Random House is wussing out. The are wrong, dead wrong. The should publish the book anyway, even if they have to ramp up the security guards and check daily for mail bombs. I don't blame them for wussing out, but still it's disappointing.
This is another victory for the Islamic fundamentalists. It seems that they are bent on destruction even if it's in the smallest increments. This is very dangerous, because the majority of people don't see a threat. It must be an awful feeling to be submissive like that (referring to random house).
The scariest thing about Random House's caving in was that there were no threats or actions by Islamic fundamentalists. The alleged threats arose within a bastion of Western academia (The University of Texas in Austin, to be precise). Read the Wall Street Journal article linked above by IsThatLatin (the one by Asra Nomani) and the letter in response (not an article, per se) by Denise Spellberg, also linked above. Then go listen to the podcast for an all-encompassing discussion.
This spinelessness is one of the shameful side effects of several centuries of mostly positive liberalism. Its high time for liberalists to seriously begin to address theocratic fascism in general, and islamofascism in particular - the very mention of the term sends most liberal commentators and intellectuals scurrying into the shadows. A comparison I find particularly striking is how easily the entire planet got mobilised against South African Apartheid, yet when it comes to the even more oppressive forces militant Islam, there is nothing but mute silence, apathy and outright pandering to some perceived "moderate" Islamic majority.
The correct response in the case of the Danish cartoons should have been, at the time, simultaneous publication of the cartoons on the front page of every western newspaper, alongside the publication of Islamic depictions of Mohammed throughout history to show the true depth of Islamic hypocrisy in no uncertain terms.
In this instance, Random House should forget about turning a profit for the book, organise a cartel with all other major publishing houses and create a temporary front company to publish it so there is nowhere for a finger to point. And publish it with exhaustive notes citing the same Islamic teachings that are so abused by the Islamists themselves. There is no shortage of scholars to do this.
Recoiling in terror is ultimately the most counterproductive stance Random House and the publishing industry can take.
In this instance, Random House should forget about turning a profit for the book, organise a cartel with all other major publishing houses and create a temporary front company to publish it so there is nowhere for a finger to point.
From both a social and (significantly less important yet very real) business standpoint that's a damned fine idea.
Assuming other publishers would be willing to break free of the knee-jerk fear response it that would certainly send a message and likely pave the way for other media that might otherwise be questioned because of these types people. Films, funny pages, fiction, non-fiction...whatever it may be. Any group that would threaten with violence or frivolous legal action over a difference of ideals should be treated the same way.
It may not shut down the radicals (it might make it worse in the short term) but at least people would have more outlets for educating themselves about these cultures beyond the worst of the worst pasted on the front page.
There is nothing to fear, in fact, if they published the book, and put it everywhere, people would buy it, so they would be mmaking a profit. Also, if they don't retract it, the fundamentalists will see that they have nowhere else to go.
I'd expect the press on this will boost sales. The author seems pretty passionate about the both books involved in the deal so I'm sure she'll have no problem getting the word out.
Her blog had some great posts about the whole situation and how she was moving forward but her Blogger.com page mysteriously vanished at some point between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. http://sherryjones.blogspot.com/
I was planning on getting a copy for myself when it comes out but having read the prologue I can honestly say it's just not the sort of thing I'd enjoy reading or get engrossed in enough to finish. I'll buy it out of support for the author and gift it or donate it to a library, something of the sort.
LAS VEGAS, Aug. 12 - Rael, founder and leader of the worldwide Raelian Movement, has offered to publish a controversial historical novel recently withdrawn by publishing giant Random House.
"The Jewel of Medina," a first novel by U.S. journalist Sherry Jones, is based on the lives of Muhammad and his child bride, A'isha. The book was to have been released later this month, but after advance reviewers reportedly advised caution, publication was halted by the publisher for fear of inciting violence among Muslim extremists.
Upon learning that Jones had signed a termination agreement with Random House, Rael offered to publish the book himself through the Raelian Movement's publishing arm.
"The worst censorship is that which seeks to stop the truth from being told," Rael said. "This book is not a caricature, nor is it libelous. It just conveys exact historical truth. But it seems that when the truth is disturbing to some people, they want a policy of revisionism - in other words, to rewrite history in a politically correct way."
He said the facts Jones included in her novel are straightforward and accurate, and that no one should find them offensive.
"A'isha was married at age six to Muhammad, who was in his 40s, and they had sex starting when she was nine, period," Rael explained. "I support this author and I'm personally offering to publish her book."
"We're in the process of contacting the author about Rael's offer," said Raelian Bishop Brigitte Boisselier, international spokesperson for the Raelian Movement. "The book is said to be a beautiful love story. It even includes the fact that A'isha remained with Muhammad until the moment he died. This worthy book has been censored - not because it shows disrespect for Islam, but out of fear that some people might say it does and then retaliate. This is the worst censorship one can find: preventing people from knowing the truth out of fear of possible non-acceptance. Random House made a cowardly decision. But with Rael offering to publish the book, hopefully people will soon be able to read 'The Jewel of Medina' after all, and to make their own opinions about the life of one of the Prophets sent through the ages by our Creators, the Elohim!"
The Raelian philosophy explains that the Elohim sent a number of Prophets to give recommendations for humanity's survival. Jesus, Mohammet, Buddha are among the most famous of them. Rael is not only the latest but the last Prophet the Elohim will send.