Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Daniel Johnson reports on Michael Gove's speech

Extracts from Daniel Johnson's comments in Contention, the COMMENTARY's blog.

The New Anti-Islamist Intelligentsia by Daniel Johnson

Yesterday Michael Gove, a Tory member of Parliament and the author of Celsius 7/7, a hard-hitting study of the London subway
bombers, asked an audience of the New Culture Forum a highly pertinent question: “Are we seeing
the emergence of a new anti-Islamist intelligentsia?”
Gove answered his own
question emphatically in the affirmative, and provided chapter and verse, too.
What adds lustre to his thesis is the remarkable fact that the most prominent
voices now being heard in protest against the scandalous alliance of the Left
with Islamo-fascism are themselves for the most part intellectuals with
impeccable Left-liberal credentials. Gove singled out the journalists Nick Cohen
(whose book What’s Left? How the Liberals Lost Their Way chronicles the
Left’s great self-betrayal), David Aaronovich (who defected from the Guardian to
the Times of London), and Christopher Hitchens, who needs no introduction for
American readers. Nick Cohen is also a leading light among the group of liberal
academics and writers who last year signed the Euston Manifesto,
distancing themselves from the Leftist consensus.
Most remarkable of all,
three of the most celebrated British novelists—Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, and
Martin Amis—have all come out strongly against Islamism. Amis even describes himself as an “Islamismophobe,” but the real objects
of his hatred are the “middle-class white demonstrators last August waddling
around under placards saying ‘We Are All Hizbollah Now.’” As he observes,
“People of liberal sympathies, stupefied by relativism, have become the
apologists for a creedal wave that is racist, misogynist, homophobic,
imperialist, and genocidal. To put it another way, they are up the arse of those
that want them dead.”
All of these prodigal sons are more than welcome in
their return to what those who have always defended it fondly persist in calling
Western civilization. Like many others, I have not forgotten Martin Amis’s essay
Fear and Loathing,” published in the Guardian a week after
9/11, in which he wrote: “The message of September 11 ran as follows: America,
it is time you learned how implacably you are hated. . . . We would hope that
the response will be, above all, non-escalatory.” He and his intellectual
compatriots have come a long way since then—at least on seeing the threat of
radical Islam for what it is.

COMMENTARY is America’s premier monthly magazine of opinion and a pivotal
voice in American intellectual life. Since its inception in 1945, and
increasingly after it emerged as the flagship of neoconservatism in the 1970’s,
the magazine has been consistently engaged with several large, interrelated
questions: the fate of democracy and of democratic ideas in a world threatened
by totalitarian ideologies; the state of American and Western security; the
future of the Jews, Judaism, and Jewish culture in Israel, the United States,
and around the world; and the preservation of high culture in an age of
political correctness and the collapse of critical standards.

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