Monday, August 27, 2007

Chomsky Wrong on "Jihad"

Noam Chomsky, world renowned linguist and political thinker, has previously been accused by David Horowitz of the Front Page Rag of waging a "jihad" against the United States because of some of his anti-authoritarian views. Even his activism against Israel's war on Lebanon elicited an Israeli media of accusing him of [wait-for-it] applauding "jihad". Of course, jihad like other Arabic words (eg. mujahideen, madrassah, dhimmi) is a media buzzword. Unlike the so-called noble word "crusade", jihad is synonymous with holy war and aggression. But what does jihad really mean? The truth is that unlike the word "crusade" as in Bush's notable "this crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take awhile", jihad has nothing to do with terrorising the 'enemy' out of religious bound duty. There is no concept of holy war in Islam, as I've said before.

It is an Arabic word the root of which is Jahada, which means to strive for a better way of life. The nouns are Juhd, Mujahid, Jihad, and Ijtihad. The other meanings are: endeavor, strain, exertion, effort, diligence, fighting to defend one's life, land, and religion.

Jihad should not be confused with Holy War; the latter does not exist in Islam nor will Islam allow its followers to be involved in a Holy War. The latter refers to the Holy War of the Crusaders.

The above definition is the most concise and straightforward you'll find on the subject. But now to roll back, and address Chomsky's own misuse of this word. In April of 2007, Chomsky said on Democracy Now! while referring to Alan Dershowitz, an apologist for Israeli apartheid and terrorism, who was rightly accused by Norman Finkelstein of plagiarising and spreading lies: "he launched a jihad against Norman Finkelstein, simply to try to vilify and defame him, in the hope that maybe what he’s writing will disappear." I agree with Chomsky's choice of words, like "liar" and "maniac", toward the media hack Dershowitz. But jihad, the professor of linguistics should know, doesn't mean what he thinks it means. It means a righteous struggle. It doesn't mean lying, vilifying and filing suits against academics who take you to task. Alan Dershowitz like Osama bin Laden is incapable of jihad.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Introduction to 'The Black Armband of History'

Peace. Tomorrow or day after insha'Allah I'll be updating my blog with the planned article 'The Black Armband of History' as a tribute to the indigenous peoples of Australia. I had been thinking about writing on this, but my encounter with some Muslims who, like the ruling elites, view the Aboriginal people with disdain or are wholly ignorant of Australia's extraordinary pre-conquest civilisation of which there is much to be proud, calls for a juxtaposition of their marginalisation with the outright destruction of the Aborginal homeland. One of the objectives of this blog is to constructively address issues of social significance (hat tip, Erik). This article comes at the wake of Pauline Hanson's xenophobic and supremacist political statements against Muslim immigrants. One of my peers counts Pauline Hanson among the three worst persons she wouldn't want to be stuck in a desert with.

To be honest, I don't like flags. I don't like people who wave their nation's flags in front of my eyes out of some war-mongering, nationalist mania or to prove their flag has brighter colours. But if there's one flag I would proudly hang in my window, it would be the Australian Aboriginal flag, which is much more sincere and artistic than the one flying atop Howard's headquarters, servile as it is to the dismantled British Empire. The Aboriginal flag illustrates the dignity and beauty of the Aboriginal peoples. Literally, it is an imprint of their struggles against what John Pilger called "one of the most intransigent and meanest political establishements."[1] But it is also what I hold to be the legitimate symbol of Australia, an Australia distinctive from the European brotherhood.


1 - John Pilger, The New Rulers of the World (London: Verso, 2002), 12.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

'Sufism' and US Foreign Policy (Part III) - An Examination of the 2004 Nixon Report -

Part I
Part II

Polemics, ‘Moral Panics’, Racism, Al-Hallaj and Orthodoxy, and Conclusion

As long they were giving history lessons, things went swell. Enter Polemics and Politics, regular chief guests at think-tanks and foreign policy institutes (without them the show can’t go on, dear reader, and you must be full already).

I was in disagreement with much of what Dr. Hedieh Mirahmadi Executive Director, Islamic Supreme Council of America said of Salafism. She gave the impression that all of a sudden there was this anti-Western force in Islam which destroyed Muslim tradition and Sufi schools of learning with the aim to purify Islam. I was particularly taken aback by her phrase “Wahhabi destruction”. This sort of polemics is completely irrelevant to the productivity of my critique or to ordinary Muslims for that matter. What she says stems more from self-centred passion than a historical narrative. It is a universal truth that every civilization has its revolutions and changes, and it is not about the emergence of Salafism but ‘moral panics’. I don’t know if you’re familiar with this term. ‘Moral panics’ is basically a concept that is used to describe great and prevalent fear or concern in a society that some enemies from within that particular society are trying to sow unrest by mainly hostile actions.[1] It can be used by ruling elites to conceal bigger problems. I’ll give you an example. Once upon a time in England, even mugging was considered a form of ‘moral panic’, and a rather clever gentleman by the name of Waddington said that this was merely because the ruling elites wanted to divert attention from British capitalism.[2] There are loop holes in the cause and effect theory, I’m not saying that, but instead of blaming an ordinary set of people who call themselves Salafis and their version of Islam, we must ask what really led to the collapse of this so-called wonderful Islamic civilization as described by Dr. Hedieh Mirahmadi. Was it really anti-Westernism? (Dr. Hedieh Mirahmadi in my opinion makes this point because she is addressing mainly a Western audience, sort of fortifying the anti-Salafi programme). Could it be anti-Westernism? Why did Muslims want a change? Did they want a change for themselves or against the West? I know she is keeping in line with Bernard Lewis’s outrageous essay 'The Roots of Muslims Rage', but honestly Muslims were more likely to first think about setting themselves for each other than against ‘the West’. There was surely something lacking? I’ll tell you what was wrong. Things had already fallen apart and it wasn’t working out before the emergence of Salafism. This is the only possible explanation for a movement of thought or action. This is when it is a time for reaction to circumstances and grievance. To blame the economic and political failure of Muslims – I didn’t say “spiritual” because that is up to an individual himself – on those damn “Wahhabis” as we hear time and again repeated by media experts and a great number of Muslims is wrong and ahistorical and nonsensical. The Muslim World didn’t change because of a handful of “Wahhabis”. This was a movement in response to failure that had already occurred and not without the acceptance of the populace. It is my view that an effort must be made by Muslims to understand identities forged after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in terms of their anthropological and historical relevance rather than smearing or slandering others. The hostility to Salafis is sometimes coloured by racism when instead of talking about the theological disagreement, which should be encouraged, people make unruly remarks about Saudis, which of course is true for the leadership but far removed from the habits and intelligence and nature of ordinary Saudis who are people like you and me. I mean, you put a guy with a turban on T.V. and the maximum response, even those of Muslims, will have that Ann Coulter flavour and immediately a ‘Wahhabi’ label will follow even if the man has more intelligence and sobriety than half the half-wits combined who are disparaging him behind his back, other than the obvious attempt by the news commentator to make the guy look stupid. These same people will also sit the way hell up and listen attentively with their ears pricked and all when some small-minded celebrity is talking about his or her egotistical life or something.

I agree with Dr. Hedieh Mirahmadi’s feelings about literalism in Salafism. This I think is a valid approach. Salafism should be open to critique over questions of literalism or even the ugly attitudes of some of its adherents. And each movement is Islam must be critiqued as it isn’t cast in stone. Only the Qur’an is the perfect text which has always withstood critique due to its subliminal and divine mark, and the Hadith is the secondary text which has been analyzed through the generations by learned scholars and respected thinkers. And you would think she is right on it, but wait until you hear her support for shrines of saints, which is one of the things for which Sufism must be critiqued. There is nothing wrong with shrines in my view as historical monuments but her argument that people come to build bridges and all through these absurd rituals is false. The only thing that it leads to is shirk and if you look at those portly managers of shrines you know what happens to your charity. Later on in the report, Dr. Alan Godlas also stresses on the importance of visiting shrines for “Turkmen tribal identity”. From an Islamic perspective, we have to remember that it is incorrect though it is a very touchy subject for the followers. From an anthropological perspective, it can be understood. It is here we must apply Islam and rather than going about it sacrilegiously, we must do what the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would have done: educate, through wisdom and mercy that we are to worship God and not men (this is the most basic belief that links all Muslims); but not override their version of Islam with ours regarding interpretation or worship. Time and again there have been instances where Muslims in the majority have persecuted those in the minority, mostly defenceless Sufis, which is totally anti-Islamic e.g. in Saudi Arabia and Iran, where in fact a campaign has been waged to eliminate other traditions and even eccentric ideas that aren’t so much anti-orthodox as anti-authoritarian. Another example of ‘moral panic’. Of course, the case of Al-Hallaj is totally different – there’s at least one thing on which Shaykh Hisham Kabbani and I can agree on despite his fascination with European Orientalists who as luck would have it are absolutely head over heels in love with Al-Hallaj – and I’m not at all satisfied with Mevlana Rumi’s defence of Al-Hallaj’s statement or Al-Hallaj’s execution which is really lamentable as he wasn’t given any chance to repent which is a Qur’anic right given to every creature. The Orientalist fascination with Al-Hallaj as Edward Said critiques in his seminal work Orientalism wasn’t to do with what Al-Hallaj said, though it may have given them immense pleasure to find that it was anti-orthodox and anti-monotheistic other than Al-Hallaj verbally elevating himself to godhead. Rather it was the way in which Al-Hallaj was executed: crucifixion. This gave Orientalists the prospect to link Al-Hallaj, a Muslim figure, to Christ, Jesus son of Mary (peace be upon them both), in accordance with Christian tradition that Jesus was crucified; and this in my opinion was played against the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who died a natural death, and also there was a psychological manoeuvring in my opinion to overplay the significance or role of Al-Hallaj for the above reason. The case of Al-Hallaj also became a tool for some Muslims to provoke the majority or the orthodox with a condescending impression of ‘intellectualism’, which was nothing but distasteful sham, as throughout Muslim history the contribution of the orthodox has been pivotal to progress and creativity though mostly unacknowledged and snubbed off as ‘boring’. This enshrouding of the contribution of the orthodoxy to Muslim civilization has largely been accomplished by paying undue attention and reverence to anti-orthodox figures like Al-Hallaj.

The other speakers basically speak similar sorts of things: Dr. Alan Godlas ends his talk with Sufism Vs ‘Wahhabism’ imagery (and who will lead and get to be the big-shot I guess) but I respect his nuanced and generally non-polemical approach along with his cautioning the US to not interfere; Dr. Mohammad H. Faghfoory is the only speaker who doesn’t say anything about Salafism but rather dwells on the Persian influence and what I think of as a sincere discussion on Sufism – he is again silent on the issue of foreign policy – but at the end he says that those who disagree with Sufism are ideologizing Islam. I must be one of those because I tend to disagree with some or many aspects of Sufism and Salafism on solely intellectual grounds and Islam to me is not about ideology and I don’t believe in force, though I generally support resistance movements whether in Vietnam or Iraq against the centre of power and not innocent people, which has nothing to do with my religious beliefs; Dr. Charles Fairbanks bemoans the supposed fact that Washington is not a religious centre in the “war on terror” which to me is odd because George Bush is a devout Christian and the neocons are worried about Judeo-Christian heritage and all that and they go to church on Sunday to listen to those hymns – but they’re hypocrites of course! What is he trying to say? That we should officially have a Fourth Crusade? It is interesting that Dr. Fairbanks considers the “war on terror” of a quasi-religious nature. What he calls “modern, secular states” in the Muslim World are all Washington’s lapdogs with an increasing movement of resistance from its peoples. I guess any atom of rebellion by Muslims, however legitimate, is labelled as a “Wahhabi” scheme by the bosses in Washington and the Muslim figures speaking at such events. He differentiates between Sufi resistance and Salafi resistance simply because Sufis are fighting against Russia in my opinion. This is not harmful of course. I mean, with the Cold War and all, it’s really cool; Alex Alexeiv, the last speaker, talks of the Salafi methods of fighting in the Caucasus as tactically wrong which definitely is the case in my view and he doesn’t hint at foreign policy measures, which is good.

I know it’s way over time and too lengthy but I want to put all the speakers of this event in perspective, even those who didn’t directly advocate foreign policy in this talk. Why did they attend this conference? What was the objective of Washington? Each of these speakers shares blame for knowingly participating in a conference that was funded, made or supported by hawkish war-mongers and corporate institutions (given its role in stifling the facts on global warming, don’t be surprised if Exxon Mobil is one of them). Did these speakers see pictures of the Iraq invasion in 2003 and its bloody impact on the children in Iraq? Why are they making a pact of “foreign policy” with the thugs in Washington? While describing “Wahhabi destruction”, why did they participate in a conference that clearly aims to destroy those they disagree with? Pausing here, I equally condemn any campaign by the Saudi dictatorship to infringe harm on the Sufis and “force” their viewpoints on Sufis as they do! The image of Shaykh Hisham Kabbani quoting alleged “peace” poetry, which actually seems as a form of provocation, while denouncing an entire group of peoples (that comprises of ordinary family-oriented folks who don’t care about politics) as terrorists, and supporting governments engaged in state terrorism is disingenuous to say the least. And it is always easy to say a lot like the self-styled experts who congregated for the International (?) Security Program of The Nixon Centre in Washington on October 24th, 2003. While these men (as they all were indeed men, except Zeyno Baran the editor) were having a go at all the stuff I critiqued and quoted, the people in Iraq trembled in fright of the air raids and lawlessness and death, the objection and the voice of humanity unheard beneath the walls of some warm building where Bernard Lewis, a staunch advocate of the war, was sanctimoniously providing a rationale for the madness, a madness that was definitely incubated in one of these so-called international security institutes. And the speakers, waiting to pounce and announce their own grand agendas, against savage, irrational souls – in this case, the ‘Wahhabis’.


1 – Erich Goode and Nachman Ben-Yehuda, Moral Panics: The Social Construction of Deviance (Oxford UK: Blackwell Publishers, 1994), 11.
2 – Ibid., 42.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Massacres of the 21st Century

The fledgeling 21st Century has already been marred with massacres. We have heard of Sept. 11, 2001 the most, and indeed it was a terrible atrocity. But we have failed the people of Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Congo. Perhaps one of the most neglected and frightening systematic killings of people has been in the Indian province of Gujarat. Thanks to Amad for reminding us. In the words of the extraordinary writer Arundhati Roy, winner of the Booker Prize and more significantly the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize:

While the parallels between contemporary India and prewar Germany are chilling, they're not surprising. (The founders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [RSS], the National Volunteer Force that is the moral and cultural guild of the BJP, have in their writings been frank in their admiration for Hitler and his methods).

Not surprisingly, she has been accused by ideologues as being both anti-Indian and anti-American, for making an association between the Right and fascism. She is so wonderfully vocal that she was censored from the Charlie Rose programme on PBS.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Cheshire Cat Syndrome

From the imprudent appraisal of bloody-minded, apathetic politicians like Blair and Bush in modelling of harmless dog breeds, we arrive at the less pleasant topic of cats. A fictional cat rather. The Cheshire Cat. For those unfamiliar, here’s a literary background.

I was tuned into the radio some weeks ago, when the programme on faith and intercultural debate began. It wasn’t a debate at all, for the moderator was a crude partisan hack. The two sides were one really; Christian and Jewish commentators upset with multiculturalism and Muslims and Islam. The woman, whose Jewish identity was frequently underlined by the moderator, didn’t stop informing the public how it was all right to be against multiculturalism. Her message was nothing short of racism, and it maligned the early Jewish immigrants, which of course led me to question whether she was one of those white drop-ins who unaware of the national Jewish history seek to demonise Muslims, playing a part in the new anti-Semitism or Islamophobia. The Christian man, who polemically sided with the woman, proclaimed his Catholic passions of the despicable era still venerated as the Crusades. I was kind of shocked as the so-called debate progressed. They said that there was no such thing as moderate Muslims and the Qur’an was preaching violence. I realised at that point that this anti-Muslim temperament was in fact mainstream. That journalism as John Pilger regards is indeed an extension of the government or priggish power. Ethics in media is an academic study, not a practical one. The programme got most insane when they glorified the totalitarian, fascist Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, comprising of Iranian communists, whose stated aim is to rid the world of Islam. At one point, the moderator even gave some air play to the rabble-rousing Islamophobe Maryam Namazie.

What did I learn from the programme? I’m not going to tout myself as a moderate or progressive Muslim for the entertainment of Islamophobes. I don’t care a fig if they charge me of radicalism and extremism for the crime of criticising this or that war-mongering, psychopathic government. If I’m combining my criticism of Uncle Sam and Thatcher-esque liberalism with that of Afghan warlords and Al Qaeda, I can go to bed in peace every night, unlike those who content themselves with the plea to make Muslims apologise for every atrocity committed by a person with a Muslim name. I call to witness the apologists of the Anglo-American empire that is responsible for massive terror campaigns against the peoples of Iraq, Palestine, Vietnam, Cambodia, East Timor and countries in Latin America to nominate a few.

The post-9/11 Muslim reaction to compliantly separate themselves as moderates has been gradually disavowed, thanks to the efforts of people like Robert Spencer and Daniel Pipes. Their manufactured hate, easy to believe because of its simplistic comfort, has seeped into the hearts of many people looking not for an explanation but any explanation that won’t impinge on their own sense of worth in their country, religion or race. A law-abiding Muslim unspoken on his or her government policies became a moderate, but that privilege has also been erased. The claim of Robert Spencer is that it isn’t the fault of bin Laden’s but he is acting true to the spirit of Islam. This spurious falsehood has been propagated by other Islamophobes. This also implies that all Muslims are evil, a method by which Jihad Watch is spreading direct hate and propaganda against the Muslim neighbours and countrymen of Jihad Watch subscribers. A Muslim was first categorised into moderate and extremist. Rather than defining Islam as “the peaceful worship of and submission to One God”, Muslim spokesmen started the “Islam means peace” PR drive. This, too, was met with ridicule. LGF’s racist loonies facetiously refer to Islam as a religion of peace. Islam doesn’t mean “peace” per se. Salaam as in the greeting salaam alaikum means peace. Is Islam a religion of peace? Like all religions it is a religion of peace. But that’s half the truth. Islam, perhaps more importantly, means surrender to One God. This is a voluntary submission with “no compulsion”. It forms a complete realisation of an individual toward the universe and other forms of creation and the humankind, to live in peace with them, in balance. There is nothing like a moderate Muslim and an extremist Muslim. An extremist is defined in freedom movements as someone who uses force or violence if necessary. If a Muslim can be categorised as an extreme example of his faith, American and Israeli military personnel must be defined as such as well. An American soldier must be called an extremist American because he has the stars and stripes on his breast. He is fighting for a cause with violence. To selectively apply labels to a group of people is disingenuous and against basic human rights. But with the erosion of the personal identity of a Muslim, a Muslim previously upheld for his or her compliance with the state, has been assimilated into the pool of ‘Islamofascists’, portrayed as a bearded barbarian; or a veiled Oriental waiting to be rescued by her snobbish French mate who’ll leap down from a chopper, single-handedly kill the score of hooded abductors and hold her in his arms, and a patriotic yob will be flying the flag behind them.

The cat has vanished and all that’s left is the grin. Any attempt to respect the dignity of practising Muslims has been lost in categorising, collaring and finally discarding the lot of them, as part of the scheme in their collective evil.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Bush is Right

I may not agree with George Bush on anything, but for the first time he's left me in quite a tizzy. On June 27, 2007, the Sun quoted him exactly as such, in reference to Blair:
I've heard he's been called Bush's poodle. He's bigger than that.
Bush is right. The ex-British PM Anthony Blair is indeed bigger than a poodle. Photographic evidence suggests that the poodle is actually bigger than Bush himself, which must make Bush a chihuahua.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Islam and its Discontents

What is jihad? What is the status of non-Muslims under Islamic leadership? Is Islam compatible with democracy? Is the world divided into two zones: belief and disbelief/non-belief, and if so, do Muslims have a holy mission to convert us? These are some of the serious questions that crop up in the minds of non-Muslims in the present political climate. The public is driven to form opinions based on the availability of popular discourse: that of an Al Qaeda spokesman holed up in a cave with the hottest technology or anti-Muslim commentators. There is seldom a middle ground, as reactionaries on both sides are gratified by the deception. Let me give you an example. In Islam, there is no concept of holy war. But several Muslims and non-Muslims will tell you otherwise. I was debating with an apparently sophisticated poster on a forum, and he countered by providing a link to an unheard of Muslim website that explicitly defined jihad as holy war. Fair enough. Better yet, why not establish that Islam is evil by lending your ears to some other outrageous Muslims like the merry men of the Taliban? It is not unusual, hence, to be charged by some non-Muslims “for sugar-coating Islam”, and by Muslims for being a Muslim apologist. Muhammad Asad fits the bill perfectly for earning the wrath of some Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and Bernard Lewis the fondness. Let’s think it over. There are some non-Muslim individuals who are aware that jihad doesn’t mean holy war. Nevertheless, the Muslim who tells them so is sugar-coating Islam and someone bending of knowledge and tradition is honest. A Muslim who tells you that Islam is here to conquer is a candid spokesman to the oft-discussed, however a first-rate myth, dangers of Islam, and a Muslim who tells you that Islam is a religion of submission to One God and peace is an idiot. Because, you see, conceited people…and I mean those who try to invalidate Islam by believing that Islam is evil anyhow i.e. those who make their personal belief and civilisation look superior, not by irrelative, unannounced intellectual jihad (struggle), but positioning the favourite fruits of their belief with those of the distorted teachings of another. Take up ‘race’. Since infancy, we have been fed the myths that white man is superior. This has not been achieved by science, assumed staple of the European Enlightenment, but a reductionist and colonial exposition. Indeed, even science as religion claims that all of us are equal, that the Palestinian/Iraqi victim of American/Israeli state terrorism is as worthy a victim as a New Yorker or a Tel Aviv club-hopper.

What is my point exactly? I think we have an immediate need to question the contemporary discourse of Islam both among Muslims and non-Muslims. Fourteen centuries ago, God said in His speech, the Qur’an, to come to “common terms”. This doesn’t mean twisting the verses in religious texts out of context like it is the habit of armchair bombers who are hostile to Islam, often parading as sophisticated enlightened free spirits. You might say “liberal”. And nor like an Al Qaeda terrorist who wants to kill innocents, not because he understands the message in the Qur’an, which he clearly doesn’t as mainstream Muslim scholars have affirmed in their writings, but that he believes there is no hope. Of course, this may also lead us to question words like “civilisation”, “democracy” and “liberty” which are callously tossed about by terrorists, apartheid appeasers and stooges of Western triumphalism we never read or hear about.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Why is Hitchens Not Scared of Offending Muslims?

Cervantes explains the Don's desire to leave his village and take up the profession of knighthood: "he was spurred on by the conviction that the world needed his immediate presence." (Don Quixote, Book 1, Part 2)

In a recent article, the famed film-maker John Pilger referred to a critique of British artists by Terry Eagleton in their failure to "question the Western way of life." John Pilger aptly describes rabid colonialist writers and columnists like Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, Christopher Hitchens and others singled out by Eagleton in the Guardian column:

That they play their part in a broadcasting studio or in the clubbable pages of the review sections and that they think of themselves as liberals or conservatives is neither here nor there. They belong to the same crusade, waging the same battle for their enduring privilege.

Hitchens in one such writer given "tombstones of column inches in which to air his pretensions, along with his attacks on Muslims." This is John Pilger bouncing Amis, but I think it rings even truer for Christopher Hitchens. Like the derogatory viewers' feedback on Youtube aimed at Islam, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and CAIR's Ibrahim Hooper with whom Hitchens debated about a New York student's right to dump the Qur'an. This incident is what allegedly elicited Hitchens anew "to air his pretensions, along with his attacks on Muslims." When we analyse Hitchens' columns and slurs since September 11, 2001, the day on which some of the most morally absurd intellectuals and barbie doll newsreaders decided to warn us about the "Islamist threat", which consequently fueled "our search for moderates" and "friendly communists like Maryam Namazie", it is made clear that Hitchens would squander his (and our) time in the process.

  1. Afghanistan: "first country in history to be bombed out of the stone age." [This murderous passion of Hitchens reminds me of those who pride Japan's democracy to the terrible war crimes in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Of course, it is irrelevant that Afghanistan is chaotic, overrun by US-backed warlords. Ismail Khan, one of the worst, was endorsed by Rumsfeld as "an appealing man... thoughtful, measured and self-confident"].

  2. Iraq: "And if they're bearing a Koran over their heart, it'll go straight through that, too. So they won't be able to say, 'Ah, I was bearing a Koran over my heart and guess what, the missile stopped halfway through.' No way, 'cause it'll go straight through that as well. They'll be dead, in other words."

  3. This is a period in time when the majority of the Australian, American and British public are questioning their government policies. Hitchens has nowhere to go. One up for the Niger myth.

  4. Islam has since formed an active preoccupation of Hitchens: 'Stop indulging Islamist violence', 'Jefferson versus the Muslim pirates', 'Facing the Islamist menace', 'Londonistan', 'Why are we so scared of offending Muslims?', etc. etc.

Why is Hitchens not scared of offending Muslims? Because, there is nothing unusual about offending Muslims. People have the right to critique Islam, and they indeed do that every single day. What is unethical and strange is when the criticism trespasses into an area of abuse, misrepresentation and fascist fervour. Islamophobia Watch comments that Hitchens wouldn't be "putting his name to a piece subtitled 'Why are we so scared of offending Jews?'". I think this is very true, because I recall Hitchens writing in Vanity Fair not very long ago:

The objection of these people is not really to Judaism, or even to Zionism. It's anti-Semitism pure and simple. The other name for which is racism, of the deadliest kind because it's accompanied by a direct incitement to murder. Not just discrimination, but murder.

The double standards are obvious. It is anti-Semitic to criticise Israel and Zionism, let alone Jews, but we needn't be scared of "offending" Muslims. It is alright for Hitchens to shamelessly indulge in anti-Muslim fascism because it's the norm, like it was the norm to scapegoat Jews in Europe half a century before. And armchair bombers like Hitchens, Spencer and Pipes are the champions who "dare" to offend Muslims, whilst bigotry against Islam and Muslims is almost a universal truth. How unnerving indeed!