Yesterday Michael Gove, a Tory member of Parliament and the author of Celsius 7/7, a hard-hitting study of the London subway bombers, asked an audience of the New Culture Forum a highly pertinent question: “Are we seeing the emergence of a new anti-Islamist intelligentsia?”
Gove answered his own question emphatically in the affirmative, and provided chapter and verse, too. What adds lustre to his thesis is the remarkable fact that the most prominent voices now being heard in protest against the scandalous alliance of the Left with Islamo-fascism are themselves for the most part intellectuals with impeccable Left-liberal credentials. Gove singled out the journalists Nick Cohen (whose book What’s Left? How the Liberals Lost Their Way chronicles the Left’s great self-betrayal), David Aaronovich (who defected from the Guardian to the Times of London), and Christopher Hitchens, who needs no introduction for American readers. Nick Cohen is also a leading light among the group of liberal academics and writers who last year signed the Euston Manifesto, distancing themselves from the Leftist consensus.
Most remarkable of all, three of the most celebrated British novelists—Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, and Martin Amis—have all come out strongly against Islamism. Amis even describes himself as an “Islamismophobe,” but the real objects of his hatred are the “middle-class white demonstrators last August waddling around under placards saying ‘We Are All Hizbollah Now.’” As he observes, “People of liberal sympathies, stupefied by relativism, have become the apologists for a creedal wave that is racist, misogynist, homophobic, imperialist, and genocidal. To put it another way, they are up the arse of those that want them dead.”
All of these prodigal sons are more than welcome in their return to what those who have always defended it fondly persist in calling Western civilization. Like many others, I have not forgotten Martin Amis’s essay “Fear and Loathing,” published in the Guardian a week after 9/11, in which he wrote: “The message of September 11 ran as follows: America, it is time you learned how implacably you are hated. . . . We would hope that the response will be, above all, non-escalatory.” He and his intellectual compatriots have come a long way since then—at least on seeing the threat of radical Islam for what it is.