The Suicide of Shahid Alam


H'n'R reader Marybeth Hayes, reacting to my "Field of Battle" piece of yesterday, sent on a link to this sinister little piece of work by Shahid Alam of Northeastern University.

It's difficult to isolate the neutral rot from the consciously mendacious–the absurd parallelism between the American revolutionaries and the 9/11 hijackers; the desire to find reason in the New York and Washington attacks, and explain this with a veneer of intellectualism, when the hijackers never bothered to do so; the gridlocked prose, where in passages Alam says the exact opposite of where he is leading (that Americans heard the shot of 9/11 "clearly", after which Alam underlines how unclearly they heard it)

Here's a choice passage, suggesting that Alam may have been on something, in which case I'm almost, but then again not quite, prepared to forgive all:

How did the Muslims hear this shot that reverberated around the world? Did they hear the accusations carried by this shot, a hundred accusations pointing to the dereliction of Muslims: their dereliction in defending their homeland; their failure to live honorable lives, as sons and daughters of Adam who named the names, as free agents, accountable now and forever for their choices, their actions, their lives? Have they strained their bodies, hearts and minds to carry out the trust that their Creator first offered to the mountains—which the mountains sensibly refused? Have they heard the cry of the strangers—the men, women and children in the oppressed city—crying for the Muslims to redeem them? Have they heard the cry of the female child buried alive? Have they fed the indigent? Have they freed their slaves? Have they taken care of the orphans placed in their care? Have they opposed the bondage, the pulverization of human lives, produced by a system that places capital and profits before human needs?

It's puzzling why Alam should have published such rubbish now, over two years after 9/11. He might have lost tenure in the angry aftermath of the attacks, or maybe he just needs to be over the top to be noticed by his comrades in the Middle East studies field. That said, and despite the criticism many in the field merit, Alam is out on a very distant limb here. Few others are really quite so stupid.

I await, with relish, the angry backlash, popcorn in hand.