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The Decline and Fall of Ian Buruma

Ian Buruma has lately become a specialist in emitting bland fatuities that provoke stronger reactions than a Dutch liberal intellectual might like to see. I’ve used this space before to declaim against his ridiculous assertion that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is … Read More

By / June 7, 2007

Ian Buruma has lately become a specialist in emitting bland fatuities that provoke stronger reactions than a Dutch liberal intellectual might like to see. I’ve used this space before to declaim against his ridiculous assertion that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an “Enlightenment fundamentalist,” echoed by Buruma’s co-thinker Timothy Garton Ash.

This nonsense term has now become the multiculturalist’s answer to the “social fascist” theory developed by the Comintern in the mid-thirties to indict any European democrat who prepared for inevitable war with real fascism. In other words, it purports to paint a noble ally in the ideological struggle of our time as a threat while rendering actual, albeit cloaked, threats—such as the rock-star Islamist Tariq Ramadan—as welcome moderates. Buruma embodies an impossible Third Way in the clash of civilizations.

Though his attention to nuance and detail is conveniently tossed over the side of the bumpy off-ramp he now travels. Hirsi Ali has consistently shown him up by paying far more respect to her Muslim opponents than they pay to her. For instance, she invites Tariq Ramadan to speak his mind about the Prophet Mohammed and the Egyptian Brotherhood on U.S. soil, from which he is currently banned. She also writes of the beauty inherent in the foot-bathing ritual at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia in her fervidly atheist memoir Infidel. What would be the analogous Islamist gesture to Hirsi Ali’s “fundamentalism”? Osama bin Laden saying that the fossil record is also not without its charms…

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