Ayaan Hirsi Ali vs. Tariq Ramadan

Perhaps the two most discussed Muslims in the West today are Ayaan Hirsi Ali (well, she was raised as a Muslim but she’s an atheist now) and Tariq Ramadan. I’m not ready to write much on The Flight of the Intellectuals yet, as I’m only halfway through, though I should mention that I’ve been forewarned – by a friend and intellectual sparring partner – that Berman’s book will poison my mind. I have no clue what this is supposed to mean, however, and read on with great interest. I hope to discover just what is so noxious about it.

Here is a debate that should stimulate some further discussion among the ranks.

Paul Berman’s new book

Sam Harris and his Project Reason just sent this to my inbox. He’s finally decided that his was the only voice missing from the chorus and, just when it seems the Catholic Church has slipped back into a relative silence after months of well-deserved hardship on the public relations front, has now put in his own three cents worth.

Ron Rosenbaum has a long piece in Slate about Paul Berman’s new book The Flight of the Intellectuals. In fact, it was Harris who pointed me to Berman’s Terror and Liberalism which, if you haven’t read it, is a must-read. I never miss anything Rosenbaum writes, and word has it he has a book in the works on World War III or IV, I’m not sure which. Could it be a Berman-esque rebuttal to Norman Podhoretz?

I haven’t read the entire review yet, but the essential point about Berman’s book is that it is a defense of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, or rather an attack on her liberal attackers. The names Garton Ash and Buruma surface here and there, as well as that of Tariq Ramadan. The question posed is, Why was Salman Rushdie defended by the same people who chide Hirsi Ali today? How has this softening of the liberal intellectuals (of which Berman and Rosenbaum are two) towards Islamism come about, and why?

Read the review. Then read the book. Then we’ll have a pow-wow over it.