cover image Don’t Label Me: An Unusual Conversation for Divided Times

Don’t Label Me: An Unusual Conversation for Divided Times

Irshad Manji. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-15798-0

Manji (The Trouble with Islam Today) urges tolerance and open-minded rapport via an imagined dialogue with her dog, Lily. The construct is unusual, but in practice it is basically the Socratic method: Lily asks questions and plays devil’s advocate, providing counterarguments that allow Manji to respond to potential critics, the reader included. Starting with the premise that the recent resurgence of white nationalist sentiment is a symptom of backlash against movements in favor of diversity and multiculturalism, Manji argues that, rather than vilifying individuals who disagree with liberal ideas, progressives must set aside tribal differences and open a dialogue with conservatives and moderates (lest, the implication goes, they become radicalized by right-wing extremists). Manji illustrates her point with personal experiences, notably of her close relationship with Jim, an Obama-bashing Republican father figure, who happened to introduce her to her now-wife. She also provides a thought-provoking model of civil discourse in a story about a black woman and a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans learning from each other’s views on the legacy of the Confederate flag. Manji’s plea for unity is laudable and well-articulated. Those seeking a level-headed approach to reaching common ground will find Manji and Lily’s conversation instructive. [em](Feb.) [/em]