Our star contributor Cathy Seipp wrote this op-ed piece for the Los Angeles Times on Saturday–and it quickly became the most e-mailed op-ed for the day:
“A friend of mine took his young daughter to visit the famous City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, explaining to her that the place is important because years ago it sold books no other store would – even, perhaps especially, books whose ideas many people found offensive.
“So, although my friend is no fan of Ward Churchill, the faux Indian and discredited professor who notoriously called 9/11 victims ‘little Eichmanns,’ he didn’t really mind seeing piles of Churchill’s books prominently displayed on a table as he walked in.
“However, it did occur to him that perhaps the long-delayed English translation of Oriana Fallaci’s new book, ‘The Force of Reason,’ might finally be available, and that because Fallaci’s militant stance against Islamic militants offends so many people, a store committed to selling banned books would be the perfect place to buy it. So he asked a clerk if the new Fallaci book was in yet.
“‘No,’ snapped the clerk. ‘We don’t carry books by fascists.'”
“‘You’re welcome to buy her book elsewhere, though,’ my friend was told helpfully when he visited. ‘Let’s just say we don’t have room for her here.’
“OK, let’s just say that. But let’s also say that one of the great paradoxes of our time is that two groups most endangered by political Islam, gays and women, somehow still find ways to defend it.”
Cathy’s article engendered a blog-comment by Gabriel Rotello on the Huffington Post that gets my prize this month for Lamest Riposte by a Liberal:
“…[T]o write an entire op-ed in the LA Times that singles out ‘women and gays’ as the main culprits in coddling radical Islam – and to call it ‘one of the greatest paradoxes of our time’ – is downright bizarre.”
Then, when the Volokh Conspiracy posted a link to Cathy’s piece, some 70 Rotello-esque e-mails floated in. On her wonderfully witty, must-bookmark blog Cathy’s World, Cathy categorizes the substance of the e-mails as follows:
“1. City Lights is not, despite facts made clear in my piece to the contrary, actually a bookstore known for its dedication to free speech or banned books. It is known for its dedication to progressive books, and should not be expected to support any free expression but progressive expression.
“2. Political Islam is a race, therefore anyone who criticizes it is a racist.
“3. Also, anyone who criticizes political Islam in harsh terms is advocating genocide.
“4. Oriana Fallaci’s books are the equivalent of ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ a hoax that helped bring on actual genocide, but never mind.
“5. It’s disgraceful that the Los Angeles Times publishes right-wing punditry on its op-ed pages. They should only publish news, or left-wing punditry.
“6. Incorrect opinions like mine could be fixed if only writers like me would just look at the facts. ‘Next time, please do some research before spreading hatred,’ one emailer advised helpfully. Thanks for the tip! He also said my op-ed was “the most idiotic piece of crap I’ve ever read,” and since I noticed this came from a Harvard email address, that was high praise indeed.
“7. It’s wrong for anyone to criticize Islamists for oppressing women and gays, when the United States does so just as badly, if slightly differently.
“8. The only reason I have these crazy opinions at all is because I am trying to be like Ann Coulter, and have realized that writing anti-Islamic op-ed pieces will make me as rich as she is.”