It’s not that our Chattering Classes have no actual opportunities for courage. It’s that they assiduously avoid them wherever possible (after all, you could get hurt!).
I can’t sign my name to this blurb. As a New York Times best selling author of books about business, my career will evaporate if I endorse a book that challenges the deeply held superstitions and bigotry of the masses. That’s exactly why you should (no, you must) read this angry and honest book right away. As long as science and rational thought are under attack by the misguided yet pious majority, our nation is in jeopardy. I’m scared. You should be too. Please buy two, one for you and one for a friend you care about. — Unsigned, New York Times best selling author
Puh-leeze. If you are going to go for melodrama, I suggest this:
“Hello? Is anybody out there? Please listen! I’m writing to you from the bowels of the New York Times building. A few of us have been able to make it to the basement. I don’t know how much time we have, so I’m begging you to please read Sam Harris’s book Letter to a Christian Nation and avoid our fate! The Christian Reavers broke through our first line of defense yesterday afternoon. They overcame the security guards, disemboweled them in one of their primitive folk rites, and ate their living flesh. I will never forget the screams. We blocked the stairways and shut down the elevators, but they scaled the walls of the building like giant insects and crashed through the windows with their high, alien, and inhuman cries of ‘Hi-diddly-ho, neighbor!’ as they slit the throats of secretaries, editors, and interns in their barbaric rush to destroy.
“Occasionally they would pause in their onslaught to interrogate some terrified victim with questions like, ‘How-diddly-do, friend! Could you point me the way to the godless evolution editor and the soul-corrupting arts and entertainment department? I got me some kill-diddly-dillin’ to do!’
“Only a few escaped the horrors of ritual sacrifice and cannibalism that followed.
“And so it comes to this: I’m writing this book blurb from the last functioning computer with Internet access at the New York Times building. I can’t tell you my name or they will find my family. Oh, my precious little girl! Trapped in a world with Christians! They have flooded the building with their Visigoth hordes, committing unspeakable outrages. Rumor has reached us through the transistor radio that Bill Keller’s head has been placed on a pikestaff for the sport of crows. Meanwhile, we wretched survivors are trying to get the truth to . . .
“Wait! They are coming! We cannot get out! They are smashing the doors with something heavy, maybe fire extinguishers. No. It’s something bigger . . . It’s . . . AIIIEEEE! . . . a cave troll and behind it . . . something horrible! Something made of shadow and flame! Oh, for the love of all that is civilized and enlightened, buy Sam Harris’s book!”
See? Just as truthful, but much more vivid.
Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, 23, was arrested in 2007 after downloading material from the internet relating to the role of women in Islamic societies. A primary court in Balkh province said that Kambakhsh had confessed to blasphemy and had to be punished. The court also threatened to arrest any reporters who protested against Kambakhsh’s sentence.
You may be wondering why, in a world chockablock with this sort of thing, New York Times editors have to portray themselves as courageous guerrillas bravely tapping out samizdat on the pipes from the deep underground in the hope that some secular survivor of the Ned Flanders Purges of ’07 might hear it.
The answer is simple: Cowards don’t like the knowledge that they are cowards. So, in this case, they construct a rich fantasy life to compensate for the haunting awareness of their gutlessness in the face of real theocratic fascism. These Walter Mittys of the Chattering Classes simply love the classic trick of punching out Christians they know are commanded to turn the other cheek and then striking a pose of bravery for their own bathroom mirror. But face them with real danger from real religious tyrants and they piddle themselves. That’s why the Times ran images of Piss Christ but not the Danish cartoons lampooning Mohammed.
The reason I haven’t gone all out attacking Islamism in my art is because I feel real fear that someone will slit my throat.
Right. So best just to pretend that you are being courageous and oh-so-transgressive while spitting on people who are commanded to love their enemies. You might even convince yourself to believe your own press one of these days. Or, at the very least, you will become a living demonstration to a new generation that a coward dies a thousand deaths; but brave men and women, only one.