Geert Wilders and CNN's Warped Mirror
by Aaron Eitan Meyer • Mar 3, 2009 at 12:36 pm
Geert Wilders is without question a controversial figure. His outspoken views on Islam and his film Fitna have resulted in death threats from Islamists, threats of extradition to Jordan for 'blaspheming Islam,' politicized court rulings targeting him in the Netherlands, and British appeasement to Islamists. Concurrently with these actions, a war of words has arisen, with some of Wilders' critics increasingly engaging in crude personal attacks on Wilders.
The rhetorical battle regarding Wilders reached mind-boggling proportions this past November, when a textbook was sent to schoolchildren in the Netherlands that equated Wilders to Adolf Hitler. Only after a fierce battle in Dutch Parliament was an insert sent out to replace the highly offensive assertion.
However, a recent self-fulfilling statement that appeared on CNN on February 26th may well render the textbook incident tame by comparison. CNN Co-Anchor Christine Romans introduced Wilders as being "sometimes referred to as the 'Al Qaeda of the Netherlands' because of his controversial views about the Koran and Islamic culture." Indeed, CNN entitled the segment ""Al Qaeda of the Netherlands" on Capitol Hill."
Unfortunately for CNN and its sound bite, Wilders had not been referred to as the 'al Qaeda of the Netherlands' – at least not until later in that same program, when interviewee Radwan Masmoudi made the unsupportable and absurd statement that "his views and his opinions are extremely mirror image, exactly mirror image of what al Qaeda has been trying to teach. He is the al Qaeda of the Netherlands." CNN Correspondent Carol Costello then repeated the last sentence, adding disingenuously to Wilders, "That's what some Muslims think of you."
Setting aside for the moment how a single utterance can magically become multiplied from one breath to the next, Masmoudi's opinion itself deserves careful consideration.
Masmoudi stated that Wilders is analogous to al Qaeda, a global terrorist organization that is responsible for the deliberate and systematic targeted killings of civilians around the world, because of "his views and opinions." Finding a valid basis to link Wilders' views with those of al Qaeda is simply impossible.
Al Qaeda and its leaders have used undeniably racist expressions to demean President Obama, declared it a duty for followers to "enlist the youth into jihad brigades" and referred to Jews as "the grandchildren of monkeys and pigs."
In marked contrast, Wilders' film Fitna consists of Quranic verses and frothing harangues by Islamist clerics. It does not, however, contain racist rhetoric, incitement to abusing children or anti-Semitism, except where that is uttered by the subjects of the film. And as the Muslims Against Sharia blog already pointed out, exposing bigotry does not logically equate to the exposer holding the views he exposed. Simply put, raising awareness about how the likes of al Qaeda use Islam to justify atrocious actions is neither bigoted nor 'hate speech,' and comparing Wilders to al Qaeda , which issued a fatwa ordering his 'slaughter' is laughably insupportable.
One may categorically disagree with Wilders' conception of Islam, but that does not in any way justify or excuse comparing him to the likes of Hitler or al Qaeda. Doing so represents the weakest form of an ad hominem argument – attacking the person with insults rather than addressing his views.
Hopefully, the next time CNN wants to negatively portray one of its guests, it will at least have the decency to not create expressions and pretend otherwise. After that, perhaps it will be able to debate a man like Wilders without relying on puerile and absurd comparisons to the likes of al Qaeda.
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