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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon October 16, 2010
The idea of any religious extremist gaining serious political power is a frightening one to my mind, whether those extremists be Muslim or Christian. Whether that is ever likely to happen, or whether those who suggest it might are just unreasonable fear-mongers, is something I don't know. I should like to learn more, of course, and thereby reach my own conclusion one way or the other, but I am afraid that after getting a third of the way through this book, I decided it was not going to be a trustworthy and unbiased source and I put it down. I am not saying that I did so because I took a fundamental exception to Mr Bawer's conclusions, rather, the way the book is written makes me doubt the author's objectivity and reliability.

In the first place, Mr Bawer makes it clear in the opening passages of the book that he is gay. Naturally, that fact hardly dis-entitles him to an opinion on the subject at hand, but his personal experiences with homophobia and his clear (not to mention quite rightful) disgust with the hardcore Islamic position on homosexuality are emphasized repeatedly from the beginning. Eventually, I could not help but begin to feel that his personal affront at Islamic anti-gay hatred (again, perfectly understandable), has unfortunately colored his ability to be objective. As I read on, this feeling was only compounded.

The thesis of the work, encapsulated in the subtitle, is not at all well, or clearly developed. It is haphazard, very unfocused, and seems to leap from topic to topic without a clear common point. Structurally, it is very poor, but my real problem with the book the fact that the points that are introduced consist, in the main, of very little more than wild over-generalizations and unsupported, anecdotal 'facts'. In one passage dealing with the evil of 'political correctness', Mr Bawer mentions that a Scandinavian person in the public eye was fined in Court for making racist comments and then he expresses the view that the comments were not racist at all. Why one wonders, does he not then actually quote the supposedly objectionable speech thus allowing the reader to draw his or her own conclusions? Were those words actually more capable of being construed as racist than the author would have us believe or (as I suspect) is he only repeating a vague story he has heard without bothering to look up the actual facts?

I really don't have anything positive to say about the book. The more I read, the more I became convinced that this author has not done any proper research and has merely spouted his own half-formed opinions. It is a diatribe... more suited to the 'conspiracy theorists' than those looking to learn more about an important issue. I am sorry I wasted my money.
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9 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2007
I remember going to conference on black crime in Detroit in the early nineties. The audience was filled with nice pious frightened whites. They were frightened to death of perceived threat of black crime so much so that many of them lived in gated communities, moved into the suburbs in order to escape this threat. At that time, I wondered how much of this threat was real and how much self-magnified.

The same thing occurs with the fear of Islam, which is composed of more than a billion adherents worldwide. Given those numbers it is impossible to perceive some sort of conspiracy theory that most Muslims worldwide are involved in or that most Muslims in Europe are involved in some sort of clandestine operations. It's like any conspiracy theory - it's just a theory not fact. In this case based on fear aroused from violent incidents. Of course, the violence isn't one-sided as proven by Iraq, Afghanistan and other places where Western armies have intervened in shaping the Islamic world and they have not hesitated to use weapons at their disposal.

True crime among blacks in the US is higher than white neighbourhoods. In Canada, suicide rates are far higher on Indian reserves. These sociological differences are rooted in history and not race or ethnically based. In the same way some young Muslims have been radicalized for various socio-political reasons but to ring the alarm bells and to call off multiculturalism and pluralism is merely playing into fears not rising above them.

The lesson to be learned from Hitler and the Third Reich is less about the evils of appeasement because the parallels between radical Islam and Nazi Germany just don't exist. Radical Islam is a phantom enemy that exists as much in the European imagination as in reality. Our stereotypes of Muslims inform us of our own prejudices, not of an objective reality that can be proven, since Islam does not exist as a homogeneous whole.

Muslims like Christians are diverse in their beliefs and practices, ranging from highly conservative to highly liberal. Therefore, we cannot minimize these differences in order to create the enemy-in-our-midst scenario that we like. It is the same type of thinking as the Red scare that plagued Western democracies during the Cold War.

I would suggest that people read more intelligent books on Islam, such as, "The Trouble with Islam Today" by Irshad Manji, where she constructively challenges both Islam and Western stereotypes of it.
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