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