I recently found a place to see Geert Wilders' (Dutch filmmaker) recent controversial film, Fitna. Note that it contains shocking images. This is the film that Network Solutions pulled the plug on recently, and that many are worried about continuing to spark tensions between the western world and the islamic world, similar to the Jyllands cartoon controversy. Thoughts:
- The film does not make fine distinctions between Muslims and could easily be interpreted to lump all muslims together, from Wahabi and fatwaists to westernised liberal muslims
- Nederlands has been at the front of a cultural struggle that is rising in Europe, with assasinations, struggles over the ability of people to criticise faiths, and immigration/ghettoisation problems widespread. This is not yet a major issue in the United States
- The film asks Muslims to tear the hateful verses from the Quran, citing many that have been used by various parties to justify armed struggle.
- Struggle is natural between different visions for society, and the force needed to keep society in place is not very different in principle from that being used by those who would impose a different model. When enough power is behind multiple mutually contradictory visions of society that militias form (see Lebanon's civil wars, for starters), these struggles become highly visible. Just as we would spread a liberal superstructure over the world that would preclude many forms of governance/culture, some would spread an islamic one that would likewise preclude some. Neither is absolutist - there is room for (some) other faiths and perspectives within an islamic superstructure, just as enlightenment liberalism would not (in my realisation, anyhow) preclude difference. The room for pluralism in neither is absolute, nor could it be - it would be inconsistent to attempt to tolerate everything because visions for society (e.g. no genital mutilation, when use of force is acceptable, etc) generally don't restrict themselves to non-universals.
- Many forms of political Islam, including many (but not all) of those cited, are heretical - they gloss over that unbelievers, as in the cited phrases, do not include "people of the book", namely Christians, Judaists, and Sabeans, who assume a protected-but-lesser status as directed by the Quran. The anti-jewish and anti-christian slurs are based on matters apart from the Quran and are contrary to parts of it.
- This protection does not include most Hindus, people of other faiths, or atheists/agnostics, who are not to be shown mercy, as I understand the Quran
- The cultural struggle is real, and troubling for Europe's future.
- Islam is not the only point of struggle we could imagine this over. The rise of Christian nationalism in the United States may someday pose a similar threat to what we have now
- Note that I do not mean "threat" or "heresy" as spit words or to dismiss positions. The latter is meant as deviation from a comprehensible understanding of normative values of a faith, the former meant in as neutral a form as we might imagine in a chess game.