Monday, November 15, 2004

Finger In The Dike?

Andrew Stuttaford at NRO on the murder of Theo Van Gogh and the misplaced concern about religious fundamentalism in the United States:

Amid all the weird, wild wailing in Manhattan, amid the hot air and hysteria in Hollywood, amid all the crazy-lady shrieks of mainstream-media anguish (yes, Maureen, I'm talking about you) and the banshee howling of liberal complaint, Americans heard one overarching theme from the disappointed and distraught left -- one meme, one fear, one insult that finally spoke its name. Jesusland (that's what they call it now) had won. The America of Jefferson and Madison had fallen, delivered by Karl Rove into the hands of ranting theocrats, holy rollers and the monstrous ghost of William Jennings Bryan. Writing in the New York Times, an overwrought Garry Wills had this to say:

The secular states of modern Europe do not understand the fundamentalism of the American electorate. It is not what they had experienced from this country in the past. In fact, we now resemble those nations less than we do our putative enemies.

The title of his article? "The Day the Enlightenment Went Out."

Oh really? If it was the fate of the Enlightenment for which Mr. Wills feared, he would have done better looking some 3,000 miles to his east, to lovely, wounded Amsterdam, a city once famed for its brisk, North Sea tolerance, a city that now mourns the death of an artist killed for speaking his mind. On November 2, the very day of the election that was to so sadden Garry Wills, an assassin in Amsterdam murdered the filmmaker Theo Van Gogh -- shot him, stabbed him, and then butchered him like a sacrificial sheep. Van Gogh, you see, had transgressed the code of the fanaticism that has now made its home in Holland. And for that he had to die.

Read the whole thing.

Three Dutch men were in attendance at the meetings that took me to Manila last week. Although most of our time was spent talking business, we did have a chance to briefly discuss the murder of Van Gogh and the clashes between police and Muslim extremists in The Hague. They all agreed that The Netherlands has a serious problem on its hands, and things are going to be getting much worse if actions aren't taken to address the situation. It will be fascinating to watch how the Dutch elect to tackle this problem, and may be an indicator of how the rest of Europe comes to grips with a growing threat from within.

Arnaud de Borchgrave at the The Washington Times, is calling it "a mini clash of civilizations":

Could the Netherlands be a curtain-raiser for a wider clash of civilizations in the old Continent? Hundreds of thousands of young Muslims in Europe are potential jihadis, according to European intelligence chiefs speaking not for publication. They have been warning their political masters about the tinderboxes that many Muslim communities have become. Jihadi volunteers are known to have left for Iraq from a number of Muslim slums on the outskirts of major European cities.

Many Europeans have preferred to ignore the danger from Islamic extremism in their own countries, which has been building for years. The Dutch are discovering that there's a limit to how long you can keep your head in the sand.

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