Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A new event . . .


Paul Berman writes a mammoth essay about Tariq Ramadan. He asks all the questions that Ian Buruma omitted to address, or addressed only superficially in his Ramadan portrait for The New York Times. Berman did not talk with Ramadan personally, but he did read his books. With extreme patience and exactitude (the printed version is 47 pages long!) he examines clues, contradictions and possible interpretations. At the end he comes to the Bruckner-Buruma debate launched by signandsight.com and its sister site Perlentaucher, and identifies a "reactionary turn in the intellectual world." The comment refers to authors - among them Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash - who have polemicised against Ayaan Hirsi Ali. "Something like a campaign against Hirsi Ali could never have taken place a few years ago. A sustained attack on an authentic liberal dissident crying out against
injustices in remote parts of the world and even in the back streets of Western
Europe, a sustained attack that appears nearly to have erased the very mention
of women's oppression and the struggle for women's rights from discussion - no,
this could not have happened yesterday, except on the extreme right. This is a
new event."

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