Monday, December 29, 2008

Islamist roots

“Every section of the ‘multiracial, multicultural city,’ declared one Bradford council document, had ‘an equal right to maintain its own identity, culture, language, religion and customs.’ Such multicultural policies helped encourage a more fragmented sense of identity. … The Bradford Council of Mosques, for instance, which organized the famous demonstration in January 1989 on which a copy of ‘The Satanic Verses’ was burnt, had been set up by Bradford Council itself to act as a voice for Bradford Muslim communities. …

“Multiculturalism didn’t create radical Islam, but it did help create a space for it within British Muslim communities that had not existed prior to the late 1980s. Anti-racist protest shifted through the 1980s from political issues, such as policing and immigration, to religious and cultural issues: a demand for Muslim schools and for separate education for girls, a campaign for halal meat to be served at school, and, most explosively, the confrontation over ‘The Satanic Verses.’

“The anti-Rushdie protest did not, therefore, come out of the blue. It was an expression of the changing social and political landscape within Western societies in the 1980s. It also helped transform that landscape. It was able to do so because liberals to a large extent abandoned their own principles.”

Kenan Malik, writing on “Twenty years on: internalizing the fatwa,” in the November issue of the Spiked Review of Books

Failed holiday

“From the Maoist calls for the celebration of ‘collective work and responsibility’ and ‘collective vocation [of] building and developing of our community,’ and the festive promise to engage in ‘cooperative economics,’ to the astoundingly banal calls for ‘creativity’ and the admonitions ‘to believe with all our heart in our people,’ the principles of Kwanzaa were stuck in the failed revolutionary movements of the 1960s and weren’t particularly appealing to 21st century black youth.

“When reading these boring, mildly cultish, and utterly dreary moral instructions, it’s easy to see why Kwanzaa failed as spectacularly as Tony Martin’s academic career. …

“It is, perhaps, an encouraging sign of the times. In many respects, the Great Culture Wars are over, and while most black-studies departments still embrace the balkanizing principles of multiculturalism, the great majority of African Americans have little interest in dressing up like Jim Brown and lighting candles that symbolize the workers controlling the means of production.”

Michael Moynihan, writing on “Merry Christmas, Kwanzaa is Over,” on Dec. 24 at Reason magazine

American Tintin

“After Herge’s death, his wife Fanny inherited the rights to his work. She … confesses to seeing risks in Hollywood doing Tintin. To her, the charm of Herge’s work is absolutely ‘European’ - more ‘nuanced’ than an American comic strip. The American style of telling a story threatens that European ‘sensibility,’ she suggests: American narratives are ‘very dynamic, but more violent, and are much more aggressively paced.’

“Herge wanted the risk taken. He died days before a planned face-to-face meeting with [Steven] Spielberg, but had been briefed on the director’s thinking by a trusted assistant, Alain Baran, sent to Los Angeles to open negotiations. Mr. Baran later wrote that Mr. Spielberg saw Tintin as an ‘Indiana Jones for kids,’ imagining Jack Nicholson as Captain Haddock. Such talk did not alarm Herge. He said a filmmaker like Mr. Spielberg should be given free rein, and told his wife: ‘This Tintin will doubtless be different, but it will be a good Tintin.’”

From “A Very European Hero,” in the Dec. 18 edition of the Economist

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