Monday, May 17, 2010

March on Berman on Ramadan

Andrew March's review of Paul Berman's book about Tariq Ramadan in The American Prospect is now available here.

I'm told that quite soon Berman and March will be tearing strips off each other on the Dissent website, but my guess is that March will come out of the exchange somewhat better, as he knows a bit about what he's talking about (i.e. Islam), and Berman just doesn't.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wrong link, go here

5/18/2010 01:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Martin Wisse said...

Well, any time there's a fight on the order of Foo vs Berman you know Foo is going to win, because Berman could not argue his way out of a paper bag, even with a scissor provided.

5/18/2010 06:04:00 AM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

Link corrected, thanks hardindr.

5/18/2010 08:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...


Are all good and decent people destined to converge on the same secular, Enlightenment principles? Is every encounter with strangers about sizing them up as friends or enemies once and for all? How should outsiders seek to influence the moral struggles of other communities, especially religious ones? These are not easy questions, and Berman is hardly the first to blink in the face of them and choose comforting pieties over curiosity, complexity, and

That last sentence is positively elegant. A handy anatomy of Decency, too; I'm not sure "comforting pieties" is exactly right ("the consolation of self-righteous anger" maybe?) but treating "curiosity, complexity and humility" as virtues is precisely what it's not about.

5/18/2010 08:52:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Reviews of this new Berman book are really odd - it doesn't seem to have been worth writing at all, because if you disagree with the thesis it appears to be enormously unconvincing (one fairly charitable NYT reviewer points out that the book has no bibliography or footnotes) - or witness March; whereas if you agree with the thesis, then you think it's teh aces (eg Anthony Julius's NYT review).

Saying that, the March review is a hell of a lot better-written than any that agree with Berman. It does seem like an odd topic for a standalone book, as opposed to a book chapter.

5/18/2010 10:31:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

By the way... Jenny Diski is interesting, writing about Melanie Phillips in the LRB.

On topic because of this.

5/18/2010 02:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also of interest:

5/19/2010 11:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In case you can't see the url above:

5/19/2010 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

And if this post is becoming a round-up of Berman-themed URLs, then this one is very good, too:

5/19/2010 12:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Der Bruno Stroszek said...

This idea of "gateway drugs" to extremist ideologies seems to be a favourite of Berman's - he used the same line on Walt and Mearsheimer, arguing that The Israel Lobby would be used as justification by anti-Semites (which it perhaps would) and therefore Walt and Mearsheimer should be considered guilty of enabling anti-Semitism (which is bollocks).

He seems to have a Mary Whitehouseish outlook on the world, where perfectly reasonable people are continually a hair's breadth away from being irrevocably corrupted by some sinister piece of media. Aside from anything else, it seems very shallow for a supposed intellectual to be judging books and thinkers by their fans, rather than the substance of what they're saying. I have to say, if I was a purported liberal who was read almost exclusively by neoconservatives, it wouldn't be the line of argument I'd use.

5/20/2010 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

5/25/2010 08:54:00 PM  

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