Hitchens vs. Tolerance – I think


In his weekly Slate article, Hitchens moves from Guantanamo, to Obama in Cairo, to hijab, wrapped in the theme he communicates best. I hope he’s actually firing at toleration, although opagueness is not his style. An anecdote from a visit to the prison:

(The picture to the right is not connected to the article. A useful coincidence to my brazen sourcing of it, notice the goggles and the gloves. This technique is called sensory deprivation, recognized torture; when you see the dark goggles, bags on heads, mitts in prisoner file footage and reports, you might assume it’s about security; you would be wrong, then.)

Nothing prepared me for the way in which the authorities at the camp have allowed the most extreme religious cultists among the inmates to be the organizers of the prisoners’ daily routine. Suppose that you were a secular or unfanatical person caught in the net by mistake; you would still find yourself being compelled to pray five times a day (the guards are not permitted to interrupt), to have a Quran in your cell, and to eat food prepared to halal (or Sharia) standards. I suppose you could ask to abstain, but, in such a case, I wouldn’t much fancy your chances. The officers in charge were so pleased by this ability to show off their extreme broad-mindedness in respect of Islam that they looked almost hurt when I asked how they justified the use of taxpayers’ money to create an institution dedicated to the fervent practice of the most extreme version of just one religion.To the huge list of reasons to close down Guantanamo, add this: It’s a state-sponsored madrasah.

When the Extreme Becomes the Norm

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