Amsterdam

We’ve been in Amsterdam two days, and will spend our third day in the country surrounding the city. The days have been long, hence my silence. Even now, I don’t have time to write a full post, so I’ll just give a few snapshots:

The heat wave we experienced throughout this trip followed us to Amsterdam. Apparently yesterday’s temperatures were in the 90s — it certainly felt that way. After two hit summer vacations (Mediterranean and Japan), I was hoping for some cooler climes. So it goes, I guess.

Today is the Gay Pride parade. Amsterdam is even more welcoming than San Francisco, with rainbow flags festooning everything. The city is packed, but the museums have been empty. My only bit of pique is that the rainbow image has been co-opted to become the symbol of a single special interest group. I think rainbows should belong to everyone.

The Rijksmuseum is a great museum — and well-organized too. While the Hermitage was a bit of a disappointment (too much shlock, which is unsurprising when you think about the kitschy palaces), the Rijksmuseum was just fine.

If you’re in Holland, visit the Rembrandt House, where you can see a meticulous recreation of his home in the building he occupied for almost 20 years after Saskia died.

Anne Frank’s house has become a thriving industry since I saw it in 1980. The remodel is splendid in that it channels traffic skillfully so that every visitor gets a chance to walk through the Secret Annex. (Buy tickets online if you go there. The crowds waiting to get in are horrific.) The museum around the house focuses in tightly on Ann, her family, and her friends. It makes the Holocaust very personal but, by doing so, fails utterly to educate people about the Holocaust or fascism.

At the end if the museum, there’s a room with very short videos, many of which are about special interest demands against a greater European culture that is not bowing to their dressing, immigration, or marriage requirements. The videos begin by focusing on a fictional young person with needs, and then, having personalized that need, gives a brief, shallow, fairly even-handed look at the issue, whether it’s veils in schools, forcing Christian civil servants to perform gay marriages, or allowing people to serve in the military while wearing religious garb.

Having started each video with the personalization, everyone knows what they’re supposed to think. None of the videos delves into the deeper issues. For example, are the veil-wearing girls embracing Dutch culture, or undermining it? (E.g., are they fifth columnists, like Maj. Hasan, or multicultural patriots?) If the veil is a symbol of religious faith, that’s one thing. If it represents the thin edge if the wedge for sharia, it’s another. By simplifying and personalizing the matter, the Anne Frank museum manages to say that a country’s desire to protect certain laudable institutions against a self-professed form of religious fascism is tantamount to Nazis killing Anne Frank.

I watched about ten or twelve videos, and the only nod to antisemitism was in the video about Holocaust Denial on YouTube.

I’m homesick. My idea of a good trip is about two weeks. Being gone for 27 days drains me. Even a good trip — and this was good — can go on too long.

Two posts that I thought you’d find interesting

These posts are completely unrelated.  They both came through my inbox, though, and both intrigued me.

The first is from David Swindle, explaining why he hates Game of Thrones.  I couldn’t agree more, both with the comment from “Recovering Lutheran” that David quotes at the top of his post and with David’s own take on the show.  It’s typical HBO fare, and HBO leans to the left of Left.  It’s Pravda TV, aimed at using “documentaries” and movies to undermine basic American beliefs and values.

The second is about the Arabs’ long game against Israel, with their anti-Zionist message, which hides a push for Jewish genocide, gradually triumphing in the world’s mind over Israel’s push for freedom and her existence as the sole democracy in a world of Muslim tyranny.

More dust settling, this time in Rotterdam

Sometimes, you have to be poised on the edge of the volcano to realize the threat you face.  Until you get there, you might just think you’re climbing a beautiful mountainside.  Bruce Bawer, a gay man living in Europe, reached the edge of the volcano and wrote While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within.  Now, Paul Lucre, a gay American man of Puerto Rican descent also realizes he’s not just on the side of a pretty European hill but, instead, is gazing down into a boiling cauldron of Islamist anger, this time in Rotterdam.

What’s fascinating to watch is Lucre’s struggle to understand why the combination of Islam and European welfare, instead of leading to happy Muslims, leads to angry Islamists.  He finds it bizarre that the Muslims continue to live in segregated communities, instead of realizing that, from the Muslim point of view, they’ve achieved jizya without any effort:  the non-believing community voluntarily works and pays to support the (in Muslim minds) Muslim overlords.

Nevertheless, as the victim of a physical anti-Gay attack, Lucre is beginning to realize that the European model is not working.  Perhaps European anti-immigration forces are not necessarily White Supremacists and perhaps the American notion of a melting pot is a good thing:

This [the chaos and Muslim violence in Rotterdam] angers working-class white friends of mine, who admire Geert Wilders. These aren’t jack-booted, shaved-head racists — these are people who have given me shelter. These are people who have taken me, an openly gay Hispanic, all over the Netherlands as their guest so that I may learn more about this country I adore. They’re what we call “good people” back in Brooklyn, and they’re responding to Wilders.

My sympathy for the young Dutch Muslims then only goes so far. My parents were born in Puerto Rico. My mother insisted we not speak Spanish at home, and she refused to enroll us in bilingual education programs. We embraced American values in return for a share of the American dream. That Muslim immigrants here don’t aspire to become Dutch — and live according to Dutch rules and values — shocks me.

People are starting to figure things out.  Their Leftist hypotheses don’t work in the reality.  True, Europe chugged along for decades under a socialist model, but it was able to do so only because (a) a strong dollar and strong American military supported it and (b) it had a primarily homogeneous population.  Take away those two factors, and you have a looming disaster.  The only question remaining is whether a sufficient number of Europeans will be able to stare down into the volcano’s heart and then have the wisdom and ability to pull away from that abyss.

Hat tip:  Bald-Headed Geek

Sheep, part II

My earlier post about the knifing atrocity in Japan, which seemed to happen without any citizen attempts to block the attack, garnered a lot of interesting comments. Danny Lemieux now sent me the perfect follow-up link to Bruce Bawer’s blog. (I can’t find any permalinks there, but just land on the June 9, 2008 post, which is currently the top post, of course.)

In this post, Bawer discusses a story which I’d heard through my email network, but that, rather significantly, never made the media — any media. Gay Patriot (who is the sole media outlet for this story) describes what happened:

At a fashion show to promote tolerance of gay people on April 30, a national holiday in Holland, celebrating the birthday of the late Queen Juliana, a group of ten Muslim youths dragged gay model Mike Du Pree down from the catwalk, beating him up and breaking his nose. A second model who tried to help out was also attacked.

Typically, given that its Bruce Bawer doing the writing, Bawer’s post goes beyond the obvious, which is that Islam is a profoundly intolerant religion, and that it is exporting that intolerance in violent fashion to the West. Instead, Bawer is horrified by the metaphorical sheep involved in this instance:

Another appalling fact here is this: according to one of the stories, Mike du Pree was defended by “another model.” There is no mention of anyone else rushing to defend him. I don’t get it. On no day of the year is Amsterdam more crowded with people than it is on Queen’s Day. This is especially true of Rembrandtplein and the streets leading into it. I suspect the side street on which this event took place was Halvemaansteeg, a little alley that is lined with gay bars and that connects Rembrandtplein to the river Amstel. For one thing, I can’t imagine why the cops couldn’t get there in time — on days like Queen’s Day there’s always cops staked out on Rembrandtplein to deal with rowdies and such.

But forget the cops. How come the story only mentions du Pree being defended by “another model”? How many gay guys were at that fashion show? How many dozens or hundreds of men, on this most crowded of all days in Amsterdam, were within shouting distance of this atrocity? Did any of them do anything? Dan links to du Pree’s web page, on which he describes himself as being between 170 and 175 cm (5’7″-5’9″) tall and as weighing between 50 and 55 kg (110-120 pounds). In a country where the average guy is over six feet tall, that’s a little guy. There were almost certainly gay guys at that show who were a foot or more taller than Du Pree. Did they actually stand there and watch him get his ass kicked without trying to do anything? Certainly they must have outnumbered the Muslim gangsters. Where’s the solidarity? Where’s the initiative? This is just plain chilling.

I hope it turns out there was some resistance. But there’s no indication in the Dutch articles that there was. And that’s the scariest part of all this, the sheer passivity. It’s like when Anna Lindh was murdered in Stockholm. People just stood there, waiting for somebody else to do something. Somebody whose job it was. Hayek was right: the capacity for resistance — the capacity of even conceiving of resistance — is bred out of people in social democracies. And it’s not as if gays in Amsterdam can say they were taken by surprise. In the last decade, conditions for gay people in that city have been heading steadily south. It was just about time for something like this to happen. Amsterdam gays should have been prepared.

A society that can’t defend itself should be prepared to die or be enslaved. It’s that simple, with the Jews of Europe serving as a depressing example.

Wilders doesn’t need to show his film; its existence proves his point

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?

Something for the multi-culti crowd to chew on

The moral equivalence crowd, the one that says all cultures are created equal, except that non-Western cultures are better than others, is going to have to pretzel itself severely to deal with this one:

Homosexuals deserve to be executed or tortured and possibly both, an Iranian leader told British MPs during a private meeting at a peace conference, The Times has learnt.

Mohsen Yahyavi is the highest-ranked politician to admit that Iran believes in the death penalty for homosexuality after a spate of reports that gay youths were being hanged.

President Ahmadinejad, questioned by students in New York two months ago about the executions, dodged the issue by suggesting that there were no gays in his country.

***

[Some examples of] Sharia’s victims

2005

— Homosexuals Farbod Mostaar and Ahmad Chooka sentenced to death. Iran said Chooka had kidnapped, knifed and raped a student

— A woman called Soghra was sentenced to stoning for adultery and being an accomplice to her husband’s murder

— Two men executed in public after being found guilty of a homosexual relationship. A newspaper said they were convicted of sodomy, rape and kidnapping

— Zhila Izadi, 13, sentenced to stoning after becoming pregnant with her brother’s child

2006

— Malek Ghorbany sentenced to stoning for adultery

— Leila Qomi sentenced to stoning for adultery and assisting a man who killed her husband. He received 100 lashes

2007

— Jafar Kiana stoned for adultery. His female lover Mokarrameh Ebrahimi sentenced to the same fate

Right now, even faced with this stark admission about Iran’s genocidal approach towards homosexuals, the multi-culti governments in Europe are in denial. Even as England is happy to ban Israelis who note, accurately, that Muslims are out to kill Israelis, and to welcome terrorists with open arms, and even as Holland is sending into hiding yet another person who has offended Islam, both England and Holland are working hard to send a teenager back to Iran, where it is almost certain that he will be hanged, as his gay friend and compatriot was last year:

A gay teenager who faces being hanged if sent back to Iran is a step closer to being forced to return today, after the Netherlands followed Britain in refusing his appeal for asylum.

Mehdi Kazemi, 19, came to London to study English in 2005 but says he later discovered that his boyfriend had been arrested by the Iranian police, charged with sodomy and hanged.

He claimed asylum in Britain, saying that he feared for his life if he returned. However, his case was refused late last year, so he fled to the Netherlands.

A Dutch court today, however, ordered him to return to Britain, leaving the teenager once again facing deportation.

According to Iranian human rights campaigners, more than 4,000 gay men and lesbians have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979.

Borg Palm, his lawyer, said today that the Dutch court had ruled he could only claim asylum in the UK – but that it was not “totally sure” he would be forced to return to Britain immediately as a European court could temporarily halt the move.

The British and Dutch stance is not surprising. In the world of cognitive dissonance, if you’ve hung your hat on the multi-culti tree, and proudly proclaimed that “they are just like us, only better,” then the fact that contradictory information comes along showing that they are not just like us but are, in fact, cruel and bestial, must be disregarded — and damn the consequences for the innocent.

Multiculturalism — you’ve got to love it, since it takes false facts and erroneous principles, and out of all those falsities manages to create real death and pain.

Views from abroad

A Dutch politician described as “radical right-wing” and “extremist”* is about to trigger some new convulsions amongst Holland’s Islamic residents:

The Dutch government is bracing itself for violent protests following the scheduled broadcast this week of a provocative anti-Muslim film by a radical right-wing politician who has threatened to broadcast images of the Koran being torn up and otherwise desecrated.

Cabinet ministers and officials, fearing a repetition of the crisis sparked by the publication of cartoons of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper two years ago, have held a series of crisis meetings and ordered counter-terrorist services to draw up security plans. Dutch nationals overseas have been asked to register with their embassies and local mayors in the Netherlands have been put on standby.

Geert Wilders, one of nine members of the extremist VVD (Freedom) party in the 150-seat Dutch lower house, has promised that his film will be broadcast – on television or on the internet – whatever the pressure may be. It will, he claims, reveal the Koran as ‘source of inspiration for intolerance, murder and terror’.

Dutch diplomats are already trying to pre-empt international reaction. ‘It is difficult to anticipate the content of the film, but freedom of expression doesn’t mean the right to offend,’ said Maxime Verhagen, the Foreign Minister, who was in Madrid to attend the Alliance of Civilisations, an international forum aimed at reducing tensions between the Islamic world and the West. In Amsterdam, Rotterdam and other towns with large Muslim populations, imams say they have needed to ‘calm down’ growing anger in their communities.

Government officials hope that no mainstream media organisation will agree to show the film, although one publicly funded channel, Nova, initially agreed before pulling out. ‘A broadcast on a public channel could imply that the government supported the project,’ said an Interior Ministry spokesman.

Demonstrations are also expected from those opposed to Wilders beyond Holland’s Muslim community – a number of left-wing activists have already been arrested – and from his supporters. Members of a group calling itself Stop Islamisation of Europe are planning to travel to Amsterdam. ‘Geert Wilders is an elected politician who has made a film, and that he is under armed guard as a result is absolutely outrageous,’ said Stephen Gash, a UK-based member, yesterday. ‘It is all about free speech.’

There were a couple of points in that article that intrigued me.  First, there was Maxime Verhagen’s view of free speech:  “It is difficult to anticipate the content of the film, but freedom of expression doesn’t mean the right to offend.”  In fact, free speeh means precisely that — you get to say what you want to say, even if it offends someone.  This view that free speech can’t be offensive is, of course, identical to the speech codes that stultify American college campuses.  It’s also a complete lie, because those who espouse this point of view don’t mean it.  What they really mean is “freedom of expression doesn’t mean the right to offend me or those I deem beyond criticism.  I, of course, am perfectly free to use my speech to offend you.”

The second thing that intrigued me was the fact that the film is going to include “images of the Koran being torn up and otherwise desecrated.”  Why would the filmmakers do that?  To make a film about Muslim violence is, I think, perfectly valid, since only someone in complete denial could, in a straight-faced way, claim that Muslims don’t have anything to do with many of the convulsions going on around the world today.  The fact is that, whether you’re in Iran, Iraq, Israel, Holland, the Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Bali, Spain, Britain, the United States or myriad other spots around the world, the common denominator when bombs blow up, or free thinkers are murdered, or school girls beheaded, or airplanes collide with buildings is radical Islam.  (Check out The Religion of Peace for more info about this point.)  One can do a perfectly good indictment of radical Islam without lowering oneself to the same tactics employed by Islamists — that is, desecrating the symbols of another’s religion.  As you can see from the footnote, I’m unwilling automatically to accept the Guardian‘s designation of Geert Wilders as “radical right wing.”  However, demeaning what could be a serious film about a real problem indicates that there may be truth to that designation.

And sort of bouncing off of that last point, the rise of the truly extreme right wing in Europe (something Charles Johnson has been dealing with at LGF) demonstrates a very scary point about politics:  If the stable middle refuses to respond to a crisis, a panicked populace will embrace the radical extremes.   Had the mainstream, somewhat leftist European governments taken seriously the Islamist threat and worked harder, not to placate the extremists, but to assimilate its moderate Muslim population, ordinary citizens would not have that sinking feeling of abandonment that leads them to hate-mongering political parties.

___________________

*I don’t automatically accept this description, not because it’s necessarily false (and, indeed, there are signs that it’s true), but because (a) I don’t know anything about the politician’s point of view; (b) Europe’s right and left classifications don’t match ours that closely; and (c) consistent with point (b), above, this article comes from the British Guardian paper and in its view everything that’s not left is far right.

Can Montessori be the answer?

You know that I think the best teaching method out there is a pure Montessori approach. It focuses on how children learn, rather than on how union educators think teachers ought to teach, and instills in children a lifelong love of learning, and a depth of understanding that’s foreign to most American children.

Perhaps Montessori could also be the answer to Islamism run amok. Okay, I know that’s silly thinking, but I couldn’t help thinking about it when I read about the tough-talking, Morocco born, Muslim mayor of a immigrant rich suburb in Amsterdam (emphasis below mine):

For one Amsterdam mayor, the Netherlands’ famous tolerance has gone too far. Morrocan-born Ahmed Marcouch is taking the tough cop approach in a rough Amsterdam neighborhood, pushing his fellow immigrants to integrate. But some consider him a traitor.

***

Ahmed Marcouch grew up in this environment, but he has since made a better life for himself. He was illiterate when he came to the Netherlands from Morocco at the age of 10, but he was lucky enough to encounter a teacher at a progressive Montessori school who helped him get on track.

***

But since the Van Gogh murder, the gedogen principle no longer applies — at least in Slotervaart, a change that is in no small part due to the mayor’s efforts. Marcouch, a former police officer, experienced at first hand the unrest that followed the Van Gogh murder. He wasn’t a softie like some of his colleagues, who routinely looked the other way when rowdy mobs swaggered through the streets. He took a hard line when he believed it was necessary, which was the case more often than not. And a tougher police approach is suddenly popular with the no-longer-quite-so-relaxed Dutch.

***

Marcouch, on the other hand [in contrast to the Dutch government, which talks, but doesn't do], is doing something. He has instructed his officials to conduct one-on-one interviews with young unemployed residents to help them find ways to make a fresh start. Especially tough cases are referred directly to Marcouch.

Although he has no authority over the Amsterdam police force, Marcouch has set up a rapid response team of social workers which constantly patrols the streets on bicycles to defuse hostilities and catch young criminals red-handed.

Marcouch’s brief tenure to date has already left its mark in Slotervaart, where the crime rate has dropped and there is significantly less trash on the streets. “When there’s a lack of cooperation, we have to give them a bit of a push — with force, if necessary,” he says.