I believe in freedom of speech. Tom Cruise has the right to sound like an idiotic jerk, and I have the right to refuse to see anything he's in. My local paper can publish those cartoons, and people can protest outside the paper's building and write strongly worded letters. The KKK can march in Grey's Ferry, and the mayor can say, "go ahead, but we don't have enough cops, just so you know."And if everyone isn't happy all the time, at least we're taking turns being miserable.The right to speak your mind is a very important right.Therefore, when someone gets killed for saying something, no matter how hateful or stupid (think of how many stupid things Hollywood people say) or gets threatened or the paper/publisher gets firebombed, I get angry. Yes, I can understand how those cartoons are hurtful; yes, if you feel its necessary march, protest, and boycott. But why are you killing that guy who had nothing to do it? Why firebomb the newspaper? And no rape or death threats. And leave children out of it.When Theo Van Gogh was murdered, it made the news even over here. I had vaguely heard of both Van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I followed the case in a haphazard way, interested in how the Netherlands I had visited twice before would change after the murder. Eventually, I read Ali's work. I picked this book up for much the same reason, and it was one sale.Buruma seems to be moved by much the same question of change, and he is far more knowledgable than I because he was raised in the Netherlands. The intent behind this book seems to be a desire to examine the culture and society both before and after the murder. To look at causes and effects. At times, Buruma seems to dance close to the line of blaming Ali and Van Gogh, especially when discussing the film Submission which is seen as the spark. But to see this book this way is too facile an assumpation. Buruma might disagree with Ali on some, if not all, of her points, but he seems to respect her immensely. Buruma, at times, seems a bit conflicted in a thesis for the book. It is more than a cultural war, he seems in part to argue that in some ways it is a cultural vaccum. He links in some ways Van Gogh's murder to Pym's murder (Pym was a Dutch politican who was murdered. He seems to be a mix of both what Americans would consider Conservative and Liberal. At one point, Buruma describes him as a giant walking penis). Feeliing conflicted seems to be a good thing. If anything, Buruma seems to feel that the problems are caused by a "welfare state" that for good or bad intentions, sections off a part of its society. He seems to interview anyone who is connected to the question and reveals some intersting ideas - perhaps American society is better suited for immigrants, Dutch schools are not required to treat national history. The best part of his book is the last section, where the people he seems to interview offer the best analysis. These include the Dutch historian Geert Mak and Ahmed Alaulteb, a politican and a Muslim.I'm not quite sure if I believe in the link to the guilt over World War II (Cohen's speech in the last section is very interesting), but the comparsion to football (soccer) fans is apt, considering what recently happened at a game - a fan ran on to the field, punched a player, and then took on the rest of the team. (Here, we have streakers who get tasered. Unless it's Basketball, in which case the team goes into the stands).Buruma's book is a thought provoking and good analysis.