Yesterday we flew to San Francisco, on a marvelously pleasant and uneventful Jet Blue flight. (This week Delta reimbursed us for the unexpected cab fare we paid because of the debacle last time.) I have an interview tomorrow, and our goal this weekend is to sign a lease on an apartment in Berkeley.
On a flight that's longer than six hours, there is plenty of time to read. So I gulped down Paul Berman's entire monograph-length expose of Tariq Ramadan, which appears in the June 4 issue of The New Republic. It took me 2 1/2 hours to read it.
Ramadan is a Muslim intellectual widely revered in the West for attempting to blend Islam and modern Western democracy. Berman sees much darker undercurrents to Ramadan's thinking, with roots that ultimately amount to a desire to impose Islam on the entire world through terror. He skillfully ridicules Ramadan's sympathizers (such as Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash), in a lament for what he terms the "reactionary turn" of Western intellectuals. We have been cowed into credulity and submission by Islamist terrorists, and Berman will not take that lying down.
The above is perhaps the most inadequate summary of Berman's piece that you could possibly read. Set aside an afternoon and read it yourself; it will be remembered as one of the most important American intellectual contributions of 2007. The New Republic is still essential, after all these years.