November 24, 2004

Two Filmmakers With Eyes Open

Posted by Jeremy Brown

Readers of this blog are probably aware that blogger, novelist, and filmmaker Roger Simon has not failed to understand the message stabbed to the freshly slaughtered body of Theo Van Gogh. Aside from Hollywood's collective lack of shock and outrage over the violent act itself, why has there been so little (read none) evidence of American filmmakers recognizing that war has been declared on the free expression of ideas through film (that being just for starters)?

And we're not talking about a need to grudgingly tolerate the freedom of people to make films bearing reprehensible ideological messages, we're talking about a man being brutally murdered because he made a film exposing the oppression of women. You'd think this would merit even the most token expression of solidarity against the silencing of artistic and political speech from 'progressives' in the Hollywood film industry.

Well Roger, as far as I'm concerned, is Hollywood now. By moral default. And so is a screenwriter named Bridget Johnson. Here's Johnson from a WSJ article that Roger links to today:

Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh's short film "Submission," about the treatment of women in Islam, written by female Dutch parliamentarian and former Muslim Aayan Hirsi Ali, had aired in August on Dutch TV. Van Gogh was riding his bike near his home when a Muslim terrorist shot him, slashed his throat, and pinned to his body a note threatening Ms. Ali. This appears to be an organized effort, not the act of a lone nut; Dutch authorities are holding 13 suspects in the case.

After the slaying, I watched "Submission" (available online at and my mind is still boggled that 11 minutes decrying violence against women incites such violence. There've been many films over the years that have taken potshots at Catholics, but I don't remember any of us slaughtering filmmakers over the offense. You didn't see the National Rifle Association order a hit on Michael Moore over "Bowling for Columbine."

One would think that in the name of artistic freedom, the creative community would take a stand against filmmakers being sent into hiding à la Salman Rushdie, or left bleeding in the street. Yet we've heard nary a peep from Hollywood about the van Gogh slaying.

Johnson identifies as a conservative and speaks of a growing conservative culture within Hollywood. I applaud Johnson for speaking out on this issue. But I don't want liberal filmmakers to evade this. This is an issue that should not fall prey to the division between Left and Right.

I consider myself a liberal (though I'm still scratching my head over what the hell has happened to my liberal friends, where they have gone) and I'm still outraged that Roger Simon is the only liberal in Hollywood whose voice has been audible on the Van Gogh murder and what it portends. In light of this sort of failing on the part of liberals, I am much more comfortable in the company of conservatives like Johnson who are willing to pick up some of the core principles my comrades have left to rot. But I'm not fully content with that. It's time for my fellow liberals to wake the hell up.

Posted by Jeremy Brown at November 24, 2004 12:25 PM

I understand your frustration. Many of my liberal colleagues (and I count myself as one too) are too busy Hating Daddy to direct their attention to an increasingly dangerous world.

Posted by: Josh at November 24, 2004 01:17 PM

“It's time for my fellow liberals to wake the hell up.”

Don’t hold your breath. Liberalism today has little use for George Orwell. No, it is mostly represented by the progeny of Jacques Derrida and Michael Foucault. They have no interest in improving the world. Only debauchery and nihilism interests them. These friends of yours are secular, lost souls. You should feel sorry for them---and immediately seek new comrades. They have made their bed and now must sleep in it. It’s their problem, not yours.

Posted by: David Thomson at November 24, 2004 01:25 PM

“It's time for my fellow liberals to wake the hell up.”

They can't do that, it would mean supporting Bush and the conservatives.

Posted by: David at November 24, 2004 01:38 PM

“They can't do that, it would mean supporting Bush and the conservatives.”

We agree completely. I seriously argue that the national democratic Party was destroyed on November 2, 2004. The odds are overwhelming that issues of grave importance will addressed only within the Republican Party. Why am I so pessimistic? That’s because it is illegal to murder one’s political trouble makers. You can marginalize the modestly well to do---but not the ultra-rich. George Soros and the other Democratic fat cats aren't going anywhere. Sadly, that means the more sensible members will be compelled to leave.

Posted by: David Thomson at November 24, 2004 02:02 PM

Rather than waste words: David & David T.,have said it all for me.
The 'liberal' vehicle,the Democratic Party, is decaying as we speak,and the theoretical voices that sustain any movement are those of Moore and Kennedy with a smidgen of opportunistic and totally un-principled Clinton thrown in for good measure.
You don't have to become a Conservative to know that,if you are a serious person,there is currently just 1 game in town.
I have NEVER seen anything like this situation.In a time of international crisis,1 segment of society has literally gone mad,and in this case they are clearly to be more censored than pitied.
A group that has become this disturbed must be kept away from sharp objects and power at all costs.
Sorry Jeremy.You really can't go home again.

Posted by: dougf at November 24, 2004 03:08 PM

There are no Democrats in the Democratic party. Where is Harry Truman? Where is Scoop Jackson? Where is John Kennedy? What of their legacy remains?

In 1992 during the vice presidential debates. Lloyd Benson tossed of that "I knew John Kennedy and you're no John Kennedy" line at Quayle.

Brilliant politics but, I was stunned because it occurred to me that I knew the party of John Kennedy and these modern Clinton/Benson Democrats were not the party of John Kennedy.

I mourn the death of the Democratic party. Let's bury it and move on cuz the corpse is really starting to smell bad.

Posted by: Tia at November 24, 2004 04:30 PM

I teach ESL at a university here in New York and a few months ago I had to stop going into the teachers' room between classes because, even though I'm a registered Democract, one day I recklessly told my colleagues that I would be voting for George Bush in November.

From that moment on, they looked at me like I was a baby-killer who just happened to be released by mistake and somehow had landed a job among them. Whenever I walked into the room, they raised their voices and droned on and on about how stupid Bush was. And how stupid Americans are. It was really tough.

I stopped going into that room and instead walked in the neighborhood for exercise during the break. I haven't stopped. And I won't even proceed to detail what these activist-teachers are doing in the classrooms. Two days ago one of my students told me that another teacher broke down in tears as she related to the other students how awful Reagan was as a president and as a man.

My eyes have been opened. If you're not in academia, you have no idea of the vitriol pouring out of these institutions. I saw David Horwitz giving a talk not so long ago and he seemed to have his finger on a lot of the problems. Over the upcoming break, maybe I'll get a chance to look at his "Left Illusions."

Posted by: George at November 24, 2004 06:06 PM

Two days ago one of my students told me that another teacher broke down in tears as she related to the other students how awful Reagan was as a president and as a man.

hahaha! that's hilarious. She still suffering from Reagan PEST going on 20 years.


Posted by: David at November 24, 2004 06:20 PM


That was the 1988 campaign not 1992.

Posted by: Doug at November 24, 2004 07:09 PM

Some folks must be under-employed and have little to do except keep close watch on what "liberals" are not saying.

And what exactly would satisfy you? What is the appropriate amount of yelling and screaming which would be appropriate and demonstrate that liberals are upset about the murder?

Posted by: David Sucher at November 24, 2004 07:16 PM

David Sucher: And what exactly would satisfy you? What is the appropriate amount of yelling and screaming which would be appropriate and demonstrate that liberals are upset about the murder?

A single whisper would be a good start. But I would have thought that some single concerted declaration of solidarity would be a good idea. If you are working on a movie that is in any way critical of, say, life under Sharia law, then you ought to fear for your life. You would probably take much solace in feeling that you could count on the support of people in your industry. A tenth of the outrcy I heard when Danny Glover lost his advertising spot with MCI would satisfy me. People are more outraged when a wealthy Hollywood actor who has sold a piece of his reputation to a huge corporation has to sacrifice a paycheck for a political opinion, than when an independent filmmaker gets murdered in the street for making a film about human rights. There's something wrong with that.

Posted by: Jeremy Brown at November 24, 2004 07:40 PM

You are right, Doug, it was 1988. It's seared in my memory.

Posted by: Tia at November 24, 2004 08:00 PM

Josh put his finger on it.

Hating Daddy is at the heart of the "liberal" in its post-
VietNam incarnation. Muslims, you see, are ThirdWorlders and non-white (even if they're Caucasian) and so they can never never be responsible for anything bad they do or say, since all their troubles, all of everyone's troubles, stem from Daddy: the Great White Male.
GW Bush is the current Vampire Master of the breed. And anything which would lessen the guilt of the Great White Male is not to be done. You'll wait a long time before "liberals" complain about Theo Van Gogh. Even gay "liberals" downplayed or "contextualized" the murder of Pim Fortuyn.

Now if a Dutchman had murdered a Muslim immigrant, written vile threats and pinned them to his half-decapitated body, ignoring his pleas for there's an indignation "liberals" could get behind. Wow. We'd have a movie of the week in a half hour.

I used to be a "liberal". Now I can hardly stand them.

Posted by: EssEm at November 24, 2004 08:24 PM

"And what exactly would satisfy you? What is the appropriate amount of yelling and screaming which would be appropriate and demonstrate that liberals are upset about the murder?"

Something greater than zero, for starters.

Posted by: Gary Rosen at November 24, 2004 10:46 PM

Roger Simon a liberal? That really is funny!
He's a joke.

And for many so called "disillusioned liberals" and indeed some other liberals in general, they will only get on their high horses about human rights when it suits their world view - in Roger L Simon's case - the War on Terror or against Islamic fundamentalism.

There are other abuses of human rights he does not give a crap about.

Posted by: Benjamin at November 25, 2004 01:11 AM


it's true not all Liberals are human rights junkies, and that Mr. Simon is being selective; but how do you explain the total silence from Libs and feminists who HAVE been human rights junkies? What's going on here? That's a sincere question. Have they simply become dhimmis?

Posted by: David at November 25, 2004 05:56 AM

Here is a hint: YOUR "LIBERAL" FRIENDS NOW CONSIDER YOU A CONSERVATIVE. Like the "neocons" you stayed where you were while "liberalism" moved farther to the left.

I expect you to soon go through the five stages of grief:

1) Denial - "I am SO a liberal! You lie!"

2) Bargaining - "Well listen liberals, I still believe in right to health-care, etc, PLEASE please take me back!"

3) Anger - "I am so pissed at you liberals for being such idiots about human rights, etc."

4) Despair - "Why are all these liberals calling me conservative! How can I be an evil conserative, even though we agree most of the time!"

5) Acceptance - "Well I guess I am a neocon, which means I am a type of conservative."

Posted by: winger at November 25, 2004 06:47 AM

The situation in the Netherlands is getting worse. The Islamic fundamentalists are saying that Van Gogh's death was a "blow for Islam". They want to expand this incident into a full blown war inside the country. Also, various white-power groups are trying to turn Van Gogh into a martyr for their cause.

Posted by: sam at November 25, 2004 06:59 AM

Hi all. I'm a liberal. I think the murder of Van Gogh is horrible but not surprising. I think the fundamentalist Islamic movement is one of the biggest threats to freedom in this world today. The Europeans are tending to ignore it as is the US to a lesser extent.

I don't like Bush (I voted for Kerry) but I can see how someone could justify a vote for him thinking the Iraq invasion may lead to some benefits in fighting Islamo-fascism. I think it is dangerous to make this (resistence to Islamic fundamentalism) a liberal-conservative thing. The biggest mistake many Democrats have made is equating anti-war with liberalism. I've always considered Truman was acting as a liberal when he dropped the A-bomb on Japan and if the Japanese weren't so conservative he would have not had to drop a second.

Posted by: Mark Hamm at November 26, 2004 08:00 PM

Hollywood, and the Left in general, are saying nothing about the death of Theo Van Gogh because their only interest is in defeating and destroying America and capitalism. As EssEmm noted above, the only wrongs done in the world are done by America. Islamofascism, which would kill these lefties en masse, gets a total pass because it is anti-American. The Left in this country is not anti-war, it is anti-America and anti-freedom.

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