The Suicide of Shahid Alam

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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.

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  1. Wow.

    Here’s another choice quote for those who don’t care to click through:

    “On September 11, 2001, nineteen Arab hijackers too demonstrated their willingness to die – and to kill – for their dream. They died so that their people might live, free and in dignity.”

    I too was initially puzzled by why he waited this long to publish this, but now I realize that it’s obviously a Zionist plot to discredit the US Mideast studies field…

  2. Well, turns out he’s a professor of economics, but one who writes stirring poetry.

    This one begins:
    “About Saddam they are never wrong,
    The Oil Meisters. “

  3. They died so that their people might live, free and in dignity.

    That’s funny, I thought they died so their people (and others) might live (and die, in their thousands) under the thumb of a barbaric medieval theocracy.

  4. There are some pretty obvious differences between the Minutemen and Al Qaeda, but there are similarities as well, and we’d be foolish to blind ourselves to the lessons we can draw just because we find the exercise distasteful.

    Ditto with the insurgents in Iraq.

  5. There are some pretty obvious differences between the Minutemen and Al Qaeda, but there are similarities as well

    For example, both groups were composed of human beings. Oh — and both groups disliked the British. Also, both groups spent time in or near Boston.

    Yawn. There’s always some dolt prepared to explain at length how the object of his scorn, however innocuous, has “similarities” to some horrible force of evil.

  6. One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter and all too often the distinction is not clear. I prefer to call those who perpetrated those horrible deeds in 2001 as terrorists and common criminals, but I’m sure there are those in both the Muslim and non Muslim world who would say otherwise.

    One thing I find puzzling with the whole “War on Terror” is why the U.S. (in particular) has decided to fight a war they cannot possibly win? By that, I mean, a war is a prolonged conflict between parties, but one that has an end point. This “war” will have no endpoint under the current circumstances. Wouldn’t it be better to call these acts crimes and track down the guilty and bring them to justice? Invading countries and creating an even bigger mess seems to me to be inviting more trouble. The only time when such an invasion seems plausible (to me at least) is when the govt of the country officially sponsors terrorism (which would make the invasion of Afghanistan seem fairly logical). On that basis, the U.S. ought to be looking at Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya and Iran, not Iraq.

  7. I can’t believe you guys actually read and bother critiquing Alam’s crap. The man is worse than an apologist…he roots for the fundies. And he’s a hack. He belongs typing with us in the blogs, not being published.

  8. I think my favorite aspect of this article is the assertion that Adam was given free will but Osama bin Laden was not. (Hmm..and what about Eve?)

    So when the Devil tricked Adam and Eve, they were RESPONSIBLE for their disobedience to God. Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden planned the 9/11 attacks for years but he was “forced” into it by corrupt Muslim leaders.

    So here is the principle: when you are tricked into an action by a supernatural being, you are responsible for it; but when you plan first-degree mass murder over the course of years, OTHERS are responsible for it. Just brilliant.

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