Enlightenment Where?

Saw Geert Wilders’ piece of hate-filled garbage yesterday, just before it got pulled from Liveleak. Pretending to merely be a critique of the Koran, this is straight-up racist hate speech, equating as it does the worst excesses of Islamist extremism with the over one million muslims currently living in Holland. Seriously, the animation in the Nazi propaganda flick Der ewige Jude of rats swarming over Europe has nothing on Wilders’ swelling bar charts representing the growing muslim population in Holland, here on the background of charred bodies, severed heads, and kids with bloodied faces. Yes, we may have freedom of speech, and should protect it as best as we possibly can, but this kind of hateful agitprop is clearly abuse.

What’s more disturbing, however, is the fact that Wilders’ fortunately still rather marginal views on the Koran are becoming increasingly acceptable in the political and public mainstream these days. The notion that, because the Koran contains problematic passages dealing with holy war, the religion — and by extension potentially all muslims — contains inherently totalitarian strains. There’s plenty of vile stuff in the Bible too, if one takes it at face value, but that doesn’t mean we should consider Judaism or Christianity as inherently xenophobic or fascist. This notion that a religion could ever be static is so fundamentally misconceived that its increasing prevalence suggests rather ominous perspectives for the state of enlightenment so often trotted out as our society’s supposed bulwark against religious extremism.

This is not at all the same thing as the Jyllands-Posten cartoons, problematic as their commission was, and good on Bomb-in-Turban cartoonist Kurt Westergaard on suing for removal of his cartoon from the film (Interview here). UDPATE: Wilders has conceded that the cartoon was used without permission and will remove it from the film, but the damage is done, says The Danish Association of Journalists who represent Westergaard.

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