On Martin Amis

I have been battling with every ounce of my strength the urge to respond to Martin Amis’s latest comments on Muslims. I have succumbed to that urge before, mind you, but not this time. Instead, I offer you, gentle reader, a quote from James Baldwin.

[I]ndeed, within this web of lust and fury, black and white can only thrust and counter-thrust, long for each other’s slow, exquisite death; death by torture, acid knives and burning; the thrust, the counter-thrust, the longing making the heavier that cloud which blinds and suffocates them both, so that they go down into the pit together. Thus has the cage betrayed us all, this moment, our life, turned to nothing through our terrible attempts to insure it. For Bigger’s tragedy is not that he is cold or black or hungry, not even that he is American, black; but that he has accepted a theology that denies him life, that he admits the possibility of his being sub-human and feels constrained, therefore, to battle for his humanity according to those brutal criteria, bequeathed to him at birth. But our humanity is our burden, our life; we need not battle for it; we need only to do what is infinitely more difficult–that is, accept it.

Excerpted from “Everybody’s Protest Novel,” reprinted in Notes of a Native Son.

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