The plight of 'submission'

Posted: May 30, 2005 12:00 AM

Phew -- that was close. The creators of "24," Fox Television's thriller-diller starring Kiefer Sutherland as counter-terror super-agent Jack Bauer, almost put together a compelling television series rooted in the onerous reality of the war on jihad terrorism. But thanks, apparently, to a few helpful suggestions from the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR), they managed to steer clear of all political and historical relevance.

 This couldn't have been easy. After all, CAIR didn't even come to their rescue until after the show's season had begun with a couple of episodes that featured a typical Islamic sleeper cell embedded in a typical American sleepy suburb. After these and other obvious blunders -- a terse exchange of "Allahu Akbar" between terrorists, for instance -- the creative types behind the hit series managed to get their act together and save the world for political correctness.

How? Two things: They laid down a suitably distracting Chinese subplot, and cast a bunch of Midwesterners, instead of Middle Easterners, to wear the key black hats. There was the ex-Air Force pilot -- obviously blond, obviously disgruntled -- who shot down Air Force One; a nefarious ex-marine; and a Patty-Hearst-like commando who just shot whatever.

 By this week's season finale, Marwan, the head jihadist, had been comically stripped of all religious identity and motivation, and cloaked in a heavy disguise of moral equivalence. As in: You think we're evil and we think you're evil. This is pretty much what hero-Jack actually said to Marwan, the terror kingpin, who had just that day blown up a train, kidnapped the Secretary of Defense, sent multiple nuclear plants into meltdown and lobbed a nuclear warhead at Los Angeles. Oh well. Marwan was ultimately overshadowed by someone worse -- the president of the United States.

 Still, maybe the creators of "24" deserve a medal, considering the total silence of their fellow movie- and television-makers when it comes to the war on jihadist terror. War, what war? Culture clash? What culture clash? Freedom -- what kind of freedom? Hollywood and the media may be "brave" and "bold" in fearlessly depicting sexuality, violence and the perversions therein, but they're cultural cowards when it comes to depicting, even mentioning, matters of war, Islam and jihad. Call it dhimmitude, Hollywood-style.

 While the term dhimmitude, coined by historian Bat Ye'or, refers to the inferior status of Jews and Christians living under Islamic rule, she also points to disturbing signs of dhimmitude throughout the free West. These concerns range from the politically correct fear of giving offense, which curtails freedom of speech (think Fox punting Islam), to the fear of jihadist violence, which curtails freedom of movement, and even the free practice of religion (think armed guards at synagogues).

 An unlikely moviemaker who refuses to accept dhimmi conditions is Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She is the amazingly courageous 35-year-old Somali-born ex-Muslim and Dutch parliamentarian whose first foray into screenwriting is a provocative 11-minute film called "Submission." Directed by Theo van Gogh -- who was ritualistically murdered on an Amsterdam street last fall, his head nearly severed from his body, a jihadist rant pinned to his chest with a knife -- "Submission" depicts the brutalized plight of all too many women at the hands of men under Islam, a political issue championed by Ali. For exercising her freedom of speech, Ali now lives under an Islamically imposed death sentence (fatwa). She also lives under lock and key, guarded 24 hours a day, and transported everywhere in an armored vehicle.

 Such is the going price of freedom in Holland, just another ultra-liberal, Western country besieged by jihadists. "This fatwa isn't just directed against me," she explains, "but against Holland, against the entire Western world. We are all targets. In the eyes of radical Muslims, any country in which Muslims can be criticized openly is an enemy of Islam."

 Like the creators of "24," who plan to produce at least two more seasons with Jack Bauer, brave Ali also has another project lined up: a sequel to "Submission" about Muslim men. "I don't want anyone else murdered," she told the British newspaper, The Guardian, recently. "But if I stop doing what I'm doing, it will be like another murder. That's the real trauma, perhaps, the thought of going through what happened to Theo van Gogh again. We told each other we would make part two, and the thing that keeps me going is the thought, 'I have to do it, I have to do it, I have to do it.'"

 I wonder what keeps Jack Bauer going?