November 12 2004
Theo Van Gogh's Blue Period
Wednesday marked the funeral of Theo Van Gogh, the Dutch avant-garde filmmaker and distant relative of the famous Impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh. Theo Van Gogh was shot on Nov. 2 while riding his bicycle, almost certainly in reprisal for his outspoken views about the Muslim radicals who have taken up residence in large numbers in his country. Bending over backwards to be nice to Islamist fanatics, while getting to diss Jews and Christians to your heart's content, is the rule in Holland as it is almost everywhere else in Western Europe these days. You're never supposed to say anything bad about these large groups of immigrants who are increasingly hostile to Western values--because they're victims.
Van Gogh, a bohemian from the get-go, liked to offend just about every religious and ethnic group he considered oppressive, and so it was with Muslims. He called them "goatf---ers" on at least one occasion, and his last movie, Submission, dealt with wife-beating by Muslim men and featured the naked body of a Muslim woman with verses of the Koran painted on it. The latter sounds like tame stuff in the land of nude sunbathing and legalized prostitution. If the cinematic dead woman had been a Christian with verses of the Bible scribbled on her corpse, Van Gogh would have undoubtedly carried off the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Instead, here is what happened to him, as described by U.K. Telegraph columnist Daniel Johnson:
"As he writhed on the ground, the murderer cut his throat without mercy and left him with two knives protruding from his body: a method that is apparently common in North Africa, but unheard of here. Just in case there was any doubt about the symbolism of this butchery, a note was found pinned to his chest, containing death threats against three other public figures."
The reaction of the Dutch police? Well, one of the first things they did was destroy an outdoor mural painted in protest of Van Gogh's murder by Rotterdam artist Chris Ripke. The mural contained a painting of an angel and the commandment "Thou Shalt Not Kill." Oh, and the Dutch cops also arrested some journalists who were televising the destruction and erased their videotapes. The reason? Ripke's workshop was next door to a mosque, and the imam called the police to complain that the mural was "racist."
Next, Amsterdam journalist Henk Spaan wrung his hands in the U.K. Guardian, pointing out that Van Gogh had been "extremely offensive" and thus essentially deserved what he got. Wrote Spaan:
"Many people have expressed regret about the failure to take legal action to defend the Muslim targets of Van Gogh's vitriolic attacks, as a Jewish colleague did after he made a series of what were widely regarded as anti-semitic comments. Muslims might then have experienced support from the authorities they fear more than trust."
Yes, Van Gogh should have been silenced.
Fortunately, the Dutch public decided not to go along with the idea floated by their intellectual betters that Van Gogh's murder was all his own fault. Huge numbers of them turned out for his funeral. In an action surely not commendable but just as surely understandable, some of them retaliated for the slaying by burning down a mosque. More official hand-wringing followed. "What has happened to our country?" lamented Dutch prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende, who called the action "un-Dutch."
Yet the Dutch seem to have finally awakened from the politically correct timidity that has made most of the European elite, including their own countrymen, reluctant to utter the smallest protest against the brand of extremist and violent Islam that festers in nearly every city on that continent. The ruling Dutch Liberal Party barely survived a parliamentary vote of no-confidence against Dutch Interior Minister John Remkes over his alleged failure to do much about Muslim terrorism in his country. The alleged killer, a 26-year-old Dutch-Moroccan named "Mohammed B." with two years' worth of radical affiliations, had never been placed under surveillance, for example. Remkes claimed that, radical though Mohammed B. might be, the Dutch government had no idea that he would turn to terrorism.
But Remke also came out and said at last that Van Gogh's death wasn't due to Muslims feeling bad about themselves a la Henk Spaan, but was the product of an "international jihad." The Dutch parliament is now considering measures to increase surveillance of suspected Islamic radicals, close extremist mosques, deport jihad-preaching imams, and revoke the Dutch citizenship of dual-citizenship immigrants convicted of violent crimes.
As the Telegraph's Daniel Johnson wrote:
"Unlike his great, great, great uncle Vincent, Theo van Gogh was not a genius. Was he really an artist at all? But van Gogh's murder has proved him right about the hardline Islamists. Their ideology is inimical to all that the Dutch hold dear. Last night, as van Gogh's cremation was seen on television, the tension was palpable. Holland is now the crucible of Europe. Not even the most tolerant people on earth can tolerate the Islamists."
Welcome to the real world, Dutch.