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Anti-Censorship Group Canceled by Pro-Hamas Authors!

Tim Graham on

The leftist "free expression" group PEN America collided with a brick wall of radicals who don't like anyone who expresses a sympathetic view of Israel after the Hamas slaughter of Oct. 7. Their literary awards ceremony had to be canceled due to a substantial withdrawal of authors striking a "pro-Palestinian" pose.

If you disagree with that view? You're "complicit" in genocide. Agree with the mob, or you favor mass murder. Their view is so obviously correct that they cannot understand how anyone could possibly disagree with it.

"We refuse to gild the reputation of an organization that runs interference for an administration aiding and abetting genocide with our tax dollars," a group of nominees wrote in an April 17 letter addressed to PEN America leaders. "And we refuse to take part in anything that will serve to overshadow PEN's complicity in normalizing genocide."

Of 61 authors and translators nominated for a book prize this year, 28 declined. For the most prestigious book prize -- the PEN/Jean Stein award, which comes with $75,000 -- nine of 10 finalists dropped out. The fiasco will continue. PEN America's annual World Voices Festival has also been hemorrhaging participants.

Activists want heads to roll at PEN America: "The fact is that Israel is leading a genocide of the Palestinian people. PEN's perpetuation of false equivalences, their equivocation and normalizing, is indeed a betrayal."

PEN America replied: "The current war in Gaza is horrific. But we cannot agree that the answer to its wrenching dilemmas and consequences lies in a shutting down of conversation and the closing down of viewpoints."

This furor underlines what conservatives have been saying about PEN's self-righteous "book ban" posture. They're not "anti-censorship." They're promoting a leftist revolution in literature and libraries. What the Left wants is a system where the "experts" -- educators and librarians -- select all the books, and the "nonexperts" -- parents -- shut up and accept them.

So it's amazing to see the Left eating its own over who can position themselves with moral authority as the most "pro-Palestinian." Free expression is nowhere to be found.

 

The Washington Post reported many of the withdrawing activists objected to a January event where author Randa Jarrar was physically removed after she screamed incessantly during a PEN-sponsored discussion of American comedian Moshe Kasher's memoir "Subculture Vulture," which featured Israel-supporting actress and former "Jeopardy" host Mayim Bialik.

Protesters were the censors: "Jarrar and other protesters from the group Writers Against the War on Gaza were shouting, through a loudspeaker, the names of Palestinian writers killed in Gaza." The group tweeted video, complaining, "With delusional liberal aplomb, PEN America claims objectivity while platforming genocidal Zionists and silencing Palestinians."

As usual with the radicals, "objectivity" or "bothsidesism" is painted as evil, and anyone speaking in support of Israel is automatically a maniacal Zionist who must be deplatformed.

The Post story ended with a quote from novelist (and former Andrew Cuomo speechwriter) Camonghne Felix: "We cannot hope to change every institution, but we hope that by changing ourselves what we will accept, that the organizations will have no choice but to bend towards us."

The notion of free expression is going to crumble when the leftist "negotiating" position is "no choice but to bend."

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Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org. To find out more about Tim Graham and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.


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