Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald offers his (and our) services to all those Barbra Streisands and Alec Baldwins out there:
One has read that the modern celebrity in Hollywood has an extensive retinue. There are the bodyguards, and the chauffeurs, and the double, and the cooks (one for low-carb, one for high-carb, depending on the day’s whim), the resident doctor, the two personal trainers (one for the family, the other for the pets), the astrologer, the gardeners (some of them with green-cards, some without), the Opener of Mail, the five Repliers to Same, the public relations firm on retainer, the agent, the high-tech expert for the home. But there is also, among those who are famous for having so much money that they can spend some of it in understanding what is going on in the world, the better to identify the proper objects of their “commitment” and “compassion,” yet another necessary member of the staff. That fashionable accoutrement is known as the “policy adviser.”
Barbra Streisand and Richard Dreyfus are unsurprisingly among those said to have such well-paid advisers who keep them abreast of everything — you know, wasshappenin in the big world. Apparently these advisers get to sit around, and read lots of newspapers, and clip articles from “The Nation,” and take notes while watching the high-cheekbones of Katrina van den Heuvel on the Charlie Rose show, and read (and take seriously) articles by Tom Friedman and Zbigniew Brzezinski, and even, if they are very ambitious, buy a coffee-table guide to Islam by John Esposito and look at the pretty pictures.
But these are different times. Just a bit more is now required of such advisers. One suspects that the degree in social relations or psephology, that stint working for McGovern, fundraising with the Democratic National Committee, and a friendship with someone who writes for Tikkun, just won’t cut the mustard any more. And if you are not used to reading real books without pictures, how likely is it, as you supply “opinions” and “you know, stuff to back up those opinions, like facts” that you will have the time to wade through all those daunting texts about Islam? I mean, just trying to pronounce the names “Bat Ye’or” and “Ibn Warraq” is hard enough. But “isnad”? And “Al-Hudaibiyya”? Hey, I’m outta here. And am I expected to follow demographic trends in Europe, or to understand what Islam has to do with southern Thailand, or the situation in the Philippines, or what the phrase “les deux rives” now means in France?
Yes, those “foreign policy advisers” must be getting just a bit anxious. Time to leave, time to find other employment — perhaps at some university where an old pal from fundraising days can ease you into a sinecure. The students will never know that you know nothing — and you’ve got the power of the grade over them, anyway, and besides, they will be thrilled to be taught by someone who actually worked with Hollywood stars. Call the course “The Uses of Fame: Compassion and Commitment Among the Stars.” Enrollment will be huge; everyone wants to find out what these people are “really” like — you know, behind all that irksome falsity, and the makeup?
Besides, the islamization of Europe just may have an effect on what really counts — foreign and residual rights. You know how those matter these days. More than 30 years ago, during filming of Harry Craig’s script about the life of Muhammad, a single phone call made by some Saudi to the King of Morocco forced the film crew to decamp overnight from that country, though luckily that wild-card Qaddafi offered them his cinematic desert (“mazza che spiaggia”– “wow, what a beach” as the old joke has it) instead. Don’t count on the world of Islam to support the current standard of living in Malibu, or Bel Air, or those away-from-it-all 3,000 acre spreads that offer you the simple life in Wyoming and Montana.
So which Hollywood celebrity out there would like to trade in his or her “Nation” reading adviser for someone who will actually promise to have read, predigested, made sense of, Qur’an and hadith and sira, as well as many of the books and articles, even by long-overlooked scholars of Islam — texts that would take you, busy celebrity, ten years to plow through, and you haven’t time? It isn’t your highest and best use. But you need someone to make matters plain — and please don’t think hiring one of those “experts” — Arab and Muslim — who are all over the airwaves is the way to go. You might just as well hire Karen Armstrong, or John Esposito between coffee-table books (mosques, Iznik tulips, magic carpets qibla-aimed), and what good would that do you? And don’t think there is anywhere in the press you can turn to — Tom Friedman et al are looking sillier and more irrelevant every day.
The principals at Jihad Watch proudly announce that the services of its “private opinion” advisers can now be engaged — to provide, everything from at-table or post-prandial disquisitions on Islam and the World, Saving the Environment and Fighting the Jihad, Women in a Muslim World, and other topics, some not quite so fashionably titled. Having such an improvisatore on hand, ready to make sense of arrests in Europe and the Philippines, future warfare in East Africa over Nile waters, massacres in East Timor and the Moluccas, Turkey’s application to the EU, the rate of demographic conquest in Western Europe, the relation of Islam to science and art — these, and many more topics to enlighten your guests, instead of having those tired old political hacks tell them yet again about their candidates’ vision for a “new America.” Whether star or starletta of the big or little screen, agent or director or producer, you can become the cynosure of all eyes at dinner-parties, the astonishingly well-informed guest on Leno or Letterman or Charlie Rose. All for less than you pay that personal trainer for your pets.
You will be able to beat the salon bolsheviks, in the usual salons, at their own game. And what’s more, you will actually be able to make sense of the world. Your adviser will be able to beat their adviser — this we can guarantee. Money back if not fully satisfied with opinions (and evidence, and logic) provided.
Special discounts available for bulk purchases of opinions (political, literary, historical-pastoral-tragical).
Oh, and if you are not a Hollywood celebrity, but want someone’s akin to Pushkin’s improvisatore (see “Egyptian Nights”) at your next professional meeting, feel free. You need not be written up in those check-out counter newspapers to be eligible for our services.
It’s simple. Just contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
One feels like adding: Operators are standing by. Calls may be monitored for quality control.
But that would be silly.