As I’m sure you’ve heard, Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician has made a 15 minute long film that demonstrates how violent Islam is. He describes it as a film made with a split screen that has, on one side, passages from the Koran and, on the other side, modern footage of Islamists putting those passages into effect (beheadings, beatings, stonings, de-handings, etc.). I specifically say “modern” footage, just to preempt anyone who might argue, as Noah Feldman did in the New York Times, that Christianity is just as bad — or, as he even he had to admit, was just as bad about 200 plus years ago.
So far, Geert Wilders has been unable to show the film, since venue after venue (including Dutch television) has refused to touch the project. Just today, news came down that the web site that was going to host the documentary has now refused to do so.
I’ve come to the conclusion that, at this point, it no longer matters whether Wilders shows his documentary at all. The response from the West to the documentary’s mere existence makes the point better than any video ever could:
Not unexpectedly, Wilders’s film has Europe’s timid governments, especially that of the Netherlands, wringing their hands with worry and veering toward outright panic. NATO is concerned about attacks against its troops in Afghanistan, especially against Dutch troops serving there, and the Netherlands itself fears a terrorist attack at home or against its interests and nationals overseas. Home to some one million Muslims, the Netheerlands has been put on its second-highest security alert level in anticipation of the film.
Even prior to its release, Wilders’s film has proved poignant. The biggest effect Wilders’ film project has had so far is that it has shown how deeply the Netherlands, and the rest of Europe, has already sunk into cowardice. For instance, the Dutch government, afraid of a violent Muslim backlash rivaling or surpassing what Denmark experienced after the Mohammed cartoons were published in 2006, has twice asked Wilders not to show the film. To be sure, their fears are not unfounded: Some Muslim countries have threatened an economic boycott should Wilders‘s film be released.
Dutch politicians also fear a repeat of the civil violence that took place in Holland itself after film director Theo van Gogh was murdered by a Muslim fanatic in 2004 for his short film showing the oppression of women in Islam. Van Gogh’s gruesome death, some believe, was tantamount to a declaration of jihad against Dutch, and European, society. In the hopes of placating Islamic wrath, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has chosen capitulation. According to a story in the German publication Der Spiegel, he has met with Iran’s foreign minister, who advised him to use an article from the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights to prevent the film’s showing.
It is obvious that Europes’ craven reaction has nothing to do with being good PC citizens and everything to do with rank fear. And the only reason they could be feeling this type of fear is because Wilders is absolutely right about the fact that the Koran, as it is interpreted in the here and now, is a dangerously violent book.
Wouldn’t it be amusing if, when the video is finally shown, it turns out to be nothing but sweet images of deer wandering in the forest and birds flying above, since Wilders well understands that it was the publicity and the reaction that would make a point better than any footage ever could?