So, We Are All to Blame

I blame the English and all of us in the media for the 9/11 attacks on Manhattan.  If we had just stuck with "New Amsterdam" rather than having the name forcibly changed to New York by Anglo chauvinists, the WTC would never have been attacked.  We all conspired in this tragedy by continuing to call it "New York."

Crazy?  I would have thought so, but apparently this logic is quite in vogue

Postscript:  I find it moderately hilarious to see folks on the left defending names imposed by western colonialists over indigenous names.  But if it makes us Westerners to blame for terrorism, I guess it's in a good cause.


  1. ErikTheRed:

    Funny... I read Hitch's column and didn't come away with that take at all. In fact, I think it's impossible to. He was just saying that he thought that, for traditional reasons, we should still refer to the city as Bombay. His take was that because Bombay (or Mumbai) was attacked because is a modern city full of people with different religions and ethnicities that more or less get along. Religious fanatics hate tolerance and all that:

    This may seem like a detail, but it isn't, because what's at stake is the whole concept of a cosmopolitan city open to its own citizens and to the world—a city on the model of Sarajevo or London or Beirut or Manhattan. There is, of course, a reason they attract the ire and loathing of the religious fanatics. To the pure and godly, the very existence of such places is a profanity. In a smaller way, the same is true of the Islamabad Marriott hotel, where I also used to stay. It was a meeting point and crossroads for foreigners. It had a bar where the Pakistani prohibition rules did not apply. Its dining rooms and public spaces featured stylish Asian women who showed their faces. And so it had to be immolated, like any other Sodom or Gomorrah.

    Sorry, Coyote, but this was a sloppy post on your part.

  2. Kunal:

    The name "Mumbai" is the Marathi name for the city and has been for as long as I can remember. Whether this is a local pronunciation of the Portuguese "Bom bahia" which was also anglicised to Bombay, or whether it comes from the goddess Mumbadevi is open to debate. But the name change was not a case of religious chauvinism as Hitchens and Sullivan suggest. The Shiv Sena (the Marathi nationalist party in power in the state at that time) did not "rename" Mumbai, they simply made the Marathi name official in all languages. While this was a slap in the face to the residents of the city who speak other languages (and whose families have been in the city for centuries), there is nothing wrong with the name Mumbai. You may choose to call it Bombay or Bambai (the Hindi name) or whatever, but this really isn't on the level of renaming Saigon Ho Chi Minh City, for example.

  3. ErikTheRed:

    Just a follow-up - while I don't agree with many things Christopher Hitchens espouses (he's more or less a socialist), he does have some pretty good takes on the War on Terror and the threat of Islamofascism. Which is why I'm really surprised that a quote of his (even as quoted by a jackass like Andrew Sullivan) would lead you to the conclusion that he would support the sort of idiocy you saw. The guy has nothing but bile and loathing for political correctness.

  4. ErikTheRed:

    Postscript: I find it moderately hilarious to see folks on the left defending names imposed by western colonialists over indigenous names. But if it makes us Westerners to blame for terrorism, I guess it's in a good cause.

    Just like the feminists who strike fearsome blows against the patriarchy by keeping their daddy's name? (shamelessly stolen from PJ O'Rourke)

  5. Blackadder:

    Where does Hitch say that if they hadn't changed the name to Mumbai it wouldn't have been attacked? He doesn't even come close to making this argument, so far as I can tell.

  6. The other coyote:

    On a related note, just what does Condoleeza Rice think she's doing telling India how to feel, act, and behave?

    I've long thought the natural enemy of the Pak was the Indian. Given the crap coming out of Pakistan, which the government can't (or more likely, won't) control, I'm inclined to encourage a cage match. A billion vs. 167 million are the kind of odds I like.

  7. Tim Fowler:

    Other Coyote - That's like 100 vs (about) 17. But since they have nuclear weapons its like the hundred and the 17 throwing hand grenades at each other in a bounded area. Yes I suppose its better to be one of the 100, but I'd rather avoid the total conflict in the first place.