Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

April 2, 2008


Filed under: culture, film, politics, religion — Tags: , , — codesmithy @ 11:03 am

I finished watching Fitna, the controversial movie by Geert Wilders that attacks Islam. It portrays Islam as a violent religion, quoting passages out of the Koran followed by video of atrocities committed by Muslims or clerics declaring some sort of hateful screed against Jews, homosexuals, adulterers, or other infidels. At its heart, the film is propaganda. Are there fundamentalist strains of Islam that I find concerning? Yes. However, I find those same hateful ideas embodied in Christian fundamentalism.

The struggle to preserve the West cannot be about the domination of one fundamentalist dogma over another. It has to be about preserving egalitarian values embodied in democratic rule, scientific thought, and prefaced by basic moral truisms of equality and liberty. The cancer of this liberalism has always been the those who defend those that undermine the basis of it. The destruction of liberalism will not be the enemy on the outside. It is rather the enemy within. It is the authoritarians and elitists who insist that we must abandon our notions of justice, liberty, and human dignity in order to save them. It is important to remember that these freedoms were never given; they were taken and paid for with the lives and suffering of countless men and women.

It is also true that a nation-state cannot survive without a shared sense of identity. The wholesale introduction of isolated immigrant communities does represent a threat to the nation. While many undercurrents of this sentiment tend to be outright racist, the fear itself is not unfounded. A nation that fails to preserve a sense of national identity usually falls into civil war.

Islamic revolutionaries do represent a threat and they need to be confronted. However, over-simplifying and presenting an unbalanced view of the conflict, the way Fitna does, has its own issues. It exaggerates and misrepresents the foreign threat while distracting and blinding us from the threat within. While fundamentalist Muslims are upset about the foreign cultural intrusion into their homelands, we must also recognize the ill-will caused by stationing young, culturally disinterested service-men and women in foreign countries combined with our military doctrines designed to completely destroy infrastructure and basic services. The complaint about Western military action is hardly ever about its justification, it is about the massive collateral damage that comes from the retaliation. This reality is much more complex than the one Fitna presents. The Netherlands might perceive itself to be uninvolved in this regard, however with the current conflagrations in the Middle East caused by U.S. invasions there, the old adage of “you can’t be neutral on a moving train” rings true.

There are aspects of fundamentalist Islam that deserve condemnation, just like there are aspects of fundamentalist Christianity that deserve the same. And, yes the film is flawed. But, the more important point is that this film should not be silenced out of fear of retaliation or thuggery. If the West bows to such pressure, then the ideals the West stands for are already gone, and worse yet, we lost without even putting up a fight.


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