Van Gogh Report

When I called the Newsweek article about the Theo van Gogh murder ‘uninspired‘ I may have been a little off the mark. A better adjective might have been ‘inaccurate.’ Reader Isabella M. writes in from the Netherlands to say that the article was fraught with errors. For instance, contrary to what the article states, the killer didn’t slit van Gogh’s throat, he used the knife to pin his message on the body. And, although the article makes it sound as though the government funded Muslim schools, it did so only in the context of bijzonder onderwijs (special education), meaning that parents can send their child to a state school or to a school whose teaching is based on religious principles, be it Muslim, Christian, or Jewish. There are others, but you get the point–it doesn’t take much research to write something that feeds into the zeitgeist.

Elsewhere, Dennis Lim, writing in the Village Voice, looks at the movie that led to the disgusting murder of the filmmaker.

[Theo van Gogh’s movie] lasts 11 minutes and is unlikely to influence anyone’s views on its subject the treatment of women in traditional Islamic society. As fatwa triggers go, Submission: Part 1 (available at is no Satanic Verses, and its laziness as both art and protest is precisely what gives this short its unsettling, unwitting power. It’s depressing to think that this morsel of glib effrontery could pass as a serious critique of conservative Islam and horrifying to realize that it provoked someone to murder.

The article also looks at van Gogh’s partner on the project, Ayaan Irsi Ali.

Previous editions of the Van Gogh Report: 1, 2, 3.