Martin Amis and the Gentile Racists

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Once rakish, left-of-center, somewhat anti-Establishment types, they suddenly became ardent champions of Authority, cheering on the great Leaders who would keep them safe. (Amis even embedded himself with Blair for intimate portraits of the great man in action.)

Amis was one of the first out of the blocks with his metamorphosis, delivering a well-paid piece just days after the attack which I thought even at the time read like the panicky words of a man who until that moment had never thought his own precious self might meet with the violent end that daily afflicts multitudes of the lesser orders around the world.

And Amis began as he meant to go on. Shaking off the parlor socialism of his youth, he made the astonishing discovery that Josef Stalin had been one bad hombre. Did you know there was this Gulag thing? And tortures and stuff? This was apparently all news to Amis, who wrote a book about his discoveries, pedantically laying out all the facts that Solzhenitsyn, Robert Conquest and countless others had detailed decades ago. I recall him telling a story of how one night during that time, he and his wife were awakened by their young daughter, who was crying so loudly that even the all-night nanny who looked after her for the Amises couldn't calm her, and Martin himself was forced to rise from his bed and attend the child. As the screeching went on, he turned to his wife and said, "You know, her cries would not have been out of place in Stalin's Lubyanka."

And there, in that agonizing moment in his London mansion, Martin Amis became as one with the victims of the Gulag.

Needless to say, Amis followed his good friend Christopher Hitchens into the lists to take up a lance against "Islamofascism" -- an enemy which, like Hitchens, he seems to have trouble distinguishing from Muslims in general. In fact, as novelist Ronan Bennett noted in a major piece in Monday's Guardian, Amis -- suave literary lion of British high culture -- has taken up and megaphoned almost every ignorant, hatemongering, Islamophobic trope of the knuckle-dragging Right -- including that old standby of sexual panic from time immemorial: "They're outbreeding us!"

"Muslims are gaining on us demographically at a huge rate," Amis says, echoing the clenched-scrotum fear of the genuinely moronic Mark Steyn. "A quarter of humanity now and by 2025 they'll be a third. Italy's down to 1.1 child per woman. We're just going to be outnumbered." These are of course precisely the same kind of vapors that our manly Anglo-American elites have voiced over the years about Jews, blacks, the Irish, the Chinese, Mexicans and so on. "They" are always coming, "they" are always breeding like flies, "they" are always going to overwhelm "us" -- and steal "our" women.

That earlier mainstay of the British literary scene, William Shakespeare, once caught this sexual panic perfectly in Henry V, as he portrays the frightful French in dread of the English invasion:

By faith and honour,
Our madams mock at us, and plainly say
Our mettle is bred out, and they will give
Their bodies to the lust of English youth
To new-store France with bastard warriors.


But Amis, like Hitchens and countless other "liberal hawks," doesn't confine his fears to the lack of fecundity among cultured white folk. He is also keen to see the power of the state brought down upon the heads of ordinary, law-abiding Muslims, in order to instill, well, terror in them:


The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order. What sort of suffering? Not letting them travel. Deportation -- further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they're from the Middle East or from Pakistan ... Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children...


There is another word for this: collective punishment. The cultured defenders of civilization once punished this kind of thing with war crimes trials and executions of its practitioners. Now our panicky paladins reach for the truncheon at the slightest twinge of fear, the slightest perceived threat to their privilege.

The Amis quote above comes from an interview in The Times last year, which was noted -- and criticized -- in a recent book by literary critic Terry Eagleton, sparking the kind of cultural spat so beloved by British newspapers. But Ronan Bennett's piece goes behind the gossipy headlines to reveal the rank racism at the heart of Amis' metamorphosis. And it is this same kind of racism, and its tacit acceptance -- or, more often, its eager embracing -- by the Anglo-American Establishments that has led and will lead us into more mass murder. Already the state-led "Terror War" has claimed far more innocent victims than the terrorism of stateless criminal bands adhering to various extremist strains of Islam.

Racism is always, everywhere, an expression of ignorance. And in almost every case, this is a willful ignorance, a deliberate blindness induced by fear, by greed, by anger, by the projection of one's own base and chaotic nature (the common lot of all humanity) onto some scapegoat. The trembly fears of Martin Amis are of no great moment in themselves. But the most powerful forces in the world are being ruled by same kind of ignorance and blindness that his genteel racism represents. That's why Bennett's calling of Amis to account is an important gesture. We countenance such deadly ignorance at our own extreme peril.

Extensive excerpts from "Shame on Us," by Ronan Bennett, can be found here.
 
 

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