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|Born||Theodore Bruce Bawer|
October 31, 1956
New York City
|Education||B.A.; M.A.; Ph.D; Stony Brook University|
|Born||Theodore Bruce Bawer|
October 31, 1956
New York City
|Education||B.A.; M.A.; Ph.D; Stony Brook University|
Theodore Bruce Bawer (born October 31, 1956, in New York City), who writes under the name Bruce Bawer, is an American writer who has been a resident of Norway since 1999. He is a literary, film, and cultural critic and poet who has also written about gay rights, Christianity, and Islam.
Bawer's writings on literature, gay issues, and Islam have all been highly controversial. While championing such authors such as William Keepers Maxwell, Flannery O'Connor, and Guy Davenport, he has criticized such authors as Norman Mailer and E.L. Doctorow. A member of the New Formalists, a group of poets who promoted the use of traditional forms, he has assailed such poets as Allen Ginsberg for what he views as their lack of polish and technique.
Bawer was one of the first gay activists to seriously propose same-sex marriage, notably in his 1993 book A Place at the Table, and his 2006 book While Europe Slept was one of the first to skeptically examine the rise of Islam in the Western world.
Although he has frequently been described as a conservative, Bawer has often protested that such labels are misleading or meaningless. He has explained his views as follows: "Read A Place at the Table and Stealing Jesus and While Europe Slept and Surrender one after the other and you will see that all four books are motivated by a dedication to individual identity and individual freedom and an opposition to groupthink, oppression, tyranny.”
Born and raised in New York City, Bawer attended New York City public schools and Stony Brook University, where he studied literature under the poet Louis Simpson, among others. As a graduate student, he taught undergraduate courses in literature and composition. He earned a B.A. in English from Stony Brook in 1978, followed by an M.A. in 1982 and a Ph.D. in 1983, both also in English. While in graduate school, he published essays in such academic journals as Notes on Modern American Literature and the Wallace Stevens Journal, and opinion pieces in Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. His dissertation, “The Middle Generation,” was about the poets Delmore Schwartz, Randall Jarrell, John Berryman, and Robert Lowell.
A revised version of Bawer's dissertation was published under the same title in 1986. Reviewing the book in The New Criterion, James Atlas called the “character analyses...shrewdly intuitive and sympathetic,” found Bawer's “explanation for why the poets of the Middle Generation were so obsessed with [T.S.] Eliot especially persuasive,” and described Bawer as “an impressive textual critic” with a “casual and self-assured” critical voice. In Commonweal Magazine, Robert Phillips called Bawer “a critic of the first order, one of the best we have today.” The book was named an Academic Book of the Year by the American Library Association.
Bawer contributed to the arts journal The New Criterion every month between October 1983 and May 1993. A New York Times Magazine article “The Changing World of New York Intellectuals,” foregrounded the contributors to The New Criterion, observing that “The youthful contributors to Hilton Kramer's magazine – Bruce Bawer, Mimi Kramer, Roger Kimball – are still in their 20's, but they manage to sound like the British critic F.R. Leavis. Their articles are full of pronouncements about moral values,' 'the crisis in the humanities,' 'the significance of art.' Their mission is to defend American culture against shoddy merchandise, and they don't shirk from the task.”
During the 1980s, Bawer also contributed book reviews to the New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post Book World, The Washington Times, The American Scholar, Poetry, London Review of Books, and Times Literary Supplement. He served as an editor of the short-lived magazine Arrival, based in California, in 1987-88, was a member of the board of the National Book Critics Circle, and editor of the NBCC Journal in 1989-90.
Bawer spent two years (1991–93) as University Preceptor at Adelphi University. In recent years, he has written considerably less literary criticism than he did in the 1980s. Much of it has appeared in The Hudson Review.
In 1987, his book The Contemporary Stylist was published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. The year after, Graywolf Press issued Diminishing Fictions, a collection of essays on the modern novel. Reviewing it in the Chicago Tribune, Jack Fuller complained of “sour notes,” such as “undeserved sneers,” but concluded that “What redeems Bawer's excesses is the persuasive case he makes that he is on a desperate rescue mission.”
Graywolf published Bawer's second collection of essays on fiction, The Aspect of Eternity, in 1993. Publishers Weekly called the essays “beautifully written” and “a cause for celebration,” and George Core, in the Washington Times, called Bawer “a first-rate critic whose continuing achievement as an independent literary journalist...is cause for our astonishment and celebration - one of the few positive signs about critics and criticism in our contentious and stuffy times.”
Bawer also published a collection of essays on poetry, Prophets and Professors, in 1995. “Running through these critical commentaries,” wrote Publishers Weekly, “is the theme that too many younger poets are caught up in romantic excess, that the influence of Allen Ginsberg and the Beats and the confessional self-destruction of Sylvia Plath have excused so much of the sloppy, informal and poured-out emotion of today's poets....He is on the side of the formalists and those for whom poetry is not a game of literary gossip. This book is an intelligent study by someone who has read and judged a great deal of poetry and criticism.”
In The New York Times, Katherine Knorr wrote that “Bawer is one of the best literary critics in America today,” who proves “that the best literary criticism comes from a serious, close reading of the work that avoids the temptations of celebrity and fashionable politics.”
Reviewing Prophets and Professors, Washington Post critic Jonathan Yardley described Bawer as “one of the appallingly few American literary journalists whose work repays the reading” and “an intelligent, independent, tough- minded critic and a clear-eyed observer of literary affairs.” In the New York Times Book Review, Andrea Barnet described the book as “immensely readable...provocative and entertaining,” saying that Bawer was “thoughtful, sharply opinionated, high-minded and unafraid to slash at sacred cows,” Leslie Schenk of World Literature Today opined that Bawer “has the uncanny knack of writing good sense precisely in those fields where good sense seems to have been taboo....As though with the scalpel of a surgeon removing tumors, he deftly, coolly, cuts through the ephemeral malarkey that hither too obscured his subjects. His book A Place at the Table, for example, stands as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar in the seas of mush that otherwise surround the subject of homosexuality.” In Prophets and Professors, “Bawer performs a similar operation on American academia's pet fetish, modern poetry,” resulting in “the most important book on poetry since Dana Gioia's Can Poetry Matter?”
Along with Dana Gioia, Tom Disch, Charles Martin, and others, Bawer was one of the leading figures of the New Formalism movement in poetry. His poetry appeared in the 1996 anthology Rebel Angels: 25 Poets of the New Formalism, and he contributed to an essay (described as “heavy-handed” by Publishers Weekly) to the movement's manifesto, Poetry after Modernism.
Bawer's poems have appeared in such magazines as Poetry, Paris Review, and The New Criterion. A chapbook of Bawer's poems, Innocence, was published in 1988 by Aralia Press, which also published individual poems by Bawer in other forms. A full-length collection of Bawer's poetry, Coast to Coast, appeared in 1993. It was selected as the year's best first book of poetry by the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook.
From 1987 to 1990, Bawer served as the film critic for the conservative monthly The American Spectator. He also wrote several articles on film for the New York Times and other publications. A collection of his film reviews, The Screenplay's the Thing, was published in 1992. “Best known as a literary critic, Bawer is an engaging, astute, formidable film reviewer as well,” wrote Publishers Weekly, describing Bawer as a “[p]olitically unpredictable” critic who “deflates the arty (Caravaggio), the preachy (Platoon; The Milagro Beanfield War) and the kitschy (The Unbearable Lightness of Being), but gives thumbs up to The World According to Garp, Raising Arizona, Roxanne, Crossing Delancey and The Mosquito Coast....One wishes he were a full-time movie critic.” Bawer later wrote that he left the American Spectator because of a conflict with an editor over a reference to homosexuality in one of his reviews.
In 1993, Simon & Schuster published Bawer's book A Place at the Table: The Gay Individual in American Society. He described it in its first pages as “a reflection on the theme of homosexuality,” motivated by the fact that current debates had “generated a lot more heat than light.” The book, which criticized both heterosexuals' antigay prejudices and the political and cultural stereotypes which, in his view, were foisted on many gay people by the “queer subculture,” received widespread attention. Reviews in mainstream media tended to be positive, while, as Bawer himself later put it, “antigay conservatives and queer lefties alike savaged the book”
Author and attorney Dale Carpenter later summed up the response of many gay publications: “In a year-end roundup of gay-themed books for 1993, one critic for San Francisco's Bay Area Reporter called the book 'terrible,' but nevertheless 'important' because of its widespread impact. Gay professor and author David Bergman chided Bawer for allegedly failing to appreciate 'the great spectacle of human difference,' but acknowledged that Bawer had expressed 'what many people feel.'”
Among the book's admirers were James P. Pinkerton, who, writing in Newsday, praised Bawer's “live and let live” message. Describing the book as “a conservative manifesto declaring what the silent majority of gays wants and why,” John Fink of the Chicago Tribune wrote: “If there is one book about homosexuality and gay rights that everyone should read, it is probably this one.” In Reason, David Link wrote that “Bawer is not a champion of any cause except good sense....A Place at the Table is ultimately a defense of self-determination, and a much-needed one.” Lee Dembart described it in the Los Angeles Times as “a remarkable, gutsy, even brilliant book” and “the most interesting, provocative and original discussion of gay themes that I can recall.”
Christopher Lehmann-Haupt gave the book a mixed review, describing it as “eloquent,” “intelligent,” and “eye-opening,” but accusing Bawer of “sometimes twisting the logic of those he disagrees with,” “relying too heavily on his own dogma,” and “failing to come to grips with some fundamental issues.” Still, he wrote, the book “smashes the common stereotypes of gay people to smithereens.” In the Washington Post, Jonathan Yardley, too, found the book “imperfect,” accusing Bawer of a “regrettable penchant for sweeping generalizations,” “a surprisingly rancorous view of conventional heterosexual marriage,” and an occasional “angry edge,” but called the book “courageous” and felt that Bawer, whose stated aim was to approach his topic “with reason, not rancor,” had fulfilled that aim “with precisely the qualities that distinguish his literary criticism.” Moreover, Yardley supported Bawer's case for gay marriage, even though “the mere mention of [it] still sends millions of Americans into orbit.”
More conservative voices included Margaret O'Brien Steinfels of the Catholic magazine Commonweal, who, in the New York Times Book Review, described the book as “a model polemic” and admired Bawer's “efforts to be fair and balanced.” Yet she rejected Bawer's call for same-sex marriage, arguing that insisting on it “is likely to prove...explosive.” Gay-rights opponent Maggie Gallagher, while calling the book “fascinating,” criticized Bawer for being dissatisfied with “mere tolerance.” Helle Bering-Jensen, in the Washington Times, sounded a similar note, arguing that while most Americans “are quite happy to let other folks live the lives they please,” many “draw the line...at gays in the military, gay marriages, gay parenting and so forth.”
A Place at the Table was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in the category of Gay Men's Studies and was named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times, which described it as a “sharply argued polemic.”
In a 1999 article, “A Book that Made a Difference,” author and attorney Dale Carpenter noted that in the 1990s, the defining gay political causes were not revolutionary in nature but instead “sought to weave gays into the larger fabric of American life” and that “No author better crystallized this deep and widespread yearning than Bruce Bawer in...A Place at the Table, the decade's most important book on the gay movement.” The book, claimed Carpenter, “articulated better than any book before or since gays' rightful place in our culture” and “fueled a self-conscious movement of gay moderates and conservatives that is still redirecting gay politics.” Largely as a result of Bawer's book, a “new generation” of gays entered politics and “insisted that gay organizations put issues like marriage at the top of the agenda.” To be sure, “A Place at the Table wasn't solely responsible for all of this....But the book brought it together, nurtured it, and sent it on its way. Bawer's world, to a very large extent, is now our world; his methods, our methods; his goals, our goals. He wrote the book of the decade and changed gay politics forever.”
On an episode of the Charlie Rose Show marking the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, Bawer took part in a discussion with fellow gay moderate Andrew Sullivan and gay-left writers Tony Kushner and Donna Minkowitz. Minkowitz underlined the conflict between the two sides of the gay-rights movement by saying: “We don't want a place at the table! We want to turn the table over!” A New York Public Library lecture by Bawer, also marking the 25th anniversary of Stonewall, appeared in abbreviated form as a cover story in the New Republic. A Washington Post article about the 25th anniversary of Stonewall quoted Bawer on gay pride marches: “It's hard to make straight people understand how serious an issue gay rights is when they look and see a kind of Mardi Gras atmosphere....It doesn't communicate the idea that these are serious issues.” In a letter to the New York Times, Bawer criticized an editorial that ran on the morning of the Stonewall 25 gay-pride march. The editors chided “gay moderates and conservatives” for seeking “to assure the country that the vast majority of gay people are 'regular' people just like the folks next door.” Bawer retorted, in part: “Well, most gays do live next door to straight people....we're not putting down cross-dressers or leathermen or anyone else; we're simply refuting an extremely misleading stereotype.” After the publication of A Place at the Table, Bawer wrote widely about gay life, culture, and politics. From 1994 to 1999, he was a regular columnist for The Advocate, the gay newsmagazine. His Advocate columns and other articles by Bawer on gay issues were later collected in an e-book, The Marrying Kind.
In 1994, reviewing Robb Forman Dew's book The Family Heart: A Memoir of When Our Son Came Out, Bawer praised the book but added: “To be gay is to yearn for a time when it won't be necessary for mothers to write sensitive books about their children's coming out.” Reviewing a book by Urvashi Vaid in 1995, Bawer argued that “while more and more gay people” were seeking a gay-rights movement focused on “integration, education and conciliation,” Vaid wished “to return to the day of class struggle and liberation fronts.” The fact that “her rhetoric has come to seem so old so fast,” he concluded, “is a measure of how gay political discourse outside the academy, anyway - has been profoundly altered in a relatively brief time.” Bawer called for same-sex marriage in a March 1996 op-ed. In June 1997, he expressed concern that so-called “morning-after” treatments for possible HIV infection could result in “increased carelessness” by at-risk individuals. In January 2001, he called for the Bush administration “to take substantive action on behalf of gays,” noting that the U.S. government was “now lagging behind the American people on gay issues.”
Bawer commented frequently on the treatment of gays in the films and TV. In a March 10, 1996, Times article, Bawer argued that while new films from Britain, the Netherlands, France, and Germany provided fresh, human treatments of gay people, most Hollywood movies about gays continued to be timid, banal, and formulaic. On April 14, 1996, Bawer said on the CBS Evening News, apropos of the new movie “The Birdcage,” that “A good farce has one foot in reality. A gay person going to see this movie realizes this movie doesn't have a single foot in reality.” A writer for The Guardian cited Bawer's complaint about the makers of “The Birdcage”: “They don't get gay life. They don't get anything, outside of a narrow Hollywood idea of gay life. These characters have no dignity, nor pride.” Bawer was a major subject of Angela D. Dillard's 2001 book Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Now? Multicultural Conservatism in America. Reviewing it for Salon, he described it as a book written from “the heart of Academic Country, where the very existence of conservatives who are not straight white males can indeed generate horror and confusion (or, alternatively, amusement, perhaps bordering on clinical hysteria), and where, as surely as a multiplicity of genders, skin colors, ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations is the collective dream, a multiplicity of viewpoints is the collective nightmare.” He chided Dillard's account of “gay conservative” as ill-informed and criticized her for, among other things, including him on “a list of people who have 'sided with the Religious Right' – even though I wrote 'Stealing Jesus' (1997), which indicts fundamentalism as a betrayal of Christianity.”
In a 1995 Washington Post article, Jim Marks cited Bawer's observation that (in Marks's paraphrase) “it gets harder to claim that gay men and lesbians are outside mainstream culture, when so much of mainstream culture -- the Mona Lisa and Moby-Dick, to use Bawer's examples -- is seen as the product of gay and lesbian minds.” In a 1996 piece on gay marriage, New York Times columnist Frank Rich cited Bawer's view that there existed “a gentlemen's agreement” among Washington conservatives. He quoted Bawer as saying: “They say 'We'll socialize with you and your significant other and we'll all be charming, as long as you don't mention it in public, and we get to say anything we want in public.'” A 1997 Washington Post article about an upcoming episode of Ellen Degeneres's sitcom, “Ellen,” on which her character would come out of the closet, mimicking Degeneres's own recent coming out, ended with a quote from Bawer. “People used to do courageous things without having a publicist around to tell the world,” he said.
Bawer's prominence in the gay-rights commentariat drew the ire of some leftists. Peter Kurth complained at Salon on November 30, 1998, that “Bruce Bawer, Gabriel Rotello, Michelangelo Signorile, and the inevitable Larry Kramer have, with [Andrew] Sullivan and a few others, secured a virtual lock on gay commentary in the American media.” Paul Robinson's book Queer Wars: The New Gay Right and Its Critics, published by the University of Chicago in 2005, devoted the first of its three chapters to an analysis and critique of Bawer's writings on gay issues.
Also in 1996, the Free Press published the anthology Beyond Queer: Challenging Gay Left Orthodoxy. Edited by Bawer, it included essays by John W. Berresford, David Boaz, Stephen H. Chapman, Mel Dahl, David Link, Carolyn Lochhead, Daniel Mendelsohn, Stephen H.Miller, Jonathan Rauch, Andrew Sullivan, Paul Varnell, Norah Vincent, and John Weir, in addition to Bawer himself. Booklist called it one of the “outstanding anthologies” of 1996,” saying that it “marks the end of radical dominance in gay politics and culture” and “the beginning of a pragmatic and democratic approach to gay issues.” Ron Hayes, writing in The Palm Beach Post, called it “complex, unsettling and thought provoking” and maintained that “No straight person who reads these essays will ever assume all gays are liberal again. And no gay person will ever assume that all conservatives are his enemy, either.”
To read the essays in Beyond Queer, wrote J. Bottum in the Weekly Standard, “is to experience, again and again, this sense of language broken loose, words unmoored from meaning.” Bottum argued that the book's contributors fail “to understand the internal logic of the forms of life to which they demand admittance”; they “want...the tradition without the discipline, the gravity of dogmatic religion and conventional marriage without the duties and surrenders that create gravity. They want, in other words, a reformation of language to purchase for them the fruits that require a reformation of life.”
Beyond Queer was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in the category of Nonfiction Anthology. Looking back on the book in 2007, James Kirchick of the New Republic said that it had been “perhaps the most important work of gay nonfiction since Randy Shilts' And the Band Played On.”
In 1996, Dutton published House and Home, the memoir of Steve Gunderson, a gay Republican Congressman from Wisconsin, and Gunderson's partner, Rob Morris. Gunderson and Morris wrote the book with Bawer. A reviewer in The Hill called the book “powerful.”
In his 1997 book Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity, Bawer stated, in the words of Publishers Weekly, “that fundamentalist Christianity...has been preaching a message of wrath and judgment” that “is incompatible with Jesus' message of love.” While criticizing “Bawer's sometimes strident tone,” Publishers Weekly said that his “graceful prose and lucid insights make this a must-read book for anyone concerned with the relationship of Christianity to contemporary American culture.” Walter Kendrick, in the New York Times, noted that like A Place at the Table, Stealing Jesus was an “alarm bell,” in this case about Christian fundamentalism. Although Kendrick complained that, Bawer's hopes to the contrary, there was “no hope of converting the fundamentalists,” he concluded that the book might “prove of value simply for its clear exposition of what today's American 'fundamentalists' believe and want to do.”
The response of fundamentalist Protestants and traditional Catholics to the book was more critical. “The thesis of Stealing Jesus is an antinomian heresy rooted in gnostic dualism about the flesh and spirit,” pronounced Catholic priest George W. Rutler in National Review, suggesting that “Bawer could some day write something about the real Church, if he read St. Francis de Sales's Treatise on the Love of God, spent a few days in Lourdes, and quieted down with a good cigar.”
Stealing Jesus was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in the category of Spirituality/Religion.
Bawer has written widely on religious topics. In an April 1996 article for the New York Times Magazine, he reported on the heresy trial in the Episcopal Church over the ordination of gay clergy. In a 1997 New York Times op-ed, he discussed what he saw as “the growing divide between North and South in American Protestantism and the declining significance of denominational distinctions.” In a 1998 article about Robert Duvall's film “The Apostle,” Bawer expressed surprise “that a movie with such a dark, realistic texture...should candy-coat the religious subculture in which it is set.” In a 1998 review of New York Episcopal Bishop Paul Moore's autobiography, Bawer described him as “a more complex figure than the privileged lefty portrayed by his critics.”
Bawer moved from the U.S. to Europe in 1998, in part, as he later explained, because his long-term exposure to Christian fundamentalism via Stealing Jesus had drawn him to the purportedly more liberal life in Western Europe. In a 2004 New York Times article about American attitudes toward Europe, Richard Bernstein quoted a recent Hudson Review essay in which Bawer said, in Bernstein's paraphrase, “that for a time he thought about writing a book lamenting American anti-intellectualism, indifference to foreign languages and academic achievement, and susceptibility to trash TV,” but in the end “didn't write that book...because he discovered that Europe wasn't so comparatively fantastic after all.”
After moving to Europe, Bawer contributed a number of travel articles to the New York Times about destinations in Norway and the Netherlands. He also wrote several articles about the rise of Islam on the continent, including “Tolerating Intolerance,” which appeared in 2002 in Partisan Review.
Once established in Western European nations, Bawer maintains, Muslims avoid integration and answer only to sharia law, while avoiding the legal systems of their host nations, allowing abuse of women and gays, as well as Jews and other non-Muslims. In his conclusion, Bawer states that rising birthrates among Muslims and their "refusal" to integrate will allow them to dominate European society within 30 years, and that the only way to avoid such a disaster is to abolish the politically correct and multicultural doctrines that, according to him, are rife within the continent.
While Europe Slept was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for 2006 in the criticism category, which led to controversy. Eliot Weinberger, one of the board members of the Circle, stated when he presented the list of nominations that Bawer's book was an example of "racism as criticism." The President of the Circle, John Freeman, declared: "I have never been more embarrassed by a choice than I have been with Bruce Bawer's When Europe Slept," and claimed that "its hyperventilated rhetoric tips from actual critique into Islamophobia." Peder Zane, a member on the nomination committee, said that Freeman "was completely unfair to Bruce Bawer" and insulting to the committee.
Bawer's book While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within, about the threat that the rise of Islam in Europe, in his view, poses to liberal values, appeared in 2006. James Kirchick of the New Republic wrote that the book confirmed Bawer's “intellectual consistency; witnessing American religious fundamentalism, he moved to more socially liberal Europe only to find that Europeans' vaunted cultural tolerance was overlooking a strain of Islamist religious fundamentalism that puts Jerry Falwell to shame.”
While Europe Slept was translated into Spanish, Danish, and Dutch, and was a New York Times bestseller. Bawer discussed the book in a half-hour interview on Bill Moyers Journal. He has also talked about Islam on such programs as the Michael Coren Show in Canada and at various conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
While Europe Slept was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for 2006 in the criticism category. When Eliot Weinberger, a member of the NBCC board who had been tasked with announcing the list of finalists in that category at the official NBCC nominating ceremony, came to the title of Bawer's book, he interjected that it was an example of "racism as criticism." According to Kirchick, Weinberger was booed by those in attendance. The President of the NBCC, John Freeman, shared Weinberger's assessment, saying that he had “never been more embarrassed by a choice than I have been with Bruce Bawer's When Europe Slept,” and that the book's “hyperventilated rhetoric tips from actual critique into Islamophobia.” J. Peder Zane, a member of the nomination committee, said that Freeman "was completely unfair to Bruce Bawer" and insulting to the committee. Kirchick commented sarcastically that “Weinberger knows who the real fascists are” – not “the Muslims in Europe who murdered Theo Van Gogh and Pim Fortuyn” but the Bush Administration, which Weinberger, in his book What Happened Here, had described as America's “unelected junta.”
In Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom (2009), Bawer argued “that people throughout the Western world – in reaction to such events as the Danish cartoon riots and the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh – are surrendering to fear” and thus censoring themselves and others and “refus[ing] to criticize even the most illiberal aspects of Islamic culture,” thereby “undermin[ing] the values of individual liberty and equality on which our nation was founded.” Ray Olson of Booklist called the book “Sublimely literate” and “urgent.” Martin Sieff in the Washington Times found it “alarming, depressing, brilliant and remarkably courageous.” In The New York Times Book Review, Stephen Pollard said that the book was, “at times, hard going,” partly “because of the level of detail Bawer offers in support of his argument.” and partly because “Bawer is unquestionably correct, and that fact is quite simply terrifying.”
Bawer's 2012 book The Victims’ Revolution was a report on, and critique of, the rise of identity studies in American universities. Identity studies, according to Bawer, reduce the human experience to ideologically charged jargon about power relationships amongs groups. Publishers Weekly said that while Bawer's “critique seldom engages seriously with the intellectual content of the field,” his book was “a lively, cantankerous takedown of a juicy target” that scored “lots of entertaining points against the insufferable posturing and unreadable prose that pervades identity studies.” Sohbab Ahmari, in the Wall Street Journal, praised the book for its exposure of relativism on campus, while Andrew Delbanco, in the New York Times Book Review, found Bawer's complaints outdated, arguing that universities, in Delbanco's view, are returning to traditional subjects. National Review's Jay Nordlinger, on the other hand, praised the book's “wonderfulness” and wrote: “I wish people would read The Victims’ Revolution. I especially wish it of students and others in academia.”
Since living in Europe, Bawer has worked as a columnist and translator for the website of Human Rights Service, an Oslo-based think tank focused on immigration and integration issues. He has also written frequently about Islam, Europe, and related topics for the Pajamas Media (now PJ Media) and Front Page websites, for City Journal, and on his blog. Many of his articles on Islam have been collected in an e-book, Debating Islam. The New Quislings: How the International Left Used the Oslo Massacre to Silence Debate about Islam (2012) is an e-book by Bawer about the aftermath of the mass murders committed by Anders Behring Breivik on July 22, 2011.
Since living in Europe, Bawer has translated all or part of several books from Norwegian to English, including the following:
In December 2004, New York Times columnist David Brooks gave one of his annual “Hookie Awards” (in memory of Sidney Hook; now known as “Sidney Awards”) for best magazine articles of the year to Bawer's Wilson Quarterly essay “The Other Sixties.”