2002 / may / 07

Fortuyn - the day after the murder

At the very root of all the news is this: a man died yesterday. A man was killed. A man was shot. A brutal act of violence by a totally deranged person.

Many thoughts drifting around about what caused this, what its impact might be, but let's not forget that core.

Similarities are sought and found - the murder of Kennedy is recalled, the WTC.

It is a strange mood, on the tv and radio, in the papers; on the street, at the coffee machine.

For me it's more like the murder of John Lennon. Not a political killing, but an individual act. First reports on the guy who did it point that way, too.

People do terrible things. They do. This earth is never going to be a paradise, the dream that we can do something to make everything alright is just that: a dream. A dream like a drug, an addictive escape. Forget it people, it is a harsh world. But don't even dare to quote that last sentence from me without adding this one: it is the very essence of our life on this earth that we feel all that, stay aware of it, try to do our best on our own little patch, instead of becoming a cynic, or turning away..


Last week, I was talking to a friend I've known since my school days, and we somehow got on the subject of all the people we knew personally who had done some total weird things. And it was quite a list.
I finished Ultima IV on my apple // with a map I got given by a guy who later became the suspect in the so-called 'ballpointmurder' case ('de balpenmoord' - which I'm not going to elaborate on now).

Also for a while, I was quite close to a guy who had been the boyfriend of the Heijn kidnapper's daughter (and he'd been lifted out of bed at four in the morning and got some rather brutal treatment until they were convinced that that bloke had really done it all by himself). Actually, my local supermarket is the place where that guy got busted after he started spending some of the ransom money on groceries there.

And there was this guy, also at school. Who boasted about cutting down street lanterns with his homemade thermic lance. He went on to threaten the Austrian government that he'd contaminate one of the country's main reservoirs. He laid it out very detailed in the ransom letter: he'd use this and this poison that he could make using these materials and such and such process, and he'd picked exactly the reservoir that Vienna would have the hardest time doing without. He was incredibly smart.
Fortunately, he was less smart in acting out his evil genius scheme: the 30 million guilders were deposited on his instructions in a roadside garbace can, and the policemen hiding nearby were amazed to see him coming to collect it on his bike.

So let us not forget. There are many, many people out there, but we are ourselves, too. See this breathtaking article Tales of the Tyrant from The Atlantic - in which Mark Bowden tries to explore what happens inside a dictatorship - and inside the dictator.
What would I do if I were living there? Hero or lie low? Very few people turn out heroes. Or even, if I would get the chance to step into that position, what would I do then? Truly obligatory reading. Very well written, too, journalism with literary quality.


I was about to write about this rotten spoilt Dutch society that at the very least is in dire need for a good economic recession - people have become so accustomed to their material wealth that they just expect no less, and see it as their right. Also, this is apparently the most insured country in the world, where people whine at the whim of a hard time coming. I mean, the beach pavillions applied for emergency money after two bad summers! And those bloody people who built their house between the Maas and the winter dike.

Whining about nobody doing anything. But doing nothing themselves.

So anyway, then I read Caroline's entry which is so spot on that you should just read hers. An excerpt:

"He was an opportunist with a lust for fame and power. He recognised that the Netherlands' fabled 'tolerance' was just that... a fable. Fortuyn sussed what the masses in this country really want. (Spoilt, self indulgent, selfish masses, who haven't known war or poverty in half a century and still don't wish to share their welfare state with other, less fortunate human beings.)"

So just my two cents to that. Pim Fortuyn was not a brownshirt right-winger, though some media, especially abroad, portrayed him as such. I am pretty convinced think he suffered from at least extreme selfishness, a narcistic tendendy, and possibly was manic-depressive. He had shown at times a total inability to put himself in someone elses feet (see this article, from 30 march) Pim nu ook voer voor psychologen)

He was about to burn bright but probably short. We'll never know now.

He put the finger on some sore spots that had been swept under the carpet in this society. He spoke out. That will be sorely missed.


Let me repeat it once more. A man died yesterday. A man was shot. A brutal act of violence by a totally deranged person.

This world is not a pretty place, and will never be, and despite that, it is up to us to make it better, how tiny the effects of our efforts. To keep our eyes open when we don't like what we see rather than turning away.

[update, some links: The Economist, Washington Times, The Guardian, BBC]

Now it's time for strawberries and vanilla ice cream. Good night.

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