Torontoist friend Stephanie Silverman reports:
The author of The Clash of Fundamentalisms and a renegade at the heart of most Left-ist causes since Partition, the intellectual Tariq Ali was in Toronto as part of a recent speaking tour, and delivered quite the bang for the sliding scale buck.
Last Saturday night, the Medical Sciences auditorium at the University of Toronto was THE place to be for anyone worth their Rabble.ca. After three or four of Toronto’s local activists got up to share a few words on each other’s achievements and the need to fight The Empire (you KNOW which one we’re referring to), Ali took the podium to unleash a few lessons on globalization, Hugo Chavez, Palestine, and Iran.
While at times meandering and always peppering his politics with anecdotes about whom he knows and who secretly told him what, Ali’s hour-long lecture came unassisted from notes or powerpoint or anything grounded. Indeed, it seemed to flow stream-of-conscience from his undoubtedly brilliant mind and he was so impressive that he never dropped a thread of the conversation. Sadly, Ali was well-aware that his audience was one of purely left inclinations, and he made no attempt to appeal to any of the doubters who might have been present.
Ali is seen as a hero among secular Muslims and has himself referred to Islam as a “backwards looking religion.” The most surprising part of the evening – ignoring the almost-45 minute time delay at the start – came when Ali dug deeper into the core of Islam and pondered its future. He is a proud Muslim and he is proud of his heritage but he is also ashamed of what fundamentalism has done to it.
Ali is a fascinating personality, and a necessary force in these heady times when G.W. can run a concentration camp in Guantanamo and freely wage war on Islam.