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Saturday, November 27, 2010

New Threats to Freedom edited by Adam Bellow



Mostly interesting set of essays

The theme of this book is, clearly, threats to our freedom. This can be interpreted as America's freedom, Western freedom in general of the freedom of all people throughout the world. Depending on the reader's sensitivities, some of these freedoms may seem trivial (the freedom of ice cream vendors in New York City to sell their wares near city parks, for example) or may seem monumental (back to those same vendors - can you really ban a licensed business from selling his wares just because you don't want to hear your kids whine all day about ice cream?)

The writing is generally high quality but there are a wide variety of styles, themes and issues that make this an uneven read. For example, Stephen Schwartz's essay "Shariah in the West" is mostly an essay about how Shariah is not a threat, but just a media-hyped bogeyman,  followed by a few paragraphs about how it might still be a threat. The "Illusion of Innocence" by Shelby Steele had a similar feel and the last essay by Dennis Whittle, "Orthodoxy and Freedom in International Aid" was more about bureaucratic intertia than any outright threat.


Adam Bellow,
 editor
On the other hand essays such as Greg Lukianoff's "Students Against Liberty?" was very thought-provoking (IUPUI, the University where I earned my Master's gets a mention on page 139, much to my embarrassment). The placement of a very strong essay by Mark Helprin entitled "The Rise of Antireligious Orthodoxy" right before a strong essay on multi-culturalism by Christopher Hitchens (well known for his anti-religious books) makes me smile every time. Hitchins makes a strong point that we should never fail to confuse individual civil rights with "group" rights in our efforts to be a free society.

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: New Threats to Freedom

Reviewed on November 27, 2010.

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