'Anti-Muslim Bigotry Walking the Land' (Peretz Dept)

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.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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