A couple of years ago, Ayaan Hirsi Ali was having dinner at our house in Holland and we decided to watch a comedy show on TV. I believe the reason was that Wouter Bos, the leader of the Dutch Social Democrats and a colleague of Ayaan’s in parliament, was scheduled to appear on that show.
The program featured stand-up comedians discussing the news, together with the well-known guest. And because Ayaan was an ongoing topic in Holland, they started talking about her. One of the comedians remarked: “Ayaan, she doesn’t have a clitoris, does she?”
The audience laughed. And Wouter Bos, the leader of one of the established political parties and one of the pillars of modern Dutch society, laughed along with the crowd.
Ayaan couldn’t breathe. Shocked, we stared at the screen. Was it possible we hadn’t heard it correctly? How was it possible that a human being, who had been tortured as a child by being forced to undergo genital mutilation, could become an object of laughter and derision by adult men on national television?
I didn’t care for the comedians — sick minds possessing the intuition of obsessed adolescents. I cared for Wouter Bos, an intelligent, sensitive man, who didn’t have the courage to protect ordinary decency and demand that this remark be cut from the taped show.
Three days later one of the main Dutch newspapers published an op-ed piece my wife and I had written about Wouter Bos’ cowardly behavior. Other voices were heard criticizing my wife and me for our effort to “silence” a funny comedian.
Wanda Sykes’ recent performance reminded me of this impressive example of Dutch tolerance. I only know her from her short appearances on the great Larry David show Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO, and I have to admit that she always frightened me a bit with her furious and deadly political correctness. Last Saturday, at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, she wished an American citizen to die because this citizen disagrees with the politics of the American president.
Wanda Sykes isn’t of any interest to me. The fact that the American president was five feet away from her and had to laugh about her joke was of interest. A comedian wishes a citizen dead and the president laughs?
The president didn’t have the guts to leave, to correct Ms. Sykes, or to express his opposition. He laughed because he apparently was entertained by the idea offered by Sykes, that this critic, a right-wing radio host who openly disagrees with the president’s plans, would die because of failing kidneys.
Afterwards, the president and his wife congratulated Sykes for her jokes. It seems plausible that he still doesn’t understand that what he did was appalling and disgusting. In Holland, in the post-modern and progressive environment of comedians who don’t have any idea of human dignity, it is by now a regular thing to try to verbally murder your opponent. The latest fad is Holocaust jokes. Such “humor” shows how the joker has disconnected himself from history, social taboos, and ethnic sensibilities. This disconnection is considered a positive quality in the post-religious, post-bourgeois, post-respectful culture of the progressive welfare state. The post-modern ideal is: he who has no values, he for whom nothing is sacred, is cool.
Thus, the president had to laugh about a joke which made fun of the death of a real, living, tax-paying citizen whose cardinal sin is that he successfully makes a living criticizing the president.
In Holland, Wouter Bos later realized that he had been part of a public rape — because it’s cool to rape a person like Ayaan, for whom women’s dignity is holy — and he apologized in private. In the released DVD compilation of highlights from the show, the “joke” is still there.
The level of hatred directed against Limbaugh is so intense among certain groups in American society — especially among the left-wing intelligentsia which considers itself superior in morals, ethics, and eating habits — that a death wish didn’t raise eyebrows among the events attendees. Not hating Rush Limbaugh means you are not really progressive and open-minded, liberal and PC. They ritually hanged him. And the president observed it — and laughed along with the excited crowd of media-apparatchiks.