Essay on Ian Buruma's "Murder in Amsterdam"

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Buruma provides detailed insight into each character allowing the reader to contemplate the motivation behind actions of each one. Buruma describes Theo Van Gogh, the assassinated, as a “ubiquitous figure” in Holland, but is quick to point put out he is better known for his provocative public statements than his films. Van Gogh’s family was made up of Calvinists, Socialists, and Humanists all of which had an influence Theo Van Gogh in one way or another. Buruma emphasizes Van Gogh’s “desire to shock, to stir things up”, a desire developed at a young age and carried into his adulthood and films known for the shock value. There were to sides to Theo Van Gogh the first characterized by his ability to be generous and gracious and the …show more content…
Buruma notes Bouyeri was one of few to integrate into Dutch society through intellect, perseverance, and good fortune, however, he becomes vulnerable when his ambitions are blocked despite all his efforts to fit in and be successful. Bouyeri began to feel excluded from Dutch society following the disappointments he experienced as a result of a long list of incidents, everything from losing funding for a youth club to being ignored by girls he pursued.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali born Dutch politician, was raised as a devote Muslim. She then fled from an arranged to Holland. She attended university, learned to speak Dutch, and converted to atheism with the same devotion she once had for her Muslim faith. Hirsi Ali eventually won a seat in the Dutch parliament.
Each of the main characters presented by Buruma are absolutists in their right, but they are not, however, typical representatives of certain social or political ideologies or groups that increasingly find themselves in violent contention with each other. Theo van Gogh’s absolutism was in his support of free speech. His strong support for free speech was likely the result of the times, the 1960s, and his background including his family’s ideologies. In Van Gogh’s mind being offensive meant one was saying what everyone should say, that being exactly as one thinks. Theo Van Gogh is described by some to be the dominant “liberal” who values of the Dutch society over all else.

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