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PEN America has surrendered over Israel Writers have become the tools of zealots

'The Anglosphere’s far-Left has neatly pivoted from the infantilisation of black people to the Palestinian cause' (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

'The Anglosphere’s far-Left has neatly pivoted from the infantilisation of black people to the Palestinian cause' (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)


April 30, 2024   4 mins

Another day, another opportunity for huffy, hypocritical “progressive” posturing. PEN America has now been forced to cancel its World Voices literary festival in New York and LA, on the heels of also cancelling its 2024 awards ceremony. Too many authors had withdrawn from both events to make going ahead with staging either practicable. The reason for so many writers flouncing from these programmes? PEN’s failure to publicly denounce Israel’s “genocide” in Gaza. But you had probably guessed the point of indignation already, because as of October 2023, the Anglosphere’s far-Left has neatly pivoted from the infantilisation of black people to the Palestinian cause with the coordinated grace of a synchronised swimmer.

To clarify: the purpose of PEN is to defend freedom of speech and to protect writers from political oppression and persecution. It makes perfect sense, therefore, that a significant cadre of its membership would seek to stifle freedom of speech and engage in political oppression and persecution. Or: we’re all for free speech so long as you say what we tell you. These folks are athletes. It requires considerable intellectual acrobatics for Writers Against the War on Gaza to regard the shutting down of events to advance free expression as “a win for free expression”. Presumably, the fact that a number of withdrawals from both occasions were motivated by fear of being attacked by a mob of pro-Palestinian zealots is also “a win for free expression”. PEN itself stated its concern “about any circumstance in which writers tell us they feel shut down, or that speaking their minds bears too much risk”.

PEN is by its nature a big tent. It represents not only Muslim writers but Jewish ones too, some of whom might just support the existence of Israel, might just regard Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza as justified, and might just find alliance with genuinely genocidal terrorists whose unembarrassed aim is to wipe Israel and the Jewish people off the map as a teeny tiny bit obnoxious. While one PEN member decries the non-profit’s “both-sidesing”, the truth is that PEN has no business taking a position on this issue whatsoever.

Unfortunately, the Left has successfully installed the expectation that, regardless of their established purpose, all institutions — companies, museums, theatres, universities, charities, you name it — must proclaim their fealty to the “right” (which is to say Left) position on a host of inflammatory issues of the day. This hyper-politicisation of entities that ought sensibly to remain politically neutral has been systematically debauching everything from the National Trust to the NHS, from Anheuser-Busch to the Chicago Art Museum. First, all such outfits were required to fly Black Lives Matter flags, then garishly incoherent Pride flags, and now these banners have all to be swapped out for Palestinian flags, never mind what constituency or customer base might be alienated by this gratuitously partisan branding. Thus, an organisation established for the defence of free speech of every sort — including the overtly Zionist kind — is necessarily obliged to openly advocate for Hamas, a murderous, cheerfully antisemitic cult whose interest in free speech on its home turf would fit in a thimble.

Of course, PEN’s membership has form when it comes to hypocrisy. In 2015, under armed security, PEN awarded its Freedom of Expression Courage Award to the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo. Six writers withdrew from participating in the proceedings to protest the magazine’s ostensibly offensive printing of cartoons that depicted Mohammed. Yet funnily enough, what your average normal person found offensive was the vicious massacre of 12 of the publication’s employees, most of them journalists, for neglecting to adhere to one religion’s hysterical blasphemy laws in a secular country that famously celebrates “liberté”. Yet over 200 writers — including, to my astonishment, the likes of Joyce Carol Oates — signed an open letter to PEN criticising the Charlie Hebdo award. For these authors, defence of free speech, promotion of tolerance, and opposition to violent political oppression — the very purpose of PEN — counted for nothing when weighed against any injury to the delicate feelings of fundamentalist Muslims.

Much has been written about the unholy and in some ways hilarious alliance developing between the progressive Left and Islam (Lesbians for Palestine, etc). But for Western writers to embrace a restrictive, prescriptive, and stifling culture isn’t merely ironic or comical; it’s self-defeating. One needn’t consult a professor of Middle Eastern Studies to conclude that these fair-weather friends in Gaza may welcome useful idiocy, but the permissive ethos of the Anglo-Left is diametrically at odds with despotic Islamic theology. Moreover, for American writers to express increasingly shrill and little-disguised hostility to Jews is to disavow a substantial chunk of the country’s distinguished literary canon: Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Bernard Malamud, and Elie Weisel just for starters.

“Writers, along with artists of every stripe, aren’t special.”

But then, the past 15 years have demonstrated with depressing clarity that writers, along with artists of every stripe, aren’t special. Although our occupation is more at risk from censorship than most, we’re all too capable of perversely embracing suppressive viewpoints that violate our own interest. We’re paid not only to write but to think, yet we don’t think; we listen keenly for whatever tune is playing in our fellow travellers’ AirPods and whistle along. Apparently, we’re no more creative than the average bear, and as soon as the memo goes out, we’ll chant along with the kiddies camped at Columbia University, “From the river to the sea!” whatever that means. We’ll obediently switch out one cause for another whenever we’re told, as nimbly as using “find and replace” in Microsoft Word.

We’re cowards, conformists, and copycats. Real freedom of expression is too scary; we’d rather hide in a crowd whose keffiyeh-masked members all shout the same thing. PEN has a laudable history of advocating for writers who’ve been persecuted for their opinions in repressive polities — polities much like the contemporary United States. But too many of its members would have the non-profit corrupt its global mission to protect free speech across the board so long as they can bully its leadership into pointless partisan posturing for progressives’ acrid flavour of the month.


Lionel Shriver is an author, journalist and columnist for The Spectator. Her new book, Mania, is published by the Borough Press.


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Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
20 days ago

When you open the PEN website, the very first thing you see it’s its commitment to defending free expression. The cognitive dissonance is spectacular.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
19 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

“We’re cowards, conformists, and copycats. Real freedom of expression is too scary; we’d rather hide in a crowd whose keffiyeh-masked members all shout the same thing” – Isn’t that the truth. Most of the writer members of PEN actually don’t believe in its message but are conformist hacks eager to propogandise the prevailing leftist sentiments of the day. They are posing as being intellectuals. Life is much easier as a conformist.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
19 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I’m waiting for the following sub-groups to appear:
NCA – Nudist Club of Antarctica
MPP – Muslim Pork Producers
AFT – Actors for Totalitarianism
FAA – Farmers Against Animals
TOEE – Tesla Owners Against Electricity
SAW – Surfers Against Waves
CAN – Carpenters Against Nails
IBC – Islamic Bacon Council
HHC – Hindu Hamburger Club
MREI – Marxist Real Estate Investors

A D Kent
A D Kent
19 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

UCFG – Unherd Commentors For Genocide (it’s a biggie already and your membership is on it’s way).

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
19 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

The resident propagandist for militant jihadism and Iran’s ayatollahs is back

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
19 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

You don’t really get irony, do you.

harry storm
harry storm
18 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Revealing your ignorance for all to see. The only genocidal actors in this war are Hamas. But they don’t have the means to carry out what they wish to do. Israel does have the means to carry out a true genocide, but doesn’t. What a twisted wittle world you inhabit.

L Brady
L Brady
15 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Please let us know why you lot aren’t screamingly obsessed with other worldwide events. Did you march against Hamas on October 7th? Did you march against Russia for the real geno cide in Ukraine? Did you march against China and the geno cide of the Uyghur? Did you march against China for the Hong Kong citizens being colonised and brutalised for wanting freedom? Did you? If not why? Is it because you’re antisemitic?

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
19 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Taliban for women’s liberation

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
19 days ago

There is an argument (I first heard it in the Iranian revolution) that Islam offers true women’s liberation. The rationale is: only Islam frees women to be what g-d intended. (I have since heard the same rationale in Protestant evangelicalism — the Total Woman, etc.)

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
17 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Childish rubbish!

B Davis
B Davis
19 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

But that’s the catch…
It’s only spectacularly cognitively dissonant if you value cognitive consistency. If you believe logic trumps Revealed Truth then the utter refusal to adhere to what you say you’re all about would indeed be incredibly ridiculous. BUT if you are, instead a True Believer (in the very best Eric Hoffer sense) then the Progressive End (which becomes, in this case, ‘From the River to the Sea’) justifies whatever so-called logic loops, skips, and jumps are required.
After all, they would say, what is more important: a cosmetic consistency which serves the Western/Israeli/Jewish Devil or the defeat of same?
As Hoffer himself put it, ““It is startling to realize how much unbelief is necessary to make belief possible.”

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
19 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Not really, Orwell wrote about PEN allowing communist censorship in 1945. The left wing middle class intellectuals have been ignoring murder since the purges and famine in the USSR since the early 1930s. Malcom Muggeridge was sacked from The Guardian in the early 1930s for reporting the fame in Ukraine. Muggeridge and Orwell are the only left wing intellectuals who critcised left wing violence from the early 1930s.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
18 days ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Orwell’sessay in 1945 is called The Prevention of Literature where he mentions a PEN meeting , of whh the net effect was in favour of censorship. As Orwell points out compare to Milton’s Areopagitica which was written as defence of the freedom of the press during the English Civil War. Freedom of the press means the ability to criticize and oppose.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
20 days ago

PEN, the ACLU, liberalism, all have been infected with a zombie virus: dead, mindless and dangerous.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
19 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

It goes further than that. It could be argued that the West is infected by zombie institutions; hollowed-out by the “march through” mob.

If writers and artists are “paid to think” as Lionel Shriver maintains (and i don’t disagree), they’re very few and far between. We have a handful of mainly female writers with Unherd who’re doing an awful lot of ‘heavy lifting’ in the thinking stakes, whilst the majority of their colleagues simply toe the.line.

Meanwhile, Western populations look on, as their institutions and arts venues churn out the same old platitudes and pieties of the moment (Venice Biennale 2024 just being the latest example), devoid of independent thought or expression. The zombies are boring us to death.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
19 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Thinking and standing out against the prevailing intellectual mob sentiment is hard work. Much easier to be a propagandist for the prevailing leftist sentiment. Most writers are inevitably conformist hacks.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
19 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Yes, boredom is a big problem. While everyone is preoccupied with the collapse of everything, no one is addressing the issue of just how boring our world has become.
Thankfully we have Lionel Shriver!

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
19 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

A gentleman knows Latin and a gentleman and scholar knows Latin and Greek. C Northcote Parkinson stated a don in the mid 19th century had a degree in classics and probably maths as well and knew three to four European languages. The massive expansion of university post 1960s with drop in standards means that there are many humanites people of a low standard trying to obtain employment. Consequently they are under achieving ( according to their exalted opinion of themselves ) embittered people.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
20 days ago

“Much has been written about the unholy and in some ways hilarious alliance developing between the progressive Left and Islam (Lesbians for Palestine, etc). But for Western writers to embrace a restrictive, prescriptive, and stifling culture isn’t merely ironic or comical; it’s self-defeating.”

It’s very simple. These two extremes are stupid and evil, and only really united in their hatred and resentment of all that flourishes.

Johan Grönwall
Johan Grönwall
19 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

True. Both bow down to the Supreme Leader (God/Stalin), they strive to create a ”new human” (The Socialist Man/ The True Believer), they both are utopists (i e they believe in fairy tales), has armed struggle as a foundation, shy away from science and both accept no competition from other ideologies.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Yes. It is only unfortunate that the popularity of the word hate has obscured its more explicit synonym spite

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
19 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Socialism and Islam have much incommon. Workers of the world unite and the Muslim adherence to the Umma has the same collective drive. Both socialism and Islam wish to ‘protect’ women not liberate them. In fact the Hisb ut Tirir are socialists.
Women’s liberation is probably an unintended consequence of capitalism. With the need to have everyone earning, it’s wasteful to have 52% of the popuation uneducated and unable to earn a living, and so spend money. Captalism needs women to be educated, and so to work, and so to spend.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
19 days ago

Education for women takes off with Protestantism. Everyone was expected to read The Bible. Mothers were expected to teach children to read the Bible and their numbers.
Woman have always worked. Until 1800 80% of Britain was rural and people worked according to their strength; women used the sickle but did not swing felling axes or dig trenches. When cotton and wool factories were created, the delicate work of spinning was suitable for woman. Woman even worked in the coal mines until the factory acts. The only women who did not work were the gentlewomen depicted in novels by J Austen.

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
18 days ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Good point Charles. That ruins my theory.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
17 days ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

And the aristocrats.

El Uro
El Uro
19 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Losers of all lands, unite!

Frances An
Frances An
20 days ago

Great article from Shriver as usual. Um… So, I’m actually a committee member at PEN (Perth, Australia)… I may be the only person in my committee who expresses significant sympathy for the Jewish side. We have tried to compromise by focusing on the Israeli and Palestinian journalists and writers who have been hurt while trying to cover the conflict. But I have definitely been a little concerned about how the Israel-Palestine conflict is dividing PEN.

A D Kent
A D Kent
19 days ago
Reply to  Frances An

And what’s the current score with respect to those killed Frances? Have you noticed a slight imbalance in the numbers killed on each side?

marianna chambless
marianna chambless
19 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Great question!

Y Chromosome
Y Chromosome
12 hours ago

Ladies and Gentlemen: This is a war, and wars are exceedingly ugly. It was William Tecumseh Sherman who said, “I am tired and sick of war. It is only those who have never fired a shot, nor heard the shrieks and cries of the dying who call for more vengeance, more bloodshed. All war is hell.” He was the superintendent of the Louisiana State Military Academy before the war. When his students and faculty announced they were joining the Confederacy, he called them in an assembly, wept openly, and shouted, “You do not know what you are doing!” He understood killing all too well, and very much did know what he was doing.
Here’s another Sherman quote: “War is cruelty. There is no reforming it. All efforts to make it safe and sterile will end in humiliation and disaster.”
The monsters of Hamas are hiding among the innocents. Surgically removing them without tragic collateral damage is an impossibility. So what is the acceptable option? Allow the terrorists to come at will to rape and murder, and then retreat to the safety of their human shields? The US Army has demonstrated an amazing ability to conform to humane standards of combat. It’s just that, subsequent to WWII, it hasn’t been successful at winning wars. Viet Nam – second place. Iraq – currently being run by Iran. Afghanistan – nineteen years, medals for everyone, and the Taliban rules Kandahar. Israel is fighting for its survival. Their enemy has been explicit in his ambitions. Those who think there is an effective way to root out the Hamas fighters without disturbing the furniture should go to Israel and show the IDF how it’s done. That’s not offered rhetorically; I really do mean you should go to Israel and put your wisdom into action. Trust me, the first time most of you encounter bloody entrails on the floor will change your outlook.
Iran recently launched 150 rockets and drones intended to kill Israeli civilians. They were immune from criticism because they failed. Hamas, of course, celebrated killing civilians – which were not collateral damage, but rather the prize.
Everyone can have an opinion, but those of you who whose total experience with violence is having watched a movie might do well to embrace a little humility.

Kent Ausburn
Kent Ausburn
19 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

And would you have been equally concerned about the unequal German and Japanese civilian deaths resulting from fire bombings of Hamburgh, Dresden and Tokyo djr I ng WWII?

Citizen Diversity
Citizen Diversity
19 days ago
Reply to  Kent Ausburn

Or be able to tell the difference between Gaza and the Third Reich and Imperial Japan.

Ex Nihilo
Ex Nihilo
20 days ago

Counterintuitively–and perhaps a bit perversely–I am thrilled with the recent revelations of what “progressivism” really adds up to. For decades legions of leftist wing nuts in academia, the arts, and media have been relentlessly subverting our culture and managing to seem both cool and erudite to the merely liberal and many moderates in the process. That is unravelling and I hope the far left doubles down on its arrogant hatefulness and amplifies its nonsense so that more and more of the tolerant mainstream awakens to the reality of what has been afoot. Just as covid remote education opened the eyes of parents to the intrinsic perversity of their childrens’ curricula, October 7 has exposed the illiberalism lurking in our other cultural institutions. The morons at PEN are only one of a legion of examples. To all the progressive idiots out there I say “keep up the good work!” Conservatives need say nothing as you make their case for them with an eloquence we “deplorables” can only envy.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
19 days ago
Reply to  Ex Nihilo

“Conservatives need say nothing…” What happens when the Idiocracy reigns supreme and does away with our Constitution?

Ex Nihilo
Ex Nihilo
19 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

You totally missed the point. If you don’t understand irony as a rhetorical device I can’t help you, which by the way is one of the reasons conservatives have been disadvantaged vis a vis liberals: the later tend to be more artful and thus often more persuasive even when they are dead wrong.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Trump has said several times that he will throw out the Constitution. I don’t know if he’s serious, but still . . . . .

harry storm
harry storm
18 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

The Idiocracy is already here, as is evidenced by your comment.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
19 days ago
Reply to  Ex Nihilo

I agree EN; they at last have been exposed and subject to greater scrutiny. And yet – the power and menace of the Progressives lies in three untamed inter connected spheres. Firstly – State law. It is the twisted CRT compliant Equality Laws which belch out 24/7 the poison of the two tier (white oppressor/non white Victim) divisive ideology into every arm of public life – from NHS and Met State Militia to schools. They have not been turned off. Then there is the progressive propsganda emitted 24/7 by the captured State Media; it has warped public discourse by expounding ultra progressive identitarian credos and the pro Big State entitlement and greviance culture. These twin Horsemen – law and media – have in turned helped unleash the Third and possibly most long lasting poison into our bloodstream; a national pyschic breakdown. Successive Project Fears – whipped up with glee by the shameless BBC – on Brexit; Covid, and the Climate Terror have genuinely impacted on mental health, especially in the young, unsurprisingly tearful to be informed that they will all be roasted alive and burnt to crisps before they are 40. Look at the faces of the peaceful marchers for Gaza. Hysteria. Fury. Social media groupthink has added rocket fuel to our primal fear of social ostracism…and it is this profound ADP – anti discriminatory phobia – which has taken hold in everyones minds to disastrous effect. All scarily reminiscent of events in 1930s. A mania, gripping everyone from the Administrative
State to screaming wild eyed kid strikers. State law + State propaganda = a virus and craze living in everyone’s heads.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
19 days ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

“Look at the faces of the peaceful marchers for Gaza.”
For the most part we can’t actually see their faces because they’re maskurbating, but I take your point.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
19 days ago
Reply to  Ex Nihilo

Indeed, hence the old axiom of strategy. Never interrupt your enemy while he is making a mistake.

Dylan Blackhurst
Dylan Blackhurst
19 days ago

As usual Lionel pulls no punches. And thank god for that.
I’m so bored of the left and progressives in general. The ability to hold completely contradictory and nonsensical views together is laughable.
Are we really surrounded by over indulged idiots?
Depressingly it appears so.

Trevor Q
Trevor Q
19 days ago

Bruce Clark’s essay in Unherd today makes a similar point. He characterises ‘people jaded with cultural and political sophistication who are waiting, rather eagerly, for barbarians who offer “some kind of solution” to life’s tedium.

David Jory
David Jory
19 days ago
Reply to  Trevor Q

That will be tough for people who are 6 inches shorter because of blasphemy.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
19 days ago
Reply to  Trevor Q

They are not sophisticated, they are effete jaded types who lack artistic vision and skills. Compare them with Shakespeare, Renaissance masters, C Wren, great composers, etc.
What we have due to wealth created are large group of effete ineffectual affluent types who consume but do not construct.

Bill Tate
Bill Tate
19 days ago

Not surrounded… but they do seem to occupy influential positions from which to preach “contradictory and nonsensical views…”

T Bone
T Bone
19 days ago

The issue is never the issue. These people see revolutionary activism as spirituality. Any extended left wing movement won’t make sense because its all performance in pursuit of destabilization.

Jim C
Jim C
19 days ago

Pretty sure writers are more likely to be cancelled for anything that can conceivably be labelled as “antisemitism” than they are for critiquing Hamas.
I see Shriver is conflating anti-ethnic cleansing sentiment with being pro-Hamas (or even pro-Islam). Thought she was smarter than this; the Israelis have been extirpating Arabs on the basis of their race, not their religion – after all, for centuries Christians and their churches/monasteries/hospitals in Gaza went unmolested by the Muslims, but since October have been (deliberately) targetted for obliteration by the IGF.
Zionist Israelis are even less tolerant than Palestinian Islamists it would appear.

harry storm
harry storm
18 days ago
Reply to  Jim C

Pretty sure you didn’t actually read Lionel Shriver’s article, in which she details how PEN events are being cancelled by — no other way to say it — useful idiots like you.

As for the churches, it’s unlikely they were targeted for being churches, and more likelly because of the tunnels underneath that served as military HQs and/or weapons depots. Also worth noting that under Hamas, the Christian population of Gaza dwindled into total insignificance. Apparently structures matter more to you than actual Christians.

Neiltoo .
Neiltoo .
16 days ago
Reply to  Jim C

“ Thought she was smarter than this”

I think what you really mean here is: I think she’s smart so why doesn’t she agree with me.

L Brady
L Brady
15 days ago
Reply to  Jim C

Please let us know why you lot aren’t screamingly obsessed with other worldwide events. Did you march against Hamas on October 7th? Did you march against Russia for the real geno cide in Ukraine? Did you march against China and the geno cide of the Uyghur? Did you march against China for the Hong Kong citizens being colonised and brutalised for wanting freedom? Did you? If not why? Is it because you’re antisemitic?

David Bullard
David Bullard
19 days ago

Whoever had the dumb idea to label these people ‘progressives’?

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
19 days ago
Reply to  David Bullard

In the fullness of time, words come to mean their opposites: “liberals” are authoritarian, “progressives” are antisemitic misogynist paedophilia apologists, the left militates against the working class, and “conservatives” embrace DEI.

Geoff Elliott
Geoff Elliott
19 days ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I find it’s somewhat of a marketing law that you get your biggest flaw out of the way in your name. The ultimate expression of this surely being the Liberal Democrats.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
19 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Elliott

Haha, yes!

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
19 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Elliott

Ha. Viewed literally its an oxymoron.

harry storm
harry storm
18 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Elliott

Works for “Labour” too.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
18 days ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Well said. I’m liberal in the old sense of the word, but now I can’t say I’m left because left is now right!

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
19 days ago
Reply to  David Bullard

They did.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
19 days ago
Reply to  David Bullard

Well-asked. In order to promote progress one must have 1) an analysis of why the past was bad and 2) some objective criteria of right & wrong whereby to commend change (as progressive improvement).

Vesselina Zaitzeva
Vesselina Zaitzeva
18 days ago

And the capacity and, more importantly, willingnes to work to achieve a change for the better.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
19 days ago
Reply to  David Bullard

Self-labeling. Like “liberals”.

David Gardner
David Gardner
19 days ago
Reply to  David Bullard

Lemmings progress resolutely toward the cliff edge and beyond.

Vesselina Zaitzeva
Vesselina Zaitzeva
18 days ago
Reply to  David Bullard

It’s their own, unsurprisingly dumb, idea…

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
18 days ago
Reply to  David Bullard

Yeah, really.

Paul
Paul
15 days ago
Reply to  David Bullard

They did.

B Davis
B Davis
19 days ago

If only it were that simple.
If only they truly were idiots, there would be little to fear. Dumb, Dumber, and Dumbest couldn’t vogue their way out of wet paper bags, let alone alter national policy, and move the bloblike bureaucratic State to criminalize common sense, Christianity, and reason….to pervert our educational systems….and even our understanding of what is and is not real.
But that is exactly what has happened and continues to happen.
Michael Houellebecq, in Submission, describes this deliberate & quiet corruption & corrosion of the West quite succinctly: ““It may well be impossible for people who have lived and prospered under a given social system to imagine the point of view of those who feel it offers them nothing, and who can contemplate its destruction without any particular dismay.” Yet here we are. As he notes, ““It’s submission….The shocking and simple idea, which had never been so forcefully expressed, that the summit of human happiness resides in the most absolute submission.” What is termed dhimmitude in Muslim thought….and what is witnessed in our endless Apologies for our being the Ugly Outsider (who in this case allowed the non-denunciation of Israeli ‘genocide’ to continue).
Sadly, these are not idiots we confront, they are enemies.

A D Kent
A D Kent
19 days ago

Dylan – most of us on the left don’t hold contradictory views – we just see the following deaths as murders. The PEN US writers pulled out because they had asked PEN US to condemn them as murders and PEN US didn’t. Shriver may see these as collateral, she may see these as merely unfortunate, she may see them as a price worth paying, she may be sliding off her seat with delight, I’ve no idea, but to frame this as a free-speech issue is deplorable.

 Novelist, poet, and educator Heba Abu Nada – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Poet, novelist, and community activist Omar Faris Abu Shaweesh – killed by Israel in Gaza.
Poet, writer, literature professor, and activist Dr. Refaat Alareer – killed by Israel in Gaza.
Writer and Palestinian heritage advocate Abdul Karim Al-Hashash – killed by Israel in Gaza.
Playwright, actor and aducator Inas al-Saqa – killed by Israel in Gaza – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Poet Khaled Juma – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Historian and Professor Dr. Jihad Suleiman Al-Masri – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Writer, journalist, and photographer Yousef Dawas – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Poet and educational researcher Shahdah Al-Buhbahan – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Poet, playwright and writer Nour al-Din Hajjaj – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Writer and journalist Mustafa Hassan Mahmoud Al-Sawwaf – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Writer Abdullah Al-Aqad – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Writer Dr. Said Talal Al-Dahshan – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Poet Mohammad Abdulrahim Saleh – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Poet Saleem Al-Naffar – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
19 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

How should Israelis act to obtain the hostages and prosecute those Arabs who committed murder and rape ?
Hamas said it was not their job to protect Arabs in Gaza, why ?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Of course Netanyahu is responsible for their deaths and for thousands more. But has it ever occurred to you that Hamas knew exactly what they were doing when they slaughtered and raped 1200 Israelis? They knew Netanyahu and his right-wing fanatics would launch an all out war. And as what has always happened, the innocent are sacrificed while Hamas hides in it’s tunnels. Hamas a a long history of using human shields and setting up hospitals and schools as targets. Please don’t support a terrorist organization.

harry storm
harry storm
18 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Most of Israel supports this war, rightly, not just Netanyahu and ‘right-wing fanatics.’ They have no choice, really.

Paul
Paul
15 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

It’s hardly “right-wing fanaticism” to strike back at terrorists who killed 1200 of your citizens and kidnapped over 200 more.

B Davis
B Davis
19 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Taking all this at face value, and assuming none of these individuals were part of Hamas, and that none were killed by Hamas (though how we could possibly know and validate such conclusions seems highly dubious)…then their deaths are collateral outcomes of a violent war between two armed combatants using high explosives, guided & non-guided bombs, and automatic weapons with little discrimination..
Such deaths are terrible as war itself is terrible. But it’s not murder, being neither unlawful (since deaths in war, even of innocents, is accepted), nor premeditated, nor targeted (except in the sense that war itself is targeted).
The death of innocents has been an inevitable part of war since forever.
500K German civilians….900K Japanese civilians….hundreds of thousands in the post 9/11 conflicts…2M Vietnamese…and now 30K some Gazans. All tragic, but none of them murder; none of them genocide. The fact that Hamas uses the civilian population as shields in their war with Israel only makes this tragedy that much worse.
So what does that mean, re: PEN’s response detailed above? It means it is, indeed a free speech issue, centered about the freedom of anyone to NOT condemn Israel or Israel’s prosecution of the war against Hamas. If PEN is dedicated to free expression then they should be dedicated to the freedom of speech of both sides.
The deaths of innocents in Gaza in the midst of war is no better, no worse than the deaths of innocents in Berlin, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Baghdad, Vietnam, Korea, Verdun, Antietam, the list is endless.

harry storm
harry storm
18 days ago
Reply to  B Davis

There were undoubtedly many more writers killed in those wars, but Kent couldn’t give a flyin’ F about them. Only those killed by Jews, oops, Israelis are classified as ‘murders’, they’re the only ones that matter. I wonder why?

B Davis
B Davis
17 days ago
Reply to  harry storm

Very true.
The selectivity of our ‘outrage’ is sadly telling.

David Giles
David Giles
18 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Unfortunately for you, selective outrage isn’t true moral outrage. So your little list doesn’t include – because it wouldn’t – any Jewish hostages currently rotting in tunnels under Gaza. It doesn’t include the raped women, the mutilated, the murdered victims of Hamas. Because it wouldn’t, would it!

Cee Shear
Cee Shear
18 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

You’ve missed one of Shriver’s key points. Why should PEN condemn anyone or any entity of murder, it is not its purpose, place or remit to do so. In much the same way as it is not any umbrella organisation’s place to align itself with any movement. Echoing too other commentators’ views on any “genocide” and your clear selective activism on this issue. Can you name the same amount of creatives in China, Sudan, Syria, Mexico, Ukraine etc. that have died in circumstances of war? We’ll wait (but not long enough for you to undertake a Google search).

George Venning
George Venning
17 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

To write this article without bothering to link or even mention the open letter at the heart of all this is pretty bananas.
Shriver writes that “the purpose of PEN is to defend freedom of speech and to protect writers from political oppression and persecution”. So whatever else one might think about the text of the letter, its key demand is within the organisation’s remit.
“We demand PEN America release an official statement about the 225 poets, playwrights, journalists, scholars and novelists killed in Gaza and name their murderer: Israel, a Zionist colonial state funded by the U.S. government.”
Killing, as I’m sure Shriver would agree, is a fairly acute form of persecution.
Now perhaps some of them were “merely” collateral damage, but many were targetted and quite a few were killed in missile strikes that also wiped out their families. Can’t Shriver see that this is a freedom of speech issue? If bombs were falling on the homes of her literary colleagues and killing them and their children, I suspect she could.

B Davis
B Davis
17 days ago
Reply to  George Venning

I would strongly suspect that all of those deaths (taking the list at face value) are collateral damage. War inevitably (particularly in this day and age of robotic slaughter) produces mass collateral damage. It always has. That’s a significant part of the tragedy of war.
Why would this be otherwise?
You tell us many were targeted? That makes no sense if what these individuals were were poets, playwrights, novelists, etc. No combatant nation would waste million dollar weapons killing poets. Terrorists and Hamas leaders, yes….poets,no. What evidence do you have that Israel if targeting poets, scholars, and novelists?
And yes, my friend, bombs fall on the homes of family, friends, and colleagues on a regular basis IF they happen to be living in a war zone. Those bombs do not fall to ‘silence’ these civilian non-combatants; they fall because they’re in a war zone.
War is hell. That should be clear by now.

Neiltoo .
Neiltoo .
16 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Did you think that novelists, poets and educators were somehow exempt from being civilian casualties of war?

Paul
Paul
15 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

No one was killed for being a poet.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
19 days ago

Let’s not forget Shirley Williams’ shameful equivocation about whether it was right to award a knighthood to Salman Rushdie – now eyeless, although fortunately not in Gaza – given the possibility that it might offend rioting muslims in Pakistan. Hitchens put her right.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
19 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

An uptick for your adaptation of “Eyeless in Gaza”.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
19 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

He’s still got one.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
19 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Milton or Huxley?

Paul
Paul
15 days ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Huxley quoting Milton.

David Jory
David Jory
19 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

In the kingdom of the morally blind the one eyed man is king.

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
19 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

It was the UK’s Muslim response to Rushdie’s ‘Satanic Verses’, i.e. riots and book burning 30years ago that terrified the British establishment and its institutions, the consequences of which we bare today in our fear of challenging Muslims. In our fear we even happily sacroficially allowed young white children to be used with impunity for the sexual gratification of Pakistani men in order to placate them and hopefully stop them rioting.

Dr E C
Dr E C
19 days ago

The UK literary scene is all but captured by young progressives. I’ve been worried for quite a few years seeing how many prizes, positions & pay checks have been dished out to 20 something year olds on the basis of identity of course, not literary output. They haven’t a clue about life yet but have all the zealotry of thinking they have – the worst combination. Presses like this one sums up the edgy literary scene in Britain today: https://www.thejc.com/news/poetry-house-that-gets-100k-grant-backed-palestinian-liberation-in-wake-of-hamas-terror-aenqi4s7

Erik Hildinger
Erik Hildinger
19 days ago
Reply to  Dr E C

Zealotry is a luxury of youth.

Vesselina Zaitzeva
Vesselina Zaitzeva
18 days ago
Reply to  Erik Hildinger

Or maybe immaturity, rather than youth?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
17 days ago
Reply to  Erik Hildinger

And youth is wasted on the young.

RM Parker
RM Parker
19 days ago

‘ While one PEN member decries the non-profit’s “both-sidesing” ‘ –
Honestly, anyone – anyone at all – who would brutalise the English language by using such a lumpen Newspeak term as “both-sidesing” has no place in an organisation for writers, at least until they demonstrate a bit more competence in linguistic expression. My initial revulsion to this bone-headed neologism was, therefore, aesthetic.
Yet, leaving that aside, the sly elision of the space for debate and consensus is in itself repellent. It’s poor enough that people won’t engage with one another in debating views and issues, but that’s been a feature of the Left in particular for decades. Orwell nailed it to the floor in the second half of “The Road To Wigan Pier” and the Left never forgave him for it.
Far worse in these our days, is the attempt to co-opt agreement to ban debate, trying to taint the debating process with a cast of some sort of faux disloyalty, as though you become a vast disappointment to everyone by striving to gain a nuanced understanding of the issues.
Welcome to the agora of the twenty first century. What a long way we haven’t come.

Saul D
Saul D
19 days ago

The events in Palestine seems such a strange hill for the left to die on.

Hans Daoghn
Hans Daoghn
19 days ago
Reply to  Saul D

Good comment. But if this be the hill they choose to die on, so be it.
In the U.S. we look forward to November 5th when our counteroffensive retakes the hill.

marianna chambless
marianna chambless
19 days ago
Reply to  Saul D

What events should the left fight against? I did not say “die” b/c I think it is a force more resilient than that. Personally, I think the left should always be on the side of grave injustice, and what could be more unjust than to kill over 34,000 innocent civilians, half of whom are women and children, many unknowns buried beneath the rubble, and the deliberate deprivation of the remainder of the population from food, water, electricity, anesthetics to numb the pain of amputation? The left should, indeed, be opposing the genocide taking place.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
19 days ago

There is no genocide, only acts of war. Unfortunately civilians get killed in war. Why not ask Hamas why they don’t provide shelter for civilians? And ask them what they’ve done with all the handouts they’ve had from the UN. I’ve never yet had an answer for any leftie to whom I’ve put these questions.
The 34,000 that you quote includes Hamas terrorists and those Palestinians who support them.
The likes of the Guardian and similar echo chambers may welcome your ideology which becomes ever more tired and tedious the more it is uttered – most Unherd readers are capable of sussing out the pig in the poke that is leftist ideology.

Tony Plaskow
Tony Plaskow
18 days ago

Actually the data from the terrorist’s very own death-count has been downgraded. I know you want everyone to imagine no militants are in that 34,000 number but that would seem quite strange so let’s take the IDF’s figure of 14,000.
At a ratio of less than 1 military death to every 1.5 civilian deaths (al deaths abhorrent but of course Hamas started it so what else can Israel do?? Genuine question there btw) this is, by some distance, the lowest every ratio in the history of any conflict.
Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Mosul, have all seen far far worse and many more Muslim deaths but, of course, you cannot blame the jews for Assad killing over 600,000 of his own people mostly in gruesome ways….although I have a suspicion the Left could conjure up more lies to blame the Jews?

Paul
Paul
15 days ago

Using this argument you could have (and perhaps you would have) supported the Third Reich in 1943-45, when the Allies were bombing the hell out of it. You could have called for a ceasefire to stop the killing of civilians at the price of keeping Hitler and his gang in power.

R Wright
R Wright
18 days ago
Reply to  Saul D

I have virtually skin in the game at all and even I am baffled by homosexuals campaigning on behalf of extremists thousands of miles away who would toss them off rooftops given the chance.

Paul T
Paul T
19 days ago

Progressivism is a metastasising cancer.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
19 days ago
Reply to  Paul T

Micheal Savage coined the phrase many years ago, “Liberalism is a mental disorder.”

Johan Grönwall
Johan Grönwall
19 days ago

delete plz

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
19 days ago

Alarming how quickly structural anti-Semitism can take a hold in a society, this time led by the Left. They have simply put a greater emphasis on the socialism in National Socialism.

marianna chambless
marianna chambless
19 days ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

I do not understand why you, and many others, think that supporting the Palestinian cause is antisemitic. Do you really believe that Israel and Jewish people are above the law? Perhaps the belief that Jews are God’s chosen people is the rationale, but, for those of us who don’t share that belief, it makes no sense.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
19 days ago

Because the Palestinians should really be protesting against Hamas, not the Israelis who must be absolutely terrified of living next door to ghoulish fiends who impale baby’s heads, slice off women’s breasts while raping them, and perform live slow-beheadings.
Hamas are utter cowards who slaughter indiscriminately and then hide behind women and children while crying about being a victim. I feel sorry for those Palestinians who truly reject Hamas and struggle under their yoke, but until the protesters call out the real villains I will have zero sympathy for those who claim victimhood while pointing fingers at Israel. They can still ease war conditions by releasing hostages, but they refuse to do that for some reason.
We need to overcome personal vendettas against the Jews and wish them well. They’ve fought long and hard to have their own nation-state after all the persecutions they’ve faced throughout the centuries, and turned what was once a barren desert into a paradise. Let us not continue the legacy of hatred that should have ended in 1945 in the battlefields of Europe.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
17 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

One gives the average Palestinian the benefit of the doubt that the reason they don’t speak out against Hamas is because they’re terrified of them.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
17 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Yes, but surely not those protestors who live far from the conflict. The outrage seems to selectively aimed at Jews. If it were Lebanon or Jordan attacking Palestine would we even be having these protests? Regardless of our own personal views toward Israel, surely they have the right to protect themselves from future atrocities? Why, for instance, are we angry with Israel, but not with Ukraine, for defending itself? It is unfortunate that Palestine is under a terrorist yoke, but shouldn’t we be calling out the terrorists rather than their victims? I think that would go further to assuage Israeli vengeance rather than condemning them.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
17 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I’m not angry with Israel, on the contrary. The point I was trying to make, ironically, is that even Palestinian civilians are probably scared of Hamas because they’re violent Islamic terrorists. Not to mention that Muslims seem to require special treatment wherever they live because the rest of us are half scared of them. God forbid we should disrespect Mohammed with a bit of humor. Is anyone afraid of Jews?

Jim C
Jim C
19 days ago

The irony is that most Israelis (Ashenazi) are less “semitic” than the Palestinians they’re attempting to extirpate.
Calling anyone who criticises Jewish Supremacism (and that’s what Zionism is, after all) an “antisemite” is just a cheap trick.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BEVLD6YHsc
And I say that as a Jew myself.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
19 days ago

What if you believe in liberal democracy and western civilization, versus Dark Ages theocracy?

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
19 days ago

There is no ‘Palestinian cause’ because Palestine was captured long ago by Hamas. This is Israel’s war against the death cult that is Hamas. Like all wars it’s filthy, desparate and deadly. It’s an unfortunate human paradox, that the only way to fight off killers is to kill them. It’s not at all nice.

Tony Plaskow
Tony Plaskow
18 days ago

marianna, I think it has more to do with the outright antisemitism which is extraordinarily obvious in virtually every ‘pro-Palestinian’ comment, march, or similar.
It was a good attempt to, once again, blame the victims in your statement regarding ‘G-d’s chosen people’ (which I personally do not believe is a very humble or ‘clever’ thing to say openly anyway as it clearly creates further issues for Jews) and your comment about being above the law is just strange and misplaced.
Maybe Hamas shouldn’t have started the war and might want to finish it by giving back the hostages? Have yu ever considered that as an option to focus on?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
18 days ago

The Arabs had a choice in the 1920s and 1930s, support the Nashashibi Clan  or Al Husseini Clan who supported violence against the Jewish settler which led to Order Wingate forming the Special Night Squads. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem to Amin al-Husseini – Wikipedia who later became a friend of Himmler supported the extermination of the Jewish people. al Husseini was lucky not to be executed for being a collaborator of the Nazis and was probably why Stalin supported Israel in 1948. An alliance between the Nasahibi Clan and King Abdullah of Jordan would have have provided a greater chance of peaceful development. during WW2 many jewish men gained combat experience fighting for the Allies which assisted them in 1948. The Arabs did not gaine combat experience fighting for the Allies ( apart from Jordanians who were the only force to defeat the Israelis in 1948 )and any involvement was providing information and support for the Germans. Al Husseini attempted to raise Bosnian Muslin troops to fight for the SS.
If one is going to start a fight, make sure one finishes it.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
17 days ago

Most of the people rioting don’t know why they hate Jews. They’re just a handy scapegoat. Hamas is laughing all the way to the bank.

Marsha D
Marsha D
19 days ago

Bravo, Lionel Shriver!

B M
B M
19 days ago

I would be very sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians and the Gazans in particular, however I agree with this article. A free speech organisation should not be taking sides.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
17 days ago
Reply to  B M

You would be sympathetic but………?

Tim Ecott
Tim Ecott
19 days ago

Brilliant

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
19 days ago

Many of us who have spent our entire professional lives in the arts know first hand that there is a very high price to pay for nonconformity. But some of us couldn’t live with ourselves if we sacrificed our principles for cash. I hope every PEN member reads this article and recognizes him/herself with deep reflection.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
19 days ago

What are the odds of the least self-aware people on the planet engaging in self-awareness?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
19 days ago

When the arts were funded by wealthy patrons with taste this was not a problem; look at the Renaissance Masters, Mozart, etc. However, the arts became state funded which starts in the UK post WW1 and takes of post WW2 it becomes dominated by The Left.

Michael James
Michael James
19 days ago

Have these people seriously not read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four, with its analysis of doublethink? Or, if they have, do they not recognise their own doublethink? Utterly baffling.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
19 days ago
Reply to  Michael James

Orwell bad, Said good.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
19 days ago

For these authors, defence of free speech, promotion of tolerance, and opposition to violent political oppression — the very purpose of PEN — counted for nothing when weighed against any injury to the delicate feelings of fundamentalist Muslims.”
Yes quite. And – if you need me – I’ll just be over here wondering why it is that the German authorities permitted, secured and tolerated a demonstration by 1,000 Muslims on the streets of Hamburg at the weekend where there were express calls for the establishment of a caliphate in Germany. If that had been neo-Nazis, Reichsbürger or Holocaust deniers, they would never have got anywhere near the street as the demo would not have been allowed. If they turned up anyway, the water cannon would have been out faster than you can say “demo”.
Call me a nit-picker – but why can a group of Muslims effectively call for the abolition of the constitutional order of the Federal Republic of Germany but Reichsbürger would never be able to do the same? Surely you have to allow them both their points of view – or neither of them.
One does try and remain calm and rational but I saw footage of the Hamburg demo and the inside of my head spontaneously went the full Suella.

A J
A J
19 days ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

“The full Suella” – thank you for light relief in a depressing time.

Beth Cooper
Beth Cooper
19 days ago

Can I say how much I like this? Where has free speech ever been a negative when governments and citizens, (or citizens versus citizens) disagree. In free debate – ínvestigation, ‘Modre may out.’ as Chaucer said, or, as Socrates observed, contrary to disinformation bureaucracies,’I only’ know ‘ that I do not ‘know.’

Pedro the Exile
Pedro the Exile
19 days ago

the Anglosphere’s far-Left has neatly pivoted from the infantilisation of black people to the Palestinian cause with the coordinated grace of a synchronised swimmer.
Fabulous-I’ll nick that line thank you!

J Dunne
J Dunne
19 days ago

You saved me the job of cutting and pasting
that line. Shriver really gets it.

Peter B
Peter B
19 days ago

Very little to add to this excellent article.
But I’m not clear that PEN US was really “forced to cancel” its World Voices literary festival in New York and LA. They could simply have gone ahead without the hissy fit writers who didn’t want to attend. Might actually have been worth going without all the noise of people banging on about stuff that’s irrelevant to what they’re supposed to be doing.
But I guess the leaders of this organisation are cowards, conformists and copycats every bit as much as their members. Won’t stop them feeling morally superior though.

James Anthony Seyforth
James Anthony Seyforth
19 days ago

.

William Cameron
William Cameron
19 days ago

How do you disagree with the teachings of the muslim faith without offending Muslims ?

Fred D. Fulton
Fred D. Fulton
19 days ago

It leads one to ask: why are we so afraid, and why is it such a bad thing, to question the sensibilities of Muslims? We do it all the time with people of other faith groups, also people professing no religious beliefs. The Answer: Islam, also the MSM, has made us afraid to do question or criticize or lampoon Islam. Compare with bashing of Catholics or middle-aged white men or Karens. No fatwa for you.

Arthur G
Arthur G
19 days ago

If Muslims want to live in Western societies, they need to get used to being offended.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
17 days ago
Reply to  Arthur G

Exactly.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
19 days ago

Dang!

James Anthony Seyforth
James Anthony Seyforth
19 days ago

..

A D Kent
A D Kent
19 days ago

 Shriver really is on form here – and by that I mean it’s her usual atrocious guff. This post of hers is just plain sick. As she says, “To clarify: the purpose of PEN is to defend freedom of speech and to protect writers from political oppression and persecution.”

Here’s a little list for you Lionel:

Novelist, poet, and educator Heba Abu Nada – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Poet, novelist, and community activist Omar Faris Abu Shaweesh – killed by Israel in Gaza.
Poet, writer, literature professor, and activist Dr. Refaat Alareer – killed by Israel in Gaza.
Writer and Palestinian heritage advocate Abdul Karim Al-Hashash – killed by Israel in Gaza.
Playwright, actor and aducator Inas al-Saqa – killed by Israel in Gaza – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Poet Khaled Juma – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Historian and Professor Dr. Jihad Suleiman Al-Masri – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Writer, journalist, and photographer Yousef Dawas – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Poet and educational researcher Shahdah Al-Buhbahan – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Poet, playwright and writer Nour al-Din Hajjaj – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Writer and journalist Mustafa Hassan Mahmoud Al-Sawwaf – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Writer Abdullah Al-Aqad – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Writer Dr. Said Talal Al-Dahshan – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Poet Mohammad Abdulrahim Saleh – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Poet Saleem Al-Naffar – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.

Most of these people were killed along with members of their families. If you’re not against this, your with it – and this detestable little piece from Shriver shows just what she is.

You can read the open letter signed by the PEN authors who removed themselves from their awards here. I’m very much with them, but I think they should have made much more of the IDF’s apparent targetting of writers and journalists and their destruction of Palestinian learning institutions.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VEF-Hrg8wN7WHiSljqwd9IqHbRHDsHWRM0j576PFT1I/edit

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
19 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

At the end of the long list of herd like comments, one that bucks the trend.

A D Kent
A D Kent
19 days ago

Thanks Dermot – there’s definitely a herd around here when it comes to the Palestinian Genocide and nowadays I take every down vote as a badge of honour.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
17 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

So do you think Hamas cares about Palestinians? If so Why wouldn’t they use the milliions they comandeered from international aid to build a nation instead of using it to build tunnels. Or at least build shelters for them as well. Not to mention that Hamas leaders live in luxury in Quatar.

B Davis
B Davis
17 days ago

What makes this a herd (when the title itself tells us it’s UnHerd)?
Is the fact that most respondents would seem to stand in opposition to Hamas and in support of the Israeli offensive to ‘end them’….does that make us a herd and you an unherd?
Of course if you were in the midst of the idiocy at Columbia (or any number of other progressive enclaves) it would seem you would be the mask-wearing herd, and us the unherd. Does that make us better then?
Or do you simply believe that anything which bucks any trend is good and positive. I oppose pedophilia; you, too, I trust. And undoubtedly everyone here (at least that would be the hope). Does that make all of us a herd? Do you believe that’s wrong? Would you prefer to buck the trend?
Or are you simply saying that comments you agree with are good and those you don’t are, by nature, bad? That seems pretty simplistic doesn’t it?
Or maybe it’s just that you take AD’s assertions at face value? Do you believe that Israel murdered those people…meaning deliberately, in a specifically targeted fashion, with premeditation….the IDF sought out and killed the poet, Saleem Al-Naffar, the same way Hamas raped, mutilated, and slaughtered concert goers on the 7th of October?
Do you not think at least a modicum of skepticism is in order when it comes to charges of murder/genocide, even as Israel continues to devote time & resources (at considerable risk) to move/protect/insulate the Gazan civilian population (still being used as human shields by Hamas) from the bloody realities of 21st century war?

David Clancy
David Clancy
19 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

And 14,500 children, many killed by blast injuries from US-supplied ‘precision’ 2000lb bombs. It’s OK to be anti-Israeli government.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
19 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

My heart weeps too. If only Hamas hadn’t committed atrocities against their more powerful neighbor.

Peter B
Peter B
19 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

That takes whataboutery to a whole new level.
This article isn’t about Israel-Gaza, is it ? It’s about whether people who claim they believe in free speech actually walk the talk. Most of us have managed – quite correctly in this context – to separate the two.

A D Kent
A D Kent
19 days ago
Reply to  Peter B

Thats cobblers. This is about genocide. This is about the deliberate destruction of cultural assets – physical and human. PEN US refused to take a side in this – see the open letter – and there’s plenty on the web regarding calls to them prior to this little Shriver hissy fit. There is no greater ‘political oppression’ than being vapourised by high-explosives – there is no ‘freedom of speech’ for those under the rubble, those rendered to dust or the many now being found in mass graves.

Peter B
Peter B
18 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

No it isn’t. There’s no genocide here. You know it really. It’s just too painful to admit the truth.
And you still refuse to accept that the article is about free speech, using PEN and Israel-Gaza as an example. And not about Israel-Gaza or spurious claims of “genocide”. Sad really.

Tony Plaskow
Tony Plaskow
18 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

I notice you didn’t list any Israeli civilians murdered in horrific circumstances which preceded the deaths you did highlight? Strange that. Those people you list were put in harm’s way because Hamas started a war they can’t win. They all died because of Hamas’ direct actions as opposed to the indirect ones of a country fighting a war where humans are used, quite literally, as shields.
You might want to find a way to let Hamas know not to use their civilians as human shields? But, of course, that doesn’t work as they need so many martyrs to keep their cause alive and the aid flowing for them to steal and build more tunnels to then create more wars…….hmmmm there seems a cycle here somewhere
You are a disgrace

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
19 days ago

the truth is that PEN has no business taking a position on this issue whatsoever.
It’s a bit late in the day for that. There is nothing that groups like this cannot and will not politicize. Nothing. And in typical form, there is one cause and one cause only. PEN has shoved October 7 into the memory hole. Judging by the campus madness, that day never happened, only the Israeli response. And while it is fair to criticize the actions of the govt, it cannot be done by pretending nothing preceded those actions.
Like many of its fellow travelers, PEN has no fealty to free expression, as the author points out. Govt in the US has outsourced and coordinated the censorship it cannot do independently. In Europe, strange laws that criminalize random social media posts are in place, often supported by people who, in their next breath, talk about alleged threats to democracy.
Eventually, the cosplaying will move from Gaza to something else. Lather, rinse, repeat. But at least the LARPing crowd with have some keffiyehs to take away, until students forget what those were about and use them instead for some other purpose.

Chuck Pezeshki
Chuck Pezeshki
19 days ago

Writers are in The Matrix as poorly developed actors. What makes them wretched is that they really cannot see the space above their head — that the social physics they are subjected to apply to them as well, without constant, conscious practice. They must court authority in order to get paid. And court it, they do.
How does this work? I lay it out here.
https://empathy.guru/2021/02/27/the-predictable-memetic-collapse-of-contemporary-journalism/

Ajit Saldanha
Ajit Saldanha
19 days ago

The irony is that Shriver, in attempting to rationalise Israel’s genocide, falls into precisely the same trap that she accuses PEN of doing. If all those billions of US aid are insufficent to distinguish between military targets and humanitarian kitchens, perhaps it’s time for some shame, remorse and decency?

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
19 days ago
Reply to  Ajit Saldanha

Firstly, there is no genocide. No amount of repeating the word as though it is holy writ is going to make it true. Secondly, I don’t see any evidence that Shriver is trying to close down free speech. That is left to the Hamas supporters in PEN.

A D Kent
A D Kent
19 days ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

 I posted this earlier, but it’s disappered – as against-the-herd comments tend to do so around here, but it explains nicely why this isn’t a free speech isse – it is a genocide one….

Shriver really is on form here – and by that I mean it’s her usual guff. This post of hers is just plain sick. As she says, “To clarify: the purpose of PEN is to defend freedom of speech and to protect writers from political oppression and persecution.”

Here’s a little list for you Lionel:

Novelist, poet, and educator Heba Abu Nada – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Poet, novelist, and community activist Omar Faris Abu Shaweesh – killed by Israel in Gaza.
Poet, writer, literature professor, and activist Dr. Refaat Alareer – killed by Israel in Gaza.
Writer and Palestinian heritage advocate Abdul Karim Al-Hashash – killed by Israel in Gaza.
Playwright, actor and aducator Inas al-Saqa – killed by Israel in Gaza – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Poet Khaled Juma – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Historian and Professor Dr. Jihad Suleiman Al-Masri – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Writer, journalist, and photographer Yousef Dawas – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Poet and educational researcher Shahdah Al-Buhbahan – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Poet, playwright and writer Nour al-Din Hajjaj – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Writer and journalist Mustafa Hassan Mahmoud Al-Sawwaf – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Writer Abdullah Al-Aqad – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Writer Dr. Said Talal Al-Dahshan – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Poet Mohammad Abdulrahim Saleh – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.
Poet Saleem Al-Naffar – killed by the Israelis in Gaza.

Most of these people were killed along with members of their families.

You can read the open letter signed by the PEN authors who removed themselves from their awards here. I’m very much with them, but I think they should have made much more of the IDF’s apparent targetting of writers and journalists and their destruction of Palestinian learning institutions.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VEF-Hrg8wN7WHiSljqwd9IqHbRHDsHWRM0j576PFT1I/edit

Cee Shear
Cee Shear
18 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

You’ve missed one of Shriver’s key points. Why should PEN condemn anyone or any entity of murder, it is not its purpose, place or remit to do so. In much the same way as it is not any umbrella organisation’s place to align itself with any movement. Echoing too other commentators’ views on any “genocide” and your clear selective activism on this issue. Can you name the same amount of creatives in China, Sudan, Syria, Mexico, Ukraine etc. that have died in circumstances of war? We’ll wait (but not long enough for you to undertake a Google search).

Cee Shear
Cee Shear
18 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

You’ve missed one of Shriver’s key points. Why should PEN condemn anyone or any entity of murder, it is not its purpose, place or remit to do so. In much the same way as it is not any umbrella organisation’s place to align itself with any movement. Echoing too other commentators’ views on any “genocide” and your clear selective activism on this issue. Can you name the same amount of creatives in China, Sudan, Syria, Mexico, Ukraine etc. that have died in circumstances of war? We’ll wait (but not long enough for you to undertake a Google search).

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
18 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

You have responded to my comment in a courteous manner, for which I thank you.
However, I still haven’t had any response from any pro Palestine supporter as to why Hamas did not provide shelter for Gazan citizens, and what Hamas has done with all the handouts they’ve received from the UN. It seems you and your fellow travellers are dodging the questions. Hamas has been ruling Gaza since 2005, so the buck stops with them. In the absence of said reply, I can only conclude that Hamas regards Palestinian civilians as collateral damage in their battle to win the hearts and minds of the rest of the world – and that aid monies have been spent on equipping Hamas terrorists with guns and ammo. Precious little seems to have been spent in improving the lives and prospects of Gazan citizens. But I suppose keeping them poor and downtrodden is also part of the Hamas plan.
Until Gazans terminate their support from Hamas, and agree to a peace deal with Israel, they won’t be getting any support from me.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
17 days ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

Well said, couldn’t have said it better myself.

B Davis
B Davis
17 days ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

Well, yes, a courteous response (and sometimes those are rare, which makes us appreciate the courteous versions that much more)…but ultimately a non-response.
You, quite reasonably, objected to the label of genocide when not only is there no evidence of same, but significant evidence that Israel continues to work to protect/insulate a Gazan civilian population which inhabits a war zone and is used as a human shield by Hamas.
And, as you noted, there is absolutely no evidence that Shriver is seeking, has sought, or will seek to silence anyone. It is rather exactly what she objects to.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
17 days ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

Good points. Hamas is worse than Genghis Khan in that they are shielding behind their own people. Genghis Khan never used his own people as shields.

B Davis
B Davis
17 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

But it hasn’t disappeared. It’s still there.
Sometimes there’s a lag between the post and its appearance. But your listing of poet’s deaths has been available every time I’ve looked.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
15 days ago
Reply to  B Davis

Three listings, actually. He’s very keen that we should read his irrelevant post.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
17 days ago
Reply to  Ajit Saldanha

And the millions in aid to Palestine comandeered by Hamas to build tunnels?

Mark Melvin
Mark Melvin
19 days ago

I just posted a comment on another article but Lionel’s deserves a briefer repetition. I read an article with stats on US book publishers (I’ll try to find it again maybe) which suggests that 90% of all new books sell fewer than 1,000 copies but 50% sell fewer than 12. I wish Lionel success in her new book of course but for the rest, who cares? More interestingly, sales of the Bible, yes that old chestnut, generate 8% of aggregate bookseller revenues. It rather seems that the book buying public do take notice of what these people write.

Bina Shah
Bina Shah
19 days ago

A lot of words, but very little substance, along with shades of quite blatant bigotry peeking out here and there like the sun from between the clouds.

Patricia Hardman
Patricia Hardman
19 days ago

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

https://pen.org/about-us/
Ha bl****dy ha.

Paul Blowers
Paul Blowers
19 days ago

Utterly brilliant. Brings to the fore the ugly truth and the systematic hypocrisy of the progressive Left as it moves from one oppressed group to another and tries to “be” its voice. Pathetic mimesis, needless to say.

William Cameron
William Cameron
19 days ago

A Small point – but for those of us not American could we spell out in full – just the once- things like PEN MAGA POTUS ACLU etc – its like a secret code to us .

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago

PEN…Poets, Essayists, Novelists
MAGA…Make America Great Again (Trump’s famous saying)
POTUS…President of the United States
ACLU…American Civil Liberties Union

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
17 days ago

Should you not know something again try Googleing it. I’ve been mystified by those abbreviations and many others and I was saved by Google, the curious person’s salvation!

Mike MacCormack
Mike MacCormack
19 days ago