J. Millard Burr, a former USAID coordinator and Robert O. Collins, a professor emeritus of history at the University of California at Santa Barbara, teamed up to write a book with the title Alms for Jihad. At the end of 2006, Cambridge University Press published this book. The authors are both serious men, and the CUP has been one of the most reputable publishing houses in the English-language world.
The book involved an examination of the funding of Islamist extremism. I have not read it, and know nothing of the merits or otherwise of its contents, and now I guess I never shall. The libel laws in England are scandalously out of date, designed to protect a plaintiff, and therefore time and again vexatious litigants come to harm the public interest. So it is in this case. At the threat of a libel suit from a Saudi billionaire, the CUP dropped this book down the memory hole — as Orwell would have said — withdrawing it, pulping all copies, and publishing a cringe-making letter of apology discrediting their authors for making “defamatory allegations.” And they’ve also paid damages.
The row got up by Islamist extremists over the cartoons about the Prophet Mohammad prompted an initial wave of cowardly appeasement in the West. The fate of this book is another shameful step towards outright cultural surrender. A rich Saudi is able to exploit our own laws in order to negate our own free speech, something our forebears fought for as a value that was not negotiable. Suicidal stupidity, degeneracy, or what?