Tag Archives: Islamism

September 11

I cannot let this day go by without posting something. I’ll start with the still relevant Against Rationalization by the much-missed Christopher Hitchens. Oh, how we could benefit from his wisdom now!

And I’ll add this wonderful Brendan Behan quote, a toast (of course – he was an Irishman, after all):

To America, my new found land: the man that hates you hates the human race.

Finally, some thoughts that have been percolating: I notice that 16 years after that awful day, so many seem to have forgotten its significance. This morning, there was more hurricane coverage than anything else, which, I suppose is understandable, but still, our short memory-span is disturbing. Many difficult and terrible decisions had to be made in the weeks and months after the attacks and now, so many are still blaming the U.S. rather than the Islamist fascists responsible.  The hijackers should never be romanticized as freedom fighters – the last thing any of them wanted was the expansion of freedom.

September 11

There is a lot I could write about this day and what it means to me — and in coming posts I will — but right now I will leave you with a link to a column that was written only a few days after the attacks, a column that still holds up. Not surprisingly, it was written by Christopher Hitchens. How we miss him.

The link to the whole column is here — money quote below.

But the bombers of Manhattan represent fascism with an Islamic face, and there’s no point in any euphemism about it. What they abominate about “the West,” to put it in a phrase, is not what Western liberals don’t like and can’t defend about their own system, but what they do like about it and must defend: its emancipated women, its scientific inquiry, its separation of religion from the state. Loose talk about chickens coming home to roost is the moral equivalent of the hateful garbage emitted by Falwell and Robertson, and exhibits about the same intellectual content. Indiscriminate murder is not a judgment, even obliquely, on the victims or their way of life, or ours. Any decent and concerned reader of this magazine could have been on one of those planes, or in one of those buildings–yes, even in the Pentagon.

Turkey

Years ago, when I was living in Istanbul, I asked my students whether they worried about growing Islamism in their country. “Oh no,” several of them explained almost simultaneously. “Whenever that starts to happen, the military has a coup and we get rid of the problem. Then things get back to normal.”

Sigh. I miss those days.

Bernard Lewis at 100

The remarkable British historian of the Middle East turned 100 last week. Mosaic magazine published this feature about him and his prescience – 40 years ago he predicted the rise of radical Islam. Virtually no one else did.

Thus did the West receive its very first warning that a new era was beginning in the Middle East—one that would produce a tide of revolution, assassination, and terrorism, conceived and executed explicitly in the name of Islam.

Another slogan, “The End of History,” would make its appearance with the demise of the cold war in the early 1990s; it has since come and gone. “The Return of Islam” is still very much with us.

I say to anyone who wants to understand what has happened, what went wrong, to read his aptly-titled book, What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity and the Middle East. I also recommend his book about Turkey and frankly, anything else he has written.

Istanbul

Always upsetting to hear of these attacks anywhere, but when it is a place you once called home, more so. I have many friends in Turkey, most of them former students still in Istanbul and the surrounding area, and  so many have reached out to me via social media to let me know they are ok. Glad for that, but so sad for what has happened, what is happening and what will continue to happen.

I know Istiklal Caddesi well, for though I lived on the Asian side of Istanbul, I often crossed the Bosphorus to go shopping on the European side.

What I find most creepy is that it looks as though the bomber was eyeing Israeli tourists. So sick.