The Threat at Home

European elites, like American elites, are having trouble understanding the recent American elections. "How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?" was the headline in London's Daily Mirror. Another British paper, the Guardian, actually organized an anti-Bush letter-writing campaign to sway voters in Ohio. Instead of trying to influence or explain American elections, Europeans ought to be taking a much closer look at what's happening close to their home, or else one day a headline over here might read, "How Could 457 Million Europeans Have Been So Blind?" Theo Van Gogh, Vincent's great grand-nephew, was a filmmaker and, pardon my French, provocateur. He was the kind of artist whose work, if he had been an American, would probably have outraged some Christians, including me. Christians would have written letters-to-the-editor, picketed his showings, and have insisted that taxpayer dollars not be used to support his work. In reply, Van Gogh's defenders would have compared us to "Islamic fundamentalists," even as his provocations made him rich and famous. Unfortunately for Van Gogh, he was Dutch, not American, and the people he offended were real Islamic fundamentalists, not Christians. On November 2, a man Dutch police describe as "an Islamic fundamentalist with terrorist ties" murdered Van Gogh. The motive behind the murder is believed to be a movie about "Islamic violence against women" called Submission. The film was produced by Van Gogh and written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Dutch member of parliament and an "ex-Muslim." Ali's criticisms of her former faith include describing the Qur'an as "in part a license for oppression." Ali now lives under twenty-four-hour-a-day police protection, protection Van Gogh refused, saying that "no one can seriously want to shoot the village idiot." He was wrong. The Netherlands and the rest of Europe face an enemy within its borders that will use European freedoms to take away the freedom of Europeans. They will avail themselves of continental tolerance to spread intolerance throughout the continent. As if to underscore this point, a few days after the murder, someone painted "Thou shall not kill" on a wall as a tribute. Officials sandblasted the message after local Islamic leaders complained that the graffiti was "offensive" and "racist." The same British Guardian wrote of a "dangerous rise in racial tension" as a result of the murder and accused the Dutch government of "fanning the flames" through its efforts to better integrate Islamic immigrants into Dutch society. If this is the best that European elites can do in response to a frontal assault on freedom of speech, heaven help the 457 million people of the European Union. As Bernard Lewis of Princeton, the foremost scholar of Islam, told the German paper Die Welt, Europe faces the possibility of becoming "part of the Arabic West." Or as Bassam Tibi, a moderate Muslim leader in Germany, puts it: "Either Islam gets Europeanized, or Europe gets Islamized." Either way, it's time for Europeans not to worry so much about the votes in Ohio, but to focus their attention where it's needed most: their threat at home. For further reading and information: "Gunman kills Dutch film director," BBC News, 2 November 2004. "'I feel terribly guilty'," Guardian (London), 4 November 2004. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, "Grief and anger over Theo's Murder," International Herald Tribune, 11 November 2004. "Moving Stories: Ayaan Hirsi Ali," BBC News, 23 December 2003. "Van Gogh Case Linked to Syrian Cleric," Los Angeles Times, 14 November 2004. Theodore Dalrymple, "Why Theo Van Gogh Was Murdered," City Journal, 15 November 2004. "Europe, Islam's New Front Line: The Netherlands," All Things Considered, NPR, 15 November 2004. Scott MacMillan, "Holland in Flames," Slate, 11 November 2004. Robert Spencer, "Murder of Theo Van Gogh & the Decline of the West," Human Events, 4 November 2004. Ian Traynor, "Dutch liberalism stares into a troubled future as anti-Muslim backlash grows," Guardian(London), 13 November 2004. Happy Feder, "Scary, Scary Night," American Spectator, 9 November 2004. "'Thou Shalt Not Kill' = racist," Live from Brussels, 5 November 2004. Alexis Amory, "Holland Prepares to Dam Up Jihad," Frontpage, 15 November 2004. Brian Murphy, "The Tipping Point," Frontpage, 8 November 2004. Ted Olsen, "Ultra Mega Weblog: Five Churches Attacked in Netherlands," Christianity Today, 10 November 2004. Arnaud de Borchgrave, "Mini clash of civilizations," Washington Times, 15 November 2004. Wolfgang Schwanitz, "'Europe will be Islamic at the end of the century'," Die Welt, 28 July 2004. Christopher Caldwell, "Islamic Europe?Weekly Standard, 4 October 2004. Rod Dreher, "Casualty of a culture war," Dallas Morning News, 9 November 2004. BreakPoint Commentary No. 020516, "Death in Rotterdam: Tolerance Takes Its Toll." (Free registration required.) BreakPoint Commentary No. 040316, "An Ill Wind from Spain: Terrorists and the Democratic Process." BreakPoint Commentary No. 041105, "Saying No to Terrorism: Tuesday's Foreign Policy Message." BreakPoint Commentary No. 030703, "EU Amnesia: Europe without Christianity." BreakPoint Commentary No. 040428, "Proving Their Worth: Al Qaeda and Converts to Islam." BreakPoint Commentary No. 031125, "Our American Cousins: Bush at Whitehall, Part II." "Bush Makes Not-So-Good Headlines in Europe," ABC, 4 November 2004. See the Daily Mirror's post-election front page. The BreakPoint 9/11 Worldview Resource kit includes the book Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad?, the booklet When Night Fell on a Different World, and a BreakPoint CD with Charles Colson discussing the aftermath of September 11. To order, call 1-877-322-5527.


Chuck Colson


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