As regular readers know, I use this column now and then to jot some notes on a book. These do not constitute a proper book review. But sometimes the notes are worthwhile, I think.
I’d very much like to remark on a book by Bruce Bawer, published last year. This one is The Victims’ Revolution. Bawer, if you don’t know him, is one of our finest literary critics and political analysts. He is also uncommonly brave. He writes about the threat of Islamism to our liberal life here in the West, and he does this writing from Scandinavia, where he lives. (Bawer is an American but has lived in Norway for some years.)
This sort of writing wins him no friends — except among people who value the truth, however upsetting it is.
Bawer has the particular gift of shaming people on the left. He asks them, “Won’t you stick up for your own values? Do you realize what the Islamists intend to do to you, and are doing to you already? Do you not have the courage of your convictions? Do you hate the West more than you hate those who would destroy you?”
Among Bawer’s books is While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within.
This new book, The Victims’ Revolution, has a subtitle: “The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind.” You will hear the echo of Allan Bloom’s classic, The Closing of the American Mind. I remember his telling Bill Buckley what he originally wanted to call it: “Souls without Longing.” Bill said, “Oh, what a marvelous title” (or something like that).
How about “Identity Studies”? Bawer devotes chapters to Women’s Studies, Black Studies, Queer Studies, and Chicano Studies. A later chapter is titled, “Studies, Studies Everywhere.” So true.
A couple of years ago, I interviewed Jeb Bush. And I noted that he had majored in Latin American Studies. I said to him (something like), “That’s a pretty lefty major, isn’t it?” He said (something like), “Yes. Aren’t all ‘studies’ lefty?”
If a person reads only the preface and the first chapter of Bawer’s book, he has more than gotten his money’s worth — more than. This is a vital, sparkling, and truth-telling book.