van Gogh Report

Two articles published today about slain writer/filmmaker Theo van Gogh offer rather different perspectives about the case. In Salon, Ronald Rovers presents van Gogh as an advocate of free speech, one who saw his insults as a right in a democracy. Interestingly, the piece leads with the repeated mentions of the murderer’s national origin (italics mine).

On the morning of Nov. 2 in a busy street in east Amsterdam, a 26-year-old Dutch Moroccan named Mohammed Bouyeri pulled out a gun and shot controversial filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who was riding a bike to his office. Van Gogh hit the ground and stumbled across the street to a nearby building. He didn’t make it. As the Moroccan strode toward him, van Gogh shouted, “We can still talk about it! Don’t do it! Don’t do it.” But the Moroccan didn’t stop. He shot him again, slit van Gogh’s throat and stuck a letter to his chest with a knife. He was slaughtered like an animal, witnesses said.

It’s a little odd, considering that (a) the murderer is named here (so he could simply be referred to as ‘Bouyeri’) and (b) that the murderer was born in Holland, and was therefore Dutch. Compare this to the Alternet article by Naeem Mohaiemen, which instead focuses on some of van Gogh’s previous projects and what they meant for the culture.

Longtime readers of Van Gogh’s weekly column in the Dutch newspaper “Metro” know very well that his intention was not to reform male chauvinism, but rather to express crude bigotry. In his columns and interviews, Van Gogh called Muslims “goat fuckers” and “the Prophet’s Pimps.” His latest book, which lampooned Muslims as backward obscurantists, was defiantly titled “Allah Knows Best.” His collaborator on “Submission,” Ayaan Hirsi Ali, was equally florid, calling the Prophet Mohammed a “pervert” and a “tyrant.” Theo Van Gogh’s attacks were not limited only to Muslims. He blithely attacked Christian and Jewish symbols, once saying, “It smells like caramels they must be burning Jewish diabetics.”

The murder of Theo van Gogh was an unspeakable crime of hatred by a fanatic, but the writer/filmmaker’s own hatred toward others should not be conveniently forgotten now for the sake of political agendas.
Previous posts about van Gogh: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.