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Christopher Hitchens takes up the question of Yale University Press's decision to publish The Cartoons That Shook the World, by Danish-born Jytte Klausen without the 12 caricatures that originated the controversy, in Slate:
...the official statement from the press's public affairs department... informed me that Yale had consulted a range of experts before making its decision and that "[a]ll confirmed that the republication of the cartoons by the Yale University Press ran a serious risk of instigating violence."
So here's another depressing thing: Neither the "experts in the intelligence, national security, law enforcement, and diplomatic fields, as well as leading scholars in Islamic studies and Middle East studies" who were allegedly consulted, nor the spokespeople for the press of one of our leading universities, understand the meaning of the plain and common and useful word instigate. If you instigate something, it means that you wish and intend it to happen. If it's a riot, then by instigating it, you have yourself fomented it. If it's a murder, then by instigating it, you have yourself colluded in it. There is no other usage given for the word in any dictionary, with the possible exception of the word provoke, which does have a passive connotation. After all, there are people who argue that women who won't wear the veil have "provoked" those who rape or disfigure them … and now Yale has adopted that "logic" as its own.
It was bad enough during the original controversy, when most of the news media—and in the age of "the image" at that—refused to show the cartoons out of simple fear. But now the rot has gone a serious degree further into the fabric.
Read the full piece at Slate
Hitch too isn't too thrilled with Obama's Cairo speech ("some of what he said was well-intentioned if ill-informed"):
Take the single case in which our president touched upon the best-known fact about the Islamic "world": its tendency to make women second-class citizens. He mentioned this only to say that "Western countries" were discriminating against Muslim women! And how is this discrimination imposed? By limiting the wearing of the head scarf or hijab.... The clear implication was an attack on the French law that prohibits the display of religious garb or symbols in state schools.
He goes on to quote "from an excellent commentary by an Algerian-American visiting professor at the University of Michigan Law School, Karima Bennoune who says:
I have just published research conducted among the many people of Muslim, Arab and North African descent in France who support that country's 2004 law banning religious symbols in public schools which they see as a necessary deployment of the "law of the republic" to counter the "law of the Brothers," an informal rule imposed undemocratically on many women and girls in neighborhoods and at home and by fundamentalists.
Comedians have yet to figure out how to mock Barack Obama, the Economist reports. Christopher Hitchens, a polemicist, remarked that “when comedians flatter the president, they become court jesters, and the country becomes a banana republic.” Thank God, there is the Onion:
The writers of the Onion are unencumbered by any obvious party loyalty. To fit in, you have to hate everything around you, muses Joe Randazzo, the editor. Hence the headline that greeted Mr Obama’s election victory: “Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job”. The Onion News Network, an online video venture, did a segment entitled “Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters to Realise How Empty Their Lives Are”. The camera showed pitiful young campaign volunteers lying comatose on a couch or wandering aimlessly through a park. “Who will take care of these people?” asked the anchor. “We really don’t know. Many have already driven away their friends and family with months of endless praise for Obama’s latest speech and constant reminders to vote,” said the breathless correspondent on the scene. “That does sound annoying,” said the anchor.
Full article: Read it and weep
Perhaps you too have been barraged with emails asking you to identify the author of the following lines?:
"Owners of capital will stimulate working class to buy more and more of expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks, which will have to be nationalized, and the State will have to take the road which will eventually lead to..."
Christopher Hitchens doesn't tell us whether or not such is the case with him, but he writes in the Atlantic:
....One or two writers predicted that Marx’s relevance would be rediscovered: John Cassidy was arguably the most surprising of these in that one hardly expected, in the fall of 1997, an essay from the economic specialist of The New Yorker announcing that the co-author of the 1848 Communist Manifesto could turn out to be “the next” significant intellectual for those whose job it was to study the markets. James Ledbetter, himself an accomplished business journalist, has since produced an admirable Penguin edition of Marx’s journalism (most of the best, which was very good indeed, having been produced for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune). And Francis Wheen, who wrote a notable biography of Marx in 1999, has now published an anatomy of Capital (as I shall henceforth call it), which concludes with the opinion that Marx “could yet become the most influential thinker of the twenty-first century.”
Full article: The Revenge Of Karl Marx