Striving to Be 'Incorrect'; Anti-PC Series Takes on History, Islam, Feminism
Byline: Josh Rutledge, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
It's hard to miss the little pig that has been invading bookstore shelves in the past two years. In 2004, Regnery Publishing began its "Politically Incorrect Guide" (P.I.G.) book series. Since then, the series has taken on a variety of topics ranging from Islam to science to feminism.
"We came up with the idea for the series during the summer of 2004," says Marji Ross, president and publisher of Regnery. "We were in the middle of a presidential election campaign and realized people were frustrated with what they were getting from the media. Everything seemed so spun politically, so colored by political correctness.
"We thought, 'Wouldn't it be great to have a book, or a series, that wasn't hampered by political correctness.' If we offend someone, we don't care. Our goal is to get right to the fact. So if it is true that all great literature is written by dead white men, then so be it. We aren't approaching the subject with an agenda."
So, in December of 2004, Regnery published Thomas Woods' book, "The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History." Promoted as a response to trendy "multicultural" revisionist history, the book drew immediate criticism from liberals.
Adam Cohen of the New York Times attacked Mr. Woods' book as "full of dubious assertions, small and large," and said it "reads less like history than a call to action, since so many of its historical arguments track the current political agenda of the far right."
The first installment of the P.I.G. series drew criticism for its iconoclastic treatment of the Civil War, the New Deal, Social Security and the civil rights movement.
"I think the reason some people have reacted harshly is because I really went after some of the sacred cows of our American history," says Mr. Woods, a Harvard alumnus who recently became a senior fellow at the libertarian Mises Institute in Auburn, Ala. "I didn't just make light commentary at the edges. I really took on icons in our history and held them up to a harsh light."
While the idea of a series was the goal from the beginning, Mrs. Ross says, the success of the first book was the test for whether or not a series would work. That test was passed when Mr. Woods' book sold over 100,000 copies and landed a spot on the New York Times best-seller list.
With heightened interest in the Middle East in the wake of the September 11 attacks, Regnery followed up its initial success by publishing the second in the series, "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam," by Robert Spencer.
"When you get to a subject like Islam, it is such a controversial topic that even some conservatives are squeamish at taking religion head on. It is extremely politically incorrect to call a religion violent," says Mrs. Ross.
Yet Mr. Spencer's book argued "that violence is not a radical branch, but the core of Islam itself," the Regnery publisher said. …