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Jon Snow: Look at the war on Iraq – do you not think that would stir an urge in the Arab world when they see women and children ravaged by what we Westerners are doing?

Martin Amis: I’ve said in print that by far the greatest danger of terrorism is not what it inflicts, but what it provokes; and the Iraq war has been a disaster. I was against it at the time, and I’m against it now. Blowing up a London nightclub on lady’s night [as an uncovered terrorist plot had planned] doesn’t seem to me to be a proportionate act in response to that.

The other night, I asked an audience to put up its hands if it felt morally superior to the Taliban. To the Taliban – who have two-day massacres, slash the throats of children, not only subtract women from society, but black up the windows of the houses they’re confined to. And only a third of the audience raised its hands.

Jon Snow: But do you feel morally superior to Islam?

Martin Amis: I feel morally superior to Islamism, yes. By some distance.

Jeremy Paxman: Islam itself?

Martin Amis: Well, I feel an intellectual distance from it.

Jon Snow: What do you say to the charge that you are your father’s son?

Martin Amis: Well, he’s now being lazily and cornily defamed by his critics when he’s not around to defend himself. You have an argument with your father all your life – and he’s been dead for twelve years, and I’m still having that argument.

I was on most things to the left of him. But critics are accusing him of impulses he never had – he was never homophobic; he had a difficult time in his relations with women, but was not misogynistic; was not, in any sense, anti-semitic, except in the odd impulse. And why do we not admit to these odd impulses?

Do we cleanse ourselves? Do we pretend that we’re homogenous and pure and clean? Do we want to live with that kind of illusion?

The anti-semites, the psychotic misogynists and homophobics are the Islamists.


Martin Amis in an interview with Jon Snow in 2007.

Martin Amis and Isabel Fonseca