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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Royalist lives! Reads The Nation! Writes Letter! Gets Zinged on Renaissance Blog!

I thought Simplicius might appreciate this one, from the letters page of this week's issue of The Nation (yes, I subscribe to The Nation, mostly because I enjoy reading the same article 75 times a year [hint: we're screwed]):

Many thanks to Katha Pollitt for laying out the truth about the historical non sequitur "Islamo-fascism." [...] If anything, Al Qaeda and the Taliban resemble Puritan Roundheads run amok.

They do? What, is The Nation taking letters from 400-year-old Royalists, still bitter about spending the 1650's in Paris? Feel free to disagree, but it strikes me that only the most anti-Parlimentarian person on earth would make this comparison. Sure, the wide range of people who got called Roundheads included some rather nasty sorts. But this guy is just reproducing the dismissive language of ye olde political history (not to mention Royalist propaganda itself) in order to critique our own dangerously dismissive rhetoric. In other words, he's substituting 1645's discursive equivalent of "Islamo-fascists" for today's. It's kind of like saying, "If anything, Al Qaeda resembles those dastardly Pinkos" or some such early Cold War nonsense. Ok, that one's a stretch, but still. If we're going to use our skillz as historians and critics to unpack the hateful vocabulary of Bush et al, shouldn't we take some care as we do it?

And don't get me started on this guy's misuse of "non sequitur." He's totally a crypto-Cavalier.

Of course, "Roundhead" has a much softer sound to it than "Islamo-fascist," which is so obviously an idiotic and wrong-headed coinage that The Nation quickly dispatched (months after the fact) their crack columnist to explain its fallacies to all of its readers, readers who, being the over-educated types that we are, have known since the minute we first heard the term "Islamo-fascist" that it was crap. Thanks, The Nation.

Anyway, times have changed, 400-year-old Nation reader. This purple dude is our kind of Roundhead. One wonders whether or not, 400 years from now, children will be playing with flexible dollies called "Islamofascifriends" or "TerrorTubbies."

  • At 10/11/2006 08:29:00 PM, Blogger Hieronimo wrote…

    That little purple guy scares me! Now I will have nightmares involving Purple Dude trying to prevent me from going to the theater.


  • At 10/12/2006 06:02:00 AM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    "Puritan Roundheads run amok"? amok? really?

    Honestly, when I think of people "running amok," I'm more likely to think of "Benny Hill" or "The Three Stooges" or cute, out-of-control robots.

    But it appears I'm wrong, since the primary definition of "amok" is "in a murderously frenzied state"; its secondary definition is what I normally think of, "in an undisciplined or faulty manner." I never really connected "amok" with murder so clearly, but there you go.

    Interestingly, the word dates from the 17th century (1664) and comes from the Malay amok meaning "a furious attack or charge."

    So Al Qaeda as a type of murderously violent Puritan? I can see the connection: religious fundamentalism plus murderously violent intentions. Of course, the same claim could be made about any fundamentalist or orthodox religious group (Orthodox Mormons run amok; Orthodox Jews run amok; Opus Dei run amok; Amish run amok; fundamentalist Hindus run amok; crazed Methodists run amok; etc.--have I left anyone out?).

    And as Truewit notes, Puritans certainly didn't see themselves as outside the mainstream of religious or political belief but rather as defenders of the true faith and true kingship.

    So what's a crypto-Cavalier doing writing to The Nation? I kind of think of the Republican party--with its combination of Finchian authoritarianism and evangelical puritanism--as more of the true home to both sides of the English Civil War. And I would expect neither to write letters to The Nation.


  • At 10/12/2006 07:16:00 AM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    Oops--I did leave someone out: Arminian Cavaliers run amok!


  • At 10/20/2006 10:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…

    Greetings from the Letters page editor of The Nation. Rest assured all are welcome here: Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Larouchies, Falt-Earthers, Earth-Firsters, Big-Endians, Little Endians, Yahoos, Houyhnhnms, Cavaliers, and Roundheads.



  • At 10/21/2006 02:52:00 PM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    This is my favorite comment this season.

    But we've now heard the call. I hope someone writes in with this opening: "As a Puritan Roundhead, I must object to the recent letter..."


  • At 10/21/2006 02:53:00 PM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    This comment is so that I can turn the blog's "The Very Comment" into "Simplicius reads Blogging the Renaissance."


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