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19. Nov 2007

Martin Amis: Racist scumbag

Ronan Bennett i dagens Guardian:
What do you make of the following statement: "Asians are gaining on us demographically at a huge rate. 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." While we're at it, what do you think of this, incidentally from the same speaker: "The Black community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order." Or this, the same speaker again: "I just don't hear from moderate Judaism, do you?" And (yes, same speaker): "Strip-searching Irish people. Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole Irish community and they start getting tough with their children."

The speaker was Martin Amis and, yes, the quotations have been modified, with Asians, Blacks and Irish here substituted for Muslims, and Judaism for Islam - though, it should be stressed, these are the only amendments. Terry Eagleton, professor of English literature at Manchester University, where Amis has also started to teach, recently quoted the remarks in a new edition of his book Ideology: An Introduction. Amis, Eagleton claimed, was advocating nothing less than the "hounding and humiliation" of Muslims so "they would return home and teach their children to be obedient to the White Man's law".

Amis's views are symptomatic of a much wider and deeper hostility to Islam and intolerance of otherness. Only last week, the London Evening Standard felt able to sponsor a debate entitled: Is Islam good for London? Do another substitution here and imagine the reaction had Judaism been the subject. As Rabbi Pete Tobias noted on Comment is Free, the so-called debate was sinisterly reminiscent of the paper's campaign a century ago to alert its readers to the "problem of the alien", namely the eastern European Jews fleeing persecution who had found refuge in the capital. In this context, Rod Liddle's contribution to proceedings - "Islamophobia? Count me in" - sounds neither brave, brash nor provocatively outrageous, merely racist. Those who claim that Islamophobia can't be racist, because Islam is a religion not a race, are fooling themselves: religion is not only about faith but also about identity, background and culture, and Muslims are overwhelmingly non-white. Islamophobia is racist, and so is antisemitism.

I can't help feeling we failed that test. Amis got away with it. He got away with as odious an outburst of racist sentiment as any public figure has made in this country for a very long time. Shame on him for saying it, and shame on us for tolerating it
Men læs nu bare det hele. Jeg må vel indrømme, at den eneste bog, jeg selv har læst af Martin Amis er den noget flæbende "Einstein's Monsters" fra 1987, og derudover ved jeg, at han er søn af forfatteren Kingsley Amis, der bl.a. skrev en James Bond-roman og blev berømt for sine ekstremt og uapologetisk højreorienterede synspunkter, en familietradition, den ellers liberale Martin nu åbenbart vil holde i hævd.

Men ellers står Martin Amis vel med sine udtalelser som et skoleeksempel på alt, hvad der er galt med den moderne, medløbende intellektuelle: Flytter frejdigt grænserne for, hvad der kan siges, ved åbent at tale om sin lyst til at ydmyge, forfølge og straffe muslimer blot for at være muslimer - og herefter trække i land med lamme påstande om, at han "bare fantaserede" eller hvad har man.

Som Bennett siger: Skam få alle, der ikke taler en sådan mand imod.