Review of You Can’t Read This Book
I raised the subject of Nick Cohen – who has written an incisive, depressing, and wonderful new book on censorship – over supper with some friends on Sunday evening. The topic of conversation had drifted from crappy remuneration – mine was the crappiest – to current reading habits. I supposed dropping the name of the impeccably progressive Observer columnist would score some acceptable-face-of-conservatism points from leftish friends who find my centre-right views eccentric.
This mild-mannered group – two journalists; a PR; a teacher; Paul, who does something in finance that I still don’t understand – responded with a cacophony of hooting derision punctuated by fitful denunciations largely populated by the terms “neocon”, “WMD”, “war-monger”, and “it’s all about Israel”. Cohen may not be an “Islamophobe” but he was “the kind of writer Islamophobes enjoy reading”. He was an “apologist for Bush’s war for oil” who was “almost as shrill as Melanie Phillips”. Paul, whose job, whatever it is, presumably doesn’t involve managing hedge funds on behalf of orphanages, deployed the most stinging insult in the liberal armoury: “Cohen should go write for the Daily Mail”.