Check this out.

In the past few years, the students and faculty of Columbia University have found themselves in the midst of a culture war. They’ve seen their Middle East Studies department targeted as “anti-Israel”…And at the start of this school year their own president, Lee Bollinger, seemed to pander to this right-wing pressure by slamming Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the name of “the modern civilized world.”

That’s interesting, isn’t it? It’s in The Nation, of all places. Apparently Esther Kaplan, who wrote a book called With God on Their Side: George Bush and the Christian Right, thinks that it’s ‘right-wing’ to be critical of Ahmadinejad. Because…what? Ahmadinejad is a lefty hero, another Che or perhaps Trotsky?

Maybe not, maybe it’s just that she thinks ‘slamming’ Ahmadinejad is part of the Cheney war-juggernaut. But if that is what she thinks, she could have said that; what she did say looks more as if she thinks only right-wingers are critical of Ahmadinejad.

This week they’ve got David Horowitz…His “Islamofascism Awareness Week” descended this week on dozens of college campuses across the country…At Wednesday night’s Oppression Panel, some eighty students and assorted gadflies had the chance to see a self-satisfied panel of Ibn Warraq (Why I Am Not a Muslim), Phyllis Chesler (The Death of Feminism; The New-Anti-Semitism) and the American Enterprise Institute’s Christina Hoff Sommers (Who Stole Feminism?) apply Horowitz’s patented PC-bashing technique.

Self-satisfied yourself, Kaplan. I consider Ibn Warraq a friend, and self-satisfied is one of the last things I would call him. But wait – there’s more.

Thus we had Warraq telling us that it was Edward Said, by means of his book Orientalism, who “encouraged Islamic fundamentalism” by teaching “an entire generation the art of self-pity.”

And? That’s wrong because…? Don’t wait too long for an answer, because there isn’t one. Edward Said is an icon, and that’s all there is to it; he is Not To Be Criticized.

That these self-annointed opponents of Islamofascism claim to speak on behalf of women, gay people and Jews only deepens the Horowitzian irony.

Well here’s some irony for you – has Kaplan ever read a single word Ibn Warraq has written? She can’t have, or she wouldn’t sneer such an ineffable sneer at his speaking on behalf of women, gay people and Jews.

The Nation is often clueless (or worse) about this stuff. That’s unfortunate.

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