For the last couple of months, the Netherlands (or at least media attention there) has been enthralled by the announcement of one politician to become a movie director. What makes a good politician is a highly debatable and subjective topic. But let’s ‘fess up to facts: Wilders’ public statements, however much they may be frowned upon by part of the populace, reach into the hearts of another part of that populace.
(note for the sarcastically challenged: this part with an extra left margin, is a blatant, albeit haphazard, attempt at witticisms and entertainment, having little to do with reality.)
It’s realisations like that which do evoke feelings of detachement with my previous nation of residence after having displaced myself sufficiently far away. Unfortunately, the world is not populated by people who have the good taste to share my opinion. To add insult to injury, for some reason not all of them are dutifully dismayed by their lack of decent opinions. And a vocal minority — in the reality I inhabit, this is by necessity a minority — even portrays the audacity of speaking out the deviating and worrisome products of their non-conformant minds.
Undeniably, Wilders has found an audience to which he caters well. This alone indicates his proficiency in a certain area — whether or not to label this as ‘politics’ is a topic I shall not dwell on now. What I will address, is his dabbling into directing. Or, more specifically: his alleged, hypothetical dabbling into directing.
So, for those of you who have been living under a rock or in America (which might amount to the same thing, but that’s a topic for another post :), or both, a short synopsis of the events that are unfolding. Mr. Geert Wilders is a Dutch politician, formerly part of the Democratic Party. He parted ways with that party after repeated remarks on his side that the party deemed inappropriate. Most of these remarks involved immigrant policy. He then began his own party, and come election time, garnered quite a number of votes. Ever since his departure from the Democratic party, his remarks on immigrants steadily progressed to a point where he now is the Netherlands foremost anti-islamic activist. To further his views, he took it upon himself to create a movie which would unveil the Koran for the fascistic work he holds it to be.
His plans became public knowledge (as I understand it, through no plan of his own, but because the Dutch Prime minister leaked them. In my view, this underlines (once again) the fact that the Dutch Prime minister is unfit for this job). This resulted in a hype which makes the hype surrounding Episode 1 seem like another news report of the 100th birthday of some old geezer.
And, as if the resulting media storm in the Netherlands and in Europe is not sufficient, the news has made its way to Islamic countries. To be sure there are no misunderstandings: the news that a movie will be made. This news resulted in riots in islamic countries, outrage by islamic politicians, diplomatic pressure on the Netherlands to ban the movie before it exists, strained relations with several islamic countries, talks at the highest level in NATO, top-meetings with Australians (as their military aid is working in close proximity to the Dutch military aid to Afghanistan), etc. etc. etc.
All this turmoil and upheaval. All for a movie that does not exist yet. George Lucas must be green with envy.
Let’s take a moment to make my position clear on this: I wholeheartedly disagree with mr. Wilders’ public statements on ethnics and the islam. I find them rather abhorrent, and they leave an ill impression of his character with me. Be that as it may, this does not rob him of his right to make abhorrent statements — as far as allowed by the law.I will not address whether the law is insufficient in this case.
The hype has so far produced two questionable results: first, in the “western” world, discussions are on-going on whether or not to forbid this movie — which is still a hypothetical piece! Pro-active, a priori censorship is something I do not equate with a free, tolerant and open democracy.
Secondly, in the islamic world, the reactions have been equally heavy-handed. People adhering to Islamic faith are wonderfully complementing the dire message of mr. Wilders by rioting, threats, diplomacy issues, etc. They seem to be going out of their way to outline, emphasize and shout mr. Wilders’ point. It hilariously saddens me to perceive that the best way mr. Wilders can attempt to illustrate his case is to let the general outrage over his movie run its course, occasionally feed it with another scrap, and never have an actual movie.
I fear less a society where I am confronted with views deviating strongly from my own, than fearing a society which suppresses the inception of a potentially deviating view. Do not fear Wilders, his movie or his message. Fear ignorance unhampered by restraint, untempered by deliberation.
Update: Not the best movie about the Quran ever made is online now.