Do we live in the age of the civilisational warrior? And if so, what is that warrior's influence on the political events of our time?
If you were to conduct an online search of stories using the terms "Obama" and "Muslim", it will almost certainly turn up a plethora of screeds linking the incumbent US president to Islam, accusing him of appeasing Islam, regurgitating the misconception that he is a Muslim and even calling him a candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Many of the Republican also-rans for the presidential nomination used that type of rhetoric and right-wing anti-Islam commentators, including Pamela Geller, continue to do so: "The debate over whether Obama is a Muslim or not is meaningless," she said recently, "Tell me what he'd be doing differently if he wasn't a Muslim."
Meanwhile, the rabidly anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders has launched his own book into this witches brew of religious incitement, his text squarely aimed at the American public and excoriating "facilitators" of Islam everywhere.
Wilders has linked up with Geller in the past, notably during the 2010 controversy over the "Ground Zero Mosque", and has received financial assistance from some of the same US ultraconservatives who are now funding the effort to block Barack Obama's re-election campaign.
Add to that the continued effort to portray the president as anti-Israel and Wilders' own unconditional pro-Israel stance (which affected the Dutch government's policy over the past 18 months while he was part of the ruling coalition) and preposterous though it may sound, the suspicion arises that Wilders' new book, Marked for Death, Islam's War Against the West and Me, is at least partially aimed at the US election campaign. At the very least it is Wilders paying his dues to his backers in the US.
The book talks about Obama's "undeniably deep personal links to Islam stemming from his upbringing in Indonesia and from his Islamic ancestry". And it accuses him of being a dhimmi, or one who can live in Islamic lands in what Wilders describes as "humiliating subservience".
Lest there be any misunderstanding as to what message the book intends to deliver, the first selling point on the inside of the dust jacket is that Wilders reveals "how and why liberal politicians, including Barack Obama, downplay the Islamic threat". Having brought down the Dutch coalition, Wilders has now clearly set his sights on bigger fish.
Delusions of grandeur are not alien to the self-appointed protector of western civilisation against Islam and other encroachments. Indeed, as the title of the book suggests, he regards himself targeted by a whole religion or ideology, as he prefers to call it. In this, he draws parallels with Salman Rushdie, the British author who was himself targeted by Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa.
It is but one of the famous names that Wilders throws into the mix. Indeed, the book is brimming with the great and the good of America's political pantheon, notably the founding fathers and Abraham Lincoln.
The inclusion of Rushdie, however, fits nicely with the main mechanism that Wilders employs throughout, which is a play for sympathy from the reader over the threats to his life that he is facing, and how this has affected him and his family. One of the most widely quoted passages in the Dutch press deals with the death of his father and how he could not contain his tears in front of the bodyguards who now accompany him everywhere he goes.
From/ The National