In the pre-Internet days, I would write a newspaper op-ed and then wait for days or weeks for reactions, which barely ever came. Now, as my webmaster sends out over twenty thousand copies of each column, response comes in fast and furious, often warranting additional comments by me. Here are some on today's piece, "[Theo van Gogh and] ‘Education By Murder' in Holland."
(1) The murder of Pim Fortuyn was in some sense the first Islamist terrorist act in recent Dutch history. Here is a report by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard and Joan Clements in the Daily Telegraph of March 28, 2003:
A Left-wing activist confessed in court yesterday to Holland's first political assassination in 400 years, claiming that he shot Pim Fortuyn to defend Dutch Muslims from persecution. Volkert van der Graaf, 33, a vegan animal rights campaigner, said he alone was responsible for killing the maverick protest leader last May, days before a general election in which the Fortuyn List party vaulted into second place and shattered Holland's consensus.
Facing a raucous court on the first day of his murder trial, he said his goal was to stop Mr Fortuyn exploiting Muslims as "scapegoats" and targeting "the weak parts of society to score points" to try to gain political power. He said: "I confess to the shooting. He was an ever growing danger who would affect many people in society. I saw it as a danger. I hoped that I could solve it myself."
Van der Graaf, 33, added that the idea of killing Fortuyn "was never concrete until the last moment, the day before the attack." MilitantIslamMonitor.org points out that van der Graaf intially claimed his motive was to prevent Fortuyn from reviving the mink trade in Holland and only later admitted that his goal was to protect Muslims.
Adding a note of levity to an otherwise grim proceeding, Fortuyn's relatives who attended the high-security court scorned the animal rights fanatic by donning their fur coats. "I want to cause him maximum pain," said Jolanda Fortuyn, a sister-in-law. "I will make sure he notices me." The gallery shouted their abuse at van der Graaf with what the Telegraph reporters term "a vehemence unusual for the Dutch," at least until they were expelled from the courtroom.
(2) A few readers worry that I am giving advice to the enemy in my penultimate paragraph:
Islamist terrorism in the West is counterproductive because it awakens the sleeping masses; in brief, jihad provokes crusade. A more cunning Islamist enemy would advance its totalitarian agenda through Mafia-like intimidation, not brazen murders.
I worried too about this, especially as I know that the Islamists read my articles. But I went ahead with the paragraph (and might write in more depth on the same topic) because I believe the most valuable service I can render in this war is to make anti-Islamists aware of the problem they face.
(3) The backlash against radical Islam continues. Today's Telegraaf reports (as does Expatica) that a two-thirds majority of the Dutch Lower House supports the abolition of the blasphemy law introduced in the 1930s that bans religious insults. (November 16, 2004)
Nov. 30, 2004 update: The Dutch media illegally made Mohammed Bouyeri's picture available today, and so do I, but legally in my case.