As European bureau chief for the Toronto-based newspaper The Globe and Mail, and a family man living in London, Doug Saunders was seeing a growing number of immigrants in his neighborhood, hearing a drumbeat in Europe and North America about the threat carried in these demographic changes, and trying not to share the instinct to lump his new neighbors in with their coreligionists — and sometimes fellow citizens — who carried out terrorist attacks.
Then in 2011, the morning after Anders Breivik shocked the world by killing scores of his fellow Norwegians, Saunders arrived in Oslo to cover the event and sat down to read the 1500-page manifesto Breivik said contained his reasons.
It was all shockingly familiar. As Saunders told NPR's Dave Davies, "most of it was a cut and paste, a pastiche of books and blog postings and articles that had appeared by popular authors in the United States and Canada and Britain and the Netherlands and Germany over the previous 10 years or so." Though he doubted any of the original authors had foreseen or would endorse Breivik's use of their thinking to justify mass murder, Saunders thought one such interpretation, translated into such action, was too much. He began to look systematically behind the writings to see who was posting them, and to check their factual bases. He found social research that exposed the fears as poorly grounded, and he has shared his findings in a new book, The Myth of the Muslim Tide (Vintage, August 1012).
Please join me in conversation with Doug Saunders on this important topic. You can read the first six pages of the book and a transcript of Saunders's interview aired September 19 on Fresh Air With Terry Gross, and share your responses here in comments. In a couple of days we'll move on through the rest of Chapter I, "The New Neighbours" and II, "Crescent Fever: The Brief History of an Idea." Then we'll see how fast we want to go from there. Do please play nice, and base your comments in Saunders's material or document what else you've found. You can find my initial article on the book at "The Myth of the Muslim Tide: A Must-Read Book After the Arab Spring."