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Pissing On Virgil
God is not great, but Hitchens sure is. This past week, Gregg and I were in Virgil's birthplace, Mantua, Italy, for the Festivaletteratura, and so was Christopher Hitchens -- to debate slippery Muslim sophist Tariq Ramadan.


Amy and Christopher Hitchens by Gregg Sutter

Ramadan must have realized his po-mo blather was no match for the mind of Hitchens, and snaked out of the one-on-one. I guess Ramadan thought he'd have an easy time doing the usual: soft-pedaling the real Muslim goals -- laying waste to western culture and secular democracies, converting or killing the "infidels," and instituting Sharia law.

Luckily, Tariquie didn't get off so easy. Hitchens crashed Ramadan's solo speaking event and had at it from the audience. Here's an excerpt of his account, from Slate (but be sure to go to the link and read Hitchens' dissection of slimey Ramadan's post-modern wrigglings):

In Mantua, (Ramadan) was trying to deal with the question of dual loyalty, as between allegiance to Islam and allegiance to the democratic secular European governments under which Muslim immigrants now choose to live. He redirected the question to South Africa, where, he said, under the apartheid system there was a moral duty not to obey the law. After sitting through this and much else, I rose to ask him a few questions. Wasn't it true that the Muslim leadership in South Africa had actually endorsed the apartheid regime? Wasn't it evasive of him to discuss the headscarf in France rather than the more pressing question of the veil or niqab in Britain? Wasn't it true that imams in Denmark had solicited the intervention of foreign embassies to call for censorship of cartoons in Copenhagen? And was it not the case that he owed his position as an informal cultural negotiator to the fact that his grandfather, Hassan al-Banna, had been the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, an extremist organization of which his father had also been a leader in Egypt?

He described my last question as too "offensive" to deserve an answer. He gave quite a good reply on the Danish point, saying that the imams in question had been a minority and should not have received support from foreign governments. He completely dodged the question of the veil in Britain, ignored my request that he give any reason to believe that women were wearing it voluntarily, and he admitted that the Deobandi Muslim leadership in South Africa had indeed been a pillar of the old regime. On the other hand, he added, some Muslims had been anti-apartheid, and these were the "real" ones. Indeed, on everything from stoning to suicide-murder to anti-Semitism, he argues that the problem is not with the "text" itself, or with Islam, but with misinterpretation of it. How convenient. Ramadan often relies on the ignorance of his Western audiences. He maintained that there was no textual authority for the killing of those who abandon their fealty to Islam, whereas the Muslim hadith, which have canonical authority, prescribe death as the punishment for apostasy in so many words.

When I went to Ramadan's event in the Palazzo d'Arco, I had just finished reading Osama Bin Laden's latest anniversary prose-poem. Here, too, are signs of an act being cleaned up. He brags of the murders of Sept. 11, of course (thus inconveniencing all those who attribute them to Mossad or some mysterious other agency), but he does not forget to cite Noam Chomsky, CIA maverick Michael Scheuer, and the Oliver Stone theory of the JFK assassination. He also exhibits concern for the global-warming crisis, the fate of American Indians, and even the recent collapse of the subprime mortgage market. Everything he says about the war in Iraq, right up to the affected concern for the civilian and military casualties, is presented as if he had hired one of Michael Moore's screenwriters as a consultant. Most unctuous of all, he reminds his audience that the Quran has a whole section in praise of the Virgin Mary, an ecumenical point that I had noticed before. (It is typical of monotheisms to plagiarize each other's worst features, from Abraham onward.) I think that this pitch is probably too crude and crass to work, but it's exactly the crudeness and crassness of Bin Laden that require the emergence of more "credible" middlemen to allay anxiety and offer reassurance. Only six years on, and already the soft mainstreaming of Islamic imperialism is under way.

Posted by aalkon at September 12, 2007 12:42 PM


Wow... Christopher Hitchens! I'm quite jealous, Amy!

Posted by: Kim at September 12, 2007 7:50 AM

Me too. But I wouldn't have let him kiss me like Amy did... That would be gay.

Posted by: Crid at September 12, 2007 1:05 PM

I rather enjoyed it!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 12, 2007 1:44 PM


What is Ramadan's connection to Abu Nidal?

Was Hassan Abu Nidal?

Posted by: LSD at September 14, 2007 8:05 AM

amy, congrats on being quoted in the October issue of Psychology Today, by the way.

Posted by: Chrissy at September 15, 2007 3:37 PM

I am? I haven't gotten that issue yet, but thanks. Will look when I'm home. I'm sure I have piles of mail!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 15, 2007 5:26 PM

TO: Amy Alkon, et al.
RE: God v. Hitchens

"God is not great, but Hitchens sure is." -- Amy Alkon

Looking forward to seeing you tell that to His face.


["God is dead." -- Nietzsche (c. 1895) "Nietzsche is dead." -- God (c. Today)]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at September 17, 2007 3:52 PM

Looking forward to seeing you tell that to His face.

Since there's no evidence of god, I'm assuming you're referring to Christopher Hitchens with that "His." I have a lot of respect for the guy, but I think that's probably unnecessary.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 17, 2007 4:15 PM

TO: Amy Alkon
RE: Yeah. Right....

"Since there's no evidence of god, I'm assuming you're referring to Christopher Hitchens with that "His." -- Amy Alkon

Serious wishful thinking on your part here, dear.


[Atheist, n., One hoping to God that He doesn't exist.]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at September 17, 2007 5:17 PM

TO: Amy Alkon
RE: No 'Evidence'?

"Since there's no evidence of god..." -- Amy Alkon

Please explain how John did such a wonderful job of describing the runaway nuclear reactor at Chernobyl and NAMED the site, i.e., Wormwood, with a proper noun in Revelation.

That's just one piece of 'evidence'. Prophecy....

There are a number of others, if you care to examine them. All AFTER that particular event.


[Prophecy, n., proof the those who believe and a bane to those who don't.]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at September 17, 2007 5:21 PM

Chuck, coincidence isn't evidence. Also, there are many prophecies which haven't come true, which you conveniently ignore.

"Serious wishful thinking on your part here, dear"

No, lack of evidence.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 17, 2007 5:40 PM

TO: Amy Alkon
RE: 'Coincidence'

"Chuck, coincidence isn't evidence." -- Amy Alkon

Yeah. Right.

Thank God that most intelligent 'Intelligence Officers' know better than you do.

RE: Them Other Prophecies

"Also, there are many prophecies which haven't come true, which you conveniently ignore." -- Amy Alkon

I'll be glad to talk to you about what I know about them.

Care to take me up on that?


[I believe in coincidence. I just don't trust it. -- Garrick, Cardacian Tinker/Tailor/Soldier/Spy on Star Trek: Deep Space 9]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at September 17, 2007 6:18 PM

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