It’s Freedom to Read week in Canada, and out of all the censored authors in all the world, Vancouver Public Library has invited Greg Felton, author of a book titled The Host and the Parasite: How Israel’s Fifth Column Consumed America. Terry Glavin knows Felton’s work and objects. On his blog he writes:
I didn’t write about the contents of Felton’s book, and I never claimed to. It’s the product of a crank publishing house that’s situated somewhere in the bleak Arizona desert and is almost wholly concerned with spacemen and thought control. I’ve read excerpts of Felton’s book. I’m fully conversant with its thesis. I’ve read Felton’s slanders against the Jews on white-supremacist websites, and I’ quite familiar with the Medieval legends that Felton persists in reporting as fact. This is “intellectual”? These are his “views”?
The Library librarian Paul Whitney (who doesn’t have a good track record on standing up to censorship) defiantly stands by its choice which he spins as championing ‘unpopular opinions’. Oh for pity’s sake – what next? A defence of burglary? Stoning women? Imprisoning queers! They’re unpopular opinions, after all. Howard Rotberg has, in a letter which is less than credible in parts (e.g. when he refers to a non-existent entity called “we Jews”) alerted Whitney to a number of other censored authors he has omitted, while proceeding with hosting this fearsome antisemite:
The people whose books are really censored today are those like eminent professors Burr and Collins, whose book Alms for Jihad: Charity and Terrorism in the Islamic World has just been shredded by Cambridge University Press after a rich Saudi threatened them with a huge libel suit. They made the determination that they could not afford the suit, and agreed to destroy all copies.
Or Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin Ph.D, whose new book on the psychology of terrorists was withdrawn by her publisher after Islamist threats against the publisher.
Or myself, whose book, The Second Catastrophe: A Novel about a Book and its Author (Mantua Books) was banned by Chapters/Indigo after an 18 year old Palestinian book clerk made a fraudulent allegation about what I said at a book lecture at one of their stores, when I was attacked and prevented from speaking by Arabs calling me a “f—ing Jew”.
Instead of really upholding the rights of banned authors, you give credibility to a sick, anti-semite, who should not be dignified with the forum you give him.
It works like this.
Nowadays, perhaps especially among the urban intellectual caste, you cannot raise your voice against even the most foul antisemite, if that same antisemite uses words such as “Israel” or “Zionist” in the same breath as his other veiled utterances of Jew-hatred. You will be told that you are equating legitimate criticism of Israel with antisemitism.
You will be told, ‘This is part of a legitimate debate.’ But if you say, no it isn’t, you will be told, ‘This is just how the Jews suppress free speech to silence criticism of Israel.’ If you say, ‘That sounds like one of those old antisemitic canards; show me some evidence that it is true,’ you will be called a Zionist, which is one of the worst things you can call someone these days. If you talk back, you will hear someone calling you a Zionazi. You will soon hear people telling you to shut up.
In order for the kind of polemics and legends Felton disseminates to find a privileged place in Whitney’s “open and public exchange of contradictory views”, one must acquiesce to the demand that a veiled and nuanced Judeophobia has a proper place in “legitimate debate,” and we must submit to that very specific and particular sort of demand to shut up. This is not the way lies are made. It is the way they flourish, and spread, and debase the very purpose, function and possibility of “free speech” in an open and democratic society.
And that is precisely and exactly what is going on here.
And yesterday (hat tip Terry Glavin again) Islamists attacked the Young Men’s Christian Association in Gaza and blew up its library. Terry Glavin wants to know what Vancouver Public Library is going to do in protest. I want to know what Greenwich Library in New York is going to do in protest.