Wednesday, March 07, 2007


[posted by Callimachus]

Christopher Hitchens fires back as the "hostile, sneaky reviews that have been dogging the success of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's best seller Infidel" in this piece on Slate.

The Feb. 26 edition of Newsweek takes up where [Timothy] Garton Ash and [Ian] Buruma leave off and says, in an article by Lorraine Ali, that, "It's ironic that this would-be 'infidel' often sounds as single-minded and reactionary as the zealots she's worked so hard to oppose." I would challenge the author to give her definition of irony and also to produce a single statement from Hirsi Ali that would come close to materializing that claim. Accompanying the article is a typically superficial Newsweek Q&A sidebar, which is almost unbelievably headed: "A Bombthrower's Life." The subject of this absurd headline is a woman who has been threatened with horrific violence, by Muslims varying from moderate to extreme, ever since she was a little girl. She has more recently had to see a Dutch friend butchered in the street, been told that she is next, and now has to live with bodyguards in Washington, D.C. She has never used or advocated violence. Yet to whom does Newsweek refer as the "Bombthrower"? It's always the same with these bogus equivalences: They start by pretending loftily to find no difference between aggressor and victim, and they end up by saying that it's the victim of violence who is "really" inciting it.

Curious word-choice, indeed. The most prominent "bombthrower" -- self-described -- working the street these days is that wicked Ann Coulter. Even if you ignore the literal meaning, why would Newsweek want to see Hirsi Ali put in the same category? There are people who step out of the noiseless tenor of their way to become incendiary political celebrities and provocators.

Then there are those who become marked men or women simply by trying to live a normal life, and the experience of being marked turns them, willingly or not, into walking lightning rods. Was Dred Scott a bombthrower?

However, since the media and the professorial class has selectively discovered the "enlightenment fundamentalism" pigeonhole, and is eagerly trying to cram into it every secular critic of Islam (but not, of course, of Christianity), Hitchens wonders whether a change of tactics might be in order:

Perhaps, though, if I said that my principles were a matter of unalterable divine revelation and that I was prepared to use random violence in order to get "respect" for them, I could hope for a more sympathetic audience from some of our intellectuals.

Labels: ,