The recent Eagleton vs Amis affair

Guardian Unlimited | Comment is free | Rebuking obnoxious views is not just a personality kink

This is an article by Terry Eagleton, who has been involved in a public argument with the novelist Martin Amis over the virulently Islamophobic tone of an interview he gave to Ginny Dougary in the Times in September last year. Having read accounts of the “spat” around the media and the blogs, I had no idea quite how extreme his suggestions were (hat tip: Islamophobia Watch):

“… the only thing the Islamists like about modernity is modern weapons. And they’re going to get better and better at that. They’re also 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…. There’s a definite urge - don’t you have it? - to say, ‘The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order’. What sort of suffering? Not letting them travel. Deportation - further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they’re from the Middle East or from Pakistan. Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children. They hate us for letting our children have sex and take drugs - well, they’ve got to stop their children killing people.”

Here is a quote from the Eagleton article in yesterday’s Guardian:

“Amis was not recommending these tactics for criminals or suspects only. He was proposing them as punitive measures against all Muslims, guilty or innocent. The idea was that by hounding and humiliating them as a whole, they would return home and teach their children to be obedient to the White Man’s law. There seems something mildly defective about this logic…. “Suicide bombers must be stopped forcibly in their tracks to protect the innocent. But there is something rather stomach-churning at the sight of those such as Amis and his political allies, champions of a civilisation that for centuries has wreaked untold carnage throughout the world, shrieking for illegal measures when they find themselves for the first time on the sticky end of the same treatment.”

I wonder if Jasper Gerard, who in last Sunday’s Observer (which has become the house journal of the Nick Cohen tendency on the left) alleged that Eagleton was of the type of academic who was solely employed for their Marxism and that Eagleton was “furious that Amis Jr attacks radical Muslims”, will eat a bit of humble pie?

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