February 12 was a black day for Britain. A democratically elected, law-abiding member of the Dutch parliament was treated like a criminal, seized at Heathrow airport, and sent home. A man who has not preached a word of violence, but has himself received death threats, was summarily ejected from this country in an uncivil and in every way uncivilized fashion, by a Home Office that welcomes criminals and terrorists with open arms. Why? Because his film Fitna tells uncomfortable truths about Islam. The expression “Churchill would be turning in his grave,” sometimes hyperbolically trotted out in reaction to a banned piggy bank or halal pizza parlor, now fits.
The story of the British government’s gutless appeasement has been eloquently told at this site by Andrew Ian Dodge and Mike McNally. The government’s cowardice is beyond dispute, and I have little to add to what has already been said on that subject here and elsewhere. It is the unthinking haste of the decision that I wish to consider, specifically what this shows about how the government sees Muslims.
The capitulation is all the more craven because it was reflexive and practically instantaneous. Foreign Secretary David Miliband admitted that he had not even seen Fitna, but claimed he didn’t need to because he “knew what was in it” — just as the barely literate book-burners of Bradford “knew” what was in Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. His consideration of the matter went no further than “nasty about Muslims — must be stopped.”
And what of our home secretary, the frivolously named “Jacqui” Smith, who has the ultimate responsibility for the ban? There is no evidence that Ms. Smith took time out from her busy schedule to watch a seventeen-minute film. After all, how could the future of Britain, the cradle of democracy, be more important than exploiting loopholes in her already overgenerous expense allowance?