Cynicism by the Book

Christopher Hitchers latest Slate article goes into my “Must read” category. In it he distills his thoughts on both the burning of the Quran by Pastor Stupid in Florida, and the utterly insane (but predictable) reaction within some quarters of the Islamic world.

To make it easy, I’ve distilled out a few key points …

Heinrich Heine’s famous observation about book burning—that where books are burned, people also will be—was actually first made about the torching of the Quran.

Then later, he writes with great humor …

The moronic pastor who burned the Quran after a mock trial would probably refrain from setting fire to human beings. While in Afghanistan, where Islam already makes huge numbers of books unavailable and The Satanic Verses and the Danish flag must be in short supply, the news of book burning somewhere else is enough in itself to cause the random incineration of people.

What comes next is what I consider to be one of the very best summaries of this total madness …

The same old dreary formula: self-righteous frenzy married to a neurotic need to take offense; the easy resort to indiscriminate violence and cruelty; the promulgation of makeshift fatwas by mullahs on the make; those writhing mustaches framing crude slogans of piety and hatred, and yelling for death as if on first-name terms with the Almighty. The spilling of blood and the spoliation of property—all for nothing, and ostensibly “provoked” by the corny, brainless antics of a devout American nonentity, notice of whose mere existence is beneath the dignity of any thinking person.

I do so love, not only his command of the language, but the honesty on display. It is utterly uncluttered with any superstitious babble.

If you have never read anything by Hitchers, then why not click on over to the article here and read it all.

I should warn you, he has some observations to make that are of little comfort to those who believe in the projection of US influence via military activities …

As someone who advances the quaint belief that the removal of two of the worst regimes in the region—the Taliban and the Iraqi Baath Party—did not have nothing to do with the subsequent democracy “wave,” I also find it discouraging that some of the loudest expressions of sectarian emotion have come from Afghanistan and Iraq.

But this narrowness pales beside the truly awful opportunism and cynicism of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.

the Obama administration might want to express itself more directly about a man for whose fast-decomposing regime we are shedding our best blood.

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