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Herman Melville: Objectively Pro-Terror?


In what may be the silliest wingnutitude since the “a crescent is coming to kill us and take our memorials” fiasco, Jerry Bowers:

Envy, deep and powerful, comes through it all. Resentment against our society. Christianity, capitalism, and sports all take their hits. This was a man who hated the American regime — our very way of life. And he took a Muslim name to register his discontent — Ismail, the preferred Arab spelling of “Ishmael,” Abraham’s first son, the disinherited son who took second place to the wealthy Isaac.

The inimitable Debbie Schlussel concurs, but Austrolabe isn’t convinced:

After discovering the word “Ismail Ax” on the arm of the Virginian killer, the bright minds of the blogosphere quickly identified the name as being part of the opening sentence of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. “This is an obvious reference to the book,” said one blogging anti-Herman harridan. “They hate our way of life and our civilisation. They want to wind back the clock on American literature to the 19th century. We are engaged in an existential struggle with readers of Moby Dick.”

Actually, I jest. Some of the bright minds of the blogosphere did react to the name scrawled on the man’s arm, in the only way they knew how: by trying to cobble together some sort of link between the tragic murders and the War on Terror. “Was the killer an Islamist?” Well, Ismail is indeed a Muslim and/or Arab name and, let’s face the awful truth, Korean is just one letter short from Koran. And that’s pretty damning evidence in the bizarro world that some of these bloggers seem to inhabit.

This seems like Chamberlain-esque complacency to me. It turns out that Cho used the spelling “Ishmael” in correspondance with NBC, which leads to some truly frightening questions. If we are to conclude that Cho was an Islamic terrorist, then doesn’t his apparent admiration of Herman Melville open some disturbing doors? Is the anonymous narrator of Moby Dick actually Mohammed, or perhaps Osama Bin Laden? And if Melville should be properly understood an an Islamist, then what of Hawthorne? Isn’t Hawthorne, through the compromised Arther Dimmesdale, trying to express the basic corruption of Christianity, and (by obvious extension) the powerful attraction of militant Islam? Indeed, have Moby Dick and the Scarlet Letter been part of a long term jihadist/secular liberal plot to undermine America through ideational infiltration of our high schools? The answer seems obvious to me…

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