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on 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.