Finally, a survival instinct has been detected in Europe

  • Mona Charen / Syndicated Columnist
  • Saturday, November 20, 2004 9:00pm
  • Opinion

As Americans were reaffirming the war on terror by re-electing George W. Bush, Europe was slapped hard across the face by the murder of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker and outspoken critic of Islam. Van Gogh, a descendant of the painter, was shot while riding his bicycle to work in Amsterdam.

The bullets did not kill van Gogh. He survived long enough to stagger toward his office and plead with his attacker not to kill him – just as Nick Berg, Margaret Hassan, Kenneth Bigley and countless others pleaded with their murderers. But the killer, a Moroccan/Dutch jihadist who reportedly converted to radical Islam after Sept. 11, 2001, pulled out a long knife and methodically slit the throat of the 47-year-old van Gogh. He then withdrew a lengthy manifesto from his pocket and used the bloody knife to impale it on the chest of the filmmaker.

The letter is a screed of terrific savagery, written partly in quite conversational Dutch and part in Arabic. Much of the vitriol is aimed at Hirsi Ali – a Dutch member of parliament of Somali birth who has renounced Islam and had helped van Gogh to make a film, “Submission,” that unveiled the abuse many Muslim women silently endure.

“There will come a day,” declares the threat letter, “when one soul will not be able to help another soul. A day of horrible tortures and painful tribulations which will go together with the terrible cries being pressed out of the lungs of the unjust. Cries, Mrs. Hirsi Ali, which will cause chills to run up someone’s spine, and cause the hair on their head to stand straight up. … Hair-raising screams will be squeezed from the lungs of the non-believers.”

Later the letter warns: “I surely know that you, O America, will be destroyed. I surely know that you, O Europe, will be destroyed. I surely know that you, O Holland, will be destroyed.”

The response of the editorial board of The New York Times reveals why Western civilization is imperiled. “Urgent efforts are needed to better manage the cultural tensions perilously close to the surface of Dutch public life,” intoned the Times. “The problem is not Muslim immigration, but a failure to plan for a smoother transition to a more diverse society. One very real danger is that the public trauma over the van Gogh murder may lead to a clamor for anti-Muslim policies that could victimize thousands of innocent refugees and immigrants.”

Right. The problem is not a murderous, totalitarian religious ideology bent on domination of any society with which it comes into contact (just ask the Sudanese Christians, the Israeli Jews or the Hindu Indians), rather it is the Western world’s lack of “diversity.” Good Lord, where are these people’s brains?

It is perfectly obvious to all but the most obtuse observer, which of course includes the editorial board of The New York Times, that an excess of tolerance is what got Holland and the rest of Europe into this mess in the first place. Holland has leaned over backward to welcome immigrants from the former Dutch colony of Indonesia – to the point where a majority of children under the age of 14 in Holland’s four largest cities are Muslims. Muslims now comprise 6 percent of the population, but their numbers are growing rapidly through large families and continuing Muslim immigration (about 30,000 per year).

Some 300,000 of the 1 million Muslims in Holland fervently support the radical imams and mosques that preach jihad against the Jews, the West and all infidels. The Dutch have prided themselves on tolerating everything from legal prostitution, to euthanasia, to freely available marijuana and other drugs. But in tolerating the intolerant Muslims, they have swallowed a serpent.

In the wake of van Gogh’s murder, many Netherlanders have come to recognize this. Seventy-five percent told pollsters they support “radical” measures for dealing with terrorists, and Deputy Prime Minister Gerrit Zalm announced that the Dutch cabinet had “declared war on Islamic extremism.” Those who don’t support Holland’s tradition of free speech have been publicly invited to leave the country, even if they are citizens, and the government is preparing to close radical mosques altogether.

The New York Times would not approve. But sane observers will recognize the Dutch as the first Europeans to display a healthy survival instinct. It is not too late for the rest of Europe – yet.

Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist. Contact her by writing to

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