This book is a crucial read for anyone who genuinely cares about solving the world's biggest problem in the 21st century: Islamism Extremism. This thoThis book is a crucial read for anyone who genuinely cares about solving the world's biggest problem in the 21st century: Islamism Extremism. This thought-provoking dialogue between two die-hards unafraid to speak Voldemort's name is, despite the horrific, barbaric atrocities committed by Jihadists today, inspiring. That's because the first step in solving any problem is properly assessing the problem frankly and unequivocally. Which is something both the East and the West have largely failed to do regarding Islam.
The "liberals" in the West, for example, bend over backwards to protect Muslims (who the liberals think cannot protect themselves because they're too backwards?) from honest criticism by accusing any critics of "Islamophobia"* and proceed to shut the conversation down. Ironically, if you are a liberal on every issue including radical Islamism you will be denounced as a freeper or rightwing nut because to be "liberal" about Islamism is apparently to be illiberal about it. This book addresses this idiocy quite rationally and eloquently.
The fundamental truth is we will never solve this problem until we address the way the regressive left shuts down conversations about the problem. This only serves to silence the minority of Muslims who want reform. Honestly, it's like a bad joke. As Maajid Nawaz says in the book:
"A great liberal betrayal is afoot. Unfortunately, many “fellow-travelers” of Islamism are on the liberal side of this debate. I call them “regressive leftists”; they are in fact reverse racists. They have a poverty of expectation for minority groups, believing them to be homogenous and inherently opposed to human rights values. They are culturally reductive in how they see “Eastern”—and in my case, Islamic—culture, and they are culturally deterministic in attempting to freeze their ideal of it in order to satisfy their orientalist fetish. While they rightly question every aspect of their “own” Western culture in the name of progress, they censure liberal Muslims who attempt to do so within Islam, and they choose to side instead with every regressive reactionary in the name of “cultural authenticity” and anticolonialism.
They claim that their reason for refusing to criticize any policy, foreign or domestic—other than those of what they consider “their own” government—is that they are not responsible for other governments’ actions. However, they leap whenever any (not merely their own) liberal democratic government commits a policy error, while generally ignoring almost every fascist, theocratic, or Muslim-led dictatorial regime and group in the world. It is as if their brains cannot hold two thoughts at the same time. Besides, since when has such isolationism been a trait of liberal internationalists? It is a right-wing trait.
They hold what they think of as “native” communities—and I use that word deliberately—to lesser standards than the ones they claim apply to all “their” people, who happen to be mainly white, and that’s why I call it reverse racism. In holding “native” communities to lesser—or more culturally “authentic”—standards, they automatically disempower those communities. They stifle their ambitions. They cut them out of the system entirely, because there’s no aspiration left. These communities end up in self-segregated “Muslim areas” where the only thing their members aspire to is being tin-pot community leaders, like ghetto chieftains. The “fellow-travelers” fetishize these “Muslim” ghettos in the name of “cultural authenticity” and identity politics, and the ghetto chieftains are often the leading errand boys for them. Identity politics and the pseudo-liberal search for cultural authenticity result in nothing but a downward spiral of competing medieval religious or cultural assertions, fights over who are the “real” Muslims, ever increasing misogyny, homophobia, sectarianism, and extremism."
And as Sam Harris puts it, when, for example, frustrated by the West jumping through hoops to deny the truth that the terrorists are motivated by belief and not because they're poor and uneducated (they're often not) or dislike US foreign policy (the US is blamed when they do intervene and when they don't):
"When one asks what the motivations of Islamists and jihadists actually are, one encounters a tsunami of liberal delusion. Needless to say, the West is to blame for all the mayhem we see in Muslim societies. After all, how would we feel if outside powers and their mapmakers had divided our lands and stolen our oil? These beleaguered people just want what everyone else wants out of life. They want economic and political security. They want good schools for their kids. They want to be free to flourish in ways that would be fully compatible with a global civil society. Liberals imagine that jihadists and Islamists are acting as anyone else would given a similar history of unhappy encounters with the West. And they totally discount the role that religious beliefs play in inspiring a group like the Islamic State—to the point where it would be impossible for a jihadist to prove that he was doing anything for religious reasons.
Apparently, it’s not enough for an educated person with role that religious beliefs play in inspiring a group like the Islamic State—to the point where it would be impossible for a jihadist to prove that he was doing anything for religious reasons.
Apparently, it’s not enough for an educated person with economic opportunities to devote himself to the most extreme and austere version of Islam, to articulate his religious reasons for doing so ad nauseam, and even to go so far as to confess his certainty about martyrdom on video before blowing himself up in a crowd. Such demonstrations of religious fanaticism are somehow considered rhetorically insufficient to prove that he really believed what he said he believed. Of course, if he said he did these things because he was filled with despair and felt nothing but revulsion for humanity, or because he was determined to sacrifice himself to rid his nation of tyranny, such a psychological or political motive would be accepted at face value. This double standard is guaranteed to exonerate religion every time. The game is rigged.
I don’t know if you’re familiar with the same liberal apologists I am. Some are journalists, some are academics, a few are Muslims—but the general picture is of a white, liberal non-Muslim who equates any criticism of Islamic doctrines with bigotry, “Islamophobia,” or even “racism.” These people are very prominent in the US, and their influence is as intellectually embarrassing as it is morally problematic. Although they don’t make precisely the same noises on every question, they deny any connection between heartfelt religious beliefs and Muslim violence. Whole newspapers and websites can now be counted on to function as de facto organs of Islamist apology—The Guardian, Salon, The Nation, Alternet, and so forth. This has made it very difficult to have public conversations of the sort we are having."
Sam again: "...these “fellow-travelers” have made it nearly impossible for well-intentioned, pluralistic, liberal people to speak honestly on this topic—leaving only fascists, neo-Nazis, and other right-wing lunatics to do the job. On some occasions the only people making accurate claims about the motivations of Islamists and jihadists are themselves dangerous bigots. That’s terrifying. We have extremists playing both sides of the board in a clash of civilizations, and liberals won’t speak sensibly about what’s happening.
...and the irony is that these liberals don’t see that they’ve abandoned women, gays, freethinkers, public intellectuals, and other powerless people in the Muslim world to a cauldron of violence and intolerance. Rather than support the rights of women and girls to not live as slaves, for instance, Western liberals support the right of theocrats to treat their wives and daughters however they want—and to be spared offensive cartoons in the meantime."
Let's continue this dialogue and change the world so it's a safer and better world for everyone.
*Nawaz actually uses the term Muslimphobia in the book and this term makes loads more sense than "Islamophobia." But many people are too stupid and to trapped in their echo chambers to realize it....more
Straightforward police procedural. Easy to read, sure, a minor but pleasant mystery with a cool character, all the more interesting because the authorStraightforward police procedural. Easy to read, sure, a minor but pleasant mystery with a cool character, all the more interesting because the author was himself a detective in Amsterdam.
I will definitely check out more of "the Cock" in future and maybe even swing by the museum next time I go to Amsterdam. I find "the Cock" very intriguing.
I think I'll next read De Cock en een strop voor Bobby, just on the English translation of the title alone, The Cock and a Sling for Bobby....more
This is another one of those books where a detective fiction writer plays amateur detective, a la Ellery Queen, a kind of book Max Allan collins writeThis is another one of those books where a detective fiction writer plays amateur detective, a la Ellery Queen, a kind of book Max Allan collins writes pretty well.
Kill Your Darlings is a combination of a hard boiled mystery (snappy dialogue, same character tropes, slim plot) and the kind of mystery Max often disses whenever given the chance, the drawing room mystery (pretty genteel overall and cosy, a secluded setting.)
This book, and Nice Weekend for Murder, fills a pretty niche craving of mine: an old-fashioned whodunit, drenched in the mystery fiction millieu. I don't know what others would make of it, though. It seems like a first draft in many respects, perhaps it was.
The mystery itself is pretty light and the atmosphere is all but missing, but the scenes play out well enough and the dialogue snaps, like I said, reminiscent of light Nick and Nora noir. I agree with more uncharitable reviewers who complain about all the name dropping. It gets tiresome when you're not sure if you've never heard of the person or if they're fictional.
Overall, if you're a fan of Clue-ish mysteries, check it out.
(I wouldn't bother to point out how often Max denigrates drawing room or cosy mysteries (those of Anthony Boucher and Agatha Christie both here) except that he gets defensive when his own favorites don't get their due so I think it's warranted. We get it, Max, you love you some Spillane. You grew up on Spillane. But, at least in this Mallory series, you're writing is more like Boucher than Spillane.
Also, curiously, the edition I read had a note after the last page that read if you like Walker books you can write to this address. Of course, it was a Mallory book, you big dumb publisher.)...more
Please take my 1 star rating with a grain of salt: I read less than 10% of the book. I only got it because I heard it has a good Amsterdam story. It dPlease take my 1 star rating with a grain of salt: I read less than 10% of the book. I only got it because I heard it has a good Amsterdam story. It doesn't. However, it does have an Amsterdam story.
I tried flipping around to other essays but none of them grabbed me. The prose just doesn't do it for me and I'm disinclined to waste time discovering why.
As for the Amsterdam story: "I guess you had to be there" comes to mind. Shrooming in A-Dam is definitely fun, don't get me wrong. Reading about it, not so much. I honestly don't know who this book is written for.
I'd been wanting to read a Nicholas Blake mystery for a while and, since I have a soft spot for whodunits set onboard ships, I started with The Widow'I'd been wanting to read a Nicholas Blake mystery for a while and, since I have a soft spot for whodunits set onboard ships, I started with The Widow's Cruise.
The book is very well written, the prose is poetic in places but not purply, it's not as G-rated as a lot of cozy mysteries which I appreciate, and Nigel is interesting and likeable. Blake's writing is like a smarter version of Agatha Christie's in a lot of ways, and so is his plotting*.
I flew through this book today but I have to give it a 3 because of the following hint of a spoiler. I just can't really rate a mystery fairly if I have figured it out 1/4th into the book, especially if I figured it out simply for recognizing a more popular writer's famous plot.
But the bottom line is I recommend the book and I can't wait to pick up the other 15 Nigel Strangeways books.
*SPOILER: Any Agatha fan will suss out whodunit by page 40 or so. There's a lot of evil under the Greece sun, if you catch my drift. I think Blake also riffs Strangers on a Train in another book so maybe he lifts plots a lot? I will update this review after I've read some more Blake.
PS Why doesn't Daniel Day Lewis get cracking on some Nigel Strangeways films???
PPS Keep your dictionary handy. Every few pages Blake breaks out a ten dollar word, which I find belletristic and not rebarbative....more
This is my first Mallory, but I'm a huge huge fan of Collins' Ms. Tree. This book's a nice mashup of the cosy and the hardboiled mysteries. The settinThis is my first Mallory, but I'm a huge huge fan of Collins' Ms. Tree. This book's a nice mashup of the cosy and the hardboiled mysteries. The setting and seclusion cover the former, while the more realistic violence and terse prose the latter.
I'm a sucker for The Shining/Ten Little Indians pastiches as well as murder mystery weekends gone wrong so I dug this.
I definitely recommend it, even if I didn't care for the solution. (This book may also interest (or rile) some fans for the lavender trope employed here. But I suppose in 1986 it was in the zeitgeist and not too worn out anyway.)
Now I have the other Mallory books to look forward to. Thanks, Max! Now go revive Ms. Tree!...more
Very illuminating, I wish I'd read this when it came out. The Clintons suck and I hope a real Democrat emerges to beat Hilary (famously named for theVery illuminating, I wish I'd read this when it came out. The Clintons suck and I hope a real Democrat emerges to beat Hilary (famously named for the Mt. Everest guy, right? Right?)
Definitely one of the best final pages I've ever read! Tragic but hilarious, like the rest of the book. You can't beat Hitch.
If you're a liberal on the fence about this book, read it. Read it with an open mind. Read it before Hilary gets the nomination for 2016. And if you're a conservative on the fence, read it to see for yourself that the Clinton presidency was a conservative presidency....more
Not a well thought out Twin Peaks/Lost hybrid, clearly written cinematcally. Would make a great TV show with a better writer to flesh out the ideas anNot a well thought out Twin Peaks/Lost hybrid, clearly written cinematcally. Would make a great TV show with a better writer to flesh out the ideas and "characters."
The "trilogy"*** gets weaker with each book, culminating in an ending that might have been impactful if you gave a shit about any of the characters (you won't.)
***This is the kind of modern ebook that seems like they took a first draft of a book, chopped it in thirds, and released it as a trilogy....more
I think the stories go from okay, good, to pretty good. I'm a big fan of MR James so the last interested me the most. The tenure milieu was fun, the cI think the stories go from okay, good, to pretty good. I'm a big fan of MR James so the last interested me the most. The tenure milieu was fun, the characters and plots okay, but throughout the book I kept thinking the prose was decent. Basic. Not bad, better than decent, actually, just without a certain verve.
I will definitely check out some other books by the author, though. (it would be fun to see his take on gender politics in 2015!)...more