This is scary stuff, to be sure. And I don't mean the possibility that radical Islamists might decide to cause Random House and booksellers a little grief with a bunch of insane threats again, a la Satanic Verses. No, the scary part for me is that a giant publishing house (now German owned) like Random House is willing to let even that remote possibility push it into censoring itself beforehand. Has Islam become such a fierce threat to the world that no one dares offend the religion or criticize it, even in literary fiction? Apparently Random House votes a resounding "yes" on that question.
Starting in 2002, Spokane, Wash., journalist Sherry Jones toiled weekends on a racy historical novel about Aisha, the young wife of the prophet Muhammad. Ms. Jones learned Arabic, studied scholarly works about Aisha's life, and came to admire her protagonist as a woman of courage. When Random House bought her novel last year in a $100,000, two-book deal, she was ecstatic. This past spring, she began plans for an eight-city book tour after the Aug. 12 publication date of "The Jewel of Medina" -- a tale of lust, love and intrigue in the prophet's harem....
t's not going to happen: In May, Random House abruptly called off publication of the book. The series of events that torpedoed this novel are a window into how quickly fear stunts intelligent discourse about the Muslim world.
After consulting security experts and Islam scholars, Mr. Perry said the company decided "to postpone publication for the safety of the author, employees of Random House, booksellers and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of the novel."...
This time, the instigator of the trouble wasn't a radical Muslim cleric, but an American academic. In April, looking for endorsements, Random House sent galleys to writers and scholars, including Denise Spellberg, an associate professor of Islamic history at the University of Texas in Austin. Ms. Jones put her on the list because she read Ms. Spellberg's book, "Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past: The Legacy of 'A'isha Bint Abi Bakr."Read the whole article for all the nasty details regarding this University of Texas "academic," Denise Spellberg, and the efforts she went through to stir up the radical Muslim element that would result in Random House's cowardly decision to kill the book.
But Ms. Spellberg wasn't a fan of Ms. Jones's book. On April 30, Shahed Amanullah, a guest lecturer in Ms. Spellberg's classes and the editor of a popular Muslim Web site, got a frantic call from her. "She was upset," Mr. Amanullah recalls. He says Ms. Spellberg told him the novel "made fun of Muslims and their history," and asked him to warn Muslims.
This is sad because Spellberg appears to be just another misguided professor whose actions will ultimately lead to the destruction of everything that makes this country a great one. The saddest thing is that people who think like her are a dime a dozen at our major universities because of the radical leftist political thought that now dominates those institutions. I simply cannot believe that we trust our youth in the hands of "teachers" like this woman.