Pieter at the Peaktalk blog is busy at work translating some of Theo van Gogh’s website into English. Van Gogh being Van Gogh, not all of it will make comfortable – or sensible – reading, but as this this comment on America’s supposed ’superficiality’, well, judge for yourself:
“The dead poor sheep farmers on Sicily at the turn of the century argued that America must be heaven on earth as emigrated family members relayed messages of having meat for dinner everyday. That was a mouthwatering experience for people who could enjoy that privilege maybe once in a lifetime. You can argue that particular instinct to be ‘ordinary’ or ’superficial’ like so many do here, but it is way beyond me to look down on it. America is hated because it embodies the hope of people that yearn for a better life, to have meat everyday, but also to believe in the God they choose, or not. To say what you want without being persecuted. To be a woman without a veil, with the right to vote, free expression and adultery, without being stoned.”
It is impossible to read those words, and others that you can see up on the site, without being proufoundly moved – and remembering that Theo van Gogh was murdered for his opinions. Slaughtered for speaking his mind. In Europe. In 2004.
I suppose we should be grateful that in Britain, by contrast, Tony Blair only wants to lock dissenters up.