If Islamic extremists delighted in Sept. 11, they must now be even more pleased by our waning memories of the slaughter, and our ever lessening commitment to the war on terror. Some six years after this nation saw the face of evil, it seems to have altogether forgotten its haunting visage.
How else can one explain the American public's strange apathy regarding the growth of fundamentalist Islam among our European friends and allies?
Perhaps the big pond puts us at ease. More likely, though, American indifference springs from a failure to properly understand the phenomenon that is "Islamism," a dogmatic, politically-charged and virulent perversion of the Muslim faith.
It must be said the vast lot of Islam's disciples are not cut from this gross cloth. Only a thin minority embrace the hard-line philosophy, but these few are noisy, energetic and dedicated. They must be minded.
Americans, sadly, aren't alone in their casual attitude towards the Muslim fringe. Although Islamism has begun to metastasize throughout Europe, many on the continent insist that fears of cultural incompatibility are overblown. Critics are regularly derided as paranoid xenophobes, and while some may indeed fall into that unseemly category, others are simply concerned with the erosion of their liberal cultures.
It was to help legitimize trepidation over the Islamization of Europe that Geert Wilders created Fitna (meaning "division among people" in Arabic), a brief film that illuminates the dangers of Muslim extremism within the Old World.
This fifteen-minute expose, which is both articulate and acerbic, will leave the viewer pale and breathless. It reveals in stark terms the vile propensities of Islamic extremists operating within the West.
Wilders is a flamboyant Dutch parliamentarian who leads the Party for Freedom, a center-right political faction recently organized in opposition to undue Islamic influence in the Netherlands and beyond. Fiery and eccentric, he is recognizable by his boyish pluck and mane of peroxide-blonde hair.
Simple in presentation, Fitna mixes troubling Koranic verses with present day video footage of Muslim extremists spewing unrestrained hate speech and engaging in the must brutal activities, including the execution of gays, women and Westerners. Clips of the massacres in New York, Madrid and London are prominently featured, lest we forget those sorrowful days.
Certain parts of the film are impossible to shake. Now iconic, there's the clip of a man tumbling from the heights of the World Trade Center's North Tower in a last-ditch effort to escape raging flames. His long fall is accentuated by a 911 phone call made by a woman trapped within the conflagration-"It's so hot, I'm burning up..."
In another scene, the viewer is confronted with the first moments of a beheading: as captors saw through his neck, the victim gurgles desperately.
Such images cannot help but drive home the unwavering barbarity of Islam's furthest fringes. It should also remind those who hyperventilate over Abu Ghraib of torture's true form.
But those scenes, however sickening and infuriating, are familiar bordering on stereotypical. Truly startling are the Islamists' own words. Many of their taunts seem directly snatched from a neo-Nazi rally. "God bless Hitler," one proclaims, while another warns, "Be prepared for the real Holocaust."
To cheering hundreds, an imam howls that, Allah willing, someday "even the stone will say, 'A Jew is hiding behind me, come and cut off his head!'"
Jews are hardly the only targets of these extremists' bottomless wrath. Wilders displays photographs of teenage homosexuals being executed in Saudi Arabia while relaying a Muslim religious leader's suggestion that gays be "thrown from tall buildings."
Liberal democracy-arguably the West's most precious invention and export-is, of course, on the Islamist hit list. "We do not believe in freedom of speech, Islam is our alternative"; "Denounce political parties and worldly concepts like liberalism and democracy." Behind customary veil, a woman waves a sign: "Freedom go to Hell."
Against these unnerving sights and sounds, there are the somber words of Wilders, who predicts violence and repression with widespread Islamization. Genital mutilation of females, so-called "honor killings" and religiously sanctioned murder missions against critics and nonbelievers, he implies, are all in the cards if radical Muslims are not checked.
As if to prove his point, a Dutch Islamist declares that he would happily slaughter his sister or mother for sexual promiscuity.
If Enlightenment values-tolerance, liberty, free inquiry, rationality, human rights-are to be protected, then there must be an awareness of the rising threat radical Islam poses to Europe and the United States. Projects like Fitna are the first step to a solution.
Hopefully, courageous Geert Wilders will not pay too harsh a sentence for his lonely stand. Predictably, he has already received a swarm of death threats. Some speculate that he will be butchered in the style of fellow Dutchman and anti-Islamist filmmaker Theo van Gogh.
Such a fate would be depressing, but it wasn't without reason that Thomas Jefferson once stated that the tree of liberty needs blood to endure.
While the bulk of Islam does not carry the putrid stink of violent extremism, a domineering clique of anti-Western conspirators has put at risk our civilization's legacy of freedom. Fitna is heartily suggested to anyone who appreciates the open society and will not allow its blessings to be sacrificed to any form of religious fundamentalism.
Fitna can be viewed online for free. However, its availability is spotty, as host sites have been intimidated with violent threats.