I've gotten a lot of mail in the past two days on the indefensible Martin Peretz statement that "frankly, Muslim life is cheap," following this earlier item. For work reasons, I'm not in a position to do much with it at the moment. I hope to eventually, since there are many interesting assents and dissents that raise issues that go far beyond Peretz and his views.
But for now I want to quote just one short message. A relatively-recent Harvard graduate who is from an immigrant background, and is now on active duty as a captain in the US Army, writes to say:
>>In your comments on Mr. Peretz you mentioned his time as a Harvard faculty member. You might have heard then that the university is about to endow a fellowship in his honor, which, well -- the timing is terrible, and frankly the timing might've been terrible for some years now.
My family are what one calls Hindu, and I suppose that makes us higher on Muslim fundamentalist shit-lists than pretty much anybody, and my parents saw Partition. But the South Asian storekeepers and so on of my childhood were all Muslims and supplied us with Indian groceries and the ritual-specific stuff we needed too: families like mine kept our culture and religion alive on the backs of decent, tolerant Muslims and I am more exercised about the anti-Muslim bigotry walking the land now than I have been about any political issue.<<
More to say on this soon, I hope tomorrow, including about the planned special honor for Peretz at Harvard. Short version: around the world over the decades as well as in the U.S., I too, like the author of this message, have known so many "decent, tolerant Muslims" in so many life circumstances that I am embarrassed on their behalf, and embarrassed for my country, at this spasm of "respectable" intolerance against members of one of the world's major religions. If this had happened nine years ago, it would have been more understandable. But back then we had George W. Bush to steer people off this unworthy path. (C'mon, GW Bush, cat got your tongue now? This is your big chance for greatness.) More later. Thanks to many readers who have written in.