No ban on Dutch MP's anti-Islam film
Posted by Bruno Waterfield on 27 Mar 2008 at 23:50
Tags: Islam, Multiculturalism, Free Speech, Geert Wilders, fitna
Geert Wilders, an eccentric and right-wing Dutch MP, has posted his anti-Islam film on the internet. This childish attempt to shock should not be banned. His infantile film, which mutually flatters both Islamist extremists and the self-proclaimed defenders of Western civilisation, such as Mr Wilders, is pathetic, not dangerous.
Warning: do not take Geert Wilders too seriously
Mr Wilders has not set out to have a serious debate on Islam or Islamism or immigration or multiculturalism or the future of the West. All he wants to do is offend and shock. For some strange reason everyone seems to be playing into his hands.
With all its overblown imagery, Fitna, the 15-minute film made by Mr Wilders, is fundamentally about his own self-conceit. He, like many of the Islamic extremists and nutters he features, confuse his own hysterical tantrum with profundity. If his film, or rather the response to it, contains one message for Western societies it is simply: “Grow up.”
Free speech should remain free and it should be up to us as adults, not the state, to make up our own minds. Because we are grown up we can work out for ourselves that childish posturing, such as that in this film, is not serious enough to warrant a ban, or all the fuss.
Amongst other things, Mr Wilders uses his 15 minutes of fame to give much play to comparisons between Islamism and the Nazis. Intercut with images from July 7 bombings in London are pictures of the placards of protesting Islamist radicals. “Be prepared for the real holocaust,” is the slogan held by a woman in a black burqa. Another carries a placard saying “God bless Hitler.”
Other crazy clerics and cranks boast throughout the film about how Islam is going to rule the US, Europe and Britain. The film ends with a stark message. “In 1945 Nazism was defeated in Europe. In 1989 Communism was defeated in Europe. Now the Islamic ideology has to be defeated.”
Does Mr Wilders really believe that these losers, misfits and swivel-eyed loons (dangerous and unpredictable as they can be) are going to achieve global domination? Or that they, as they themselves claim, represent one of the world religions, hundreds of millions of Muslims? Can these sad, marginalised bigots really be equated with the militarism and resources of the German state, one of the most powerful in the world, which in the 1930s unleashed the Holocaust?
Of course not, for to do so would make us as ludicrous and infantile as Mr Wilders and the Islamo-fantasists. This is all perverse and dangerous mutual flattery, a vicious spiral of self-conceited, self-centred claims for importance. The Islamo-nutters really believe they can topple Western civilisation with their nihilism. Mr Wilders is truly convinced he stands alone against the Muslim barbarian horde that is about to sweep through Europe. Similarly, the posting of this film on the internet is not the beginning of an Islamophobic movement comparable to the racism of the Nazis that led to the Holocaust, as some Muslims and Amsterdam’s Jewish mayor have claimed.
Taking this stuff too seriously is the real danger. Even before this film was aired there was a tantrum of protests from Muslim groups and grim opining from Mr Wilders about the Islamic threat. Playing into the hands of the provocateurs, Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch Prime Minister, last month warned of a “national crisis”. Security services, the Foreign ministry and police have drawn up secret plans, including the evacuation of Dutch nationals from Islamic countries, amid fears of violent protests at home and abroad. At an EU summit two weeks ago, leaders, including Gordon Brown, were told of preparations for a repeat of the global anti-Western backlash that followed the publication of Danish cartoons mocking the Islamic prophet Mohammed two years ago.
Now, this is the kind of febrile climate which really is dangerous, and in all of the over-hyped reaction and counter-reaction that could follow Mr Wilders' movie we should not lose our grip on reality. None of the heat surrounding this film will shed light on the important questions. All of the hysterics are a distraction from facing up to the real threats to tolerance and a free society today. It is time to have a grown-up debate.