A Cold Shower of Oriental Fetishism

Why I don’t do book signings anymore

A great liberal betrayal is afoot… I call them regressive leftists; they are in fact reverse racists. They have a poverty of expectation for minority groups, believing them to be homogenous and inherently opposed to human rights values. They are culturally reductive in how they see Eastern —and in my case, Islamic—culture, and they are culturally deterministic in attempting to freeze their ideal of it in order to satisfy their oriental fetish.

While they rightly question every aspect of their own Western culture in the name of progress, they censure liberal Muslims who attempt to do so within Islam, and they choose to side instead with every regressive reactionary in the name of “cultural authenticity” and anticolonialism.

Maajid Nawaz in conversation with Sam Harris, Islam and the Future of Tolerance, Harvard University Press, 2015

The other day I was asked why I don't do book signings anymore. Was it because I was afraid of the reaction of Muslims who might show up?

“No" I explained, "it was not the reaction of Muslims, which was always polite and informed, but that of non-Muslims who had bought into the extremists’ narrative that the Koran and Islamic scriptures were beyond the understanding of non-Muslims and told me so, in no uncertain terms, to my face during these signings.”

There is no in point in telling Nawaz's "regressive leftists" that Islam's core religious text and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad are not beyond the reach of anyone who can read. It only brings on further denunciations, including accusations of racism, as if Islam was a race not a religion.

No Muslim I have met has ever called me a racists. Non-Muslims, on the other hand, who can’t be bothered to read any of my books, let alone the back cover, have done so on more occasions than I care to remember.

Not only do I no longer do book signings, but I try to avoid discussions about Islam with most non-Muslims, preferring the informed discussions I have with those who are familiar with the subject matter.

Bernard Payeur, July 15, 2017