buruma on theo van gogh


Ian Buruma addresses questions of political philosophy, moral accountability and mass psychology in the most rigorous possible way: journalistically. In books on topics as varied as English national character, German and Japanese war guilt and the Chinese diaspora, he has deftly combined interviewing and reflection. This proves a fruitful way to approach the murder, in 2004, of the filmmaker Theo van Gogh, the subject of his new book. A Dutch-born Islamist named Mohammed Bouyeri was infuriated by “Submission,” a film van Gogh had made with the Somali-born feminist and politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali about the treatment of women under Islam. So one morning, as van Gogh was riding his bike to work, Bouyeri shot and stabbed him to death. Buruma, who was born in the Netherlands in 1951 and has lived mostly abroad since 1975, is less interested in the details of the killing than in what followed: the ideologies vindicated or discredited, the prejudices revealed and the doubts cast on the workability of what only 10 years ago was considered Europe’s most easygoing society.

more from the NY Times here.