Did Christopher Hitchens Say That On Islamophobia Or Someone On Twitter?

 

Sam Harris recently interviewed Ayaan Hirsi Ali. He attributes this line by Christopher Hitchens on islamophobia (my emphasis):

A few weeks ago, Ayaan and I had a long conversation about her critics and about the increasingly pernicious meme of “Islamophobia”—which our inimitable friend Christopher Hitchens once dubbed “a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.”

It is a great line. The question is though, when did Christopher Hitchens say that? Because the earliest mention in an article of the quote I can find via google is the Sam Harris interview this month. Now everyone is saying it, including Bill Maher.

Thing is, one of my followers on twitter says that in 2013 they originated the phrase, while sharing an article with Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, that accused them and Hitchens of Islamophobia.

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As far as online is concerned, their tweet is the earliest mention written down I came across. So whose recollection is correct? Sam Harris or Andrew Cummins?

It certainly never featured in “the Quotable Hitchens” book under the  Islamophobia entry:

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While fresh in people’s minds would be great to properly attribute – and accurately cite where – the quote comes from.

This sort of thing happens to us all. For example, I fell for a misquote attributed to Marcus Aurelius:

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Yet when brought to my attention, my digging up revealed he never would have said this:

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It is still a memorable phrase, but should not be wrongly attributed to him.

Hopefully we can nail this islamophobia quote, helping Andrew start off his own memorable quotation collection.

Religious freedom should concern us all, and that allows for us to be critical of religion. See my post on Ayaan Hirsi Ali for more on critiquing Islam.

Update 12/5/2013

Sam Harris has updated the article to reflect that Andrew Cummins, not Hitchens, said this. Below is how the updated article now reads. Very impressed how quickly Sam resolved

A few weeks ago, Ayaan and I had a long conversation about her critics and about the increasingly pernicious meme of “Islamophobia”—which our inimitable friend Christopher Hitchens once dubbed “a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.” [NOTE 5/11/14: This wonderful sentence seems to have been wrongly attributed to Hitch (who was imitable after all). I’m told these words first appeared in a tweet from Andrew Cummins. Well done, Andrew!]

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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8 Comments

Filed under Hitchens, Religion, Sam Harris

8 responses to “Did Christopher Hitchens Say That On Islamophobia Or Someone On Twitter?

  1. Mark

    I saw the claim that it wasn’t Hitchens and did a bit of a hunt for a Hitchens quote and couldn’t find one like that. Sam Harris ought to be corrected and admit a mistake, lest he loses credibility, and perhaps we should all put a copyright on our tweets for re-use!

  2. Sam Harris has acknowledged Andrew Cummins as the originator of the phrase and made the following alteration in his interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

    A few weeks ago, Ayaan and I had a long conversation about her critics and about the increasingly pernicious meme of “Islamophobia”—which our inimitable friend Christopher Hitchens once dubbed “a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.” [NOTE 5/11/14: This wonderful sentence seems to have been wrongly attributed to Hitch (who was imitable after all). I’m told these words first appeared in a tweet from Andrew Cummins. Well done, Andrew!]

  3. Pingback: Christopher Hitchens Never Said That Memorable Line About Islamophobia

  4. Hi, I have just come to your blog. I have only scanned through the above page, but have a certain recollection of Hitch saying the quote concerned; it is on a you tube clip, which I will endeavour to locate. Paul Ellis.

  5. Pingback: “Islamophobia” and the legal profession | Lawyers' Secular Society

  6. Pingback: “Islamophobia”: an absurd term | Lawyers' Secular Society

  7. Posty Masters

    I remember Hitch saying it in a YouTube clip that I cannot find now

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