It doesn’t matter a damn what the Koran says or whether the novel is offensive to Muslims or not. The very need for such apologias and the very fear felt by Random House condemn the violent principles of the gangsters they’re appeasing.
No one defended Dan Brown’s massive bestseller The Da Vinci Code by saying, “Oh, Dan was trying to build bridges to the Christian community.” The Da Vinci Code spends its nearly five hundred pages trashing the central beliefs of the Christian community. But for all the hysteria in intellectual circles over fundamentalist Christians, no one had to cower before them or make mealy-mouthed excuses.
Publishers — whether of books, newspapers, blogs, or anything else — are among the chief protectors and exercisers of our free discourse. When they bow to bullying gangsters — whether those gangsters have some sort of religious motivation or not — they are ceding intellectual ground made sacred by the blood of patriots.
Random House and the New York Times and all the rest have every right to be afraid. I’m afraid too. How can we not be? We’re artists and intellectuals under threat from violent thugs. But in this ongoing jihad against our rights to publish and speak, it is the life of the mind that is the battleground. Unlikely soldiers though we are, we have to make a stand.