Oh, Kathryn, thanks so-o-o-o much for linking to my old “Unpleasant Truths” piece. Now I am once again getting those emails asking: (A) Didn’t I mean to say “defined benefit,” not “defined contribution”? (Ans: Yes); (B) Who cares what some dead Frenchman said? (Ans: Who cares who cares?); (C) Which H.P. Lovecraft story was that? (Ans, from deeply unreliable memory: Arthur Jermyn); and (d) Why don’t I take a header off the Empire State? (Ans: Why give pleasure to one’s enemies?)
Speaking of which, I have been voted off the New English Review site for being insufficiently Islamophobic. Fair enough. NER has now settled down as a definitely and strongly Islamophobic vehicle, and I’m a poor fit for it, being Islamophobophobic. In matters editorial I am anyway a believer in totalitarian despotism. I’ve seen enough of magazine and newspaper editors tearing their hair to know that it’s a wellnigh impossible job—”herding cats” is the merest approximation—and am content to leave them to it, so long as they don’t grossly infringe on my rights as a contributor.
And the more exposure I get to the Islamophobia phenomenon, the more I dislike it. It is now quite an industry. Huge numbers of Americans, people who would not have been able to spell the word “Islam”seven years ago, now spend their leisure hours poring over the Koran and its supplements looking for evidence that Islam is root-and-branch evil. Some of them have gone to the trouble to learn Arabic, or at any rate enough Arabic to be able to discourse confidently on the difference between a mawla and a halif. There’s something unpleasantly autoerotic about the whole enterprise—something of seeking for glee in the contemplation of other people’s misbehavior. Something defensive, too, as I said in my Islamophobophobia column: some fear (in my opinion justified) that the Islamo-crazies are giving all religion a bad name and thereby fortifying the ranks of unbelievers—who, in the minds of many Islamophobes, are the real enemy.
On the other hand, Islamophobes, though I think unintentionally in some cases, are making a contribution to the much larger cause of undermining the multiculturalist myth: i.e. that peoples from any place, in any numbers, can be settled in a Western society without causing dramatic changes to that society in directions likely to be undesirable. To that degree I think they are doing useful work. I therefore part company with them with goodwill and a cheery wave, and, while I continue to think that they are a bunch of crankish obsessives, remain ready to join with them in matters of common interest.