Unquestionable Political Correctness
Eliot Weinberger on the 'New York Times Book Review'
The New York Times Book Review prides itself on its objectivity: no known lovers or sworn enemies are allowed to review each other. In actual practice, this means that the author of a novel about getting divorced in Pennsylvania will extravagantly praise the author of a novel about getting divorced in Connecticut. A political ‘moderate’ will air and then dismiss the ideas in a book by a left-winger; a right-winger will express some mild reservations about an ultra-right-winger; and a left-winger will only be asked to review something without contemporary content (e.g. a feminist on the biography of a suffragette).
Edited by Sam Tanenhaus (biographer of Whittaker Chambers and, in progress, William F. Buckley), the NYTBR is predictably softcore right-of-centre. So it was something of a surprise that they assigned noted anti-Muslim hatemonger Stephen Pollard to review the latest book – Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom – by noted anti-Muslim hatemonger Bruce Bawer. (In 2006, Bawer published While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within, which may help explain why Western Civilisation now lies in ruins.)
Pollard’s review begins:
There is no more important issue facing the West than Islamism, Islamofascism or — to use yet another label — radical Islam.
Indeed. As apparently more threatening than global warming, nuclear proliferation or the recession, Pollard cites Tariq Ramadan, the reaction to the Danish cartoons and Ken Livingstone’s conference invitation to Yusuf al-Qaradawi. (In a happier bit of news, however, Pollard implies that it was that single sinister encounter that led an alarmed London to throw Livingstone out.)
Further promoting Bawer’s book, the Times includes an excerpt on its website:
The pernicious doctrine of multiculturalism, which teaches free people to belittle their own liberties while bending their knees to tyrants, and which, as we shall see, has proven to be so useful to the new brand of cultural jihadists that it might have been invented by Osama bin Laden himself.
(One imagines the scene in a cave somewhere in the mountain fastnesses of Afghanistan: ‘Zawahiri, my friend, I’ve got it! We will destroy the Great Satan with a single word: diversity!’)
Pollard’s review ends:
Bawer is unquestionably correct, and that fact is quite simply terrifying.
It’s true. One quite simply longs for the days when things were unquestionably correct, when Joseph Stalin could write:
Is Lenin's thesis that the dictatorship of the proletariat is the ‘root content of the proletarian revolution’ correct? It is unquestionably correct.
Or when the 1969 Draft Constitution of the Chinese Communist Party could state:
It is unquestionably correct that on a general historical scale imperialism is heading towards total collapse while Socialism is heading towards worldwide victory.