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Monday, November 08, 2004

After some time off

I must apologize for taking some time off from blogging. In the last two weeks I have been increasingly consumed by one event: the US presidential election. First there was the run-up to the election, where I descended into hyper-obsessive mode, spending hours watching news and immersing myself in the echo chamber eco-sphere of the liberal blogs (DailyKos, Pandagon, Kevin Drum, and others), working myself into a frenzy and generally finding I was unable to think about anything else. Then there was the election itself, which was a dissapointment, to say the least. So, after that happened, I decided to take another week off to gather my thoughts. I did write a thousand words on Thomas Frank's What's The Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Won The Heart Of America on Friday, but I decided to abandon the project when I realized that deep down I am not particularly interested in adding myself to the budding political commentariat of the blogosphere. Also, I feel that a week is too soon to really commit myself to an opinion on what the election means; like when the Chinese revolutionary leader Zhou Enlai was asked his opinion on the French Revolution and said, "it's too early to say."

Elswhere, the story that has been attracting most of my attention has been the murder of Dutch film-maker Theo Van Gogh, a descendant of the great painter, by an Islamic radical. This is a crucially important event. Like elsewhere in Western Europe the Netherlands has a sizeable, and quickly growing, Muslim minority. Like the execution of the populist anti-immigration leader Pim Fortuyn two years ago, this points to tensions at the heart of what Americans popularly imagine as Europe's most tolerant nation (indeed, the openly gay Fortuyn's message was quite unique among Europe's anti-immigrationists - he believed that Muslim immigration was threatening to traditional Dutch liberalism). Truly, we are living in interesting times.

|| RPH || 6:50 PM || |