A CULTURE WAR HITS EUROPE Froma Harrop, The Providence Journal November 15, 2004 The murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh has cut yards off the fuse on Europes culture war. And we mean warwith shooting and bombing. Boy, would the Europeans love to trade their culture war for ours. A gang of Muslim radicals gunned van Gogh down in the streets of Amsterdam, then slit his throat. The killers were angry over a film he had made about abused Muslim women. Van Gogh was a distant relative of artist Vincent van Gogh. The Netherlands is a place where marijuana sells openly. And so does sex. Free speech is a given. It is everything Muslim radicals abhor. The Dutch government had already tightened its immigration policies. And the van Gogh murder has cleared away the marijuana haze surrounding left-wingers who thought kindness would cool the hotheads. Muslims now account for 6 percent of the countrys population. The Dutch have no choice but to root out the misfits and forcefully integrate the rest. This will not come naturally to the land of utmost tolerance. In the meantime, its going to be war in Europe. An American myth holds that France has meekly avoided the war on terror. Nothing could be further from the truth. France has aggressively pounced on suspected terrorists and abridged their civil liberties in ways that John Ashcroft could only envy. When France passed a law forbidding girls to wear Islamic headscarves to public schools, Osama bin Ladens deputy issued a string of bloodcurdling threats. The law stayed. Militants holding two French journalists hostage in Iraq offered to release them if France gave up the headscarf ban. France refused. Spain has awakened to its own horrible reality. The terrorist bombings near Madrid last March killed 200 commuters. At first the attacks seemed narrowly aimed at scaring the electorate into voting their pro-Iraq war leaders out of office. That was accomplished, and Spain withdrew its troops from Iraq. Weeks later, similar bombs were found on Spains train tracks. The Dutch are scared stiff. And so are immigrants who try to fit in. Bodyguards now surround Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born member of the Dutch parliament who has criticized fellow Muslims for not adopting European ways. Van Gogh himself believed that a fifth column of Islamic radicals had infiltrated the immigrant masses. Many in the American media havent a clue. They apply the American experience to Europe. U.S. immigration comes with its own set of problems, but assimilation is not among them. Immigrants to the U.S. tend to melt easily into the culture. A recent PBS documentary on Muslim-Dutch tensions totally missed this point. Digging into the bag of American immigration clichés, it painted Europes challenge as Welcoming the beliefs and traditions of newcomers while protecting freedom and equality for all. Well, what do you do when the beliefs and traditions of newcomers oppose the freedom and equality of others? A New York Times editorial says the Dutch peoples problem is not Muslim immigration But a failure to plan for a smoother transition to a more diverse society. What exactly have the Dutch done wrong? Almost 50 percent of the population in their second biggest city, Rotterdam, are from other countries. Immigrants to the Netherlands get jobs, free health care, and education. Should the Dutch shut down filmmakers who say women shouldnt be beaten? The Dutch dont have to apologize to anyone. They and other Europeans have some ugly choices on the agenda, and no option but to make them. Theirs is the culture war from hell.