What's the Secret of HumTIMING!

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I've got a longer post about this back at chez moi, but James Wolcott' flensing of Dinesh D'Souza's repellent-sounding new book The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11 (yes, really) is worth a gander. Not just for the amusing savagery of the prose, but for the deft (and, as Wolcott notes, rather unusual) stroke of launching the attack in response to a galley copy, over three months before the book appears in stores. A week before release, getting slagged by a Vanity Fair columnist might help move a few copies. Now, the controversy burns itself out well before anyone's in a position to buy the thing, opening the possibility that the book will be rendered passé before it's even published. If that was Wolcott's intention, it's laudably devious.

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  1. Those in the “Congressional Left” were in Congress at the relevant time, no?

  2. wicked attack..probably deserved

    speaking of 9/11…was i having an acid flashback last night, or did South Park seem…um…different…somehow…kinda weird like?

  3. flensing – excellent word choice, Julian

  4. Wasn’t it Dinesh D’Souza who also originally floated the idea that “The 9-11 terrorists were not cowards” on Bill Maher’s old show?

    It’ll be interesting to see how conservatives in general will react to his book. What about all the “protest babes” in Lebanon and the whole “Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy” meme that all the Little Green Footballers were going on about a year ago? Even Victor Davis Hanson is on record as saying that belly shirts on teenage pop-stars is part and parcel of the superiority of Western Civilzation over Islam. I’m guessing that the Dobsons and Robertsons will glom onto this book for awhile, but the Cornerites and the LGF-ers will try to ignore it like a fart in a crowded elevator.

  5. Aye, but whaling discussions aren’t whaling discussions if you don’t liberally talk about spermaceti.

    He tasks me. Aye, he does.

  6. “Note well: the primary cause. Not the treatment of the Palestinians, the caging and starving of those on the Gaza Strip, the hundreds of thousands of clusterbomb droplets left behind in Lebanon, the U.S. military bases on Arab soil, Abu Ghraib, the Mideast tyrannies propped up by American money and influence–these are secondary. Muslims are angry, D’Souza concedes, but they are mostly angry because their anger has been fueled and fanned by the cultural left.”

    Wolcott and D-Souza are both wrong, because apparently they believe that Islamic terrorists are incapable of having their own peculiar reasons for what they do – more typical Western solipsism.

  7. Sad to see the Hoover Institute stoop so low, they used to be respectable-ish.

  8. Ahab — Sometimes a harpoon is just a harpoon.

    Todd F. — Good point. Relatedly, I think the Pope was onto something a few weeks ago, when he criticized Islam’s view of its one god as being so powerful that it could act irrationally. If you believe (1) that the ultimate good is doing the will of a supreme being AND (2) that the supreme being cannot be expected to be rational, then there’s little or no room in your worldview for Western-style consequentialism. I.e., the argument that, say, Western religious tolerance must be good because Western societies have become so prosperous as a (partial) result will have no weight with you.

  9. Has someone created a parody website that generates titles for these books? Because that would be mildly amusing.

    The Left: Babyeaters, Except Not Gay Babies: The Secret Agenda to Turn Your Kids Gay, Mexican, And Convert Them To Islam

    Goldberg loosed some turd called “Liberal Fascism: from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton” or something like that. I was disappointed that he didn’t have the guts to go all the way and invoke the H-man. Mussolini, who’s that? Some french guy?

  10. they believe that Islamic terrorists are incapable of having their own peculiar reasons for what they do – more typical Western solipsism.

    Great, Todd. Let’s ignore that the list Wolcott cites are among the most common reason stated by the terrorist for their actions.

    Sheesh.

  11. I presume Wolcott’s more basic intention was that no more publishers send him any galley proofs.

  12. “Goldberg loosed some turd called “Liberal Fascism: from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton” or something like that. I was disappointed that he didn’t have the guts to go all the way and invoke the H-man. Mussolini, who’s that? Some french guy?”

    He did go all the way – the cover has a smiley face with a Hitler moustache.

  13. Relatedly, I think the Pope was onto something a few weeks ago, when he criticized Islam’s view of its one god as being so powerful that it could act irrationally. If you believe (1) that the ultimate good is doing the will of a supreme being AND (2) that the supreme being cannot be expected to be rational…

    Any omnipotent, omniscient god is, by definition, irrational, be it Islam’s god or Christianity’s god; unless it’s somehow rational to kill and torture children by every conceivable means on a daily basis by while arranging Grammy awards for Kelly Clarkson and Maroon 5. The Muslims have no monopoly on flawed theology.

  14. It would be really cool if we could lure everyone on the left and right that has access to large-scale media to a conference to hash out these arguments. Except, like in Tom in Jerry, make the conference room some great people-eating beast and disguise it’s mouth to look like a doorway. Then all of these twits walk in and BOOM! The beast makes the media bearable again, at least for a few days.

  15. It would be really cool if we could lure everyone on the left and right that has access to large-scale media to a conference to hash out these arguments. Except, like in Tom in Jerry, make the conference room some great people-eating beast and disguise it’s mouth to look like a doorway. Then all of these twits walk in and BOOM! The beast makes the media bearable again, at least for a few days.

    Trying to post for the 32nd time…

  16. It never ceases to amaze me that a certain type of right-winger can say at the same time that 1. this country has to fight every single Muslim on Earth to the death; and 2. Osama was actually quite correct to point out that the West is a festering sinkhole of drugs, sex, women in tacky, revealing clothing, and bad music. What’s even worse is that the majority of the people I talk to every day agree with this.

  17. “in” was meant to be “N”

  18. The Muslims have no monopoly on flawed theology.

    No doubt. My point was just that Muslims’ theology may well insulate them against the idea that something that makes society wealthier and healthier is at least presumptively good. To put it differently, in the West, rationality provides a sort of “rule of law” that the Christian god is supposed to be subject to or aligned with or inseparable from. The Islamic god, by contrast, is subject to no “rule of law” — it makes up the law as it goes along. Once the believer has persuaded himself that he knows that god’s will, then its rationality or irrationality doesn’t matter; all that matters is putting the god’s will into practice.

  19. The Muslims have no monopoly on flawed theology.

    No doubt. My point was just that Muslims’ theology may well insulate them against the idea that something that makes society wealthier and healthier is at least presumptively good. To put it differently, in the West, rationality provides a sort of “rule of law” that the Christian god is supposed to be subject to or aligned with or inseparable from. The Islamic god, by contrast, is subject to no “rule of law” — it makes up the law as it goes along. Once the believer has persuaded himself that he knows that god’s will, then its rationality or irrationality doesn’t matter; all that matters is putting the god’s will into practice.

  20. “Tom in Jerry” — heh heh heh.

  21. The extreme crappiness of D’Souza’s book aside, Wolcott never manages to come off as anything less than a pretentious tool.

    “It isn’t rare that I take instant animus against a book like this. But I don’t tend to react right away.”

    The world-weary snarkiness combined with the self-impressed literary verboseness…and the oh-so-edgy sketch of himself. Ugh. It’s the walking, talking personification of every irritating reason to avoid a rag like Vanity Fair. I’d rather gargle dran-o than spend 5 minutes in coversation with this moop. Assuming of course that he allows anyone within earshit to get a word in as he holds court.

  22. The extreme crappiness of D’Souza’s book aside, Wolcott never manages to come off as anything less than a pretentious tool.

    “It isn’t rare that I take instant animus against a book like this. But I don’t tend to react right away.”

    The world-weary snarkiness combined with the self-impressed literary verboseness…and the oh-so-edgy sketch of himself. Ugh. It’s the walking, talking personification of every irritating reason to avoid a rag like Vanity Fair. I’d rather gargle dran-o than spend 5 minutes in conversation with this moop. Assuming of course that he allows anyone within earshot to get a word in as he holds court.

  23. OK, so I’m a double-posting idiot, but I DO get the Steve Martin reference from the title.

  24. Like Todd Fletcher, I hate it when people say that the violent, anti-Japanese racism prevalent in this country during the 1940s was a consequence of Pearl Harbor.

    The peopele who hung Japanese soliders ears on necklaces in the Pacific, drew buck-tooth squinty-eyed cartoons that compared Japanese people to animals, and sent several million Japanse civilians to live in prison camps are pefectly capable “of having their own peculiar reasons for what they do

    It’s just our culture to hate Japanese people, probably the result of our faulty theology. To suggest that the Japanese government’s behavior had anything to do with an outbreak of violent anti-Japanse sentiment is just more typical eastern solipsism.

  25. Thanks joe, for reminding me why I spend so much time avoiding this site these days. I seem to remember a time when I came here for intelligent discussion…

  26. Eric: now THAT would be wonderfully devious!

  27. Um, not to nitpick, but Islam and Christianity are both “Abrahamic religions”. Therefore, the Judeo-Christian god and the Islamic god are one and the same. The devil, so to speak, lies in the details of Abraham’s decendants and the means of achieving “salvation”.

  28. Assuming D’Souza’s thesis is correct [and I must enter a caveat here due to the second hand nature of the information], then the choice is either give up our depraved ways or fight Islamists to the death.

    They will pry my depraved ways out of my hot sticky dead fingers!

  29. I presume Wolcott’s more basic intention was that no more publishers send him any galley proofs. – Eric Scharf.

    Yeah, as a 20-year+ veteran of The Bookstore Wars, I was surprised that Wolcott reviewed a galley, too. That is just not done. Galleys and Advanced Reader’s Copies usually come with explicit warnings that reviewers should only quote from the final printed edition, or have quotes verified by the publisher. Vanity Fair may also be letting itself in for a lawsuit on the precedent of the Gerald Ford memoirs case – Harper & Row v. Nation Enterprises, 471 U.S. 539 (1985), especially if first serial rights on the book were sold to another mag.

    Wolcott’s plan may backfire, anyway. A controversy about the book may cause Doubleday to resolicit it with the book buyers at the brick and mortar stores, who may well up their initial orders. Anything that can increase traffic in the dead months of January and February is a help, especially if it appeals to the demos that visit bookstores infrequently. I’m talkin’ guys, guys. Online pre-orders should be pretty heavy, too. DD may have to arrange extra press time for a larger first printing. The NASCAR Dads may not read Dinesh’s tome, but if Rush squawks about it it’ll hit the NYT bestseller list, and the fanbase will buy it just to spite the Eeeviiilll Libruls.

    The book could be as big a piece of crap as Wolcott says it is and might still move mega-units.

    Kevin

  30. To suggest that the Japanese government’s behavior had anything to do with an outbreak of violent anti-Japanse sentiment is just more typical eastern solipsism.

    Thanks joe, for reminding me why I spend so much time avoiding this site these days. I seem to remember a time when I came here for intelligent discussion…

    So…denying that Pearl Harbor was a factor in anti-Japanese sentiments during WWII …and asserting that the stated (and probably fairly accurate) rationale for anti-Western sentiments held by terrorists is merely “Western Solipsism?” counts for “intelligent discussion?”

    Christ, we’re in the Iraq mess partially because some dumbass snarks at every opportunity about how “the terrorists are evil and hate freedom and democracy.” How is you’re going off the rails in the other direction any better.

    Certainly individuals personalize their beliefs and prejudices. But institutions mobilize it into a force through simpler paradigms and symbols to rally those sentiments and focus them around foes and goals.

    You both are merely playing contrarian to be argumentative and feel superior. Unwillingness to acknowledge the complex and multi-layered situation is pretty pathetic. And your suggestion that these traits are solely the character flaw of all Americans is hardly a solid example of and intelligent argument. It smacks of prejudice and solipsism from yourselves.

    I expect better from you, joe.

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