September 26, 2008
In March of this year, the Dutch parliamentarian, Geert Wilders, announced that he was about to release a documentary about the evils of Islam. Before it came out, Wilders portrayed himself as a beacon of freedom of speech and said that the documentary would include many eye-opening items. His pre-publicity was far more striking than the film. Instead of including fresh information with research, he just copied and pasted existing film and came out with some dubious subtitles that were far out of context.
A couple of days ago, the online chat group of the Atheist Coalition of San Diego included a link to the documentary, but with a curious title: Video to Be Banned. I am president of the Atheist Coalition of San Diego and I responded to the allegation that Wilders’ work was soon to be banned.
First of all, “Fitna,” the movie, is not about to be banned. It is available through numerous websites. When it was released, there was a hold put on it by various groups, mostly because of legalities. The producer, Geert Wilders, used copyrighted material without permission and he also used a picture of a Dutch rap singer, Salah Edin, and wrongfully identified him as a Muslim terrorist.
Wilders stated that the movie should not be banned because freedom of speech was too important in issue. I agree. However, Wilders went against his own philosophy.
In March, the Dutch Muslim Broadcasting Association (NMO), agreed to air the film under the conditions that no illegal material was included and that Wilders would agree to take part in a debate with proponents and opponents. He declined and said, “No way, NMO.”
I was disappointed when I first watched the film. Instead of new and fresh information, all I saw was some old worn-out footage, some from real video and some from made-up in-studio productions. Plus, most of the footage was taken well out of context. For one, several protestors with anti-Western signs that stated provocative messages were shown during a demonstration in London. However, these people represented about a dozen demonstrators out of about 750. Many of the remaining approximate 738 were interviewed by British press representatives and they expressed their disgust at the dozen or so fanatics and said they disagreed with their messages.
We are shown various newspaper and magazine headlines depicting Muslims wanting to take over The Netherlands or the world. Some of these publications are similar to U.S. counterparts such as The Enquirer. But, if one does not speak Dutch or does not know the publications, he/she would not be able to make this comparison.
A couple of weeks ago, someone in Seattle killed six innocent people. He told the judge that God ordered him to do it. This is an act of terrorism.
Last year, 16,929 people were murdered in the U.S. It can be reasonably assumed that several thousand of these unfortunate citizens were recipients of death at the hands of someone they did not know. This is classic terrorism: the killing of innocent people. It happens almost daily: in stores, in the work place, on the highways, etc. But, we never hear them called terrorist attacks. One is more likely to get killed in the U.S. by an act of aggression from a U.S. non-Muslim citizen than he/she would be by an Islamic missile or bomb.
In addition, 90,427 rapes were reported in the U.S. in 2007. Again, these are acts of terrorism.
Putting this information together, would one celebrate the publishing of a 17-minute video calling all U.S. citizens terrorists? And, because the vast majority of the murderers would be Christians, also blaming Christianity for the deaths? Of course not.
Wilders’ video is an instrument to divide people and make up a bogeyman.
Of course, some of the activities of Islamic fundamentalists are reprehensible. But, to say they represent the thought process of all Muslims is as ludicrous as saying all U.S. citizens support rape and murder of their own people.
Unfortunately, it seems that the U.S. can only survive with a perceived enemy. Once the Cold War ended, there were no more dirty commies to bash. Now, it’s the Muslim’s turn. As an atheist, this disturbs me because the same illogic used to demonize all Muslims is the same now used to denigrate atheists in the U.S. In fact, recent polls show that atheists are slightly less welcome than Muslims in the minds of the citizenry of our country. About 42% of U.S. citizens say they would not want their children to marry a Muslim and 46% say they would not want their kids to marry an atheist. The blanketing of any minority in a negative manner is sick and used by the majority to depict a false sense of superiority. History shows us the results.