Geert Wilders has been acquitted, but the progressive press is continuing the trial. Indeed, new evidence has been found, in the abject person of mass murderer Anders Breivik. Through their words and writings, Wilders and other criticizers of Islam would be partly responsible for Breivik's crime.
Such nonsense does not deserve a reply. But that has changed since Ian Buruma joined the debate. This epitome of political correctness distinguishes himself from his less subtle ideological companions by his sense of nuance. He does not insult, he does not slander, he considers pros and cons, he argues. It is worth the while to consider his arguments. It is an instructive exercise. What do we see? Buruma has developed a way of reasoning which creates the false impression of an impartial investigation.
For example, he compares Breivik with the 9/11 terrorists:
“Islamists view their acts of random mass murder not as a personal publicity stunt, but as a tactic in a holy war against the decadent, sinful West. Breivik is, in his own mind, a warrior for the other side. His aim was to protect the West from Islamization. ”
What are their sources of inspiration? According to Buruma, Muslims are fighting to “build [a] pure Islam”. He suggests that they are inspired by the Koran, though he does not explicitly say this. And Breivik? Was he inspired by Wilders' writings? Buruma does not express it in such a straightforward way:
“[W]hat Breivik wrote in his rambling manifesto, entitled A European Declaration of Independence, is more or less what populists, such as Geert Wilders, have been saying.”
This is a typical Burumian sentence. He postulates something, though not completely. The postulation is subject to reservation. To what extent does Breivik's prose resemble the ideas that Wilders is spreading? Well, to some extent. What are the similarities? Buruma prefers not to disclose it. He has a different concern: to show how open and understanding he is, inspired by the ideals of Jrgen Habermas and convinced of the need for a free and natural conversation:
“For all the finger pointing at Wilders, just because Breivik professed to admire him, the acts of a deranged killer, others caution, should not be used to discredit what he stands for. After all, there is nothing irrational, or murderous, about claiming that multiculturalism is a flawed ideal, or that Islam conflicts with modern Western European views of gender equality or gay rights, or that mass immigration will cause serious social conflicts.”
Discussion closed? Not for Buruma. He creates a distinction between what is said (by the “populists”) and the tone in which it is said. Wilders “likes to speak in apocalyptic terms like 'the lights going out over Europe' and 'the sheer survival of the West'.” Innocent metaphors, I think. But there's more: Wilders compared Islam with totalitarian ideologies like communism and national socialism. Buruma: “This is the language of existential war, the most dangerous kind.” The seemingly moderate professor concludes in shrilling terms: “[T]heir writings and statements have been sufficiently hysterical and hateful to incite a person with an unbalanced mind.” What is hysterical and hateful in comparing one totalitarian system, Islam, with another one, Nazism?
The court of Amsterdam has decreed that comparing the Koran with Mein Kampf is permissible:
“The court finds that in the period in which the statements were made, multiculturalism and immigration had a prominent role in public debate. As the debate intensifies, freedom of speech deserves more space. As mentioned, expressions may even hurt, shock or disturb.”
The judges did not elaborate further on the comparison that seems to have touched the deepest of Buruma's soul. However, it is easy to find striking similarities between a doctrine that discriminates women, punishes apostasy with death, equates unbelievers with apes and pigs, and – as Wilders has demonstrated with Fitna – promotes an armed struggle to extend the supremacy of the caliphate throughout the world – which is faithfully followed from Thailand to Sudan, not just by those infamous minorities that do not understand Islam – and a regime which killed Jews because of their race, gays because of their sexual orientation, and which unleashed the bloodiest war ever to constitute a Thousand Year Reich. There is one defect that Hitler did not share with the imams and the muftis: he was not an anti-feminist
Buruma himself is not averse to comparisons. In his much discussed book Murder in Amsterdam, he calls Afshin Ellian and Ayaan Hirsi Ali “Enlightenment fundamentalists” and “warriors [that] are struggling against oppressive cultures”. A kind of jihadists, so to speak. He continues:
“But the same could be said, in a way, of their greatest enemy: the modern holy warrior, like the killer of Theo van Gogh. The young Moroccan-Dutch youth downloading English translations of Arabic texts from the Internet is also looking for a universal cause, severed from cultural and tribal specificities.”
In a way, one could say that Buruma, and Geert Mak, who once compared Ayaan Hirsi with Goebbels, are barmy. To some extent.