If you're trying to obscure the truth, defend the indefensible, and smear the good guys, go for sheer, unadulterated bathos. So it is that as the clock ticks down to the March 15 parliamentary elections in the Netherlands (which, as it happens, I write about in this week's National Review), Anna Holligan of the BBC – in an effort to paint Geert Wilders, head of the Freedom Party (PVV), as a racist hatemonger – kicked off a March 7 article from The Hague by focusing on one of the Dutch Moroccans whom Wilders, as she put it, had “accused...of making the streets unsafe.” Needless to say, Holligan didn't talk to one of the majority of Dutch Moroccan males who have dropped out of school and are living on social welfare benefits; nor did she buttonhole one of the nearly 50% of young Dutch Moroccan males who have rap sheets.
No: she talked to a young lady named Hafsa Mahraoui, who, in “trendy black trainers and matching hijab,” is “the quintessential image of modern Muslim woman.” (Yes, nothing says “modern” like a hijab.) Mahraoui, Holligan reported, thinks of herself as “a true Amsterdam girl.” But life has been tough for her lately: “the tone of the campaign” has brought her down. “They say Islam isn't normal, it doesn't belong in Dutch society, and that being hijabi means I am an oppressed person,” Mahraoui lamented. “It's tiring because we are always in the spotlight and you have to defend yourself.” As if all this weren't terrible enough, Mahraoui complained – and she clearly meant this to be understood as an example of the way Dutch people treat Muslims – that her headscarf had been “ripped off just after the murder of the film-maker Theo van Gogh.” Supposedly, the memory still makes her shudder. Not the memory of the murder, mind you: the memory – the more than twelve-year-old memory – of having her headscarf yanked off.
Thus does the murder of Theo van Gogh become a passing reference in a story news about Dutch people purportedly making life tough for Muslims...The urge to self-excoriate runs deep in the Western psyche, a masochistic streak that, in our day, amounts to a civilizational death wish.