We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Throwing down the gauntlet to Borders

I managed to find this email address, ccare@bordersstores.com, for Borders and have taken my own advice and notified them loudly of the downside to their actions:

The ‘blogosphere’ is alive with the recent announcement you will not stock the Free Inquiry issue with the Danish cartoons.

We abhor your cowardice in the face of the enemy and your lack of moral fibre to stand up for the First Amendment in the face of those enemies.

Our publication, Samizdata, has joined the Borders boycott call which is spreading amongst other high profile network publications.

While we are a publication of only 20,000 global readers a day, they are all solidly in the intellectual book buying demographic. Other publications, in the same demographic, are also calling for your metaphorical head. At least one of them has a quarter to a half million highly educated and mostly american readers a day.

There is no way out for you other than to carry that issue and to announce that fact loudly enough that it will catch up with the rapidly disseminating news of your prior decision

The ‘blogosphere’ has a long memory. This will not be forgotten in a month or two. Borders will from henceforth be linked in people’s minds with the word ‘cowards’.

Dale Amon

You may reply if you wish, but I represent only one of many, many publications that are going to be pounding you on this. Only loud visible action will mean anything to any of us.

I recommend anyone who decides to quit Borders not simply stop going. You should make one last appearance and tell them why you will not be back. If you prefer a carrot approach, tell them what they could do to win the return of you and others like you.

Cartoon shown with thanks and our highest regards to the Freedom Fighters of Jyllands-Posten

Cowardice does not make you safe. It makes you a safe target
– D.Amon

94 comments to Throwing down the gauntlet to Borders

  • Millie Woods

    Dale, I couldn’t agree with you more.
    Apparently the powers that be at Borders can’t do the math. in order to appease a non-book buying and reading bunch of loathesome bullies, they are willing to jeopardize losing a goodage percentage of their real customers.
    I happened to be in the UK when the mob in Leeds/Bradford started burning Salman Rushdie’s book and I predicted that if it weren’t stopped and stopped in a very punitive and draconian fashion it would lead to big trouble and so it did. Above all these protesters are bullies and enabling them is a very bad idea.

  • Millie Woods

    Is there a penalty for posting when not fully awake?
    I hang my head in shame.
    First for the punctuation error – comma when there should be a semi-colon and then goodage – not even goodish as a new word coinage – instead of goodish.

  • gravid

    Kinda off topic….?


    Just found this link via peoplenomics. Sounds a bit like scaremongering to me ( until I cross reference, maybe)

  • Julian Taylor

    I’m perplexed at how it is ok for Borders to block the sale of the Free Inquiry issue, on the basis of not harming Muslim sensibilities, yet they continue to stock and retail something items like this rather lame movie about the life of Mohammed which surely must be more offensive to Muslims than the occasional cartoon, given their sensitivity to any graven image of their icon? Perhaps Borders would like to comment on that?

  • gravid

    My apologies for the origin of the article

  • rosignol

    …just curious, but who is carrying it?

  • Dale Amon

    Jeez, we must have the fastest commentariat in the West. Six comments before I even finished tidying up my article on the page! Now *that* is something the MSM never had to face 😉

  • Nick M

    This appears off-topic, it just shows that it isn’t just Borders who are running scared of the RoPers.

    On Condi’s visit to the UK

    This evening, she is also due to attend a gala concert to celebrate Liverpool’s status as European Capital of Culture 2008, where the Liverpool Philharmonic will play.

    However, this visit has already caused controversy after poet Roger McGough refused to compere the show, saying he had agreed to the event before realising the strength of feeling against Ms Rice’s visit.

    Does he think he’s going to be beheaded by masked men?

    The full URL: http://www.politics.co.uk/foreign-policy/protests-disrupt-rice-visit-blackburn-$17083278.htm

  • Verity

    Nick M – Why should they wear masks? They have immunity in all matters.

    I note the piece of primeval rubbish who wore a suicide bomber outfit to the British performance of the Worldwide Motoon Rage Tour was questioned by the police. Was he charged with anything?

  • Thar be spammers off the port bow, Mr. Amon.

  • This is not a “First Amendment” matter.

    Do you understand?

  • Nick M

    They wear masks to intimidate. The fake suicide bomber was found in violation of a parole condition and slung back in stir. I think he’d been a drug dealer.

  • Vinny Vidivici

    Yes, it is not a first amendment issue. It is even more fundamental than that.

    Now that threats can intimidate into silence, expect more of the same. The threats will be of violence and economic consequences. The first time a European embassador returns from Beijing with the message that a sizeable contract worth billions of Euros and thousands of jobs is in jeopardy due to the vociferous criticism of some journalist or human rights group, watch how fast the self-censure accelerates.

    Lights are going out.

  • Vinny Vidivici

    I’ll add bad press, public harrassment and lawsuits to the kit bag of threats aimed at those who dare say what others don’t want to hear — tactics that race-hustlers and greivance groups have been using with success for many years.

  • Verity

    Nick M – That’s how stupid they are, what amoeba-level intelligences they have in the Religion of Peace. The fake suicide bomber, being in violation of his parole, went to where all the police were, among a crowd of people who were being filmed by every television company in the EU and by many private people with video camera, dressed in a suicide bomber’s jacket.

    Oh, gosh – does the word “du-uh” spring to mind?

    In the Religion of Peace, they are never taught to think. Just memorise their koran. No point in thinking. All the answers to the entire universe were written down in 700 or something – who cares.

  • David

    Furthermore those tactics have been picked up with relish by idiotic governments and codified into law….. you’re right lights are going out all over the place.

  • David

    Yeah but Verity he thought he was untouchable because we keep letting that sort of intimidatory behaviour go unchecked. No doubt he will get off / out of it PDQ when the noise subsides. He’ll be back on the streets bullying people in no time at all – because we will once again cave in to the greivance mongers.

  • Bob Sprowl

    I’m rmailing them my Borders Rewards card and telling them why they’ll never see me again.

    Amazon is better any way.

  • Ross

    I agree with your letter but Billy Beck has a point. We need to make sure that we don’t confuse First Amendment issues with a private (or publicly held) company’s behavior. Border’s has the legal right to carry or refuse to carry any product as they see fit. However, I will not shop there is they want to engage in such blatant censorship.

  • Ross

    I agree with your letter but Billy Beck has a point. We need to make sure that we don’t confuse First Amendment issues with a private (or publicly held) company’s behavior. Border’s has the legal right to carry or refuse to carry any product as they see fit. However, I will not shop there is they want to engage in such blatant censorship.

  • Eurostatistician

    Neither the eponymous nor the anonymous contributors to Samizdata really put their lives on the line when they publish motoons, or take the mickey out of Islam and the holy book with the squiggly writing.

    Borders’ employees may well do so if their employer stocks ‘Islamophobic’ books .

    Easy enough to be a hero in the blogosphere …

  • Billy and Ross –

    Yep, it’s not a First Amendment issue. But what it boils down to is that because that magazine MIGHT offend ‘someone’ of a particular group, and that particular group MIGHT be inclined to put a bomb in a store or kidnap an employee and cut his head off, they’ve decided to censor what everyone ELSE can buy.

    They caved, and there wasn’t even a threat. Talk about pre-emptive censorship…

    They won’t pull gay and lesbian fiction off the shelves, and they’ve got a good selection of GLBT mags, they sell Mein Kampf and various other things that I find range from ‘not my cuppa’ to ‘ew’ to offensive – but I’m under no illusion that if I find something offensive that I have the right to demand they take it off the shelf so I won’t be offended by it in passing.

    So that they self-censor and drop a magazine with the cartoons – which would likely never have even been noticed by the Islamic radar if Borders hadn’t gone “Oh, hey look over here! There’s an evil cartoon in this magazine and we’re saving you from the merest possibility of an accidental glimpse of it!” – seems bizzare to me. And if they can’t support the idea of freedom of speech (as they regularly do with their ‘banned book’ week in September) in ALL cases, then I don’t think I need to spend my money there.


  • Jim Vigotty

    While accepting that we are all are free thinkers capable of articulating own thoughts, I was wondering if you would consider as “text” that loyal readers of this blog could put their names to and forward. At least that way the readers and supporters of this blog can have Samizdata’s voice amplified.

  • Johnathan

    Neither the eponymous nor the anonymous contributors to Samizdata really put their lives on the line when they publish motoons, or take the mickey out of Islam and the holy book with the squiggly writing.

    Plenty of people here blog under their own names, which is more than one can say about someone calling himself/herself “Eurostatistician”.

  • Verity

    Over on Dhimmiwatch, which is usually very sound, Hulegu Khan, normally the most rational and clear-headed of commentators, is urging people to write to their representatives. Surely he, of all people, is aware that this is a market issue, not a legal or government issue.


  • Eurostatistician

    Point taken, Johnathan — I’m a coward and I know it. And no doubt Samizdata’s editors do run some minimal risk of assassination, so fair play to you guys on that front.

    But Bookers has to consider the safety of its own staff. One simply has to be realistic about these matters. Europe has a large and exponentially growing Muslim (i.e. Islamist) population and the time will soon come when it will be as insane in Britain to wear a T-shirt featuring the logo “The Koran sucks” as it would be to do so in Mecca.

    Perhaps it would be pretty insane to do so even today. I certainly wouldn’t risk it.

  • dougf

    “Apparently the powers that be at Borders can’t do the math. in order to appease a non-book buying and reading bunch of loathesome bullies, they are willing to jeopardize losing a goodage percentage of their real customers.”

    I don’t think this has anything whatsoever to do with ‘book buying’.

    I always sort of had a little ‘internal’ voice that broke out laughing whenever someone said that the ‘pen was mightier than the sword’,and believed that this comforting little bromide was the end of the problem. It is true that words and ideas last LONGER than force, but it is also true that in the long run we will all be dead. In the short-term in which we all live, the threat of violence is very effective indeed.

    Borders is not likely concerned that the ‘usual suspects’ will stop buying books. Borders is perahps more concerned that they will perhaps decide to resort to a more muscular ‘direct action’ campaign, which may involve less talk and more action.

    The Nazis did not talk their way to power, or at least not primarily. They ‘fought’ their way to power. Borders is the type of social organization they encountered on the way up. Now I understand whay it wasn’t much of a contest.

    We live here in the West with the ‘illusion’ that society just IS, and can protect us from the barbarians almost axiomatically with no effort from us. What our extremist ‘friends’ are demonstrating is how insular and unrealistic those self-obsessed conclusions really are.

    Freedom is NOT Free, and far too many people have forgotten that inconvenient little fact. Hopefully this campiagn will stiffen some spines at the collaborationist heart of the Corporate World.

  • DrWright

    Do they stock the da vinci code which offends this christian?

    Probably beacuse it’s ok to offend christians.

  • I sent an email to Borders as well. It had to be done.

  • Verity

    You people let is happen, Eurostatistician. You didn’t object when they took piggy banks out of bank advertising, you didn’t object when they changed the 2,000 Christian holiday, Christmas, to Winterval. You didn’t object to halal slaughter being allowed in Britain. You didn’t object when little schoolgirls, prompted by their fathers and brothers, wanted to wear ridiculous Islamic outfits as a special (concessionary) school uniform. You didn’t object when Tony Blair intentionally turned London into the terrorist centre of Europe because he thought appeasement might work and he has a streak of yellow down his back unbefitting a leader. You didn’t object to massive rigging of postal votes. You didn’t object to Tony Blair’s new thought crimes laws and ‘don’t offend the terrorists’ law. And you allowed Tony Blair and all the British press to pander to terrorism spewing the lie that “the vast majority of British Muslims are as shocked as we are”. You didn’t demand an end to open borders and allowed this alien and primitive people to flow in and inch their agenda forward, tiny bit by tiny bit. You feared to speak up as all these tiny insults to our history and our national identity were allowed to build up and acquire mass.

    And now you write: “One simply has to be realistic about these matters.” Oh. Being realistic. Is that what they call it?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Eurostatiscian: sorry if I was a bit sharp there, but you came across as a bit snarky. Apols for any offence.

    But Bookers has to consider the safety of its own staff. One simply has to be realistic about these matters. Europe has a large and exponentially growing Muslim (i.e. Islamist) population and the time will soon come when it will be as insane in Britain to wear a T-shirt featuring the logo “The Koran sucks” as it would be to do so in Mecca.

    On that basis, then, bookstores such as Waterstones should gut their politics/religion/philosophy sections of the works of David Hume or Tom Paine, or remove stuff by feminists, or indeed many scientists. In fact, I can imagine bookstores being rather empty places. And Harry Potter is definitely a no-no.

    Remember what Kipling said: If you pay the Danegeld, you will never get rid of the Dane (rather ironic line in the circumstances!).

  • Nice letter. I sent them one too. Ezra Levant of the Western Standard who published the cartoons has now been sued by the Human Rights Commission. Read it here:

    One good response is here:
    I will be sending them a note too.

  • permanent expat

    …………and so it continues.
    As nothing lasts forever, all this has to end some time. The question is HOW it’s going to end. At present, it appears the western world is prepared to cave in to the worst form of tyranny. Political Correctness is clearly preferential to Freedom. We bow, scrape & make excuses to mediaevally backward bigots who have made it quite clear that they despise us & would prefer us dead. (Dear God! Are we all bloody deaf?) They determine what we should print, publish, display……under threat of death, for Christ’s sake!……….The mind boggles at our inability to understand the threat at our throats……Get rid of these animals before it’s too late. If we wish to remain a free western civilization, drastic, un-PC measures should be taken now. We are in mortal danger.

  • permanent expat

    I cannot believe that we are talking of blacklisting our own bloody bookshops who are having the shit frightened out of them by foreign mediaeval bigots.
    If as much effort went into fighting the RoP bastards as getting folk to blacklist our own western bookshops it might not be a bad thing. All you happy blacklisters: What about blacklisting RoP bigots & deporting them. Sheeeeeesh! I feel quite ill.

  • I too wrote them an email and then published it on my blog. However, since you all get far and away more traffic, I think you’ll be much more effective in spreading the word – good for you! At the very least I feel I’ve done something…my little bit to thumb my nose at the terrorists.

  • Boy Next Door

    I read a lot of books. I’ve always liked going to Borders, because they have such a great selection and I can browse.

    I’m making a stack of the hundreds of books that I’ve bought at Borders, and taking them to my local store to try to return them. I’m going to try to find the receipts.

    There should be a coordinated day for everyone to do the same thing.

  • cowtipper

    But Bookers has to consider the safety of its own staff. One simply has to be realistic about these matters.

    One of the more useful concepts in objective thinking is the idea of engineering outcomes. In computer science, statistical process control, management, marketing, politics and numerous other fields, successful participants realize that intent associated with an action is nearly useless if the action does not achieve the goal one had per the initial intent.

    For instance, I work with Six Sigma, a statistical quality control method. I love the philosophy behind the approach (I’m a long-time Deming fan) because it almost always takes the blame off of regular people and puts it on the crappy, poorly designed process. Google “Deming red bead experiment” for a high-level insight to this line of thinking. The bottom line is that most failures in organizations are from crappy processes that were engineered to fail, not from people not working hard enough.

    That said, Borders senior management clearly strikes me as deserving of a new career in entry-level fast food service. If employee safety (from terroristic threats) is the goal, senior management must implement policies and processes that pursue this objective. Looked through the policy of suppressing written speech that is critical of Islam, which outcome is more likely? Note that we must view the analysis from the perspective of the Islamic terrorist we are attempting to delight through this policy:

    1: The terrorist, being a mostly rational individual, will observe that Borders is a uniquely responsive organization that has shown considerable favor towards the terrorist’s philosophy. This behavior deserves recognition, and the terrorist announces a policy statement that Borders employees are now exempt from slaughter. The terrorist immediately goes to the closest Borders store and signs up for their new customer loyalty program and buys a few nice books and a tall latte.

    2. The terrorist, being by definition an individual who seeks power through intimidation, fear and force, identifies a win through the latest effort and uses this intimidation to extract further concessions. Similar to the behavior of a bully, the terrorist has now clearly identified a target subject that can be manipulated – a weak cow separated from the herd. What other goals can be pursued through this target? Borders carries homosexual literature which is a death offense to Allah. Removed from the shelves or the cashier dies. Christian, Jewish and Buddhist literature? Gone or a store is blown up. Women employees? Gone. And so on.

    And this ignores follow-along effect from other intimidation-inclined groups that will quickly recognize Borders as an easy mark.

    A more appropriate model that pursues the outcome of neutrality is that of a common carrier, e.g. “We carry all sorts of books as they are available from our suppliers and are demanded by our customers. If 100% of our business was for Islamic texts, that would be all that was stocked on the shelves. Don’t like our selection? It is only a reflection of what the public seeks to purchase and does not reflect any editorial policy of Borders management.”

    Unfortunately, Borders executives seem to be consistent in one area: they do not know how to design effective policies and processes that achieve stated goals, and anyone who looks at their struggling performance can quickly come to this conclusion. Straying from the objective-minded herd to appease the wolves is not an indication of competent corporate direction.


  • John Steele

    I think the really sad part of this whole affair is that Borders was not even threatened; they took this action out of fear of possible reprisals. There is no allegation that someone called Borders threatening a bomb in a store. Borders took from the press reports the lessons the Muslims wanted them to take; offend us and people will die — maybe you.

    This is even more bizarre than the New York University matter — at least in that case there was a thinly veiled threat. A student organization was planning to hold and open forum on the cartoons and the reaction. They had arranged for on-campus and off-campus speakers and were planning to show four of the cartoons to illustrate the debate. The University administration ordered them to either not display the cartoons or not allow off-campus participants. Just coincidentally the day before the university issued the gag order the head of the Muslim Students Association sent an email reminding people that these cartoons had, unfortunately, triggered violence and death in other places in the world. The University clearly took the message they were intended to take from the email.

    The Western Standard a Canadian magazine is being sued by the Alberta Human Rights Commission, a provincial government agency, on behalf of a Calgary imam for publishing the cartoons in a recent issue of the magazine.

    This is just the beginning. And Borders can take pride that they helped along the cause of repression and intimidation.

  • permanent expat

    Teresa: Oh! What a brave little girl you are, blacklisting a shit-scared bookshop. Yes, you are certinly contributing to the fight against terror.
    ……and while I’m at it, Dale Amon, when is someone going to throw down the gauntlet to Islamist terrorists. I’m surprized the best you can do is a bookshop.

  • Verity

    I have mooted the idea of reverse immigration before and people jump on me, but as permanent expat says, and surely everyone is now aware, we are in mortal danger (not least from our own government. Oh, to be in Denmark!).

    Hirsi Ali has warned and warned and warned about the nature of Islam.

    As to the “rights” of citizenship that some of these people who want to kill our civilisation have, they are irrelevant. Muslims do not recognise governments run by humans. There are no nationalities. There is only one nation in their underdeveloped brains, and that is the nation of Islam. Fine, let them go and live in it.

    I would suggest a first step would be closing down the mosques as possible instigators of terrorism. The mosques should have undergone a cold lockdown for two weeks or one month after the 7/7 mass murders and maimings. That might have concentrated their “minds” and signalled that we are in charge and we weren’t going to allow this behaviour. But it wasn’t done, and the Muslims have inched a considerable way forward since then.

    Instead, Tony Blair sympathised with the Muslims, who he was sure were “just as shocked as we are” and cobbled together his loony tunes Muslim advisory panel made up of ambitious fruitcakes and Cat Stevens. Brian Paddick furiously ticked off a reporter for mentioning Islam and terrorist in the same sentence.

    Face reality. Things are not going to get better unless you take the reins into your own hands and make them better yourselves.

  • Verity

    And now bookshops – of all places! – are caving in to the ignorant, bigotted aggressors who mean us harm.

  • permanent expat

    What Verity said.

    Oh! The brave blacklisting of a bookshop. A magnificent gesture in combatting terror & preserving what’s left of our gutless civilazation. Good show, chaps!

  • Eurostatistician


    You are right on everything except that I am not one of the ‘you’ you refer to – though admittedly the way I worded my posting made it seem that I am, in fact, one of the ‘you’.

    So what do you propose? How do we go about putting the Islamist toothpaste back into the Islamist tube?

    I have some pretty radical ideas on this, but I don’t want to make you sensitive freedom-of-speech libertarians blush and have you play the BNP card.

    Hence my ‘realism’ – recognition that the percentage of Europeans willing to take the necessary, unpleasant measures is pretty minimal. As Europe burns, even the libertarians (with whom I sympathise in so many ways) seem to have little better to propose than sanctifying the enemy’s right to ‘free speech’. Perhaps I am mistaken on this – I certainly hope so.

  • Dale Amon

    As libertarians we recognize the defense of liberty is a personal matter. We are not children hoping daddy will protect us so that we do not have to do it ourselves. We take our own liberty in our own hands and fight for it. We are in the midst of a new type of warfare, one where the front lines are everywhere and nowhere. Young men and womean are fighting and sometimes dying for those values far from home, so why should we excuse a coward on the home front? In this type of war the home front really is a battle front and it carries dangers with it too. To this day, a larger number of our dead are here than ‘over there’. I suspect that will not soon change.

    How can I *not* expect Borders to stand up for the Rights which generations have shed their blood for (whether we agree on a given cause or not does not change the fact those people did give their lives believing that) in the past? Borders is made up of individuals. Those individuals will either learn to love their own culture and way of life and be willing to fight and die for it where they live or they are going to lose it to people who do so believe.

    We are entering an age in which the individual is the first line of defense. The sooner everyone comes to understand that, the better off we all will be and the lower the long term death toll.

    A better move on the part of Borders would be suggesting to employees some good shooting ranges where they can hone their skills.

  • xiaoding

    I don’t go to booksores to browse the censored magazine section.

    The safety of Borders employees is not my problem. They were happy to take my money before the war, right?

    We are all at risk in this war, an attack can happen anywhere, any time. I will buy nothing from Borders unitl they change this decision. I will encourage others to do the same.


  • GCooper

    Eurostatistician writes:

    “… that the percentage of Europeans willing to take the necessary, unpleasant measures is pretty minimal.”

    But is it? In recent weeks I have been spoken with many people throughout the UK and when this subject has been raised, not once have I encountered anyone who wasn’t seething at the policy of appeasement adopted by the new establishment.

    I suppose I should add that, while no scientific study, the people who have expressed, broadly similar, views have ranged from dons to dustmen. Though no dukes were involved, it must be said.

    As a consequence, I suspect what we have in the UK at present is, to use the fashionable word, a ‘disconnect’ between what our masters in politics and the media want us to think and what we actually do.

    How this tension will resolve itself is unknowable. But people are very, very angry. I suspect they will only tolerate so much and I also suspect that our masters have little idea how close they are to the precipice.

  • Verity

    OK, chaps and chapesses, here’s a fellow who wants to do something about it and has put his money where his sandwiches are (he owns a sandwich shop). He says no one can say he’s prejudiced, because he is dark skinned himself.

    Great oaks from little acorns grow, and welcome to Britain, Mr Johannes Shanmugam from Sri Lanka!

    (Link) Hat tip, Harry’s Place.

  • Dale Amon

    I do not think I said at any point Borders do not have a right as individuals to carry or not carry anything they chose. My article and my point is that most of us *expect* them to play their individual role in defense of the First Amendment, as must we all, and that failure to do so gains them the approbrium of their customer base.

  • cowtipper

    Dale writes:
    As libertarians we recognize the defense of liberty is a personal matter.

    Exactly! I spent time in central Germany in the mid-1980s. As a person of predominantly Czech heritage, part of my curiosity at the time (which has only grown since then) was how our Bohemian cousins so quickly aided in the extermination of millions, not to mention the merciless slaughter of Czech people (yes, even white males have ethnic pride on occasion).

    The family showed me a book that was kept hidden in their home during the 1930s through the war, printed in England and exposing the holocaust. Printed in 1937 and apparently known and owned by many Germans, it was an acknowledgment that they knew what was going on (“Hitler’s Willing Executioneers” is an exceptional albeit lengthy book that goes into this issue in depth which I strongly recommend). I asked what their family did about the knowledge — nothing. In fact, several were highly visible local Nazi party officials, aiding in a cause they knew was wrong. Their explanation was that at this point, there was nothing they could do to object. They lost their opportunity which was when the brownshirts were first taking to the streets. Once Hitler attained office, opposition usually resulted in persecution and death. Nazi momentum was too powerful to resist.

    Given the Islamic brownshirts marching for a cause to enslave or exterminate all nonbelievers, Borders, countless newspapers of shame and universities have already announced their abandonment of the defense against tyranny. To some, it would appear the voices of reason are mostly silent, though I’m hopeful enough have awoken to deal with this threat. Observers of history recognize that appeasers share the blame for the destruction they enable (though not enough face a consequence for their role).

    If you are a Muslim, understand you have a role in this which will determine a critical outcome. Speak up and reform your faith, or accept that eventually the world will have to put an end to a virulant culture. A belief system that accepts no alternatives has a destiny in either its own dominance or eradication.

  • Dale Amon

    There are fortuneately many Muslims like this, cowtipper. Some are friends and I have talked about the US First Amendment and such things with them. It is actually the people of good faith in that community who are first in line for the violence of these modern brown shirts. Any victory we give those evil sorts increases their power and influence and ability to cow and harm decent folk of that faith.

    If there is a true front line, it is within the Muslim community, and those folk are bearing the initial brunt of the battle for a liberal society.

    I think a slight variation on an old theme is in order: “First they came for the modern muslims. But I was not a muslim, so I did nothing. Then they came for the bookstores. But I did not own a bookstore, so I did nothing…”

  • cowtipper

    There are fortuneately many Muslims like this,

    I certainly hope so! We’re somewhat sheltered here in flyover USA, though my alma mater is the home to the predominant Afghan studies program and I’ve had quite a few former Syrian and Iranian friends of progressive, Islamic faith. Nearly all of them profess a high degree of shock about their first American experience – finding it hard to believe how open mnded and tolerant Americans really are. Perhaps the greatest inspiration came from a female Islamic friend from Moldova who finally figured it out – the whole Islamofascist thing in her eyes is nothing but a facade for insecure, lesser men to keep their wive(s) from leaving them. I think her exact quote had to do with loud threats and small something-or-others…

    She also had some great commentary on American isolationists like Pat Buchanan and pointed out that there was little difference in her eyes between the irrational, fearful isolationists who couldn’t compete with other cultures and ideas.

    Digressions aside… Muslims have a real challenge on their hands, as do we in not permitting our own institutions in enabling and appeasing terror. I’m not sure about others here but I was seriously disgusted with the Americans who reacted to the Dubai port deal. Someone needs to hit both US parties with a cluestick and explain to them who keeps buying all the treasury debt produced from out-of-control spending, and then see how isolationistic they want to be.


  • Ross: it’s not “censorship”, either. I would make the same point to J. Lawson. “Self-censorship”, as a concept, attempts to equivocate between a voluntarily-taken decision to not say something and the forcible imposition against saying something. Now, you can have the word if with it you intend to connote something like Borders’ little jig here, which is only an extension of the same principles of self-determination. But if that’s what you’re going to call it, then you need to find another word for the forcible imposition against saying something because they are two very different things and it won’t do to call them by the same name.

    You do understand that that won’t do, right?

    Dale: in re “individual first line”: what you said. This is part & parcel of the cultural underpinnings of liberty, and people have to understand not only the realities involved but also why fidelity to those realities means better life. Borders doesn’t get it, and I know you know that they have a right to be bloody stoopid. But you’re the one who’s right about where the realities are. That’s a far bigger deal.

  • Snake

    Just because its not government censorship doesn’t mean its not censorship. Censorship doesn’t have to be illegal to be wrong.

  • Millie Woods

    Doug f, I understand the point you make but mine was that Borders is in the business of selling books and if they are willing to ignore that in order to avoid potential unpleasantness from a barbaric horde of non-readers so be it.
    They will drive away custom and for what.
    I well know that safety concerns for their staff might have motivated this bad decision but please understand that we are all in the front line when faced with the enemy in our midsts.
    No amount of precaution could have saved the murdered female engineering students at the Ecole Polytechnique of the Universite de Montreal simply because normal precaution does not cover an insane Islamic roaming corridors and killing brutally. Nor would it have protected the students at Chapel Hill from the equally insane Islamic intent on slaughter of infidels. Nor would it have stopped 9/11, Madrid or the London subway killings.
    The bullying Islamic madmen should have been stopped in their tracks in Bradford/Leeds when the Salman Rushdie affair began. Instead they were empowered and enabled by the authorities. The way to stop this descent into a Hobbesian hell is to clamp down with severity and not to appease. As for Borders – RIP.

  • Borders must be “concerned about their employee safety” and must be “realistic”. It is this “realism” that chips away at civilization. Just a threat or intimation or possibility of hurt is enough to stop Borders. Imagine if all airline passengers were that cowardly. There is more than one way to kill a free society and blackmailing those who deal in ideas (the press, book sellers, the internet, MSM) is a good first step.

  • Why does Borders assume Muslims will do something horribly violent if they do carry the magazine? Is this racism/Islamophobia on their part?

    All Muslims should be insulted by Borders’ implied insult.

  • Verity

    All Muslims should be insulted by Borders’ implied insult. They will be, Torgo. They will be.

    More from the Toonrage World Tour, this one with dates in major cities all over the US.

  • Sean P

    Great minds think alike, I guess. I already emailed Borders yesterday and advised them that I would no longer be shopping there and why. Too bad, too, because my wife just joined that Border’s preferred customer club and I had quite a wishlist of books I wanted to buy with it.

  • Joe Dokes

    Hey, Samizdata,

    Good post about Borders. Can you tell us when you posted the cartoons? If you haven’t, then when will you? How about today?

  • Dale Amon

    There have been some cartoon images in various photos, but as the main battle has been in print media and they are easily available on the net, we have not felt any urgency. If it helped tell the story of a particular article it would be included probably by link to the copy right holder.

    Is there any of them you particularly like and would like to see here by special request? No big deal. Ask and ye shall recieve.

  • Verity

    This sounds like a trick to me, Dale. There is no one in the Anglosphere – or anywhere else, I’ll wager, except very poor countries where people aren’t connected – who hasn’t seen the Toons on the net.

  • cowtipper

    Serious great news, folks!

    I’ve just confirmed that Borders is running with the cartoons!

    And even better, they’ve been doing it all along. How silly we are for getting upset about some free speech magazine when they were fooling the Sharia extremists the whole way.

    Check your local store or via Borders online for South Park, First Five Seasons for the fifth season episode “The Super Best Friends” portrays a cartoon Muhammad with the power of fire, joining with Jesus, Moses, Budda, Krishna, Joseph Smith and Lao Tsu to fight the evil magician David Blaine.

    We’ve all been hoodwinked. Buy a copy today and share it with your Islamic friends for a touching message of cooperation, love and peace among religions and cartoons.


  • There is another solution to this, folks. Borders Group’s stores take special orders. If everybody who has complained about their decision to protect their employees were to go to the nearest BG affiliate store (be it Borders, Waldenbooks, or Borders.com) and place an order for the store to get this magazine — and as many others as possible — even though they might not actually be able to get the publications for you, they will certainly get the point.

    Plus, you won’t slowly, painfully, force a perfectly good provider of literature out of business.

    Support freedom of the press. Order a magazine.

  • Dale Amon

    I just went ahead and picked my favorite. Incidentally does anyone know where I can get this one on a t-shirt? I absolutely love this cartoon!

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Permanent Expat, I may be missing something – I have had several glasses of wine (rather good ones, in fact) – but are you sneering at Samizdata for having a pop at Borders? Because if you are, you are being blatantly unfair, since this site has, pretty much since Perry launched it, taken a hard line on the dangers of radical islam.

  • Once you fold, can bending, stapling, and mutilation be far behind? People get all worked up about “slippery slopes” — but self-censorship in honor of irrational ideologues is still the most dangerous slippery slope we have.

  • Eurostatistician

    …since this site has, pretty much since Perry launched it, taken a hard line on the dangers of radical islam.

    To talk about ‘radical Islam’ is like talking about ‘radical Communism’ or ‘radical fascism’. As though there were some kind of decent variety of these religious or political ideologies.

    So where are all those non-radical Muslims anyhow? There certainly weren’t very many at the Trafalgar Square free speech demo.

    Islam-lite? A figment of the liberal imagination.

  • Johnathan

    Eurostatistian – what exactly is your point?

  • Verity

    Well, I understood Eurostatistician’s point, Johnathan. Moderate Islam is a comforting myth and defies the evidence. This is not to say there aren’t some normal Muslims, but they are few and far between, because you have to buy into the whole programme, and that is that people who don’t subscribe to their religion are an abomination in the eyes of their Mohammad. And that Allah has decreed the entire world has got to be Islamic, or else. And that everyone is born Muslim, because that is nature’s way. Therefore, those adhering to other faiths, and those who adhere to no faith, have committed the terrible sin of apostacy and should be killed. This is why, in their eyes, people don’t “convert” to Islam; they “revert”, because that is how we’re all born.

    This is what their Koran tells them. There is no middle way. You’re either a Muslim, the way Allah wants you to be, or you’re a wicked, conniving apostate/infidel and have to be punished by death.

    This is why this talk of “moderate Islam” is dangerous, because as yet, there is no such thing. They may have a Reformation, but equally, they may not.

  • permanent expat

    Jonathan: I’m a lot of horrible things but “sneerer” isn’t one of them. I am aware that I am a guest here & try to behave myself as best I can in spite of being driven to near apoplexy by some of the more liberally blinkered posters……….but it’s a free country, or…?
    I am also halfway through a drinkable red….and raise a glass to Samizdata (hope I’m not crawling now!)
    I know that Samizdata has open eyes as far as Islam is concerned and that is not the point.
    I notice that the bookshop panic has proved to be either only half true or an entirely false appreciation of the situation….and reams of “how many angels” erudition has been penned.
    I have just watched Condi’s reception up North with the traitor Straw……….seen the mostly Muslim mob baying ……seen & heared the white Welfare trash which needs bullhorns for its bullshit. The country is being subverted …..day after day….& nobody seems to care. Does no-one think that this is more important for us than a frightened bookshop? Where is the discussion about steps a new government should take, P-bloody-C or not, to rid the UK of all Islamic dissidents of all generations; back to their parents’ places of birth. If this is not effectively done, then the UK certainly is.
    No, I’m not sneering…..but you know who is!

  • Julian Taylor

    Do they stock the da vinci code which offends this christian?

    Dunno how anyone can be offended by The Da Vinci Code, given the complete trite that it is. To be so gives undue publicity to Mr Brown, which must be avoided at all costs, in the same way that the incredibly boring Satanic Verses served only to massage Rushie’s bank balance and already inflated ego.

  • Verity

    Ah, yes, Julian, twiddling the knobs on the radio to get perfect pitch while Rome burns.

  • jeffrey

    You’re trying to punish Borders for a business decision. That’s not different from someone else–be it a private person or a government institution–trying to punish Borders. IOW, your demands that Borders carry this magazine has no more validity than someone demanding they don’t carry it–or a government authority ordering them not to carry it.

    Borders is under no obligation to you or anyone else to carry any publication. So get over it. And it’s not as if the cartoons are not widely available anyway.

    BTW, the book cowtipper was shown is probably a fraud. The organized killing of Jews did not begin until Kristallnacht in November 1938; the persecutions and murders that occurred in the period 1933-38 were well known, even publicized, throughout Germany and Europe.

  • your demands that Borders carry this magazine has no more validity than someone demanding they don’t carry it–or a government authority ordering them not to carry it.

    Good god, Jeffrey, do you not see the painfully obvious difference? I can stand on a street corner and demand that my fellow citizens don’t smoke in pubs ’til I’m blue in the face. In an unregulated environment, said fellow citizens can tell me where to stick my demands. What do you think happens when a government demands that its citizens don’t smoke in pubs?

    What Dale’s doing here is trying to convince readers not to shop at Borders. He has no power to coerce, they can ignore him and buy up the whole shop if they choose. If a government ordered Borders (to use your example) not to carry the Free Inquiry issue you mentioned, do you think there’s any choice involved on the part of Borders – or any other entity in a similar situation, for that matter?

  • Eurostatistician

    Where is the discussion about steps a new government should take, P-bloody-C or not, to rid the UK of all Islamic dissidents of all generations; back to their parents’ places of birth. If this is not effectively done, then the UK certainly is.?

    Permanent expat, I presume your question is a rhetorical one.

    You don’t expect nice people to answer it, do you?

    And here — whatever about our abhorrence of statism — we are all nice people.

  • permanent expat

    Eurostatistician: You know as well as I do that there aren’t any nice people. Nor, it seems, are there too many pragmatists.
    Shame. We shall bend our necks to the ‘halal’ knife in the comforting knowledge that we did all that Politically Correct sheep can do.

  • Julian Taylor,

    “…yet they continue to stock and retail something items like this rather lame movie about the life of Mohammed which surely must be more offensive to Muslims than the occasional cartoon”

    As detailed in the late Richard Grenier’s masterpiece of black humour, THE MARRAKESH ONE-TWO, the producer of this movie. Moustapha Akkad. bent over backwards to placate the Islamonuts while making this movie, only to be repeatedly betrayed. In fact, one of the first incidents of Islamic terrorism in the U.S. took place because of that movie:

    ” Remarkably Hollywood, that hotbed of heroic Ku Klux Klanners, crook-nosed Jewish antagonists and general cultural annihilation, had never blundered into a full-fledged Mohammed-on-film disaster. But in 1976 a Syrian-born director, Moustapha Akkad, began shooting a film called “The Message,” an epic in the tradition of “Lawrence of Arabia” about the contentious birth of Islam.

    Because excising the Prophet from his own story would be impossible, Akkad was forced to make a film whose protagonist was, in effect, absent. A Muslim himself, Akkad knew what was at stake — no one had ever successfully attempted a play, much less a film about the Prophet. If he pulled it off, he’d be the cinematic voice of the Muslim world. If not, they might literally kill him.

    In the late 1970s, the so-called fundamentalist revolution was sweeping the Arab world, and as the West continued to plunder the oil-rich lands of Mohammed’s birth, the excesses of Hollywood were square in the sights of the new fanatics.

    Akkad’s solution was simple: Shoot around the protagonist.

    Mohammed never appears in “The Message,” but he’s presented in the first-person in a tactic worthy of the most laughable B-movies. When necessary, Akkad uses the camera to represent what the Prophet sees. He goes places, people talk to him, and, oddly enough, he does things. Like a recurring slasher-cam or brain-jacked Malkovich, you are strapped into a cranial shotgun seat to see Mohammed’s life and times unfold. He gives plenty of commands, but you never hear his voice, whipping the screenplay and supporting characters into a frenzy of clumsy explication.

    While never graceful, Akkad’s spectral Mohammed generally stays out of the way. The real star of “The Message” is Anthony Quinn as Hamza, the Prophet’s bad ass uncle, and film’s apparent sole box office hope.

    Hedging his bets, Akkad decided to shoot two versions of the film, one in English, and another in Arabic. This meant reshooting nearly every scene and hiring alternate leads. If the film flopped in the U.S., maybe the Middle East would be more receptive.

    But the Arab world was already playing telephone with news of Akkad’s film, mangling facts with fiction and topping the finished rumor with a dash of cross-cultural bias. The rumor was that a Mohammed movie would be made, starring a big-name American celebrity. And since it involved the Americans, who were sure to add insult to sacrilege, then obviously Charlton Heston was in the title role of the Prophet. The final, distilled word-of-mouth amounted to, “Screw you and your huge religion, America is making a movie starring Moses as Mohammed.”

    This didn’t sit well with the devout. Bomb threats were already being called in, so Akkad hired four Islamic clerics to oversee the production, trying to quash any unfounded rumors. Shooting began in Morocco, with a sprawling replica of ancient Mecca and the requisite cast of thousands. But soon enough, the clerics quit — though they retained writing credits, a perfect film industry paradox. Then King Faisal of Saudi Arabia managed to convince Morocco’s King Hassan that the false Mecca built for the movie was *too* good and might draw pilgrims away from the real holy city. Akkad was promptly kicked off his own set, and out of Morocco.

    Desperate to finish his film, Akkad needed a new country to shoot in and as luck would have it, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi came to the rescue. Akkad moved the production to Libya, and “The Message,” and its Arabic-language companion, “Al-Risalah,” was nudged across the finish line with the help of a reviled, terrorist-sponsoring dictator.

    As the date was set for the U.S. release, things clearly couldn’t get any worse.

    Then, on March 9, 1977, a group of black Muslims attacked three buildings in downtown Washington D.C. and took 149 people hostage. They had plenty of demands, but the only coherent one was to prevent the upcoming release of “The Message.” Despite all of Akkad’s efforts, these terrorists were positive that Anthony Quinn would be playing Mohammed. Thirty-nine hours later, the siege was over — a reporter was dead and dozens of hostages had been stabbed, beaten or shot. “The Message” bombed, and Akkad went on to direct one more flop, “Lion of the Desert,” funded in large part by Qaddafi, before making a considerable fortune as the executive producer of all eight “Halloween” films. (He’s currently trying to find backers for a film about Saladin, Islam’s greatest champion during the Crusades. So far, no one’s biting.)


    Footnote: Moustapha Akkad and his daughter Rima Akkad were killed by Islamist militants in the 2005 Amman bombings while they were attending a wedding celebration in Jordan.


  • Jeffrey Quick

    Neither the eponymous nor the anonymous contributors to Samizdata really put their lives on the line when they publish motoons, or take the mickey out of Islam and the holy book with the squiggly writing.

    Borders’ employees may well do so if their employer stocks ‘Islamophobic’ books .

    Posted by Eurostatistician at March 31, 2006 03:22 PM

    Does anyone know what Borders’ policy is regarding firearms in the workplace? Is it as I suspect it is? If they’re going to turn the stores into a victim disarmament zone, it makes their cowardice re Free Inquiry a little more understandable. The only way they have a responsibility to protect their employees is if they prevent their employees from protecting themselves.

  • Verity

    Here’s the letter Borders’ Chairman is sending out to those who emailed in with outraged comments.
    (Link) Hat tip: LGF.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Oh! The brave blacklisting of a bookshop. A magnificent gesture in combatting terror & preserving what’s left of our gutless civilazation. Good show, chaps!

    It was this paragraph that made me accuse permanent expat of sneering. I let others to decide wether I am right about that.

    Making rude noises about Borders is indeed, a gesture and nothing more. But to repeat, this blog has raised concerns about the trend of affairs surrounding islamic intolerance from the blog’s very beginning.

    And blogs can be quite effective, I think, in raising points like this. It may be a “gesture” to you, but “gestures” all add up.

  • Julian Taylor,

    “yet they continue to stock and retail something items like this rather lame movie about the life of Mohammed which surely must be more offensive to Muslims than the occasional cartoon”

    It was. One of the first acts of Islamic terrorism on American soil was motivated by the showing of MOHAMMED: MESSENGER OF GOD.


    The producer of the movie and his daughter were murdered in the Jordanian wedding bombings of 2005.


  • Matt O'Halloran

    And don’t forget to stand up for the rights of race realists in British universities while you’re at it. Free speech plays no favourites.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Matt, my slow-witted corro, don’t overlook the fact that this individual has stated that he has no non-white students in his class. There may have been doubts as to whether he could not be relied upon to grade his students fairly and objectively.

  • Eurostatistician

    In reply to Matt O’Halloran’s appeal to stand up for the rights of race realists, Johnathan writes:

    Matt, my slow-witted corro, don’t overlook the fact that this individual has stated that he has no non-white students in his class. There may have been doubts as to whether he could not be relied upon to grade his students fairly and objectively.

    The reason that ‘this individual’ happens to have no non-whites in his class is probably that ‘this individual’ (Frank Ellis) teaches a very difficult language, namely Russian. I have learnt it myself and, believe me, the first 10000 hours are the worst – that’s the time it takes to learn the 14 verbs of motion.

    It is a subject that does not appeal to the untalented. Since blacks have an average IQ of 85 or thereabouts, only a very small proportion would be able to meet the subject’s cognitive demands (though you don’t have to be a genius).

    Frankly, I had never expected to find such squeaky-clean political correctness expressed in an allegedly libertarian site – it’s not as though Frank Ellis expressed hatred of other races. He simply stated racial facts – namely that for partly genetic reasons, some races (such as the Japanese) are more intelligent than whites, others are less so. For further details, read yesterday’s letter to the Sunday Times, which you’ll find online here.

    Wow! And I thought you guys were freedom-lovers.

  • Dale Amon

    If you have nothing to say a out Borders, say nothing. Let us stay on topic. – Editor

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Eurostatistician, if an academic wants to pursue the subject of possible patterns of IQ/race differences, I am not going to say no — how could I? — but what I have a problem with is such people seeking to justify coercive political views on the back of such supposed evidence, such as bans on intermarriage, deportation of designated groups and the like. It is the collectivist element of racism I dislike the most. As an individualist, how could I say otherwise?

    And to repeat, this is why I want to see higher education privatised and draw the political sting out of issues like this. As long as such places are paid for out of tax, the taxpayer is entitled to ask searching questions about the type of people placed in charge of young people and their learning, and the possible political activities of said.

  • Eurostatistician


    Strictly speaking you are right — Frank Ellis is a bit off-topic, I suppose. Still, the Borders debate does concern freedom of speech and it looks as though your support for this right has certain disturbing limitations.

    Besides, since Johnathan Pearce is one of your core contributors, he might himself have set the example by not straying too far afield.

  • Dale Amon

    This is why Samizdata has editors. We are private property on which people hold civil discussions under ‘house rules’ which are pretty lenient.

    Some areas always get out of control and swamp other discussions. This one has been done to death and no one is going to change their minds, and it has little to do with the topic at hand.

    I happen to mix and work quite nicely with people of all sorts. My only personal judgement of people is based shared culture, not on shared genes.

    Topic ended.

  • Hi Dale,

    I don’t see much distance between Leeds University and Borders. The principle at stake – free speech – is the same. The anti-free speech assault in the Leeds case has been led by Pakistani-origin activists who are highly unlikely to be convinced Humanists. The fundamental reason why Ellis and the Danish cartoon guys spoke freely in the first place is the same: the aggression against their respective populations of mass immigration.

    I don’t want to get involved in another thread war” with you, fun though they are. I understand that they are tiresome for you and unwinnable by either party. But I do want to say that there are profound real-world issues of freedom beyond free speech in both the Ellis and J-L cases and, that while these are not libertarian in character, they are nonetheless just causes – and must be won if our children are to be as free as our forefathers.

    Our blog devotes itself no less honourably to these causes than Samizdata does to its own, and far more openly. We have two libertarians blogging on our slate, both perfectly free to argue from any standpoint they wish. Anybody reading this is welcome to come and argue the case for open borders, cosmopolitanism and the sovereign individual. There will be no rancour and no IP ban.

  • ben tillman

    This boycott is an appalling example of collectivism.

  • Victor

    What Borders is doing is totally offensive to American ideals and the intelligence of its customers. I am personally not shopping at Borders anymore (used to really like the bookstore). But there are plenty of Barnes & Nobles, Books a Million, and small independent bookstores I can use. Also, take a look at http://www.boycottborders.com, which also has some links to other sites dealing with this issue. Samizdata, stay on this issue for sure!

  • Dale Amon

    Collectivism? Takes rather a stretch of imagination to get there. You would have to define a pickup game of basketball on the street corner as Collectivist then.

    That is exactly what this is. I and a few others have said, “Let’s have a party! You can come if you want, and if you are really interested you can bring something with you.”

    Hardly a collectivist attitude. Now if we were asking for the State to threaten Borders with violence on our behalf, like most “People With A Cause” do, then that would be collectivist.

    We threaten no violence. Only a voluntary withdrawel of our patronage and hard earned money (what the State hasn’t stolen) from purchases at their premises.

    It is just Individualism at work. Do or don’t do as you choose. Come to the party if you want; have your own party if you want; stay home if you want.

  • Philip Coates

    **Anti-Borders Mini Campaign**

    Take this the next step further:

    1. make a short brochure about why Border’s capitulations endanger all of our freedoms…and leave copies lying around Boders’s stores every week or two.

    2. What about a T-Shirt: “Friends don’t let friends shop at Borders…Ask Me Why”

    It’s important to let them feel some pain and backlash for their actions, so they do not become the first of a wave of capitulating corporations in publishing, movies, etc.