A fascinating piece in the LA Weekly explains why Theo Van Gogh was his killer’s perfect victim (and why van Gogh’s associate, the heroic Hirsi Ali, might have seemed perfect in another way):

“The effect of this sensationally grisly murder was enhanced by the fact that Van Gogh was the great-grandson of Vincent Van Gogh’s brother, to whom the celebrated letters of the film Dear Theo were written. It would be difficult, in other words, to find a more purely Dutch figure, at least in terms of lineage, to assassinate in the name of Islam. As for Hirsi Ali, she was surely as close to the ‘perfect’ immigrant as Holland could hope for. She learned the language, studied the country’s history and respected its laws. Once a radical Muslim herself, she made a complete about-turn after September 11, disavowing Allah and embracing atheism. She became a member of the Dutch parliament, allying herself with what were seen in bien-pensant circles as reactionary, anti-immigration forces. But she knew the dangers that Islam posed to Europe and was determined to wake up its comatose political elites. Most of her fellow immigrants, burrowed deep in victim culture, hated her with a passion, as did many leftists.”

These haunting observations come in a review of a new book, “Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance,” by Ian Buruma. According to the review, Buruma doesn’t get the clash of civilizations that lies behind Theo van Gogh’s death:

“On November 2, 2004, ‘the violent fantasies of a Dutch Muslim ended in the murder of a fellow citizen,’ [Buruma] states in the closing paragraph. But was Bouyeri ‘Dutch’ in any meaningful sense? Did he regard Van Gogh as a ‘fellow citizen’ or simply an infidel? At any rate, Buruma’s closing sentence leans less to Van Gogh than to his murderer: ‘What happened in this small corner of northwestern Europe could happen anywhere, as long as young men and women feel that death is their only way home.’

“How about just buying them a plane ticket?”