This is for you.
I have wildlife at work. Not much, but enough to make me smile. We have a Mockingbird family--Mom, Dad, and two kids who were born in July. We also have a squirrel. The Mockingbird family are quite amusing, but I will save them for another day needing drivel. Today I want to tell you about the coolest squirrel ever (except for yours, Lori--maybe they are cousins). We will call him Jake. I am choosing Jake because it sounds like the name of a marathon runner to me. This is important because Jake is a marathon runner. For the last three weeks he has been preparing for what he must think is going to be a terrible winter. He has two trees with nuts that he likes. Unfortunately, they are at opposite ends of the parking lot. And we have a long parking lot. I would say a good 400 feet. So everyday, all day, Jake runs at full squirrel speed from one end of the parking lot to the other collecting nuts. Jake is no dummy though, he is storing his nuts halfway between his Pecan tree and his Acorn tree. He runs from the West end of the parking lot with a few acorns loaded up, drops them off at the middle storage tree, then continues to the East end of the parking lot and collects a couple pecans. He turns around and heads back to the middle tree to drop off another load, then precedes to go straight back to the West tree. He continues this circuit all day, everyday. Every now and then I will turn around in my chair and almost inevitably, Jake will be running by at full tilt! He is just so determined! It is absolutely adorable. And let me tell ya, Jake gets his exercise! He is the most in shape squirrel I have ever seen! He would totally be a jock if he were human.
Last Tuesday, while we were glued to the TV watching election results, a prominent Dutch filmmaker was gunned down in Amsterdam. The filmmaker was Theo Van Gogh, a distant relative of Vincent. This may not seem like a big deal at first...There must have been some reason he was killed...he was involved in something he shouldn't have been. He was doing something he shouldn't do. Something.
But, in fact, he was killed for speaking out against the way women are often treated in the Muslim faith. He had released a controversial film about the treatment of Muslim women, and he was killed for it. And he wasn't simply shot. He was shot several times in broad daylight in the middle of Amsterdam. Then the murders stabbed him with a knife to pin a note to his chest. Can you imagine? I need to you to get a visual of this. How horrible this is. He was murdered for using his right to freedom of speech in possibly the most tolerant country in the world.
The Netherlands has known for years that there were Islamic Extremists living within their borders, but they, in their usual tolerant and accepting ways, left the extremists alone. The extremists weren't bothering Dutch citizens and they saw no reason to create problems in the Muslim communities. This is how Holland is. Don't bother others and they won't bother you. I believe this follows for their views of pot smoking and legalized prostitution. If it isn't affecting others, why should we regulate it? So they left the extremists alone.
Now, because one Dutchman spoke out against a part of Islam, he has been murdered. And in addition to his death, there have been several bombings, and a stockpile of bombs found on the caliber of the what was found in Madrid.
The Dutch are such peaceful people and they have now been dragged farther into this mess. They are frantic and angered this week. 40% of the population is now saying Muslims are no longer welcome in their country. This is not the Holland I know. The Dutch are so accepting and caring. As my friend William said, his fellow countrymen, "don't live to work, they work to live." They prefer to work less and spend more time in the riches of friends and family. They are kind, and worldly and fun-loving. As a general population they tend to like everyone, and invite everyone to enjoy their country (Although, they have very tough immigration laws, but that is because so many people want to live there). They have always accepted those who others have turned away. Now they are succumbing to this hate and fear that has spread across the world.
What is happening when a country like Holland is being attacked by terrorists? Their churches bombed, their freedom of speech quashed by extremists. What does it say when one filmmaker cannot use his voice in a country know for its freedoms?
I am writing about this today because I am saddened by it. I cannot understand why a country like Holland had to be dragged into this. The Dutch are so peaceful that one extreme murder was able to upset an entire country. They have been awakened to terrorism. They have had their 9-11. My Dutch friend Harry said everyone is frighten and shocked. This is not something that happens in their country. Or at least it hasn't happened since WWII.
And possibly worse still, is the fact that it has been so buried in American news. This is a big deal. This is serious, yet I heard only a blip about it last week. We were so wrapped up in our own news that we failed to take time to properly address the troubles of one of our allies. And yes, they are an ally. They have troops in Iraq at the moment, although, they, along with several other countries, will be pulling out in March. But why did we ignore this? Our enemy has begun attacking truly peaceful countries. This should be all over the news. The Axis of Evil can't even leave a truly peaceful nation alone. Shouldn't this be more evidence of why we need to go after the terrorists? Use this as a rallying point? I am really asking. I am not trying to cause an argument. I really don't understand why this has been so ignored. I mean, I understand the first thing that will probably come into all of our minds, being that Americans just aren't interested in foreign problems like they are in domestic ones, but we heard quite a bit of news about Madrid, and this is on the same level so why has it been ignored? I just don't understand.
In the end, I am posting about this because I think people should know about it. And if our media don't see fit to discuss this, then I will attempt to bring it to the attention of at least a few more Americans. Just keep this in mind over the next few days, and weeks and months. Keep your eyes and ears open for more news about Holland. If for no other reason than I have friends there and I want them to be safe.