Created on Wednesday, 21 November 2007 20:42
Scribes of Hate: Culture Vultures and the Terror War
by Chris Floyd
'm sure that a great many Americans don't know who Martin Amis is. If they do, they are more likely to know him as the author of "The Rachel Papers," which was made into a quirky teen-comes-of-age movie years ago, or perhaps as the son of Kingsley Amis, whose acerbic, slightly racy (for their day) novels were once mainstays on the British literary scene.
But Martin himself has become something of a Brit mainstay in his middle age, routinely touted as one of the island's top writers and definitely one of the glitterati on the literary scene.
He is also one of a number of writers on both sides of the Atlantic who were so traumatized by 9/11 that their political polarities were completely reversed.
nce 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.)
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
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.
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!"
are gaining on us demographically at a huge rate," Amis says, echoing
the clenched-scrotum fear of the genuinely moronic Mark Steyn
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.
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...
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.
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