Like many of the most comical clashes, the one involving a hotly disputed review of the forthcoming young-adult book American Heart is an intra-Left donnybrook. If you don’t share the paranoid Left’s fear, as expressed in the book, that Muslims are about to be rounded up and put in internment camps, the fight between this faction of bat-spit crazies and an even more unhinged group to its left is grindhouse entertainment — the bloodier, the better. Such brawls are not only amusing but also fortifying to the Right: How many conservatives are born in a moment when the clouds part and the thought, “Hang on, that can’t be right” lingers in the mind? The closer the association between the concepts “progressive” and “deranged,” the better.
American Heart, a young-adult novel to be published in January, is a kind of Huckleberry Handmaid’s Tale, only with Muslims. In a dim dystopian U.S. of the near future that’s been overtaken by a nasty “patriotic” movement, a white girl is oblivious to the burgeoning horror of Muslims being placed in internment camps, but she experiences an awakening and decides to strike out against them to rescue a Muslim immigrant from Iran, who is in hiding and needs to flee the country to save herself. Ho-hum, says the experienced observer. Since 9/11, the Left has been spooking itself with scary tales about how the anti-Muslim Inquisition is going to start any minute now.
So: another attempt to troll conservatives about our supposed persecution of Muslims. Nothing new. When the left-leaning book-industry site Kirkus published a favorable review of the novel, though, it was a gonzo-Left outlook that launched attacks on Kirkus, with denunciation popping up at publishing-chat sites such as Goodreads. Reviewers of the review (most of whom evidently hadn’t read the book in question) insisted that Kirkus’s favorable take on American Heart amounted to inexcusable support for a supposedly abhorrent “white savior” narrative. In other words, the hero of a book about persons of color can’t be white. But if American Heart’s author, Laura Moriarty, had written the book from a person of color’s point of view, that would have been cultural appropriation.