A warning from the late Christopher Hitchens, one that seems especially pertinent in the light of the post-coup turmoil in Turkey these days:
In a Bush speech to the new membership of NATO, delivered in Istanbul last June, one of the President's handler's was astute enough to insert a quotation from Pamuk, to the effect that the finest view of the city was not from its European or its Asian shores but from -- yes -- 'the bridge that unites them.' The important thing, as the President went on to intone from Pamuk, 'is not the clash of parties, civilizations, cultures, East and West.' No, what is important is to recognize 'that other peoples in other continents and civilizations' are 'exactly like us.' De te fabula narratur.
Human beings are of course essentially the same, if not exactly identical. But somehow this evolutionary fact does not prevent clashes of varying intensity from being the norm rather than the exception. 'Remember your humanity, and forget the rest,' Albert Einstein is supposed to have said. This already questionable call to amnesia translates badly in cultures that regard Einstein himself as a degenerate imp spawned from the hideous loins of Jewish degeneration.
The Latin phrase Hitchens employs is from Horace. It translates, "the fable is about you." It is usually given in a somewhat broader context, "Why do you laugh? With a name change, the fable is about you." Hitchens of course is using it to crystallize the (very western) 19th century liberal sentiments to which Bush or his "handlers" were making appeal.
In the next graf, of course, we get the warning. He wrote this 12 years ago, in The Atlantic, in a review of a book by the above mentioned Orhan Pamuk, Snow.
Pamuk received the Nobel Prize for Literature two years later.
Hitchens died of cancer in December 2011.