Ambivalent in Amsterdam

In Murder in Amsterdam, Ian Buruma equivocates when clarity would have enlightened readers.

Issue: Nov-Dec 2006

Ian Buruma, Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance (New York: Penguin Press, 2006), 288 pp., $24.95.

There have been three major ideological-political movements in the 20th and early 21st centuries which most explicitly and purposefully exploited and harnessed the capacity for hatred to the pursuit of political objectives: Nazism, Communism and now radical Islam.

Supporters and leaders of all three movements believed that they could create blissful social systems if only they could eradicate the groups and individuals malevolently obstructing the accomplishment of the great goals. The thirst for destroying these enemies was dependably fueled by a consuming hatred. All three currents were arrayed against the West, that is to say, secular, liberal, democratic and pluralistic societies.

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