From Publishers Weekly
Bawer (While Europe Slept) argues that, in the name of tolerance and multiculturalism, critics of radical Islam are being silenced by left-leaning academics, politicians and journalists. He argues that self-censorship has become widespread in the Western press, referring to outcry following the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten's 2005 publication of cartoon depictions of the prophet Muhammad, when many international news outlets debated whether the paper had the right to print them in the first place—an attack on freedom of the press coming from within its own ranks. While Bawer does an admirable job of rooting out hypocritical statements made by pundits and politicians, readers might wince at his pronounced anti-Muslim bias—he claims that Muslim immigrants to the West are in a war to snuff out free speech and equal rights. Bawer's thought-provoking arguments are overshadowed by his shrill condemnations and a cranky attack on those who paint him as a polarizing figure. The book would have been helped had the author remembered his own statement, made early in the book: Free speech doesn't mean immunity from criticism. (May)
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*Starred Review* Narrowing his scope from While Europe Slept (2005) but retaining its theme of radical Islamic assault on Western civil liberties, Bawer files a hefty brief of case reports on Muslim campaigns against free speech, primarily in western Europe but also in Canada and the U.S. Official infatuation with political correctness (PC), the determination that no one ever be offended, and multiculturalism, the dogma that all cultural perspectives are equally and universally valid, undergird what Bawer believes amounts to a surrender of Western liberal traditions. What may seal the fate of free speech, he argues, are the apparent inabilities of Western ruling elites to be offended by Muslims rioting, threatening by fatwa, and murdering non-Muslims (Bawer fully presents instances of all three, many of them known, though insufficiently, by Americans) and to assert the priority of Western liberal values in the West. Since he continues to write about free-speech clashes, Norwegian resident Bawer says, he increasingly risks charges of violating Muslims’ legal right not to be criticized in more and more European countries. Moreover, because he is gay, and because radical Islam prescribes death for homosexuality, as sharia law becomes the law in Muslim-majority areas—a development well underway—his life is in burgeoning jeopardy, too. Sublimely literate and rational, Bawer is no crank, however angry he gets. This, like its immediate predecessor, is an immensely important and urgent book. --Ray Olson
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