Geert Wilders’ ‘Fitna’ is Boring, Pointless Anti-Islamic Propaganda

I just watched Islamophobic Dutch right-winger Geert Wilders' film, Fitna. He had promised it to be too shocking, too frightening, too disturbing and much of the world was holding its breath in morbid, anxious, wait for its release. The media … Read More

By / March 28, 2008

I just watched Islamophobic Dutch right-winger Geert Wilders' film, Fitna. He had promised it to be too shocking, too frightening, too disturbing and much of the world was holding its breath in morbid, anxious, wait for its release. The media feared rabid violence by those angry Muslims.

My initial reaction is a yawn. The soundtrack is Tchaikovsky's mellow classical "Arab Dance." Quick tip to future demagogues: When trying to incite riots, try not to use musical pieces that are based on Georgian lullabies. Quick tip to future Islamophobes: When trying to demonize Islam, try not to use elements of Western culture that are inspired by Arabs and Muslims — doing so reveals that Muslims have something positive to contribute to the world, which somewhat undermines the whole point of the exercise.

Anyone who has seen terrorist propaganda films is familiar with most of the scenes and most of the disgusting conflations of the Quran with acts of violence, murder, kidnapping and antisemitism. Such behavior has been condemned resoundingly among Muslims. Those who use the Quran for illegitimate and criminal ends should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

The real question about this underwhelming effort is whether Wilders is protesting against Islam, or against the monopoly extremists already have over grainy, low-budget, youtube videos. The only difference I see is that Wilders plays the best of Western classical music — an insult to the legacy of Tchaikovsky — rather than death chants. So he gets credit for improving the audiovisual quality of terroristic propaganda. Also, the metamorphosis of "Fitna" into "Fin" at the end was pretty cool.

As for the rest of the film, it's a sixteen minute forty-eight second hatefest, cobbling together the most painful and heart-wrenching scenes of terror-strikes with shots of extremist imams, uncontaminated by any logic or argument or point except to turn the entirety of Islam into a demonic edifice. This is neither new nor interesting. It is a facile trick for facile minds. Cartoons show a more subtle grasp of the human condition. Focusing in more specifically, the film appears to be nothing more than a screed by a nativist. Anti-immigrant demagogues exist in every society, from Arab to American. Their sole job is to belittle and antagonize the mostly poor immigrants and stultify and romanticize their country’s own history.

One of the things the film did was to try and link some of the verses of the Quran to acts of violence. Most people familiar with the Quran, including Christian polemicists I’ve debated, accept that you can have the Quran say pretty much whatever you want. For example, there is, among Muslims, a pretty hefty industry of “scientists” who are constantly “proving’ that various Quranic verses predicted the marvels of modern science. I once saw a presentation by one of these guys. It was, in a way, very similar to what Wilders has done. First there would be a slide with a Quranic verse. Then there would be a bunch of images of some modern scientific marvel. Apparently, everything from the space-time continuum to modern meteorology and congenital biology are supported by verses from the Quran. Like I said, when put into the hands of fanatics and fools, the Quran — like any book of religious scripture — can say anything. If suicide bombers wanted, they could even go into the Old Testament, cite to Sampson, and justify their heinous acts.

What the film really makes clear is that when it comes to challenging Islamism, Wilders is completely lost. He resembles nothing so much as a socially awkward, marginalized, introverted child in a schoolyard whose solution to persecution at the hands of a bully is to write the bully's name in his notebook and then rip up the page.

If Wilders really wanted to expose Islamism — the entire legacy of 20th century ideological Islam — he would start with the French Suez Canal Company's funding of the Muslim Brotherhood's first mosque. That fact is casually mentioned in Hasan al-Banna's autobiography (which I am certain Wilders never bothered to consult). Alternatively, Wilders might have tried to spur a criminal proceeding in the international criminal courts against those men who came up with the genius idea of encouraging disaffected Arab youth to go to Afghanistan and then gave them $1 billion in machine guns, bombs and stinger missiles to play with. Or Wilders could have expressed some outrage at the drafters of the new Iraqi constitution, working in consultation with Western lawyers to make Sharia the law of the land (a fact bemoaned by Iraqi feminists).

But Wilders isn't actually serious about challenging Islamism. He is concerned only with multiplying the number of times his name is pinged on Google. Couldn't he have taken solace in the fact that his name is pinged more than mine?

I can't be sure how the Islamist demagogues will spin this film. Presumably some of them will consider this a kind of frontal assault against their idiocy — idiots recognize one another — and begin agitations which the media will be too happy to cover. However, the fact is that a majority of Muslims are going to react to this film with the same kind of casual shrug of the shoulders that it deserves. If there are Muslims who wish to protest — and I really don't see why it's even necessary — my advice for them is to emulate Hossein Nouri. He is the paraplegic painter who, during the Danish Cartoon Fiasco, painted a portrait of the Virgin Mary in front of the Danish embassy. Here is a picture of his marvelous work.

In terms of sheer originality, though, the best response to this film came from a friend of mine who watched the film — and calling it a film is to abuse both the English language and the legacy of cinema — on my computer with me.

"I could have masturbated in that time."

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