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Fear Mongers

Book Review
American Islamophobia: Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear by Khaled A Beydoun (University of California Press, $US26.95)
Reviewed by Valerie Morse

american_islamophobia_coverWe should understand the recent Lauren Southern/Stefan Molyneux episode not as a discussion about hate speech or free speech, but rather as a failed attempt to promulgate (more) Islamophobia. You may have noticed that it was book-ended firstly, by the local Muslim community’s petition opposing their visit at the outset, and concluded with the official tweeted response from the promoter of the visit, “Have fun with Sharia!” upon the duo’s departure. Viewed through this lens, Beydoun’s book, American Islamophobia, provides urgent and compelling context to a global phenomena that has mushroomed on our shores.

Beydoun is first and foremost a legal scholar, and he helpfully and thoroughly outlines his working definitions of Islamophobia as a three-headed monster that is self-reinforcing: private Islamophobia, structural Islamophobia and dialectical Islamophobia.

The first, private Islamophobia, he notes is the, “fear, suspicion and targeting of Muslims by private actors”; in New Zealand we have seen this in verbal attacks on women wearing the hijab, and the tagging, vandalism and arson of Mosques.

The second, institutional Islamophobia is that same fear, but its manifestation is “the advancement of laws, policies and programming that built upon the presumption that Muslim identity is associated with a national security threat.” Again in New Zealand, we identify Islamophobia in parliamentary acts such as the 2014 Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation that enables sweeping powers of warrantless surveillance by the NZSIS over communities and the power to revoke individual passports. It does so selectively, effectively profiling Muslim communities, as “foreign terrorist fighters”; notably, it does not include Western/Christian mercenaries or those on the “right” side of any conflict.

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Release: BWB Text, Truth in a Post-Truth World

A Matter of Fact: Talking Truth in a Post-Truth World

9 August 2018

by Jess Berentson-Shaw

Published by Bridget Williams Books

RRP $14.99 print, $4.99 ebook

Published August 2018

I knew, and know still, that there is good science and bad science, misinformation and reliable information, truth and falsehood, and also much grey in between… But being more adamant, more right, having more facts, was not helping. It was possibly even the problem.

In a digital world consumed by fake news and toxic social media, conspiracy and rumour spread faster than ever and are increasingly hard to debunk. Manipulation of information and the spread of misinformation on online platforms is now widely recognised as a significant threat to democracies around the world.

Equivalent to the concerns over free speech, how we combat false information online will determine the health of political debate in New Zealand and globally. How do we convincingly explain the difference between good information and misinformation? And conversely, how do we challenge our own pre-conceived notions of what we believe to be true?

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Release: Best Book for Young Readers


8 August 2018

“A landmark title which will stand the test of time” has been crowned the country’s best book for young readers. Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story, by Christchurch writer and illustrator Gavin Bishop, received the top honour at the 2018 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, announced last night at an exuberant event at Te Papa in Wellington.

The judges describe it as a book for every home, school and library, which can be read and re-read by all ages. “It’s masterful in its execution – a work of art that bears repeated and thoughtful reading and viewing of its vibrant and informative illustrations, a book of enduring significance in the canon of New Zealand children’s literature. We’ve seen nothing quite like it in New Zealand children’s publishing.”
– Convenor of judges Jeannie Skinner
You can read about all the night’s winners here, and a full account of the evening here.

Release: Murdoch Stephens Text

An Insider’s Account of New Zealand Political Campaigning: New from BWB Texts

2 August 2018: While I’ve spent enough time in universities to understand the meaning of various freedoms, I’ve also spent enough time in the world to see the opposite of freedom: persecution, detention, and the slow drag of less obvious oppressions.

In 2013, Murdoch Stephens began a campaign to double New Zealand’s refugee quota. Over the next five years he built the campaign into a mainstream national movement – one that contributed to the first growth in New Zealand’s refugee quota in thirty years.

Doing Our Bit is a remarkable insider’s account of a grassroots political campaign in New Zealand. Stephens describes his personal journey – from someone with little knowledge of political campaigning to leading a successful and influential mainstream movement. He also evocatively describes his time living in Aleppo, Syria, and how the experiences and friendships of that period inspired him to begin the campaign.

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Release: Pacific Laureate at Writers Forum

Release: 2018 ACP Pacific Laureate, Lani Wendt-Young, will feature at the National Writers Forum

1 August 2018
Lani Wendt-Young, one of the most prolific Samoan writers of this generation, will be a speaker at the 2018 National Writers Forum happening on 21-23 September 2018. Organised by the New Zealand Society of Authors, this conference is the only national conference for writers from across the profession.

Wendt-Young is the 2018 ACP Pacific Laureate, and winner of the USP Fiction Prize. Her YA Telesa Series is a core text in university Pacific Literature papers throughout the world, ranked number one on the Top Rated World Literature listing and the most borrowed books by any Pasifika writer in the Auckland Libraries. Wendt-Young’s 2015 contemporary romance series – Scarlet Lies and Scarlet Secrets, debuted on the Australian Top 100 bestseller list and was Amazon’s number one Hot New Release.

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