Another Day, Another Blow to Freedom

Publishers' appeasement of Islam proceeds apace.

This is a story about the appeasement of Islam. To be specific, it’s about appeasement on the part of book publishers. To be even more specific, it’s about a little mom-and-pop operation known as Random House, and a German author named Thilo Sarrazin.

I’m not unfamiliar with Random House. In 2006, Doubleday, a division of that storied firm, published my book While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within. Although it sold briskly from the git-go, it was (like many other honest books on the subject) delicately ignored by most of the mainstream media. Nonetheless, it made the New York Times bestseller list and was translated into several languages – and the paperback edition, published by Broadway Books, another Random House subsidiary, continues to sell. In 2009, Doubleday put out my follow-up book, Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom. Whereas While Europe Slept had warned of the dangers attendant upon Islam’s rise in the West, Surrender addressed the growing Western tendency to assuage alleged Muslim sensitivities, largely through censorship and self-censorship: museums were putting away art works that might offend the Prophet’s followers; universities were installing propaganda factories disguised as centers of Middle Eastern Studies; Hollywood, which during World War II had specialized in patriotic cheerleading, was responding to the “War on Terror” with films in which Americans were bad guys and Muslims were victims; and while cops and prosecutors were doing all they could to avoid bringing Muslim malefactors to justice, they were hauling critics of Islam into court for “hate speech.”

As for book publishers – well, let’s not forget that the first big modern example of cultural jihad in the West was the Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie, whose novel The Satanic Verses, he thundered, had insulted “Islam, the Prophet of Islam, and the Qur’an.” At the time, that debacle seemed a one-off, and publishers, to their credit, continued to put out books that criticized Islam. The record, however, was not spotless. When Yale University Press, in 2009, released an account of the Danish cartoon crisis, it decided not to include the actual cartoons – a ludicrously cowardly move. Yale wasn’t alone. Over time, it became clear that major presses were becoming more timid on this front: while happy to churn out agitprop by the likes of Karen Armstrong and John Esposito, they were growing increasingly uneasy with blunt truth-telling. Hence more and more writers in this genre have had to put out their books themselves. (In Norway, where I live, one of the top bestsellers of 2015, Hege Storhaug’s Islam: Den 11. landeplage – which will appear in English later this year as Islam: Europe Invaded, America Warned – was self-published.)

In November 2016, however, Random House bucked this trend, signing a contract for a new book on Islam by the aforementioned Thilo Sarrazin, author of the massive 2010 bestseller Deutschland schafft sich ab (Germany Is Abolishing Itself). That book, which savaged his country’s insane immigration policy, has been described as “having helped pave the way for the anti-Islam Alternative for Germany party which entered parliament last year with nearly 100 deputies.” Sarrazin handed in the typescript of his Random House follow-up, entitled Hostile Takeover: How Islam Hampers Progress and Threatens Society, this past February, and it was scheduled to come out next month. Last Friday, alas, brought bad news: Random House had, ahem, changed its mind. According to the German newspaper Bild, the reason for the volte-face was a concern that Sarrazin’s philippic would stir up Islamophobia. (As a friend in the business told me on Friday, “My only surprise is that they signed this book up in the first place.”) In a statement, Random House said Sarrazin was free to submit his work elsewhere. Sarrazin, for his part, has taken legal action; today, a Munich court will begin hearing the case.

It appears, then, that the same house that published my books on Islam – including the one, Surrender, in which I took social, cultural, and political institutions to task for placating the adherents of that faith – has now chosen to step back from issuing a critical book about the Religion of Peace that, given the author’s track record, would almost certainly have proved a massive success. Although this is only the beginning of what may turn out to be a long and complicated story, it certainly looks, at present, as if Random House is engaged in precisely the sort of baleful censorship and propitiation that I outlined in Surrender. If that’s the case, it’s lamentable, but scarcely astonishing: Random House is far from the only publisher that’s no longer prepared to put out the kind of books on this topic that it was willing to issue, say, a decade ago. At this juncture, at least, its action in the Sarrazin matter would seem to confirm the main argument of Surrender: that as Islam advances apace, the fear of it, the tendency to bow to it, and the compulsion to silence its critics are intensifying.

There you have it. Today, as noted, the Bavarian judiciary will have it say. Given that Western systems of justice have, like book publishers, been increasingly inclined to tilt the scales in favor of Muhammed’s minions (cf. Tommy Robinson), it will be enlightening indeed to see what happens when Thilo Sarrazin gets his day in court.