Last week I had a post observing that high school reading lists were much less likely to contain feminist critiques if those critiques were of non-Western societies, such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel.
Later last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Random House had cancelled the imminent publication of a book that it had under contract that was a fictionalized history of one of Mohammed’s wives. Random House engaged in this self-censorship out of “fear of a possible terrorist threat from extremist Muslims.”
Once again we see a double standard in the treatment of non-Western subjects. Where is the American Library Association (ALA) to denounce this self-censorship? The ALA rightly advocates against efforts to restrict the kinds of books that are available and maintains a list of the most frequently “challenged” books. They preface that list with a quotation from Judy Blume: “[I]t’s not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers.”
The ALA saw the need to issue a statement to denounce censorship in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. When will they release a statement denouncing Random House’s decision not to publish a book that they had deemed worthy of a $100,000 contract because they were bullied by threats of violence?