Amis's decision to do his own kind of letting rip was a large one, and must have taken a deal of courage. It won him a new freedom, and a reputation as England's most ambitious, most exciting, and, at times, most controversial novelist. A number of younger writers saw in him an example of how to escape the crabbed confines of English letters, and sought to write with a similar freedom, irreverence, and energy. Money [published in 1984] did for the writers of the 1980s what Lucky Jim had done for their counterparts a generation earlier.
Amis's observing eye is constantly abulge with amazement at the wickedness and folly of his fellow human beings. He looks upon the world with incredulous surprise, like a man stumbling befuddled out of a dim restaurant into the acid sunlight and traffic roar of a summer afternoon in a strange city. For Amis, something always seems just to have happened, something not quite identifiable yet very bad. Or if it has not already happened, it is surely about to.
To recap, Amis was called a racist because he said Muslims were backward, violent, homophobic, paranoid, boring, retarded and stupid. Hitchens said no, he's conducting a 'thought experiment'.
Now Amis should be allowed to wonder aloud about anything. He can suggest Muslims should 'experience painful discrimination until they get tough with their children' if he likes. Thought experiments are fine. But if he bundles his thoughts on Islam together and iterates them one after the other as he did when I saw him, he displays not unguarded musing but the forging of an incoherent creed of hate. It goes roughly like this: 9/11 was horrific, its driving ideology was totalitarian, the totalitarians were Muslims, all Muslims follow a book they believe to be the immutable word of God, I don't believe that, therefore all Muslims are idiots, and basically bastards. Idiot bastards moping around the Middle East in a paranoid funk just cos they lost their empire, and what a rubbish empire it was, too, by the way. Now, what is your balanced view of these primitive wife-beating idiotic bastards?
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