‘I find myself almost instinctively mistrusting Uyghurs. Perhaps because they are Muslim or perhaps simply because I don’t speak the language.” That is from my travel diary on May 13, 2004, my second night in Ürümqi. I had come from Nanjing, where I should have been in class on a yearlong academic fellowship. The plan was to spend a couple of weeks making a partial loop around the Uyghur homeland in the Tarim Basin before continuing into remotest western Tibet.
What I wrote embarrasses me now but perhaps one can understand the psychology of it. I had been somewhat radicalized …
This article appears as “For Parhatjan” in the August 2, 2021, print edition of National Review.
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