Day By Day

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Coming To Terms With Realty

Christopher Hitchens over at Slate notes just how willfully ignorant and dishonest is the New York Times' coverage of the British bombings. Rather than facing up to the reality of what is happening in the world the NYT and its devoted readers, take refuge in comfortable, but long discredited narratives and templates.

To some extent this is can be attributed to sheer partisan bias, but Hitchens sees a deeper problem.

Liberal reluctance to confront [the] sheer horror [of Islamist terrorism] is the result, I think, of a deep reticence about some furtive concept of "race." It is subconsciously assumed that a critique of political Islam is an attack on people with brown skins. One notes in passing that any such concession implicitly denies or negates Islam's claim to be a universal religion. Indeed, some of its own exponents certainly do speak as if they think of it as a tribal property. And, at any rate, in practice, so it is. The fascistic subculture that has taken root in Britain and that lives by violence and hatred is composed of two main elements. One is a refugee phenomenon, made up of shady exiles from the Middle East and Asia who are exploiting London's traditional hospitality, and one is the projection of an immigrant group that has its origins in a particularly backward and reactionary part of Pakistan.

Read it here.

I think he's on to something. The Civil Rights movement in America -- a local variation on the global anti-colonialist imperative -- had undoubted benefits and should be applauded. But this should not blind us to the fact that many of the narrative tropes developed in support of that movement were and remain ideological and moralistic constructs rather than accurate representations of the real world, and that rigid adherence to them can blind us to the reality we now confront in the Twenty-first Century.

Not all cultural expressions are equally deserving of our respect. Islamism is not a legitimate expression of a universal religious impulse, nor is it characteristic of Islamic culture as a whole. It is, as President Bush has often averred, a narrow, fanatic, perversion of that culture and must be treated as such. The past sins of racism and colonialism cannot be denied, but they cannot be used to legitimize such barbarity as is practiced by the Islamist radicals.