Monday, August 08, 2005

Right Pew, Wrong Church

The evidence that you and your media are not on the same page hits you when the media interviews someone you essentially agree with, and the interviewer writes while squirming amid a sense of rising horror.

The New York times on V.S. Naipaul, for instance.

In November 2001 Naipaul told an audience of anxious New Yorkers still reeling from the attack on the World Trade Center that they were facing "a war declared on you by people who passionately want one thing: a green card." What happened on Sept. 11 "was too astonishing. It's one of its kind. It can't happen again," he said in our conversation. "But in the end it has had no effect on the world. It has just been a spectacle, like a bank raid in a western film. They will be caught by the sheriff eventually." The bigger issue, he said, is that Western Europe, while built on tolerance, today lacks "a strong cultural life," making it vulnerable to Islamicization. He even went so far as to say that Muslim women shouldn't wear headscarves in the West. "If you decide to move to another country and to live within its laws you don't express your disregard for the essence of the culture," he said. "It's a form of aggression."

Looks like he hit money there. After the London bombings, Naipaul "professed no surprise that the attacks appeared to have been carried out by British citizens."

"We must stop fooling ourselves about what we are witnessing," he said in a telephone conversation a week after the July 7 attacks. The debate in Britain about British detainees held at Guantanamo Bay was evidence of the foolishness. "People here talk about those people who were picked up by the Americans as 'lads,' 'our lads,' as though they were people playing cricket or marbles," Naipaul said. "It's glib, nonsensical talk from people who don't understand that holy war for Muslims is a religious war, and a religious war is something you never stop fighting."

And I'm nodding in agreement. He's making sense. But to all this, the New York Times writer, Rachel Donadio, who already has called these statements "uncomfortable" and "debatable," feels compelled to add, "These remarks, like so many of Naipaul's utterances over the years, seem calculated to provoke."