June 19, 2015

Under The Algerian Sun: Camus and Daoud

It’s the rare writer who can pick up where Albert Camus — master of midcentury philosophy and fiction — left off in the modern classic, The Outsider (formerly translated as The Stranger). But Kamel Daoud, ...

It’s the rare writer who can pick up where Albert Camus — master of midcentury philosophy and fiction — left off in the modern classic, The Outsider (formerly translated as The Stranger). But Kamel Daoud, an Algerian journalist and writer, has done just that in his new novel, The Meursault Investigation, just released in English.

Daoud’s book renews L’Étranger as an Algerian story for everyone, an incandescent read already acclaimed in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Nation.

Maybe you read Camus’s Outsider in college — or absorbed its frank fatalism through noir or New Wave cinema, in ‘80s rock, or in the televised angst of A. J. Soprano. The book’s antihero is Meursault, a disenchanted young clerk who murders a nameless Arab on the beach at Algiers, under the weight of heat and circumstance. Unable to defend himself or show remorse, Meursault is condemned to death — and confronts the essential absurdity of the universe.

One of Matthew Richardson's illustrations of "The Outsider" for the Folio Society.

One of Matthew Richardson’s illustrations of “The Outsider” for the Folio Society.

What about the Arab, though? For many L’Étranger is a miscarriage of justice. Daoud’s project is to retrieve the victim and re-prosecute this literary crime. His novel gives Meursault’s victim a name, a history, and one angry brother living in the aftermath of both death and Independence. Our guest Adam Shatz, who profiled Daoud this spring, said the result is a unique post-postcolonial work, one that lives and seethes in a truly absurd present, shaped also by the liberators:

He turns this novel into a critique of postcolonial Algeria. He really situates the absurd in post-colonial Algeria, in a country that achieved liberation after this long and bloody war of decolonization but did not render liberty to Algerian citizens. So in a sense, he’s critiquing Camus, he’s paying tribute to Camus, and he’s appropriating the whole theme of absurdity, saying, “if anyone suffers from a predicament of absurdity, it’s not settlers like Meursault, it’s Algerians after their liberation.”

Camus and Daoud, after all, have much in common. They’re both lively men who want to make words and the ethics they describe matter in the world. Robert Zaretsky reminded us that long before Daoud took aim at Meursault, the creator walked away from his own creation:

In 1942, soon after publication of both The Stranger as well as The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus wrote in his notebooks, “Absurdity teaches nothing.” At that moment, he joins the resistance and becomes one of the leading voices of the resistance press. Camus recognizes that there is — if not something autistic — something solipsistic about Meursault. And it’s time to move on. Yes, the world is absurd. But that’s only a diagnosis Now the time has arrived to find a cure, to find a prescription, some way out of this. In his complexity, in his elusiveness, he poses these perennial questions about life, about our responsibility towards others. Not just towards one’s mother or towards one’s lover, but towards one’s fellow human being, like the Arab who’s never named.

Like Camus, Daoud rails against religion, making him non grata in many parts of the Algeria he loves. Professor Kamran Rastegar wondered whether Daoud’s motifs, driven by overwhelming “ideological exhaustion,” resonate with the young, and often faithful, energy of Tahrir Square.

But, over the course of the program, we were reminded that religion is too narrow a target for either man. Worse than enforced piety is the everyday inhuman abstraction that justifies everything from colonialism, to “counter-terror” and its blowback, to the easy guns and bureaucratized violence favored by our own Meursaults.

Kamel Daoud dares Camus and his readers to name the victims, view their faces, and insist that black, brown, colonial, and postcolonial lives matter. In doing so, according to Judith Gurewich, Daoud goes back to “the root of existentialism,” saying, “when you kill someone, you kill a part of yourself.”

As our hour closed, Adam Shatz returned to the absurdity of suffering:

There is this shared history of suffering. …The story doesn’t end after Camus’s death. It very much continues in the lives of the victims of Meursault. That’s very much true in what we’re seeing today in things like drone killing. We are linked to these other histories. We’re not separated from them.

Field Recording: At Boston Latin, getting to know Meursault.


I learned in high school English that it’s always one of three things: man versus man, man versus society or man versus himself. On their first day as seniors at Boston Latin School, students have to reckon with all three.

Every year, Lynn Burke assigns an English translation of L’Étranger for summer reading. Camus’s classic is a mainstay of late high school and early college, but it’s heavy stuff. (In only one way does it really qualify as “beach reading.”)

When her students arrive, however, Ms. Burke says they’re ready to lead her into existential depths. They’re also ready to hear out Camus’s young, anomic protagonist. I wonder if, every September, Ms. Burke feels as happily unnerved as I did. It’s strange talking with four kids so good and poised, and yet so eager to confront meaninglessness.

Graduation was last month, and Isabelle, Anna, Sean, and Edwood are fanning out to colleges after one last Boston summer — this one probably Camus-free.

But Meursault is staying with them. What could they see in this guy and his strange conclusions? It’s not really that he helps the students confront evil, isolation, and meaningless. There will be time for all of that, and they have more immediate concerns. After a few years of explaining themselves — to parents, to teachers, this year to colleges — some of them like the idea of a man without an answer.

—Pat Tomaino.

Who’s Camus to you? A primer.

Take Alain de Botton‘s short video course on why Camus the thinker looms so large, then enjoy our podcast:

This Week's Show •

Violent Extremism, East and West

Next Wednesday the White House is convening a summit on ‘countering violent extremism.’ The details are sketchy — a press release announces that the meeting will “highlight domestic and international efforts to prevent violent extremists and their supporters from radicalizing, ...

Next Wednesday the White House is convening a summit on ‘countering violent extremism.’ The details are sketchy — a press release announces that the meeting will “highlight domestic and international efforts to prevent violent extremists and their supporters from radicalizing, recruiting, or inspiring individuals or groups in the United States and abroad to commit acts of violence”.

The details of the summit are sketchy — a press release declares that the meeting will “highlight domestic and international efforts to prevent violent extremists and their supporters from radicalizing, recruiting, or inspiring individuals or groups in the United States and abroad to commit acts of violence”.

Meanwhile this week President Obama has asked for a limited three-year extension of war powers in Iraq, with his staff still hoping “to degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State. We’re asking about the long-term plan to solve a long-term problem of grievance and retribution in the Muslim world: is there one? and what does it look like?

We’re in the last week of our Kickstarter campaign, and every dollar given now is matched 2 for 1. Please give, if you haven’t already!

In the 14th year of the ‘long war’ in the Middle East, we’re trying to contain a new threat: to catch would-be terrorists before they turn into the Tsarnaevs, or the Kouachi brothers who shocked Paris last month with their assault on Charlie Hebdo, or one of the hundreds of people worldwide who have flocked to Syrian battlefields.

There will be sessions on detecting warning signs on Twitter and Facebook and case studies from Singapore and the European Union. The National Counterterrorism Center has already drafted a checklist that will score families on their vulnerability to political and religious violence, on a sixty-point scale, based on factors like “perceived sense of being treated unjustly,” “witnessing violence,” and “experiences of trauma”. It’s pretty technocratic stuff!

On the other hand, Newt Gingrich, sometimes thought of us as the Republican Party’s thinking man, isn’t beating around the bush in the pages of the Wall Street Journal: we’re at war with radical Islam, we’re losing, and we don’t have a clue how to win. If, as Gingrich suggested last month, the ‘long war’ on Islamic extremism needs a grand strategist like George Kennan, what would the ‘grand strategy’ be?

So set aside the checklists and the so-called “clash of civilizations”. Let’s look at the biggest possible picture. What kind of common sense do we need to break this decades-long cycle of violence and revenge in the Middle East and here at home?

Moazzam Begg’s Story

Born in England, captured in Pakistan, and now twice freed on terror charges, Moazzam Begg is a controversial figure, but he’s one of the people we most wanted to hear in a conversation about the low moments of the terror war and the hope of a better future.

We knew his story and the horrible content of his testimony, but he surprised us by telling us just how well he’d come to know some of the guards at Guantanamo Bay. And he told us that he hoped that reconciliation could come in the form of truth and reconciliation, on the South African model.

This Week's Show •

Learning from Paris

The story of the massacre at Charlie Hebdo has gone everywhere in the past week: into meditations on free speech and blasphemy, into declarations of cultural and actual war, and high-wire geopolitics. It’s a fresh attack, meaning high emotion and demands for ‘moral ...

The story of the massacre at Charlie Hebdo has gone everywhere in the past week: into meditations on free speech and blasphemy, into declarations of cultural and actual war, and high-wire geopolitics.

It’s a fresh attack, meaning high emotion and demands for ‘moral clarity‘ — and not yet a serious reckoning. If the civilized idea is that no one should be killed for their cartoons, then of course we’re all on “Team Civilization,” as Jon Stewart likes to say. This video from 2006, showing three of the 10 staffers killed sitting around a table, drawing and chuckling, is a poignant reminder of the warmhearted, tweaking work done at Charlie Hebdo.

But as we react in pain and solidarity to the deaths of these cartoonists and the hostages and policemen killed, too, we’re still puzzling about what we should be learning.

It’s a story of the global spread of radical Islam, an ideology we’ve spent a decade and more trying to ‘contain’ with violence. It’s a story of 21st-century France: humanist, secular, but still tense when it comes to inclusion and identity. It’s a story of clashing fringes in Europe’s rightward drift: nativist National Fronts against deep-dyed Islamic extremists, cooperating in a violent ‘Muslim panic’ that runs counter to the facts. It’s a story, maybe, of comedy gone tragic, raising questions of the use and abuse of the satirical pen. And it’s a story of a world that still seems ready to think in terms of a nightmare clash of civilizations.

What does Charlie Hebdo tell you? Help us sort out the angles and ideas for this week’s show by leaving a comment or recording a message.

Podcast • April 12, 2013

Speaking of Pope Francis: What’s in a Name?

At the Harvard Divinity School, we’re listening in on the euphoria around the new Pope, Francis. What’s in a name? A lot, it turns out. What’s the real brand of the Jesuit order that shaped ...

clooney carroll 4

At the Harvard Divinity School, we’re listening in on the euphoria around the new Pope, Francis.

What’s in a name? A lot, it turns out.

What’s the real brand of the Jesuit order that shaped and marks this priest? Well, it goes deeper than I knew.

And how differently, really, does a pope from the Global South see a church outgrowing its Old European roots? Listen here.

First up here: the novelist and relentless scold of his church, my friend James Carroll on the pope’s “astonishing choice of this name.”

There’s a ringing clarity to it that took the world’s breath away. It was ingenious. It was worthy of a great poet. Look at who Francis is. He isn’t just the man of the poor. He’s also the green saint. There are festivals of St. Francis that are celebrations of Gaia, of holy earth, where people bring all the animals into the church, all the plants. It’s a magnificent tradition. It’s St. Francis. St Francis is the saint of the environmental movement. St. Francis is a secular saint. People who’ve long since given up any impulse to religious expression have St. Francis in their gardens. St. Francis belongs to the world. This man choosing this name conveyed something non-verbally, non-rationally, pre-rationally. It just rang!

James Carroll, at right in photo, at the Harvard Divinity School, with Francis Clooney and Chris Lydon, April 2013

It was Jim Carroll’s line that Pope Francis named himself for the heart of the church, and that he comes from the brain of the church. It was for the Jesuit on our panel, Francis Clooney,S.J., to unpack that “Jesuit ethos.”

So what is the Jesuit thing about? It’s the greater glory of God, the ‘magis,’ the more. Finding God in all things, the ability to imagine the borderlands, to step outside — to be the church where there is no church. To go to the farthest parts of the world, to learn the languages, to be in the different cultural settings, the be in all the difficulty places. All these things can be said… and still the essence of it — the life source for the Jesuits — is that the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola, based in his own mystical experience — is not a book of doctrine. It’s not a catechism. It’s not a book that you can sit down and read and say: I have learned. It’s a book of exercises, in which one has to put oneself into the situation of existentially confronting your own limitations, you own sickness, your own age, your own death — and then launch into walking with Christ, contemplating Christ, and then see where it comes out the other end.

Francis Clooney, at left in photo, at the Harvard Divinity School, April 2013

About a church that we all know is expanding in Africa, Latin America, and Asia: what does the new face of the Church say to Islam? And could there be another signal in that name the Pope chose? Could it be a reference to the meeting that St. Francis of Assisi arranged for himself with the Sultan of Egypt during the Fifth Crusade in the 13th Century?

I was struck that the church Frank Clooney and Jim Carroll were describing sounds so much more humble, more forgiving, maybe more human, than the church we grew up in. A lot of us, I think, will be paying closer attention. Jim Carroll underlined the virtue of humility in the church when a question came about the Pope’s history as Bishop of Buenos Aires during the “dirty war” under brutal military junta in the 1970s and 80. Did he look away from the torture of his priests, even Jesuits? How much would it matter? Jim Carroll’s answer challenged and enlightened a packed house.

Fritz Eichenberg, wood engraving, "The Prayer of Saint Francis" (1979)

Fritz Eichenberg, wood engraving, “The Prayer of Saint Francis” (1979)

Podcast • November 11, 2012

Farida Ayari’s Short Form on “the Spring” : “What Revolution?”

Click to listen to Chris’ conversation with Farida Ayari (41 min, 28 meg) TUNIS (the North African capital formerly known as Carthage) — Farida Ayari is giving us an assertive reporter’s first-draft history of the ...

Click to listen to Chris’ conversation with Farida Ayari (41 min, 28 meg)

Farida Ayari, journalist. Photo by Sophia Baraket

TUNIS (the North African capital formerly known as Carthage) — Farida Ayari is giving us an assertive reporter’s first-draft history of the great Arab event that began in Tunisia two years ago — the “Arab Spring” of fond memory, or the “revolt,” or the “upheaval,” as Amin Maalouf calls it. “What revolution?” Farida Ayari responded when we first met. “The revolution is still to come.”

I am hearing three big themes in her story:

(1) It was a workers’ revolt, as usual in Tunisian politics over the past century, before it was a middle-class cause. It began deep in the hinterland when the abused street vendor Mohamed Bouazizzi set himself afire in the town of Sidi Bouzid. Then and ever, unrest ran deepest in the farming and phosphate mining regions far from Tunis and the coastal resorts.

(2) Islamic activists, who’d been victims of the equal-opportunity oppressor Ben Ali, captured the parliamentary elections on the strength of organization, sympathy for past suffering, and assumptions of moral purity now compromised by cronyism and incompetence in office. The presidential election next year is up for grabs, but liberal democrats (who learned their head-over-heart politics in Europe) have still to find a resonant language in local politics.

(3) Ethnically diverse, relatively modern, moderate and prosperous Tunisia is not a “miniature” of the Arab world, “but maybe we are a laboratory.”

If we succeed to set up a genuine democracy which will be reconciled with a moderate Islam (considered as a personal thing for each person, with the liberty to worship or not worship) and if we install democratic values and an economic system that will be distributing wealth equally among people in the region, then I will say: yes! If we succeed then the whole Arab world will succeed. If we fail, it is finished for the Arab world for many many years. You will have a fundamentalist wave from Tangier to Tehran, and forget democracy. If fundamentalism takes root, it will be a dark age for the region for many, many decades.

Farid Ayari in conversation with Chris Lydon in Tunis, November 10, 2012.

Podcast • January 13, 2011

Mohammed Hanif’s Af-Pak: A Case of Exploding Absurdities

Somebody said: if you’re an intelligent Islamic militant and you had a choice: to take over either Afghanistan or Pakistan, what would you do? You would take over Pakistan, obviously. Click to listen to Chris’ ...

Somebody said: if you’re an intelligent Islamic militant and you had a choice: to take over either Afghanistan or Pakistan, what would you do? You would take over Pakistan, obviously.

Click to listen to Chris’ conversation with Mohammed Hanif (52 minutes, 25 mb mp3)

Mohammed Hanif, the Pakistani novelist, is observing from Karachi that “even the believers” don’t believe in the war in Afghanistan anymore. No statement of purpose passes the “you’ve got to be kidding” test — not the US professions about stabilizing the region, not the Pakistani Army’s mission to defend its country. Pakistan’s tribal areas that were peaceful before the war have been devastated. The future is disappearing. Certain dark absurdities underlying Pakistan’s situation, underlying Mohammed Hanif’s “insanely brilliant” novel, A Case of Exploding Mangoes, are chasing their own tails.

On January 4 this year Salmaan Taseer, the rich, connected governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, was assassinated in broad daylight in a public market in Islamabad. The shooting eerily prefigured by four days our made-in-America madness in Tucson, but it was more horrifying by many measures. Taseer took 26 rounds of sub-machinegun fire from one of his own guards before the rest of his security detail intervened. Prominent mullahs in Pakistan have celebrated the murder and promised vengeance on Taseer’s funeral goers. At issue, so to speak, was Taseer’s enthusiasm for repealing an Anti-Blasphemy law — an old statute that in today’s fervor has enabled religious prosecutions and deadly personal fatwas on farcical grounds. (You can be charged with blasphemy in Pakistan for discarding a salesman’s business card — if the salesman, like so many of his countrymen, bears the name Mohammed.)

We are drawing again on a novelist’s gift for figure and ground, the big contexts of war and faith, news and nationhood, for tragic jokes.

MH: I think the basic kind of crisis that we are going through is that somehow a large majority of people are convinced that their faith is under attack. Now, how can their faith be under attack if 98 percent of people who live in this country are faithful? What has happened is that this environment, these perpetual wars that we’ve been involved with, have somehow convinced our people…

We’ve never even begun to deal with the reasons for which this country was created, which was that there should be some kind of economic and social justice for the Muslim minority in these parts. That’s what this was supposed to be about. But yesterday I was at this big religious gathering where all the kind of hot-shots of Pakistan’s religious parties were there. And they were saying that Pakistan was actually created to protect the honor of Prophet Mohammed. Now I’ve lived here all my life. I haven’t grown up in some kind of sheltered community. But I haven’t heard that kind of discourse ever in my life…

CL: How does the Af-Pak war, ongoing, affect the day-to-day outlook of Pakistanis?

MH: Well, I think it has radicalized a section of Pakistani society. It has made a lot of people cynical and anti-American… I think this is probably the first time in the history of the world that a so-called friendly country, the United States, is using robots to kill the citizens of its partner in war. Now whatever logic you might apply, that doesn’t come out nice. It’s never, ever going to sound good to anyone.

There’s an Urdu saying that when your neighbor’s house is on fire, the chances are that fire will get to you as well, [especially] if you as a nation, as a country, have been stoking that fire for 30 years. If you’ve had this attitude towards your neighbor, if you’ve never considered Afghans as human beings, if you only speak of them in military terms, as targets or allies or collateral damage… then Pakistan is going the same route. You can’t create a monster, you can’t create a jihadi group, as the military has in the past, that will exclusively go and kill Indian soldiers in Kashmir, and not do anything else. You can’t create a faction of Taliban whose sole duty it is to go into Afghanistan and fight the Americans. They will do it for a while. They’ve done it for a while. But after that, they will come back and they’ll find other targets. The jihadi groups that initially were supposed to fight in Afghanistan, and then fight in Kashmir and then go and liberate Sweden or whatever country, they’ve finally turned their guns on Pakistanis, sometimes on the Pakistani establishment…

CL: What is it about Pakistan — a dangerous place, a dangerous state of mind — that seems to invite broad satire? I’m thinking of your own Exploding Mangoes and also Salman Rushdie’s Shame and even the Tom Hanks movie, “Charlie Wilson’s War.” People seem to forget the unfunny truths here.

MH: I grew up in a small city in Punjab, and the traditional form of entertainment there was standing on a street corner, making jokes about current affairs, about political leaders, about the village elder, about the mullah in the mosque – anybody who carried, or thought that he carried, any authority. And it was quite accepted in our culture. So for me, the first insight into how the world is run, how a city is run, how a family works together, I got from the comedy clubs. But I don’t have it in me to be a standup comic. I’m a sit-down comic. I’ll sit down and struggle with myself and maybe compose a joke, or come up with a character that can reflect some of those absurdities…

Pakistan has lots of TV news stations, and suddenly I’ve seen that every single channel has got a political satire show, and those are the shows that are doing really well. Things are so bad that nobody actually wants any more analysis. Nobody wants any more pundits telling them the future because they know it is all downhill. So we might as well sit here and laugh at ourselves.

Mohammed Hanif in Karachi, in conversation with Chris Lydon in Providence, January 11, 2010

Podcast • March 12, 2010

This "Year of India" (5): … and the chronic crisis of Pakistan

Click to listen to Chris’s conversation with Farzana Shaikh (38 min, 17 mb mp3) Salman Rushdie, no less, finished his packed public talk at Brown three weeks ago with the observation that Pakistan is the ...

Click to listen to Chris’s conversation with Farzana Shaikh (38 min, 17 mb mp3)

Salman Rushdie, no less, finished his packed public talk at Brown three weeks ago with the observation that Pakistan is the globe’s true nightmare nation — that if Pakistan doesn’t rescue itself from political collapse into extremism, “we’re all fucked.” In this “Year of India” at Brown, we are talking again about the Pakistan question next door — about India’s nuclear-armed neighor and sibling, on the verge, some say, of meltdown.

Farzana Shaikh is a child of Pakistan who writes about her country now as the daughter of a distressed family. The thread through her pithy analysis, Making Sense of Pakistan, is that Pakistan’s problem is not fundamentally with India, much less with the United States and the world, but with itself and Islam. She begins:

More than six decades after being carved out of British India, Pakistan remains an enigma. Born in 1947 as the first self-professed Muslim state, it rejected theocracy. Vulnerable to the appeal of political Islam, it aspired to Western constitutionalism. Prone to military dictatorship, it hankered after democracy. Unsure of what it stood for, Pakistan has been left clutching at an identity beset by an ambigous relation to Islam…

Farzana Shaikh, Making Sense of Pakistan, Columbia University Press.

Salman Rushdie’s irresistible prose is one touchstone of our conversation:

It is well known that the term ‘Pakistan,’ an acronym, was originally thought up in England by a group of Muslim intellectuals. P for the Punjabis. A for the Afghans, K for the Kashmiris, S for Sind and the ‘tan’, they say, for Balochistan. (No mention of the East West, you notice: Bangladesh never got its name in the title, and so eventually it took the hint and seceded from the secessionists….). So, it was a word born in exile which then went East, was borne across or translated, and imposed itself on history; a returning migrant, settling down on partitioned land, forming a palimpsest on the past. A palimpsest obscures what lies beneath. To build Pakistan it was necessary to cover up Indian history, to deny that Indian centuries lay just beneath the surface.

Salman Rushdie, Shame, 1983. p. 87.

September 19, 2006

Moderate Muslims

British novelist Martin Amis wrote a 12,000 word piece in the Guardian to coincide with the 5th anniversary of September 11th. In it he rails against Islamism, and describes how he abandoned short story dealing ...

British novelist Martin Amis wrote a 12,000 word piece in the Guardian to coincide with the 5th anniversary of September 11th. In it he rails against Islamism, and describes how he abandoned short story dealing with a would-be terrorist.

The piece has sparked much intense debate in the bloggosphere, especially over what he calls the “civil war within Islam.”

Until recently it was being said that what we are confronted with, here, is a ‘civil war’ within Islam. That’s what all his was supposed to be: not a clash of civilizations or anything like that, but a civil war within Islam. Well, the civil war appears to be over. And Islamism won it. The loser, moderate Islam, is always deceptively well-represented on the level of the op-ed page and the public debate; elsewhere, it is supine and inaudible. We are not hearing from moderate Islam. Whereas Islamism, as a mover and shaper of world events, is pretty well all there is.

Martin Amis, The age of horrorism, The Guardian, 9/10/06

This, plus comments made by the Pope this week, reminded us of part of the conversation from our show about generational differences in the Middle East. Some of our guests said that moderate voices were indeed being marginalized in political discourse in the Middle East, in part because actions of the West made it very difficult to argue for a moderate stance.

So tonight we’re wondering, what exactly does it mean to be a moderate Muslim? Which ideas or views define the center, and which rule it out? Does it mean something different to be a moderate Muslim in Detroit or LA than it does in Jeddah or Baghdad or Jakarta? Is there an internal struggle within Islam to draw these lines? And why has the west been so concerned with seeking out moderate Muslim voices since 9/11?

Khaled Abou El Fadl

Classically trained Islamic jurist

Professor of law, UCLA

Author, The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists

Numan Waheed

Post-doctoral research associate, Institute of Polymer Science, University of Akron

Usamah Kayyali

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Tufts University

Amani Jabbar

Blogger, Mental Mulisma

Extra Credit Reading
Martin Amis, The age of horrorism, The Observer, September 10, 2006.

Pankaj Mishra, The politics of paranoia, The Guardian, September 17, 2006: “Many people, such as Martin Amis last weekend, may continue to berate Muslims for their apparent incompatibility with ‘Western’ values of democracy and rationality….But a more urgent question is: where will all this rage and distrust end? How can we change policies that have so comprehensively failed?

smiffy, Martin and the Monsters: Amis on Islamism, The Cedar Lounge Revolution, September 13, 2006: “In what sense, exactly, has Islamism ‘won it’? What is he basing this on? What criteria is he even using?”

Steven Scholl, Scholl Guest Editorial: Response to Amis, Informed Comment, September 18, 2006: “I share some of Amis’s concerns but find his analysis of Islam and Islamism rather mixed up.”

Amani Jabbar, The Papal thing…, Mental Muslima, September 18, 2006: “Even though my blog has a limited audience, I feel if I can change one person’s perceptions about Islam, then that is enough reason to continue.”

Teresa Watanabe, Defining Today’s Moderate Muslim, Los Angeles Times, September 17, 2006: “Who is a moderate Muslim?”

Haitham Sabbah, Are you Extremist or Moderate?, Sabbah’s blog, September 18, 2006: “This [LA Times] article sounds like the litmus test is for defining a ‘moderate Muslim’, or to put it right, defining ‘extremist Muslim.’ The test is very simple and straight forward. If you support Zionism, you are in good shape, in other words “moderate”. If not, you are an extremist.”