I was just speaking with a friend in England about Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician and critic of Islamic extremism who was denied entry to Britain on Thursday. Why? Wilders had been invited to screen his short film Fitna, which traces the roots of Islamic violence to the Koran, to members of the House of Lords. But Nazir Ahmed objected. Nazir Ahmed? He’s a Muslim, a Labour member of the House, and (in Andy McCarthy’s apt phrase) “grievance-industry agitator of the first order.” According to Melanie Phillips and others, Ahmed threatened to mobilize 10,000 of his co-religionists to demonstrate against Wilders if he were allowed into the country to show his film and express his opinion about radical Islam. Ahmed denies making the threat, but has gone into print to brag about his successful effort to intimidate the British government into making a fool of itself. The instrument of this latest act of dhimmitude was none other than Jacqui Smith, the British Home Secretary who won an unenviable place for herself in the annals of spineless Orwellian doublespeak when she decreed last year that Islamic terrorism–i.e., terrorist acts carried out by Muslims–should henceforth be renamed “anti-Islamic activity.” Yes, really. In her most recent act of cravenness, Ms. Smith declared that Wilders’s presence in Britain “would threaten community harmony and therefore public security in the U.K.” So when Wilders flew into Heathrow on Thursday, he was instantly rounded up and sent packing back to Holland.
There has been a lot of comment about this episode, much of it highly, and rightly, critical of Ahmed and the British government. Charles Moore, although he described Fitna as “an unscrupulous film” (watch it and judge for yourself) made the interesting observation that Ms. Smith, by drawing a causal link between unhappy Muslims and likely violence, actually makes a point very similar to that being made by Wilders. “What the Home Office means,” Mr. Moore writes, is that
“If you upset Muslims, there will be violence”. With the single word, “therefore”, Miss Smith is making a link which is itself insulting to Muslims. Would she say the same about upsetting Christians, or Jews, or farmers, or socialists, or vegetarians? Of course not. It is only Muslims that scare her. So she is saying much the same thing as Geert Wilders!
The question is, as Mr. Moore goes on to reflect, is this correct? “Is Islam so basically intolerant that you have only to be foul about it for its adherents to rise up and kill you?” Charles Moore is a canny and clear-eyed observer. I am surprised he has difficulty in answering this question. Or maybe he is just feigning indecision. After all, it was he who, when Muslims started torching embassies and killing people when a Danish paper published some cartoons of their prophet, said that “I wish someone would mention the word that dominates Western culture in the face of militant Islam — fear. And then I wish someone would face it down.”
Some people are. The entertaining Pat Condell, for example. In his latest internet video, Condell comments on the Wilders affair, noting that Jacqui Smith, in addition to covering herself with shame, inadvertently gave Geert Wilders and Fitna a huge publicity boost. “Millions of people who didn’t even know that this film existed,” Condell observes, “have now made a point of seeking it out on the internet thanks to the stupidity, the incompetence, and the cowardice of the British government.” Quite right. But Condell’s main point concerns the fate of liberty and free speech in England and the West generally. We have just witnessed an extraordinary capitulation to evil and intolerance. Where will it end? As Condell asks at the end of his video, “How much more of your freedom needs to be whittled away to defend this intolerant, misogynistic, homophobic, antisemitic ideology from the robust and frank and open criticism that it so richly deserves?”
Good question! Jacqui Smith speaks about promoting “community harmony.” That was something that Muzzammil Hassan, of Orchard Park, New York, pretended to be interested in as well. Hassan is the founder of Bridges TV, a cable network that was launched in 2004 and that aimed to portray Muslims in a positive light. Its slogan was “connecting people through understanding.” On Thursday, as Geert Wilders was being deported, Hassan was arrested and charged with beheading his wife.
What is it about Muslims and this penchant for separating people from their heads (and other parts of their anatomy)? I mentioned Hassan’s surgical method of connecting, or rather “disconnecting,” people through understanding to my friend in England when we were talking about Wilders. “The full Muslim,” he called it. Is that disrespectful? Or is it merely an unpalatable truth? I know what Daniel Pearl would say, if only he were alive to say it.