Theo Van Gogh in life: “It is a beautiful business, making movies …”
(English translation of this video at the end of the article)
by Pieter Dorsman
Today it is exactly two years ago that America went to the polls to decide the outcome of the electoral battle between George Bush and John Kerry. While America woke up to cast its ballots, Dutch police were cleaning up the crime scene where moviemaker and columnist Theo van Gogh had been murdered by a Muslim fundamentalist, Mohammed Bouyeri. The nation that had been thrown into political uncertainty following the murder of Pim Fortuyn two years earlier, was now plunged in a state of despair and utter confusion. Their deepest fears had materialized: the conflict that had for years been smothered under the blanket of politically correct live and let live attitudes had erupted bloodily on its streets, in broad daylight.
What was most striking was the total ineptness with which politicians sought to quell the unrest and the state of anxiety that had taken hold of the small nation. The vice-premier appeared to be addressing the nation’s fears accurately by stating that jihad had come to the Dutch streets, but the prime-minister took a far more cautious approach as did Amsterdam’s mayor, Job Cohen. Together with the Queen the latter visited a Moroccan youth center to express the nation’s sympathy for a minority that now would surely be embattled. It was seen by many as an odd and inappropriate gesture at a time when even the leader of the Green Left party had called for a sign from the royal family to unify the nation. But none was really forthcoming, other than a concerned statement from the Queen herself long after the fact that the nation ‘had experienced a political murder’. But even in those no doubt carefully crafted words the signs of ignorance were overly clear: it was a religious murder your majesty, not a political one.
As much as the Dutch establishment struggled with a jihadist silencing one of its nation’s foremost cultural icons, its Muslim immigrants were equally confused in finding the right tone. The time had come for the moderates among them to stake their ground and prove their allegiance to their host nation. Ahmed Aboutaleb, a devout Muslim and member of the Labor Party and deputy Mayor of Amsterdam, was daring enough to read his fellow Moroccans the riot act. The time had come for them to start playing by the rules or ‘else pack up and go home’, which in a nutshell is what he told his audience in a local mosque. Aboutaleb’s attempt to build a bridge between the native Dutch and Muslim immigrants, however well intentioned, didn’t work all that well. Native Dutch looked at him with a measure of suspicion while his fellow Moroccans mostly treated him with scorn, if they had never seen traitor, now they had seen one. To this day Ahmed Aboutaleb has round the clock security.
Dutch pragmatism forced the nation to move on, but it seemed that Van Gogh’s murder never contributed to a broad consensus on how to exactly do that. That was not helped by the fact that the main protagonists of the immigration debate were slowly but steadily disappearing from the scene. The elder statesman of the Dutch right, Frits Bolkestein had retired, Pim Fortuyn, the man who made the discussion palatable was dead and now the intellectual heir of challenging political hypocrisy and radical Islam, Theo van Gogh, was dead too. The book it seemed was finally closed when Ayaan Hirsi Ali was driven out of her house – the security levels were too much to bear for her neighbors who sued and found a willing ear at the courts – and forced her to leave the nation when the only other remaining star on the right, Rita Verdonk, thought there were political points to be had in disgracing her fellow party member from Somalia. The irony was that it was the incompetent way in which the Hirsi Ali affair was handled that forced the resignation of the government and thus new elections, scheduled for later this month.
The ensuing campaign so far has been mysteriously quiet on immigration or Muslim issues. Their explosive nature had not only destroyed a few political careers, it had literally been a deadly topic for its main initiators. So with good economic news and a renewed sense of that age old Dutch expediency, an election campaign emerged that was devoid of any real controversy or explosiveness. Rebuilding the national consensus that everything was fine proved to be a viable approach to get to the ballot box, or did it?
Nickel and diming retirement benefits may be safer ground to build your campaign on, however it be became apparent soon that these issues did not result in the desired movements of large voting blocks. It was Ahmed Aboutaleb, part of the Labour campaign, who boldly decided to resuscitate Theo van Gogh and use him as a swipe against the right, and more particular against the already bruised Verdonk. The latter had appeared in Amsterdam immediately after Van Gogh’s murder and Aboutaleb argued that her visit had been one out of sheer political expediency. Well, the facts were different and Aboutaleb was forced to publicly apologize, a fairly humiliating experience for both himself and his party. But as Labour is losing ground it decided, unfazed, by forcing a motion in parliament two weeks ago to ask the government to investigate why Mohamed Bouyeri – who was already on the radar screen of the Dutch security services well before the Van Gogh murder – was not tracked more efficiently and, not taken into custody. A peculiar move, two years after the murder, for a party that had never shown any real interest in either Van Gogh or his views.
Theo himself no doubt, would be disgusted to learn that the Left had decided to dig up his legacy and repurpose it for its own electoral benefits. Yet, at the same time he would be bemused and laugh at the clumsiness with which his fellow countrymen tried to streamline the debate of which he was one of the initiators. He once lamented in one of his columns that fools ‘have essentially taken over this country’. Well Theo, you can rest assured: they’re still here.
Translation of video:
“I am forty-seven years old now, so you could say that the best years of my life are behind me. But, I have the privilege to open the film set here this morning on the beautiful and sun-drenched island of Texel near an exotic pier where we will shoot the final scene of my fabulous movie. There are worse ways to get through the penopause, so you won’t hear me complaining… ”
” The idea that showing off your bare breasts gives one a feeling of freedom is a total misconception. There are very few people who can handle that physically, and if you see all those depressing boobs, then you know for sure that God did not intend the world to let you show these hanging boobs or fat asses naked on the beach. Get dressed I would say ! ”
” We are going to shoot a scene shortly where Tara sits in the bathtub and will almost get killed. Tara has told us that Julia Roberts always demanded that the crew be naked if she did a nude scene so that the filming moves quicker and the crew is not just staring at a naked actress. So that is what I have implemented here too, the whole crew will be naked while Tara will be sitting naked in the bathtub. Well, you should have seen the panic, especially among the ladies in the team. Well, I said, fine then find yourself a replacement, Tara is our lead character and we’re going to support her. Tara is a bit prudish and you can clearly see that and I actually find that quite sexy. But a nude scene is always difficult, you know. It is a beautiful business, making movies … “