'Although the relativist attitudes are surely dominant on the left, they are not necessarily their excusive domain, the Dutch and continental European right are equally given to take a more appeasing approach while failing to cast the conflict in the struggle between good and bad. But more than anything else it’s an innate fear to declare “moral superiority” something that in Anglo-Saxon countries can be found both on the right and as we know through Blair, Lieberman and Hitchens: on the left too.'
Pieter Dorsman gets it, unlike poor Helen.
Just the other night I was debating (well, actually, I was rambling on as always) Dutch politics with a leftie friend of mine and I considered what frightens the Dutch in taking a moral point of view. It is that by doing so, they exclude other opinions.
This is even true in the case that your basic moral conviction is that freedom is good. The latter is the one thing I will never compromise on, but it is also a tenet which is directly at odds with that of Mohammed Bouyeri. He obviously doesn't believe in freedom. only in forcing people to abide by his interpretation of sharia, and killing them if they don't.
So adopting the conviction that freedom is good is, in a sense, very much exclusionary to people such as Mr. Bouyeri. I am not attempting to be sarcastic here, but simply trying to point out the very real philosophical consequence that even freedom has to limit the freedom of some, namely the freedom of its enemies to destroy freedom. In other words: freedom has to deny those who use freedom to disrespect the freedom of others the possibility to become powerful, or freedom itself will cease to exist. It is the classic paradox of the impossibility of being tolerant towards intolerance. Only Jesus could do that, and so we killed him.
(If you do want to read a sarcastic version of this paradox, Douglas Adams' wonderful story about the fictional people of Krikkit is highly recommended.)
Of course, the possibility exists that Mr. Bouyeri is right: that his warped version of God does exist, did order the death of Mr. Van Gogh, and doesn't give a rat's ass about our freedom. However unlikely, I cannot logically disprove that possibility (yes, I've read Popper).
So it is not just a matter of likelihood, but also a matter of faith that I choose to believe in freedom. And unlike Mr. Bouyeri's world view, freedom is the one way of life that excludes the least amount of people and offers the most guarantees (or the biggest lack of dangers, for all the 'half empty' people out there) that it will stay that way.
That's why I believe freedom is good.
And if embracing this value makes me a cultural imperialist, so be it.