Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Hitchens And The Dreaded "Islamist Menace"

Does Christopher Hitchens simply make stuff up, or is there something behind this seeming nonsense?
Two things, in my experience, disable many liberals at the onset of this conversation. First, they cannot shake their subliminal identification of the Muslim religion with the wretched of the earth: the black- and brown-skinned denizens of what we once called the “Third World.” You can see this identification in the way that the Palestinians (about 20 percent of whom were Christian until their numbers began to decline) have become an “Islamic” cause and in the amazing ignorance that most leftists display about India, a multiethnic secular democracy under attack from al-Qaida and its surrogates long before the United States was.

It's the political left who characterizes Muslims as dark-skinned and backward? It's the political left who was (and is) unaware of Palestinian Christians? And I'm not sure how he came up with his prattle about India. But it gets better....
And you can see it, too, in the stupid neologism “Islamophobia,” which aims to promote criticism of Islam to the gallery of special offenses associated with racism.
I only occasionally see reference to the term "Islamophobia", but I do see frequent use of the similar "stupid neologism", Islamofascist. What would Hitchens make of that....

Why are people like Hitchens so eager to scrap every value and principle of the West in order to save it from a perceived Islamic menace?
Meanwhile, we should insist on reciprocity at all times. We should not allow a single Saudi dollar to pay for propaganda within the U.S., for example, until Saudi Arabia also permits Jewish and Christian and secular practices. No Wahhabi-printed Korans anywhere in our prison system. No Salafist imams in our armed forces.
Right. Because the propaganda is so convincing, that it's worth throwing away such conceits as free speech and the First Amendment in order to protect Hitchens' sensitivities. And there's no better way to demonstrate the freedoms and resilience of Western culture than by engaging in censorship and speech bans.
A declaration at the UN of our solidarity with the right of the Kurdish people of Iraq and elsewhere to self-determination as well as a further declaration by Congress that in no circumstance will Muslim forces who have fought on our side, from the Kurds to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, find themselves friendless, unarmed, or abandoned. Partition in Iraq would be defeat under another name (and as with past partitions, would lead to yet further partitions and micro-wars over these very subdivisions). But if it has to come, we cannot even consider abandoning the one part of the country that did seize the opportunity of modernization, development, and democracy.
By what definition does "self-determination" mean, "You need to be a permanent minority population in a state that probably won't be particularly respectful of your rights, except while it remains under the point of our gun"? Ah, but true self-determination would be "defeat under another name", so sorry Kurds, Hitchens wants you to settle for this false kind, but wants you to rest assured that if you end up landlocked in the midst of hostile neighbors, and potentially excluded from your former nation's oil wealth, the U.S. will defend your borders.
Energetic support for all the opposition forces in Iran and in the Iranian diaspora. A public offer from the United States, disseminated widely in the Persian language, of help for a reformed Iran on all matters, including peaceful nuclear energy, and of assistance in protecting Iran from the catastrophic earthquake that seismologists predict in its immediate future.
Should we assume that Hitchens believes it is the political left that would ridicule his ideas for rapprochement with and massive aid to Iran?
A commitment to buy Afghanistan’s opium crop and to keep the profits out of the hands of the warlords and Talibanists, until such time as the country’s agriculture - especially its once-famous vines - has been replanted and restored. We can use the product in the interim for the manufacture of much-needed analgesics for our own market and apply the profits to the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
Sorry, Hitchens, that sounds like a... pipe dream. Which pharmaceutical companies are complaining about a shortage of opium poppies? (I will grant, if we turn the opium into medications which we then provide at bargain prices to the developing world, supply might not outstrip demand - but it'll cost us at both ends.) As Hitchens supposedly wants to support India, what would this policy do to Indian opium farmers who presently supply much of our legal demand? What will we pay for the poppies, and will that truly match what the drug cartels will pay? Will we hang around the farms afterward to provide an armed defense to the farms, whose sales will surely anger the "warlords and Talibanists" who receive money from the illicit market? How will we ever get out of this business - what legitimate crop is going to provide farmers with even a tenth of the revenues of opium poppies?

It's not that Hitchens has no valid points in his essay. But, as usual, he buries them in claptrap.

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