Saturday, March 29, 2008

You Can't Handle the Truth

During Bright Week, called the Octave of Easter in the West, I try to spend much of my time reflecting on our Lord's great gift in the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Consequently, I typically don't engage in blogging. This follows my Lenten practice of using the blog to post edifying snippets from the wealth of Byzantine hymnody for my own and my readers' spiritual benefit. In both cases, this doesn't mean that I close myself off from the world, I simply exercise restraint in making choices for "blogosphere" comment.

However, I have concluded that I must comment on the recent unpleasantness regarding a fifteen minute film by the Dutch politician Geert Wilders entitled "Fitna". Fitna is an Arabic term roughly meaning "upheaval" and carries the connotation of social madness like "Bedlam" in the classical sense. The film warns of the dangers of Islamic extremism and the hatred of Western values, including democracy, shared by many Muslims. It has garnered near universal opprobrium in the world media and in political circles. It was denied access to Dutch television, banned from Dutch web services, condemned by everyone from European Muslim leaders to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Now, it is vanishing from the web altogether.

Not being one who closely follows all things Dutch, I first heard about the film two days ago. Curiosity led me to google it and watch it. Consequently, I find it fascinating that the film is being so universally vilified. It does have more than a few images of mutilated corpses that are not for delicate temperaments.

However, the criticisms do not seem to focus on the film per se. Rather, the film is characterized as "hate speech"; it offends Muslims; it represents a far right xenophobia; it stereotypes Muslims; and it is propaganda that did not even get the permission of several news outlets for the quotations used in the film.

But what I have not found is many refutations or actual dialogue on the film's assertions. While a local radio commentator in our area yesterday proclaimed that Muslim hatred for the United States and Great Britain solely originates in Western interventionism and has nothing to do with Islamic antithetism towards democracy, the film features Imams and Muslim laity adamantly proclaiming their hatred for democracy.

In the musical 1776, one of the Continental Congress delegates voting on whether to debate the question of American independence notes, "I never heard of an idea so dangerous that people can't talk about it. Hell, yes, I'm for debating it." It would seem that Fitna features ideas that many believe must not be spoken out loud. The questions people should be asking is "What ideas?" and "Who benefits from them not being discussed?"

Let me note: I have lived with Muslims and witnessed Muslim culture up close. I have been privileged to account many Muslims as friends. There are many very fine people who follow Islam. There is also an undercurrent within Islam that is most troubling from a Christian perspective and from a classical Western perspective. There is a vast difference between Muslim fundamentalism and Christian fundamentalism of whatever stripe.

Fitna addresses issues that should concern Muslims and Christians alike. Arguments against Crusades should equally apply to Jihad. No one benefits from refusing to acknowledge or discuss the issue. Modern Western Relativism exposes itself to its own corrupt decay in the silence it enforces on too many issues. Fitna deals with one.

This link will take you the liveleak website where the film was available. God willing, the film may return. If so, remember there are several graphic images.

PS You will note various links in this post. I do not endorse views expressed in the linked sites; they are provided as examples and to expand options for interested readers to find the film.

PPS Thanks to Byzantine, Texas, a different video, guaranteed to make you smile!

UPDATE: The film FITNA may now be found here.

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