In the classic French novel, Adolphe, Benjamin Constant writes:
There are things that for a long time remain unsaid, but once they are spoken, one never ceases to repeat them.
How true this is of so many of the things we keep inside for a time. Think, for example, of how an argument with a loved one often reveals the things that we have felt, but carefully hidden from them. Once spoken, those words repeat themselves with a frequency that suggests that we are seeking vengeance for the time they spent in silence.
The same is true of our secret prejudices, which often remain unsaid until the moment ‘feels right’ or circumstances seemingly produce the ‘necessity’ for their articulation.
It appears that circumstances today have produced a space in which articulating anti-Islamic sentiment both ‘feels right’ and ‘necessary’. It is an environment marked by series of events invoked as evidence in the ever-growing case against Islam.
I deeply missed June Jordan today. Back in Fall 1995 (or was it 96?) the acclaimed poet read not her own poems, but those of her Arab students, at the first ever Berkeley “Poetry at Lunch” event. I adored her, and adored her even more when she courageously asserted that Arabs/Muslims were one of last groups it was explicitly kosher (read: not un-PC) to be racist or prejudiced towards in any given circle. Way before 9/11…
Tunku Varadarajan, a professor at NYU’s Stern Business School and a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, recently wrote a piece “Going Muslim: America after Fort Hood.”(1) He coins the phrase “Going Muslim” to “describe the turn of events where a seemingly integrated Muslim-American—a friendly donut vendor in New York, say, or an officer in the U.S. Army at Fort Hood—discards his apparent integration into American society and elects to vindicate his religion in an act of messianic violence against his fellow Americans.”(2)
He has been quoted as saying “Sleep is the best meditation.” May I suggest his holiness wake up to the fact that the two wars started by his friend George W. Bush are the clearest violations of his own espoused principles of peace and non-violence. Really, does no one else find it absurd that the Dalai Lama has on multiple occasions since 2001 stood unopposed to the brutal, barbaric and illegal wars first in Afghanistan and later Iraq? This sought-after personality loved by celebrities, the CIA, political leaders and civilians alike restated today in Calgary that “It’s hard to tell which category the current military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq will eventually fall into.”
Terry Eagleton, John Edward Taylor Professor of English Literature at the University of Manchester, has been a Fellow of four Oxford and Cambridge colleges and has held the Thomas Warton Chair of English Literature at the University of Oxford. Professor Eagleton has authored scores of studies of literary, cultural, and political criticism and written plays for both stage and television in Britain and Ireland, as well as a screenplay for Derek Jarman’s film Wittgenstein. Terry Eagleton is a Fellow of the British Academy.
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