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A terrible truth

Andy Stone

The silver lining in this year’s election is that, at last, it is over. The results are in and, barring the biggest political scandal in U.S. history, George W. Bush will be our president for the next four years.So now, perhaps, it is safe for Truth to come out and play.As we have long known and have recently been reminded, Truth and her handmaiden, Honesty, are liabilities during campaign season. Because it is practical, because it is comforting, because it is easy, we all cling to our side’s particular version of “truth.”But now it’s time for clearer vision.No, I’m not expecting the Swift Boat Veterans to admit that John Kerry deserved his medals – or even to acknowledge that atrocities were committed in Vietnam.Nor do I expect Democrats to stop calling George W. Bush an idiot – although now, postelection, their insistence on that point amounts to declaring, “That idiot outsmarted us again” … which is hardly a winning slogan.No, I am hoping for a different kind of truth. I am hoping both ends of the spectrum can agree on a single, terrible point. I am hoping both sides can declare their outrage at the savage murder of Theo Van Gogh.For those who aren’t familiar with the story here are the essential details:Van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker, was murdered in broad daylight in Amsterdam. His murderer was a Muslim, outraged at a film Van Gogh had made condemning the oppression of women in Islamic society.The killer shot Van Gogh and then slashed his throat so violently that the filmmaker was nearly beheaded. The murderer left a five-page letter pinned to his victim’s body by a knife, stabbed deep into his flesh.How can anyone – anyone – of any religion, from any society, fail to condemn this murder as an outrage?Van Gogh was an artist, killed for making a movie, murdered for expressing his beliefs, slaughtered because he stood up for the rights of women.For anyone and everyone, this killing should stand stark and clear, free of any “mitigating” circumstances. There was no battle for a “homeland,” no fight against “oppression.” The Netherlands is a free, open and tolerant society. The killer was Moroccan by nationality, welcomed, not oppressed. This was an act of evil.Yes, Van Gogh’s film, “Submission,” was intentionally provocative. It tells the story of Muslim women: one forced into an arranged marriage and beaten brutally by her husband; one savagely whipped for “fornication”; one raped by her uncle, with the tacit approval of her father. Actresses in the film are naked under transparent Islamic-style veils. Verses from the Koran, demanding the submission of women, are written on their bodies – which also bear the marks of whips and beatings.Anger, even outrage, from Muslims is to be expected. Murder is not. Not to be expected and most certainly not to be accepted.But, once again, although we can imprison and punish the murderers, the true solution to the greater problem is not really up to us – at least, we must hope it is not.The true solution must come when a vast majority of Muslims stand tall and take their religion back from those who have hijacked it and made it a symbol of intolerance, terror and murder. If they cannot – or will not – do that, then the solution will be left to the rest of us, who will have to decide whether to bow to violent jihad or fight back. To the death.(“Submission,” just 11 minutes long, is posted on the Web at ifilm.com.)Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is andy@aspentimes.com


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