Monday, July 23, 2007

Even if Islamophobia does exist, you're still an idiot

By jeffaclitus

This clip from a Canadian news show of sorts reminds me why I despise certain segments of the western left. And, no offense to our Canadian readers, but those segments seemed to dominate in Toronto when I was there. Canadian intellectual and political life is at times so provincial that simply spouting a series of crudely anti-American cliches and canards seems to be not only encouraged but to be the only type of public discourse allowed (the fact that Canada's political and economic well-being rely entirely on American hegemony makes it more annoying still).

Anyways, the clip is an interview between some simpering dolt named Avi Lewis (and there's something quintessentially Canadian about his simper) and Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Lewis is apparently married to the risible Naomi Klein, who is probably best known for writing a book called No Logo, but whom I personally remember chiefly for this little episode (see the final two paragraphs)). Lewis runs down a list of pseudo-leftist critiques of America so crass and boilerplate they would make Michael Moore blush. He doesn't seem to notice his incoherence--America can't be both a place where the great unwashed masses are foisting their Evangelical "values" on people (how exactly, we're not informed) and where no one has any political clout but monocled billionaires lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills.

What I especially liked about Lewis's little performance, aside from Ali openly rolling her eyes at him, was how quickly he evinced the most vulgar kind of racism when Ali disagreed with him. A couple minutes of dissent, and Lewis starts calling her a dumb immigrant who's been brainwashed. Never mind that it's clear from every second of the interview that has preceded that he's an almost unbelievably ignorant and stupid little twit; she's the one with the accent.

Lord knows there's plenty to disagree with in the Bush administation's policies, including the influence they've given to the Christian right. But to suggest some kind of equivalence between abstinence-only education -- as disgraceful as that may be in the context of American politics -- and executing homosexuals, throwing acid in the face of unveiled women, or, I don't know, murdering a filmmaker for making an unflattering movie about your religion -- to suggest such an equivalence isn't just morally and intellectually bankrupt, it's frightening. Or it would be, if it weren't obvious that to people like Lewis, their purported radicalism is just a cocktail-party affectation they've some how managed to turn into a career (exhibit #7,488,932 that this ain't no meritocracy).

Incidentally, I don't think I agree with Ali that there's no such thing as Islamophobia. She's obviously right that there's an important difference between disagreeing or disliking the tenets of a religion and disliking someone because of their ethnicity or something else they can't change. But I'm not sure that distinction always applies to particular people who dislike Muslims (although it does look like a masterstroke of subtlety and clear-sightedness next to Lewis). It's clear that people like Michelle Malkin aren't objecting to the authoritarian aspects of Islam (even if they do occasionally remember to claim otherwise), and epithets like "towelhead" combine ethnic and religious aspects of identity. More generally, I think it's fairly obvious that many people dislike or distrust Islam more because it seems especially foreign than because they've read through the Qur'an and Hadith and have been shocked by what they found there.

In any case, I'll give the final word to my friend Kaveh, who passed along this link (and who (ahem) should really be blogging himself):

I'm at once impressed by Ali and disgusted by the idiotic questions posed by Lewis. His comparisons between the shooting of abortion doctors by some lunatic fringe in the US and state-sanctioned gender-apartheid in the Muslim world, or between the Bush v. Gore debacle and the theocratic dictatorships in the middle-east so perfectly capture all that is wrong with the Western left. Her last line about the luxury that comes with growing up in freedom is the perfect reply.

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