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March 29, 2008

Regensburg revisited

As I pointed out in an earlier post, Geert Wilders' Fitna is, in a sense, a wholly uncontroversial document. The links between jihadi violence and their reading of the Koran are ones the jihadis proudly, repeatedly assert for themselves. It is only when a non-Muslim makes the same observation that the link becomes problematical. Western Pollyanna's cannot bear to have their shibboleth of non-Western Ewok folkways contradicted and the jihadis cannot bear to be disagreed with - let alone mocked - in any way or under any circumstances. So where then does the power of Wilders' film lie? What is it about a film so few people have actually seen that should provoke such outrage (and not only amongst the jihadis, I am at least as pissed off as they are). It seems to me Fitna's real argument lies in the reaction Wilders surely knew would result from his attempting to air it.* First, insane threats and libidinal violence on the part of the religion of perpetual outrage. Second, and more importantly, its de facto censorship by 100% of the world media.

This rhetorical device - speaking through having been silenced - neatly echoes two of the aporias Fitna is meant to illuminate. The first, the reaction to the Danish cartoon depictions of the "Prophet" Mohamed.** Here again the overt content of the depictions was less important than the fact of violating the taboo against depiction in itself. Here again bleeding hearts misread Muslim outrage at blasphemy as the hurt feelings of a minority suffering from the insensitivity of "racists". The second, our media's refusal to show the atrocities the jihadis have carried out against us; this out of fear of upsetting our sheltered sensibilities and for fear of fueling reprisals. Psychologically, morally and spiritually this media practice is an epic fail. I cannot forget the sound of bodies hitting the pavement of Manhattan precisely because I am not allowed to remember it.

Wilders has created a document whose power lies in its not being seen.*** I could find more inflammatory rhetoric on YouTube in five minutes but nothing so powerful as the argument we are not allowed to hear. The cowardice of the West is unfolding precisely as Wilders has foreseen. The cowards are doing all the rhetorical heavy lifting, proving his argument for him. There is only so long our culture can hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil before we walk civilization over the cliff and plummet into the abyss of a new Dark Age. Either that or until the consequences of denial are no longer supportable as neurosis, our conversion symptoms fail and we collectively undergo a genocidal psychotic break. They do not call psychoanalysis the "talking cure" for nothing. We either have to face our problems directly or they shall govern us until the end, whatever that end turns out to be.

* Wilders almost certainly drew the same conclusions I did from Pope Benedict's address at the University of Regensburg. He knew Muslim reaction to his argument would serve to prove his argument.
** Another slippage between the Koran and the Necronomicon. The first an unalterable text we profane cannot cite without fear of reprisal, the second a text nobody has read but which in reading will drive one to madness. Both are in a strict sense unspeakable.
*** The most vexing of which was not a Danish cartoon but a humorous photograph crudely photocopied and added by "Danish" Muslims themselves in an attempt to stir the pot. They succeeded. Again, outrage resulted from a document which did not exist.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at March 29, 2008 09:57 AM


I made my fella sit down at watch it, so he could understand what he calls my anti-Muslin sentiment. I'm hoping he got it this time, and agree with you that it should be shown on the CBC (immediately following Little Mosque, perhaps?). On a related note, there is a documentary about the cartoons playing as part of Hot Docs.

Posted by: cm [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 30, 2008 08:50 AM

"and watch it" (haven't finished my first cuppa yet)

Posted by: cm [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 30, 2008 08:51 AM

VERY interesting line of reasoning here. I'm wondering if it would be a worthwhile experiment now to hype up a non-existent film short [a la Borges?] solely to drum up outrage on the mere rumor.

Posted by: urthshu [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 30, 2008 08:52 AM

I have been thinking to advertise a public screening of Fitna in Toronto. No need to actually organize a showing, plastering notices on top of every International Socialist poster in downtown Toronto should do the trick.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 30, 2008 09:31 AM




Posted by: OregonGuy [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 30, 2008 04:00 PM