat Party (CDA) of Balkenende used this Fitna issue for its own political agenda: eliminating Wilders’ Freedom Party, by suggesting he’s responsible for eventual violence and by overreacting in public – in advance – such as calling the French government for support.

    A justified question to ask, would be: What’s more dangerous for a western democratic country like the Netherlands: A one-issue right-wing politician who produces a compilation of terrorist acts my muslim extremists, or a prime minister who fails to stand up for the western morals and values and defend those?

    Some people in my country are ashamed because of Wilders, I (as a NON Wilders voter) am ashamed of the prime minister of my country for NOT defending these values, like the article describes very well.

    One minor correction: Wilders’ party doesn’t hold five, but nine seats in Dutch parliament.

  105. Having now watched Fitna, about the worst you can say about it is that it’s selective. The words are the words out of the Koran and of at least some muslims, and the acts are acts that were done in the name of Islam.

  106. Hey, Jennifeeeeeeeeroooooo, at least I am using my real name, not like the chickenhawks on this thread.

    Hey, and what about the war on Islamofaschism? How’s that going?

  107. The tension is not over-reaching to the compilation and mistaking the words and acts as representing the entirety of the Koran and Islam.

  108. Tom-

    And the first verse that he quotes does not actually mention the word “terrorize”. He’s using the modern arabic interpretation. The word that is used in the Arabic text is not the same as “terrorize”. The one used means “make them fear you”. And here’s the catch, only if someone has betrayed a peace treaty with you. See the verses before 8-60 and you’ll verify for yourself.

    More interestingly, read the verses that immediately follows. 8-61 says (to the effect) “If they [the betraying party] makes peace, then you too should make peace and trust in God”.

    Anyhow…

  109. I just watched the video, and I wasn’t impressed. It didn’t seem as outrageous as everyone made it out to be, and with a few tweaks could probably make it on Fox News as an average bit.

  110. Just to clarify… this verse pertains only in a state of war and is not a blanket statement of terror.

  111. Ali

    Thanks. I will take a look at the passages you mention.

    Tom

  112. “The Freedom not to offend?”

    What offence? The film is EXACTLY the truth! There’s not one lie in it? The koran says exactly what in the film.

    How can the moslems be offended about that?

  113. Excellent article, and I see nothing wrong with the film. It shows real video footage, plays real audio recordings, and quotes lines from the Quran. It’s just fifteen minutes of history that shows Islamist Radicals for what they are, and presents us with the very real danger of the Islamification of Europe (and America?).

    And yes, we should have the right to offend. Why not? We can offend everyone else, why not the Muslims? Why should they get such special treatment?

  114. While I mostly agree with Moynihan, one thing is dubious: Network Solutions is a “private company”? Well then, I can just go to the competion… can’t I? Who would that be? …and why not?

  115. E.D. Kain- My only problem with the film (everything else being A-OK) is that the translation is wrong and the text clearly taken out of context. That does not, of course, undermine the the legitimacy of the film’s other footages or video clips and the scary Islamization of Europe.

  116. … the translation of the Quran (which I omitted) obviously.

    So before people start condemning anyone who happens to be Muslim, just keep in mind that the interpretation is of that text is very different from that of Wilders’ and, in fact, the extremists.

  117. This article itself makes the same mistake it calls out in in the politicians: Mr. Moynihan is falling all overhimself trying to distance himself from the message, also “reductively” evaluating it as “reductive and puerile”.

    What is the message Moynihan is trying to proclaim? That we should protect free speech? Or is it, as it sounds, “we should not criticize Islam though still protect those mean people that do”.

  118. Worry for double post. I meant, sure criticize Wilder, but give it the attention it deserves. Just calling him and his work names won’t convince anyone whether he got it right or not, probably just affects people’s pride and makes people more entrenched.

    Thanks to Ali above I actually learned something

  119. Augh I meant “sorry” not “worry” 😉 triple post FTW!

  120. It’s important to point out that Geert Wilder is not interpreting the Koran, he’s quoting it. The usual dodge of claiming that it’s quoted out of context isn’t going to wash either. The context is almost always even worse.

    Muslims don’t want people in the West to know what’s actually in the Koran, or the specifically stated goal of Islam, which is the establishment of a world-wide Muslim caliphate and the destruction of all other forms of government.

    I think it would be a good idea for all my fellow libertarians actually to read the Holy Koran so they know what it says. You must read one the the 19th century translations, because all of the later ones have been cleaned up for Western consumption with most of the hideous, murderous destructiveness excised. Infidels are not even mentioned in some of the newest translations.

    There’s hardly any point in discussing this subject just quoting third hand information and uninformed opinions. Read it and learn. There is no free speech under an Islamic republic. If you doubt that, simply observe Iran.

    This is indeed a free speech issue and it’s unfortunate that such a nut-bag as Geert Wilder delivers this message, thereby calling into question its credibility. Conversely, Mr. Moynihan is acting as a Muslim apologist by implying that Wilder’s point of view is (must we say it again?) reductive and puerile. Just remember that Islam is the Arabic word for surrender, and they aren’t kidding.

  121. Network Soultions does also host http://www.hizbollah.org and IslamOnline.net. IslamOnline is owned by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the extremist Muslim Brotherhood. Unlike Hizbollah, which is a terrorist organization, Mr Wilders has never killed anyone, nor does he threaten to do so. He is, however, critical of Islam, which for Network Solutions is worse than running a terrorist organization and calling for Jihad.

    Apparently organizing and inciting to violence is worse that being the victim of it. Network Solutions spokes person Susan Wade told the Washington Post they are investigating the matter but that “In the meantime, she said, a decision was made to deactivate the site given the potential violence that the movie could spark.”.

  122. 1. I see repeatedly that Wilders is a member of the ‘hard right’ – someone please provide evidence to back this up. What are his views (other than anti-Islam/anti-muslim immigration) that qualify him for this? Maybe people describe him as a member of the ‘hard right’ in an attempt to discredit him rather then trying to refute his views on Islam with logic.
    2. If you think Fitna is offensive what do you think of what is said in the Koran and the fact that in every major Islamic tradition/sect/etc… literal intepretation of the Koran is the norm. In fact – non-literal intepretation of the Koran is seen as being heretical.
    3. Ask yourself this question – why are Muslims more outraged over things like the cartoons/Fitna then the constant violence committed by fellow Muslims (against other Muslims and non-Muslims)?
    4. Ask yourself this questions – why are Muslims outraged when non-Muslims attempt to publicize the intolerance inherent in Islam and NOT outraged at the actual propagation of intolerance by fellow Muslims?
    5. Some people have made comments about the US Muslim population not being as radical as in Europe. Part of this is because Europe has accepted ‘politcal’ refugees from Islamic countries that were expelled because they were so ‘radical’. However, what many people fail to realize is that the US is a major fundraising, recruting and training center for Islamists/Salafists/Jihadis. Why would Jihadists conduct constant attacks in the US (which would undoubtedly provoke strong vigilante action from a well armed populace) when they can simply live in peace, train in military tactics/piloting, donate large sums of money to organizations like Hamas, go on vacation in places like Bosnia to fight against infidels and go to the Mosque on Friday nights and listen to hateful anti-American/anti-Western sermons?

  123. I just wanted to add one comment that I forgot. I am agnostic and consider myself an ‘Enlightenment Liberal’. I’m not some right wing nutcase who hates people with brown skin. This seems to be the knee jerk reaction from many on the left to people who dare to criticize Islam. No major Islamic sect/group has ever repudiated the Islamic view on non-believers (which I as an agnostic qualify). This view is simple – convert or be put to death. Fellow atheists and agnostics (as well as polytheists, wiccans and other people not of the book) should keep this in mind.

  124. Somebody must kick these muslim barbarians out of Netherland and entire civilized world once for all.

  125. It’s a classic Catch-22 – any secular European has to be crazy to attempt a critical examination of exam, because nobody with a sense of self-preservation would risk getting murdered by Islmaic fanatics. So when a secular European criticizes that religion, just point to his craziness in order to disqualify his opinions.

  126. examination of Islam, not exam

  127. Not many people know as well as me where Wilders gets his artistic ability from.

    You see I am an 84 year old man and I used to know Wilders’ mother who gave me many hours of pleasure with her lips and tongue. I tried to make her more respectable and told her that her lips and tongue can be used over my entire body, but she insisted on using it only in a particular region of the lower half of my body. She said she derived extra pleasure from seeing me happy. I had to leave her though because she was focused on only giving me pleasure and obtaining the same from me. I did miss her so until I found someone else who could fill the void that was left from the lack of her presence.

    I don’t mean to cause offense but it’s important for the world to know the facts and that I should be able to exercise my right to freedom of expression without fear from anyone.

    Also I don’t hate Wilders, I just hated his father who provided the genes that resulted in this mass of protoplasm that couldn’t find anything better to do with his life.

    Finally, a graduate student in need of ideas for his thesis could look into the relationship between one’s looks and the amount of pain and suffering individuals cause others. It appears that those who seem to have caused the most suffering to their fellow men have been the most ugliest individuals such as Hitler and Milosevic, with whom he shares an uncanny resemblance; although his mother appeared more pleasing than that except for the missing front tooth and bad breath.

  128. All that from Jack Smith (above) over Wilders quoting the koran – and you wonder why people find Muslims to be heavy weather! Sorry, but not everyone is into islam So what?

  129. >> Threats to free speech come not from private companies acting in their own self-interest, but from both governments and those who desire to silence heterodox?and yes, extreme?voices with implicit or explicit threats of violence.

    I don’t know, man. That seems like libertarian orthodoxy. If unpopular opinions are censored by private companies, for instance if I can’t get an ISP to host my website, my freedom of speech has been inhibited. The government and companies are getting more tangled and interrelated, as well. I don’t think there’s a sharp dividing line.

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