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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Islamic Overreaction freaks out Random House

From the “this surprises you why?” department:

Random House was going to publish a book titled The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones, a historical novel that features one of Mohammad’s wives, and has decided “oops, bad idea.” Quoth Random House in the Washington Post Op-Ed, “after sending out advance copies of the novel, the company received "from credible and unrelated sources, cautionary advice not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment.”

Apparently one of those credible sources was an American academic named Denise Spellberg (sage advice from the Smart Bitches, do not let this woman blurb your book) who got an advance copy and apparently got her knickers in a prudish little twist (you see Muhammad had wives, and gasp, may have had sex with them) and made a “frantic” call to the editor of a popular Muslim website (this book made her frantic) and asked him to warn Muslims about this nasty, evil, book that “made fun of Muslims and their history.” And apparently, armed only with Spellberg’s description of this “very ugly, stupid piece of work,” not having read it himself, he did exactly what she asked, warning people of the coming literary apocalypse. And, of course, offense spreads like wildfire.

But what seems to be the trigger that caused the book to be pulled was Spellberg’s own warning to her own editor at another imprint at Random House. According to Spellberg, if the book was released there was “a very real possibility of major danger for the building and staff and widespread violence.” Apparently she babbled on like an islamaphobic neocon frightened by Obama’s middle name. The Terrorists would kill them all if the book saw the light of day. Her warning was bounced around the email servers at Random House until the book was pulled less than a month later.

Spellberg might count Random House’s withdrawl of the book as some sort of victory, but I wonder if she realizes that encouraging them to stomp this book by using threats of violence is casting Islam in a much more vile light before a much broader audience than the book’s publication ever would have.