Four days ago, a clandestine operation took place in bookstores across America. Cloaked in secrecy, operatives salespeople hurriedly rushed the release of the single most dangerous symbol of the Western world onto shelves and received last minute instructions on security awareness and safety protocols. The target – an historical novel.
Yes, apparently history is a very dangerous thing to speculate on, at least for Sherry Jones and her new novel “The Jewel of Medina“. Amazon’s reviews run the gamut about its literary worth, but there aren’t as many outright slams as I thought there would be. The U.S. publisher, Beaufort Books, not one to necessarily flinch from publishing crappy or controversial books (if you go by their willingness to publish O.J. Simpson’s confessional tome, “If I Did It”), decided to take on the Jewel project for the cause of free speech, but they’ve also received lots of free, pre-publication publicity. The increased sales should help to defray the costs of added security.
The issue regarding this book is not whether it’s worthwhile reading, historically accurate or just takes huge swats at the religious feelings of Muslims (yeah, yeah, I know, most Muslims are peace-loving practitioners of a peaceful religion – I saw that on Oprah too). It’s a contrast between two very different ideologies here.
Ideology A– if something is offensive and distubing to your faith or beliefs, you write letters of protest, you preach a sermon, you boycott the product or distributor, you exercise your constitutionally-guaranteed right to free speech. And likewise, others have the right to exercise their right to free speech by reading it. (Look what we had to put up with when the Da Vinci Code came out.)
Ideology B – given the same situation, you cause people to fear for their lives, you act on that fear and torch or blow-up things to prove your point, and you do everything possible to reinforce people’s “misconceptions” about your faith.
Sounds very reasonable to me. So when I have to go through a metal-detector at Barnes & Noble, I will feel reassured that those people who practice Ideology B have only threatened or done violent acts out of a big misunderstanding.