Monday, August 25, 2008

A question that's bound to get me in trouble

I don't get it. I've seen article after article about how the planned release of The Jewel of Medina was canceled by its publisher, Random House recently, after they received threats of violence, or possibly just threats of threats of violence from Muslims. The story is supposed to be a historical about the youngest wife of the prophet Mohammed. There is a Wall Street Journal article about the issue here.

And then today I see an ad for The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff that portrays, in part, the 19th wife of Mormon church founder Brigham Young. This historical-based story is supposed to be intermixed with a contemporary fiction about a murder among a polygamist sect.

Maybe I'm not enough in the know to really comment about these books. I've never read either (Jewel, because it was not published, and The 19th Wife because I just saw the ad today), but something here seems out of balance. It's OK to discuss polygamy and the founder of the modern day LDS church, but not the prime figure in the Muslim church?

I have a few additional choice thoughts on the matter, but I'm afraid that voicing them will make me sound racist, which I'm not. I have great respect for both religions, though I am neither Muslim nor Mormon, at least for their mainstream varieties. I don't believe that the polygamist sects are representative of the mainstream Mormon churches (certainly not of the friends I had growing up), anymore than I believe that terrorists are representatives of all Muslims. One does have to wonder, though, why we would fear physical retribution from one group but not the other for publishing literature about their founders.

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