Sometimes the best way to deal with a loudmouth (Martin Amis), nothwithstanding Terry Eagleton’s or Ronan Bennett’s valiant efforts, is to send him up. Chris Morris provides a masterclass here, noting striking similarities between Martin Amis and Abu Hamza. It really cheered me up: it will cheer you up too.
It’s sobering to note that the University of Manchester seems to cashing in on the whole thing by hosting Amis and Ed Husain on “Literature and Terrorism” next Monday. (Presumably the novel idea here is to get the protagonists to mostly agree with each other, for Amis’s “horrorism” to find confirmation in a Muslim echo chamber. I hope I am proved wrong.) Holding this event seems to isolate Eagleton (Amis’s departmental colleague) or anyone else at the University who has taken a stand against those who can’t control those little urges to voice thought experiments in “collective punishment”. Even the “good” Muslims, delusional children who contend that their primitive faith might approximate to true, rational, liberal values, can be condescended to as useful-enough idiots against the jihadis, even if one must put up with their “gobbledegook”. If some want to argue that the only really good Muslim is an ex-Muslim (i.e. only Ayaan Hirsi Ali has really got it right), then is it really any surprise that polling keeps showing that large numbers of Muslims think that the “war on terror” is “a war on Islam”?
A sure sign of a hostile and prejudicial climate is the repeated claim that it doesn’t exist or even that being prejudiced is a badge of honour (because it doesn’t really exist).
Don’t you sometimes feel that life is like a game of Human Tetris?
Hat Tip: Naeem’s Blog
For those who want a bit of a chuckle, two of America’s top Muslim comedians, Azhar Usman and Preacher Moss, are doing their first UK tour, “Allah made me funny — the official Muslim tour”. Apparently it’s only “official” because they’ve said it’s official, but don’t let that bother you. They’re doing six dates around the UK between the 7th and the 15th this month — so check it out.
Azhar Usman was at City Circle last night, cracking jokes and talking about comedy and faith, and the tradition of American stand-up comedy, which he described as one of two truly American artforms, the other being jazz. He argued that we should have no hestitation in taking up indigenous art and culture to effect a creative synthesis with our faith-based values. Besides the Islamic cultural imperative to indigenize, Azhar noted the role of stand-up in defining discourses of protest and aspirations to equality and respect. As was the case with African-Americans and Jews, so now it is with Muslims. Like the Greeks, Azhar maintained that comedy is never far from tragedy in the artform of stand-up — if we didn’t laugh, we’d cry.
There’s a classic snippet in the papers today. Muslims in the US and the UK apparently represent a recalcitrant aporia in the advertising and marketing world:
Salzman reveals that JWT is also about to embark upon the first ever study of the Muslim market in the US and the UK, under her supervision. “This is the biggest single issue we face as marketers,” she says. “3.5% of Americans are Muslims. They are young and we don’t understand them at all. Part of the American Dream was becoming like your neighbour, but Muslims have a code of law which they respect which impacts every dimension of their world including consumerism and media consumption. ”
But doesn’t that make them an unlikely market? Tellingly she replies: “They are not anti-consumerist. There are things they want. We know they value home and family. But we have not figured out yet how to invent desire [among the Muslim community].” She leans forward. “This is the first thing I’ve been really excited about since the day I installed an AOL disk back in 1992.  [my italics]
Allegedly British and American Muslims haven’t yet been assigned a place within niche-marketing. They’re characterised here as a frontier in the marketization of global cultures, which extends choice but only within the confined horizon of economic consumption. In other words, more is less: cultures become products and our relationship to culture becomes marketised. British and American Muslim viewing and shopping habits will be ascertained so that their inmost desires can “invented” to quote Salzman, i.e. to be sold back to them as “needs” — no doubt at a competitive price.
Anyone up for a bit of zuhd?
 Interview with Marian Salzman, Executive Vice President of the American advertising giant, J. Walter Thompson, ‘I don’t think newspapers are about to go away’, The Guardian, Media Supplement, 8 January 2007. Thanks to the BBRC for pointing out the story to me.
The New Middle East — at least as reimagined in a US military journal. French and British colonial wrongs are righted. Nations once denied in the old dispensation arise: Kurdistan, Baluchistan, the Shia Arab State (presumably a counterweight to the Shia Persian state, Iran, which gets reunited with Persian Afghanis). Saudi dominance of the Arabian Peninsula is ended as territory is ceded to the Yemen, Jordan and the ‘Islamic Sacred State’ (to be run by some Islamic version of the Vatican — the OIC perhaps!). The Saudis, presumably along with the Al Shaikh, get to retain their Najdi heartlands. Like the Saudis, other American allies are similarly rewarded with territorial losses: Turkey cedes its Kurds, Pakistan its Baluchis and Pashtuns (reduced thus to the Western Punjab and Sindh, a mere buffer state between India and Afghanistan), and Iraq is dismembered altogther into Shias, Sunnis and Kurds. Such is the price of loyalty.
Even if Israel has to go back to its pre-1967 borders, at least one thing stays the same — Palestine’s status remains unsecured.