[Marxism] Islamophobic trash nominated for National Book Critics Circle award

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Feb 8 07:35:52 MST 2007


NY Times, February 8, 2007
In Books, a Clash of Europe and Islam
By PATRICIA COHEN

Award nominations are generally occasions for exaggerated compliments and 
air kisses, so it was something of a surprise when Eliot Weinberger, a 
previous finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award, announced the 
newest nominees for the criticism category two weeks ago and said one of 
the authors, Bruce Bawer, had engaged in “racism as criticism.”

The resulting stir within the usually well-mannered book world spiked this 
week when the president of the Circle’s board, John Freeman, wrote on the 
organization’s blog (bookcriticscircle.blogspot.com): “I have never been 
more embarrassed by a choice than I have been with Bruce Bawer’s ‘While 
Europe Slept,’ he wrote. “It’s hyperventilated rhetoric tips from actual 
critique into Islamophobia.”

The fusillade of e-mail messages on the subject circulating among the 
Circle’s 24 board members mirrors a larger debate over a string of recently 
published books that ominously warn of a catastrophic culture clash between 
Europeans with traditional Western values and fundamentalist Muslims — 
books including “Londonistan” by Melanie Phillips, “The Truth About 
Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion” by Robert 
Spencer, and “America Alone” by Mark Steyn.

Most have been written by conservative authors and published by 
conservative presses, but not all: the celebrated Italian journalist Oriana 
Fallaci, who died last year, so angered Muslims with her strident books, 
like “The Force of Reason,” that she was sued for defaming Islam. The 
publication of such books coincides with a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment 
and reports of violent attacks and plots by radical Muslims in Europe. 
Bombings in London and Madrid, heated disputes over bans on women wearing 
the veil, gang attacks on young Muslims, rioting in Paris and violence in 
Berlin by disaffected Arab immigrants have brought to the surface anxieties 
over the growing number of Muslims in Europe. In December the European 
Union reported that Muslims faced deep-seated discrimination in education, 
housing and jobs, but that they should also do more to integrate into 
society. In this environment, it is no surprise that the books have 
elicited a mixture of praise and contempt, raising the question of where 
the line is between legitimate criticism and bigotry.

For Mr. Bawer, the condemnations are more evidence of liberals’ one-sided 
blindness. “One of the most disgraceful developments of our time is that 
many Western authors and intellectuals who pride themselves on being 
liberals have effectively aligned themselves with an outrageously illiberal 
movement that rejects equal rights for women, that believes gays and Jews 
should be executed, that supports the coldblooded murder of one’s own 
children in the name of honor, etc., etc.,” he wrote on his own blog, 
www.brucebawer.com/blog.htm. In an e-mail message yesterday he said he did 
not have anything to add to his posts.

Mr. Bawer’s book jacket is covered with admiring blurbs from well-known 
conservatives, but he does not fit the typical red-state mold. An openly 
gay cultural critic from New York who has lived in Europe since 1998, Mr. 
Bawer has published books like “Stealing Jesus,” a harsh critique of 
Christian fundamentalism. “Some people think it’s terrific for writers to 
expose the offenses and perils of religious fundamentalism — just as long 
as it’s Christian fundamentalism,” he wrote on his blog.

“While Europe Slept” warns that “Europe is at a Weimar moment,” and that 
“by appeasing a totalitarian ideology” it “was imperiling its liberty.” 
“Political correctness”, he writes, is keeping Europeans from defending 
themselves, resulting in Europe’s “self-destructive passivity, its softness 
towards tyranny, its reflexive inclination to appease.” Reviews have 
offered plaudits and condemnations, acknowledging that Mr. Bawer has 
focused on a real problem, but complaining, as did a review in The 
Economist, that Mr. Bawer “weakens his argument by casting too wide a net.”

Imam Fatih Alev, a board member of the Islamic-Christian Study Center in 
Copenhagen, has not read Mr. Bawer’s book, but referring to the general 
level of tension, he said in a telephone interview, “I think there is of 
course a legitimate concern with regard to the differences of culture.” But 
he added, “The real problem is that the ones who ought to know better, who 
are well educated and well informed on the diversity of culture,” are 
manipulating the debate.

“In many senses it is a constructed idea that there is this very severe 
difference between Western values and Muslim values,” he continued.

Rushy Rashid, who has written a three-part memoir about growing up as a 
Muslim girl in Denmark, said that the biggest clash is not between 
Westerners and Muslims but “inside the small groups of immigrants all over 
Europe.” Speaking generally about the cultural divide in Europe, she said 
she does not believe in a “clash of civilizations.” When it comes to Muslim 
immigrants, she said, “the clash between the first, the second and third 
generations is huge.” She added, “If you can digest that kind of a clash, 
then you can overcome and integrate into the society you are living in.”

Other authors, like Ian Buruma in “Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo 
Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance,” have taken a less apocalyptic tone 
than some of the other books, while Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali immigrant who 
settled in the Netherlands and worked with Mr. Van Gogh, a film director, 
offers harsh criticism of Islam from an insider’s perspective in her memoir 
“Infidel.”

J. Peder Zane, the book review editor and books columnist at The News & 
Observer in Raleigh, N.C., was on the eight-member committee that nominated 
Mr. Bawer’s book. He said it “was not a contentious selection.” Mr. Zane 
was furious at the way Mr. Weinberger used the nominating ceremony on Jan. 
20 as a platform for his views. “He not only was completely unfair to Bruce 
Bawer,” he said in a telephone interview, “he’s also saying that those of 
us who put the book on the finalist list are racist or too stupid to know 
we’re racist.”

Mr. Zane said he and four or five others booed when Mr. Weinberger, who was 
nominated last year for his 2005 collection of essays, “What Happened Here: 
Bush Chronicles,” made his comment to more than 200 people from the 
publishing world. Mr. Zane then threaded his way through the crowd to tell 
Mr. Weinberger he thought his comments in that setting were “completely 
inappropriate.” Mr. Zane recalled, “He flicked his hand at me like I was a 
flea and walked away.”

Mr. Weinberger could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Freeman, who said in an interview that he felt a “moral responsibility” 
to speak out about Mr. Bawer’s book, added that he expected further debate 
as more board members read the book before casting a final vote for the 
Circle’s award winner on March 8. Of the five nominees in each category, 
the book with the majority of board votes wins the award.

===

Apparently, Romano has joined the Islamophobic current now coalescing 
around the Danish cartoons controversy. In an article titled “Author sees 
growing Muslim enclaves hoping to rule Europe,” Romano finds much to agree 
with in Bruce Bawer’s “While Europe Slept How Radical Islam Is Destroying 
the West From Within,” the subject of his review. Romano also reports on 
Alan Jamieson’s “Faith and Sword: A Short History of Christian-Muslim 
Conflict” and Efraim Karsh’s “Islamic Imperialism: A History” (Karsh is a 
long-time Zionist apologist).

Bawer, according to Romano, is a gay, neoconservative American literary 
critic from New York who has lived in Amsterdam. This might ring a bell. 
Pim Fortuyn was another Dutch gay who considered Moslems a threat, stating 
“if it were legally possible, I’d say no more Muslims should ever enter 
this country” Gay Islamophobia is a growing phenomenon internationally 
apparently. In Great Britain, Peter Tatchell has charged George Galloway 
with homophobia despite a voting record on gay rights that is quite 
progressive. Tatchell’s slanders have been picked up in the USA by Doug 
Ireland who repeats them on his blog.

This trope about Islam boring away from within is of course a throwback to 
the 1950s when there was a red under every bed and when films like 
“Invasion of the Body Snatchers” played the same sort of role as the 
Arab-bashing “True Lies” and “Rules of Engagement” play today.

Romano writes that “Karsh and Jamieson serve up further uncomfortable 
tidbits.” What might be uncomfortable to Romano? Forcing polygamy on 
Christians? Burning Jews at the stake? Here’s what he is worried about: 
“The great English historian Edward Gibbon thought Arabic might have become 
the language of Oxford and Cambridge if Charles Martel’s Frankish army 
hadn’t stopped an expansionist Arab force at Poitiers in 732.”

Oooh, what a scary idea. Speaking Arabic! One wonders if Romano has any 
idea of the manner in which the filthy Islamic hordes ruled in Spain.

full: http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2006/02/23/carlin-romano-racist/

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