MAIL BAG

November 20 2006

MAIL BAG

November 20 2006

MAIL BAG

‘The future may or may not belong to Muslims, but it sure doesn’t belong to Maclean’s’

‘TOO FEW5 STEYN

THERE’S NOTHING so exciting in the publishing world as a good scrap over freedom of expression. And so perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised by Mark Steyn’s article that suggested Indigo was “boycotting” his book (“Anybody out there seen my book,” Books, Nov. 6). The fact is that his book was ordered, and simply sold out. It is true that Indigo did order too few copies of it, but the moment we realized the error, we immediately placed a reorder for several thousand more books. And it’s not like we were the only ones. When we called Mr. Steyn’s U.S. publisher, they told us they couldn’t fulfill our order because they, too, had underestimated the demand. As of this moment, we, as well as most other book retailers in Canada, are still awaiting new copies, which we are told will arrive in mid-November. A simple mistake may not be as sexy as the whiff of scandal, and we admire Mr. Steyn’s abilities both as an author and a promoter. But we do want to be clear on what happened on our end. We wish Mr. Steyn best of luck with America Alone, which will soon be available in Indigo in sufficient numbers.

Joel Silver, Chief Merchant,

Indigo Books &' Music Inc., Toronto

MORE STEYN CONTROVERSY

EDITOR’S NOTE: Three weeks after Maclean’s published an excerpt of Mark Steyn’s new book, America Alone, the Council on AmericanIslamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington, and its affiliate in Ottawa, posted messages on their websites objecting to “Islamophobic” content they called “inflammatory and offensive.” They directed “all people of conscience” to complain to the magazine using four so-called talking points. Among them—“Maclean’s in the past was an authoritative and respectable voice for Canadians” and “It would be appreciated if such provocative articles are not given space. ” Finally, “If Maclean’s continues to publish such articles, I will consider not renewing my subscription.” Some JO such letters arrived, many unsigned. The move touched off a flood of letters, both critical and laudatory, from around the world. A sampling of each:

I WAS DEEPLY disappointed with the provocative and inflammatory excerpt. Articles like this promote fear-mongering and division. Maclean’s should be more diligent in

exercising responsible journalism by printing articles that provoke constructive and meaningful dialogue, rather than hate and further vilification of an entire community. Maclean’s should know that Muslims are a part of its reading audience and they are part of the tapestry that makes up Canada. Alienating them is not only unhelpful to the Muslim community and Canadian society at large, but it may also make Maclean’s not the magazine of choice for many.

S. F. Hussain, Hamilton

IT WOULD be appreciated if such provocative articles are not given space. Maclean’s in the past was an authoritative and respectable voice for Canadians; today’s Maclean’s is clearly breaking away from such a tradition. If Maclean’s continues to publish such articles, I will consider not renewing my subscription. Abdul Gaffar Sheikh, Toronto

THE ARTICLE by Mark Steyn is typical of your magazine’s weak attempt to disguise shallow journalism as objective editorial. It is, at its core, a racist, inflammatory, and offensive article. As for demographics, well, since I don’t want to disappoint you, I can assure you that we will begin a campaign to get as many people as we can to end their Maclean’s subscriptions. You see, the future may or may not belong to Islam, but it sure doesn’t belong to Maclean’s.

Maged Kamal, Ottawa

THE EXCERPT from Steyn’s book was disgusting, racist and highly offensive. He is blatantly Islamophobic. He writes of Muslims as if they are all evil and a menace to society, and questions the validity of their citizenship in Western countries, painting them as second-class citizens, though they have been living peacefully in these countries and contributed for generations. He insults attempts to build inter-cultural bridges and understanding between Muslim citizens in Western countries, as if trying to live together peacefully is a waste of time. Canadians used to know Maclean’s as a respectable and valid source of journalism. It is now becoming distasteful.

Hajera Khan, Cambridge, Ont.

THE EXCERPT spews raw Islamophobia. It is very unfortunate to see Maclean’s break away from its tradition of publishing respectable and balanced articles for the Canadian public. Kashif Ahmed, Regina

I WAS STUNNED and appalled by the content. The writer was basically describing Muslims as a bunch of aliens whose ultimate aim was to displace others and take over control of the world. The author used every way to influence the readers and make sure his hateful message gets around. I will seriously reconsider our subscription to Maclean’s if such fear-mongering articles are published again.

Abdulraufand Haifa Gehani, Etobicoke, Ont.

THE ARTICLE is inflammatory and offensive. It does little to build bridges, it simply divides people. It would be appreciated if such provocative articles are not given space, and that Maclean’s maintains a balanced editorial policy. Maclean’s in the past was an authoritative and respectable voice for Canadians; however, today’s Maclean’s is clearly breaking away from this tradition. If Maclean’s magazine continues to publish such articles, I will consider not renewing my subscription. Ahtesham Moinuddin, Mississauga, Ont.

CAIR IS ATTEMPTING to stifle criticism by labelling the excerpt Islamophobic. Free speech, which means the freedom to express an opinion, and to not merely approve but disapprove, is a basic tenet and requirement of free societies. This is a freedom for which

our democracies have fought hard and long. It is a freedom which underlies not merely our desire to express ourselves; this freedom is the basic ground upon which our capacity for knowledge rests. No belief system, religious or other, should remove its axioms from question and analysis. For CAIR to insist that any examination and any criticism of Islam is not permissible is itself a denial of this basic axiom of the democratic institution. One could indeed turn their metaphor around, and claim that the CAIR agenda is democracy phobia.

Edwina Taborsky, Toronto

AS A PRACTISING Muslim, I found Steyn’s excerpt to be authoritative, thought-provoking and focused on the important issue of demography that will have a significant impact on our way of life. He should not have to make any apology about his desire to preserve his culture and civilization from fading due to low birth rate. His examples about the potential crisis in Japan and Europe are more than real, and his point that the demographics in Europe now favour Muslim immigrants over native Europeans does not make his column inflammatory or Islamophobic.

Amir Sanizadeh, Ottawa

STEYN IS the freshest voice on the planet and we need to hear him.

Joe Louderback, Seneca, S.C.

HOW ARE PEOPLE going to know and understand any issue if information about it is suppressed or censored by any one of the groups involved? Is Canada not still a free country where ideas may be freely presented? Are the convictions of some individuals so fragile and shallow that any scrutiny of their beliefs and actions causes them to lash out?

Tom McAuley, Winnipeg

BRAVO FOR running the excerpt from Steyn’s book. It contains some uncomfortable truths that we need to pay attention to.

Aaron Oakley, Belconnen, Australia

CAIR HAS PAINTED this article as a “deliberate, hateful, and provocative” act. Two of those three characterizations are correct. I believe the content of that article was indeed deliberate, and I’m sure it will provoke those who wish to downplay the advance of Islam, radical and otherwise, in the West, but just because truth is provocative doesn’t mean it should not be seen in print. To paint Steyn’s words as hateful, though, is simply a distortion for political gain.

Martin R. Green, Hamilton

‘It is the transparency in Barbara Amiel’s Marie Antoinette piece that has me pinching myself’

GREAT JOB publishing Steyn’s excerpt. He is one of my favourite authors. Don’t retract or apologize. Speak the truth. The public needs to know.

Cindy Grosch, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

CASUALTIES OF WAR

IN HIS STORY about Paul Haggis and Flags of Our Fathers, Brian D. Johnson is in error when he states that 26,000 Americans died on the island of Iwo Jima in 1945 (“So guys, let’s count up the Oscars,” Film, Oct. 30). The U.S. suffered 26,000 casualties, but of that total, just under 7,000 died, a heavy toll nonetheless for an intensely brutal battle. Galen Perras, Assistant Professor of American History, University of Ottawa, Ottawa

HEY BIG SPENDER

MONTHS FROM NOW, I can imagine myself thinking back on Barbara Amiel’s article (“Misunderstood Marie Antoinette,” Society, Nov. 6) and wondering if I read it, or only dreamt I read it. More than anything else, it’s the transparency that has me pinching myself. It’s too bad Amiel didn’t approach this piece with objectivity and humour. It might have helped her cultivate the get-over-it-and-on-with-it attitude she so admires. Her continued infatuation with the frivolous and her blame-the-press stance are tiresome.

Mary Hagey, Ottawa

I BELIEVE that Barbara Amiel is also a woman in the public eye who has handled herself with grace and poise in the face of a difficult situation. Her writing, or more precisely her craft, has not suffered at all. It is still as thought-provoking and insightful as ever. John Gatsis, Toronto

IN PASSING

Jackie Parker, 74, versatile Edmonton Eskimo star who played offence as well as defence, serving as running back, pass receiver and quarterback. He helped bring three Grey Cups to the Alberta capital. Although an almost cultish figure among fans, the American-born Parker was surprisingly modest. He was also nimble, thanks to narrow limbs that earned him the nickname “Spaghetti Legs.” He died of throat cancer.

Bulent Ecevit, 81, durable former Turkish prime minister whose four governments presided over some of the most eventful periods in Turkey’s history, including the invasion of Cyprus in 1974 that has resulted in three decades of ethnic partition on the island. A cultivated man who studied Sanskrit, Ecevit lived modestly, promoted secular democracy and tilted the country toward the West, pursuing membership in the European Union. M