Hitchens unloads on Hirsi Ali's critics

One of his best. I’m loath to excerpt it for fear you won’t read it all but some of it deserves baptism by blockquote. He’s writing here about reviewers, a few of them friends of his, deriding Hirsi Ali’s book as an example of “Enlightenment fundamentalism” — the secular humanist equivalent of St. Andrew equating evangelicals with Islamists via the term “Christianist.” We pick it up with his discussion of Newsweek’s review, a piece so vile as to warrant the full lizard treatment a week ago.

[T]o whom does Newsweek refer as the “Bombthrower”? It’s always the same with these bogus equivalences: They start by pretending loftily to find no difference between aggressor and victim, and they end up by saying that it’s the victim of violence who is “really” inciting it.

Garton Ash and Buruma would once have made short work of any apologist who accused the critics of the U.S.S.R. or the People’s Republic of China of “heating up the Cold War” if they made any points about human rights. Why, then, do they grant an exception to Islam, which is simultaneously the ideology of insurgent violence and of certain inflexible dictatorships? Is it because Islam is a “faith”? Or is it because it is the faith—in Europe at least—of some ethnic minorities?… And notice what happens when Newsweek takes up the cry: The enemy of fundamentalism is defined as someone on the fringe while, before you have had time to notice the sleight of hand, the aggrieved, self-pitying Muslim has become the uncontested tenant of the middle ground…

To flirt with this [moral] equivalence is to give in to the demagogues and to hear, underneath their yells of triumph, the dismal moan of the trahison des clercs and “the enlightenment driven away.” Perhaps, though, if I said that my principles were a matter of unalterable divine revelation and that I was prepared to use random violence in order to get “respect” for them, I could hope for a more sympathetic audience from some of our intellectuals.

Number 7 this week. Word is getting out.