Al-Qaeda Reader Ignites Controversy

Everyone in New York publishing seems to have their knickers in a twist over the Al-Qaeda Reader, an anthology of writings by Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and which will be translated by Raymond Ibrahim at the Library of Congress. The furor stems from the appearance that Doubleday would stand to make money off of 9/11, though that particular argument was dismissed when the publisher (finally) announced that it would donate profits to charity. Still, some see the move as “propaganda” for Al-Qaeda, these presumably being the same people who bitch and moan about censorship in Arab countries.

I’m against censorship of any kind–whether it’s a book by Salman Rushdie or a memoir by Shirin Ebadi or this. It seems to me you can’t possibly fight an ideology if you don’t understand what it means, and until Al-Qaeda’s hateful rhetoric is documented, we’ll just have to take whatever pundits or politicians tell us rather than see it for ourselves. Fearing the publication of the book is, I think, indicative of a certain defensiveness, as if your own arguments against it might not be strong enough. And that’s just silly.

Related: Osama, Call Your Agent! at Slate.