Monday, December 6, 2010

The power of Sarah Palin and Ayaan Hirsi Ali

There are some people who are lightning rods for strong feelings. I knew Sarah Palin was one of them, but I had never experienced how deep those feeling run.

At the Romeo Public Library on Saturday I saw Palin's book "America by Heart" on the new arrival shelf and I thought I might as well see what she is saying that gets people all riled up.

Imagine my shock as I checked out the book and the librarian made a crack about it. "What are you going to do, read about her seeing Russia from her backyard?"

I am a lifelong user of libraries, and I have to say that was the first disparaging remark that a librarian has ever made about my choice of books. (And I have checked out some very strange books.)

But when I read the book I could not find any parts that could foster the resentment that seems to be aimed at Palin.

My wife, for example, cannot speak of Palin without her voice and color rising. She has made a point of totally ignoring the Palin book since I brought it home, even though it is in plain view,

The odd thing about these reactions to a book is that it is the second time in less than a month when I felt nervous just because I was reading a book.

The other happened in the Mumbai airport when I picked up a copy of "Infidel, My Life" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She is the Somali/Dutch woman who inspired such radical Muslim hatred that she had to go into hiding.

I was reading the book as the passengers began to gather at the gate, and I frankly felt I was being looked at because of the book I was reading. It suddenly dawned on me that I was about to board a flight that would change planes in the heart of the Arab world and I would have to go through security there. I thought briefly about discarding the book at the airport, and then compromised by stuffing it in the bottom of my carry-on bag.

Perhaps all this is paranoia, but I could not lose myself in reading the book when I thought my fellow passengers might recognize the book and harbor ill feelings toward me. I have never felt that before.

So, twice in the span of a month, I have feel paranoia about reading a book. Two very different authors. Two very different subjects. Two very different cultures. But in both cases, the mere act of possessing them and reading them seemed to define me as the enemy -- at least to some people.

I put it down to the power of the written word. It still lives.


Blogger jerry said...

good observation. some say Palin would be great for Dems to beat in 2012... others really believe she could win based on looks and ability to relate.

December 6, 2010 at 9:25 AM 
Blogger Loga'Abdullah said...

Although it is from last year, I think you may find this book review useful. The author comes from a Muslim perspective and reviews her works. The link is here ... it is good to hear other opinions and ideas.

Hope you find it interesting.

December 6, 2010 at 7:39 PM 

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