A small incident or detail sometimes illuminates the big picture. Here is Mr. Wayne Roylance, described as Adult Selection Coordinator at the Brooklyn Public Library. A reader requested from the library a new book, Londonistan by Melanie Phillips. Mr. Roylance refused to add this book to the library on the grounds that it is “potentially incendiary,” unless a review from “a trusted source” could be found, and he had apparently found none.
It happens that I reviewed this book for NR, and it irks me as a resident of Londonistan and a commentator on things Islamic for about four decades that Mr. Roylance should judge that I am not a trusted source on the matter. In fact Londonistan is a carefully researched and documented exploration of the ways that Islamists have exploited British tolerance and democratic values, undermining that tolerance and those values. To declare an interest, as we Brits like to say, I am published by Encounter Books, as is Melanie Phillips, but it is altogether objectionable that Adult Selection Coordinator proves to be a euphemism for censor. Who is Mr. Roylance to decide what is “potentially incendiary”? But he and his kind are responsible for wishing on the rest of us what Orwell was the first to call group-think, or the political correctness that now corrupts clear thinking.
Stop press. Brooklyn Public Library has in fact taken the fearsome plunge towards open-mindedness and bought a copy of Londonistan.