In his 1922 Munich speech, Hitler stated "It is in the nature of the Jew to destroy and he must destroy. The Jew is harmful to us." Not unlike Wilders's closing message in his film Fitna, stating "Islam wants to rule, submit, and seeks to destroy our Western civilization," or the statement in his article "Enough is Enough: Ban the Koran from Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant": "(Islam) will only bring our country hell and damnation."
The week Fitna was released on the Internet, the Indonesian government banned it. However, a common view streaming into The Jakarta Post's Website disagrees with the act. But to judge how tolerable the film truly is, let's ask history.
"A moderate Islam does not exist. It does not exist because there is no difference between good Islam and bad Islam. There is Islam and that is it," wrote Wilders, quoting Oriana Fallaci's 2006 speech in his article.
In the above, Wilders supports as if it were fact, that good Islam is bad Islam, or that Islam is bad.
There are good and bad interpretations of Islam, by good and bad people. Wilders fails to acknowledge this, as his generalizations hold that whoever believes in the Islam is bad. So more than one billion people are bad?
In Fitna, Wilders quotes Koranic verses and associates them with horrifying images, such as the 9/11 attacks, the beheading of Nick Berg and the 2005 London Bombings, while eerie music lingers in the background. Clearly cheap propaganda. But let us peek into the 1940s to find similarities between Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda Der Ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew), and Wilders' Islamophobic stand in Fitna.
In Fitna, Wilders presents individuals' violent Koranic interpretations, forms a generalization on such limited samples and publishes them as if they were fact in order to attack the religion and encourage Islamophobia.
Comparably, the Nazi propaganda film Der Ewige Jude depicted a selected interpretation of the benediction to the Sabbath to manipulatively portray Judaism as a threat to the world: "The heathens, who do not keep your commandments, you have made enemies to be wiped out ... and He says, even the best among the heathens will I kill. There are none good among the peoples of the world ... but the sons of Israel are all righteous." In both cases, the technique of fear is used to generate propaganda.
Wilders draws almost baseless generalizations, referring to Muslim immigrants as liars and criminals: "*Dutch parliament members* grant a general pardon to liars and criminals."
In Der Ewige Jude, there are also poorly justified stereotypes of Jewish immigrants as materialistic characters: "They *offered* submission to the basest life of material pleasures. Incitement of the young, class warfare, and terrorism."
Wilders oversimplifies the problem with violent Muslims, and takes the easy way out -- blame the religion, base it on the Koran. Not unlike the Nazis who used the book of Deuteronomy as a basis to support their ignorant view on Jews as greedy characters. The narrator in Der Ewige Jude states, "For example, in Deuteronomy it is written -- 'Unto a foreigner thou mayest lend upon usury, but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury.'"
Wilders demonizes his opponent Islam, a common propaganda technique. He forces his opinion on others as if it were fact. He attempts to convince the public his position is common sense. The latter is particularly noticeable in the similarities between the structures of Fitna and Der Ewige Jude.
Both use horrifying images and newspaper headlines to incite fear among the audience. Both display statistics on the rising number of immigrants.
While Fitna uses images portraying an increasing Muslim population, Der Ewige Jude states: "In the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, they spread from Eastern Europe like an irresistible tide, flooding the towns and nations of Europe -- in fact, the entire world," a message not unlike Wilders' shame for "those who refuse to combat the Islamic invasion," and those "...working to transform the Netherlands into Netherlarabia as a province of the super state Eurabia."
Finally, direct messages to the audience from the propagandist conclude both films. Der Ewige Jude with Hitler's speech: "Europe can not find peace before the Jewish question is solved. Jews will just have to get used to the idea of performing some respectable constructive activity," and Fitna with Wilders's statements: "Islam does not make way for you, Islam does not respect you. Stop Islamization."
Broad generalizations, prejudice and powerful hatred were the roots of the Holocaust. Is this the beginning of another ethnic persecution or is justice able to prevent it? Had Fitna spoken ill of Judaism instead, it would have faced the same fate as Der Ewige Jude and Mein Kampf. Wilders would have been convicted of anti-Semitism.
The international community should give Wilders that equal treatment. Combat Islamophobia as seriously as Judaeophobia, raise awareness of and end the tolerant attitude towards such destructive hatred that ethnic groups have had to face and let a nation stand up for its Muslim majority.
The author is an International Baccalaureate School Rijnlands Lyceum student, The Netherlands. She can be reached at [email protected]