Rushdie won the battle (by not getting killed for 30+ years), but the Ayatollahs won the war. Consider how obsessed the modern West is with “Islamophobia”. To say nothing of the other phony phobias our elites concoct.
Rushdie was accused of blasphemy. Our modern blasphemy labels are different: racist; transphobe; bigot; hater; homophobe. The consequences of offending someone and getting one of these labels applied to us aren’t fatal, but they can certainly cost you your job, your professional license, your social position, not to mention real financial disruption.
Today, we all live in fear of being placed under a fatwa. Not by an Muslim cleric in Iran, but by our own coworkers and supposed friends.
Yes, I’ve noticed this too. I’ve recently gone into business for myself because of such workfloor dynamics (and also because I’m getting too old to be someone else’s employee).
“How we gave up Salman Rushdie”I don’t wish to sound snarky with Will Lloyd, but what’s with the “we”? There are two Englands – there is my England, and there is the England of a degenerate establishment. Let us be clear where responsibility lies.
That collective “we” writers often employ is how everyone, regardless of their stance, gets dragged into an outrage. What this guy should have said was many of Rushdie’s fellow writers and public intellectuals, always so quick with their sneering, scolding opinions, are hypocritical cowards. The rest of us needn’t feel anything other than disgust at the horror and hope Salman Rushdie recovers fully.
Harsh but fair
Why harsh? I condemn what happened his week but resent the implication of our collective guilt.
My little joke. Tongue in cheek. Kick ’em in the knackers.
Shouldn’t that be b*llocks?
I use the term knackers when there are ladies present. In my experience girls like crudity, but not from men.
Case explained, thank you.
…absolutely true. In the immediate aftermath of the Bradford Book-Burning, I’d have experienced little difficulty in getting a few lads organised to burn the Qu’ran in the very same spot. Just for the devilment..!
Not seeing the “joke” you claim below that this is. My question was the same: How can I have “given up” on Rushdie when he bever siunded like someone I needed to read? Yes, the response to Khomeni should have been a sequence of missiles long enough to get the job done and make the point that he’s not the only one who can issue death sentences against foreigners, but Rushdie’s uninteresting views or right to express them are beside the point.
I would say his right to express them is precisely the point. I like the part about the sequence of missiles, though.
The blame for the attack falls first on the attacker, second on the late ayatollah, third on the organisers of the event and those they entrusted with security, and perhaps fourth with the regime once headed by the ayatollah for not distancing itself sufficiently from the fatwah. Maybe even Mr Rushdie is himself partly to be victim-blamed, like the anecdotal drunk teenager in a very short miniskirt and no proper knickers who accepts a lift home after midnight as the only passenger of a drooling, suspicious-looking stranger posing as a minicab driver and ends up being sexually assaulted. Neither of the two Englands you mention bear much responsibility for what happened to Mr Rusdie in America all these years after the fatwah, if you ask me.
The fatwa was the canary in the coal mine.
Every offence taking intolerant drew strength from our feeble response.
Am I wrong in seeing simple professional jealousy in the reaction of some writers to our threatened writers, running concurrently with all the other baser instincts; cowardice, witch-hunting, etc? The malice from Joanne Harris towards J K Rowling seems deeply personal.
It’s hard to tell whether it began as something personal, perhaps due to professional jealousy, because once you set up certain people as ‘allowable to hate, personally’ a huge number of people will unload all the malice in their souls because this is the permission they have been waiting for all their despicable lives. Even if it didn’t start out ‘personal’, it immediately goes there because ‘personal’ is where the hate is allowed. This is hate catnip — I get to hate you individually, not because you are a member of group X, but because you are who you are, and call myself virtuous for doing so.
‘Allowable to hate’.
I had to highlight your turn of phrase here because I’ve noticed the same happening in colleges. Hatred and bigotry has no home in academia – unless of course it is institutionally sanctioned such as negative discrimination against European or Asian people.
There is an active movement working toward the degeneration of the West in order to get its people groomed for serfdom. This is being done in academia under the guise of Queer, Feminist, and Race Theory.
Trump being a case in point. The elites, the media, academia every institution have set Trump up at a figure of not just hate but have given permission to allow a deranged, fanatical, insane derision to take hold without the inconvenience of having to rationalise it. We as a people have allowed out minds and world views to be taken over by a machine. We are told we must be kind. Be respectful, and doing so we must suspend our our own rational brains and allow out “feelings” and everybody else’s “feelings” especially those of preferred groups to be preeminent. The problem with Rushdie’s Fatwa was its response. Mealy mouthed, blame the victim and never criticise the insane fanatical, evil regime that spawned it. Why? Because Islam gets a respect from the mealy mouthed that it does not deserve.
Your concluding sentence, especially, is masterful. No other religion is so demanding of respect while doing so little to earn it.
The quisling phrase of the woke when they defend cancellation and loss of employment for voicing some “unacceptable” sentiment is “you have freedom of speech but must bear the consequences”. The woke, so far, are content to destroy a life but not yet to destroy life itself. The fatwa is the ultimate destination of any belief system that becomes a religion with fanatics to enforce its doctrines and prejudices.
Goodbye the Enlightenment welcome back the Inquisition and the wars of religion..
At least the wars of religion of hundreds of years ago were as bloody as they were in part because they were over something that was deemed SERIOUS – i.e. whether or not one’s soul would burn in Hell for all eternity. Now…it’s the transmogrification of the trivial into the consequential w/no real ethical or ultimate divine authority to have to answer to. There will be no St.Bartholemew’s Day Massacres perhaps – just ruined lives, ruined careers, ruined friendships and ruined families. And for what exactly?
Today’s Rushdie is an absolute piker compared to the radical Marxist Intersectional SJW ideological language puritans running amok today.
Bob Rae, currently Canada’s ambassador to the UN, was the first public figure to appear side by side with Rushdie in a public forum following the fatwah, in the early 1990s when Rae was the premier of Ontario and Rae’s wife was president of PEN Canada. Rae spoke on CBC Radio yesterday and offered a very interesting observation of The Satanic Verses, which he had read, and I have not: it doesn’t really mock Islam or Mohammed, but it did mock Khomeini (among a number of contemporary political figures including Margaret Thatcher).
If Rae’s take on the book is a fair assessment – and Rae is a very bright man – it would go a very long way as to explain why the Islamic Republic of Iran has never rescinded the bounty on Rushdie.
Bob Rae, the former NDP premier of Ontario, is and always has been a real mensch. He was treated abominably by his supposed leftist allies while premier for instituting what they mockingly called “Rae days,” i.e. days off without pay (I believe; it was a long time ago). The result of all that was getting ultra-conservative Mike Harris to succeed Rae as premier. The left strikes again!
This trend towards “not writing out of turn” for fear of kicking up an unwanted fuss goes hand in hand with writing for marketability and to make people feel good. Over the last week, I read “The Luminous Solution” by the Australian author Charlotte Wood, which addresses various facets of the creative process of writing.
One of the chapters railed against the idea that books should have likeable characters and make the reader feel good, or confirmed in his/her pre-existing beliefs. Readers do not want to be inside the head of someone who they don’t like or understand and don’t want to be challenged or made to feel uncomfortable.
Books that don’t have this effect will not sell very well – apart from perhaps among serious readers of literature. Unfortunately, people who write want to make a living and so they pander to what they think the market wants and will buy and like. I don’t often make bald statements about the ills of capitalism, but I do think this is an instance of capitalism and consumerism devouring the concept of literature.
The point of literature is not to flatter or to make the reader feel a certain way: it is to address every aspect of the human experience and to portray all kinds of different people, thinking and reacting differently. It helps the reader to understand the world without having to go anywhere. Roald Dahl’s Matilda taught me this at age 7 and I haven’t stopped reading since.
Rushdie has always performed exactly this role and should always have been defended for doing so. Those who thought that the fatwa was him getting his just desserts* got their priorities mixed up and allowed their hurt feelings to obscure the bigger picture.
* or deserts…which is correct, actually?
It’s the latter, deserts. It’s a noun derived from the verb deserve: your just deserts = you get what you deserve.
It’s one of those ones that looks wrong even when you know its right.
Exactly. “Desserts” – or puddings – are what you eat after the main course.
Yes and many of Rushdie’s friends deserted him.
A capitalism with breadth and competition would publish books that challenge the reader and books that pander to the reader. The problem today is that much of the competition in publishing has gone and a few big publishing houses produce what makes the greatest profit. You surely don’t pine for socialist publishing where the government dictates what is published?
While the actions of publishing houses as the arbiters of what gets put out there and what not are a relevant factor, my comment was rather referring to the chilling effect of commercial considerations/the pressure to make a living on what the writer produces in the first place. A government can’t choose/choose not to have something published that hasn’t been created yet.
Yes, it can.
Amazon in the US is making prime members pay $5 shipping to get this book. Sneaky way to discourage sales without an outright ban.
Sneaky way to profit off what’s in the news, I’d say.
Just found my old copy which I’ve kept all these years.
Have you read it cover to cover?
However, if you use Audible, Amazon’s audio book service, it is included as part of the subscription.
Does their Kindle service count as publishing?
I for one found it profoundly shocking that we had our own version of Kristallnacht in a British city with public book burning. It was certainly an omen of what was to come and the eagerness with which books are being censored today.
1. I hope that Mr. Rushdie has a quick and complete recovery.
2. There were TWO NY state troopers there to provide security for Mr. Rushdie, but somehow this attack happened, anyway.
The troopers probably didn’t feel safe w/just the 2 of handling this since they couldn’t confirm if this was a lone attacker and had radioed for and were waiting for backup…
/s for the irony-challenged out there…
Based on what happened at Uvalde the other day it is hardly surprising that the NY troopers did nothing.
Perhaps it is time for US police forces to start exclusively employing military veterans, preferably from the ‘ teeth arms’. One doesn’t want someone who has spent five years stacking Tampax boxes in an air conditioned Nissen Hut.
Islam will remain intolerant as long as the world allows it to. It is the political strategy of Islam to take offence at everything. For it will later use that offence to justify violence and suppression of rights. Least you forget, Islam means total submission.
Somewhere within Islam’s holy texts, intolerance and savagery are permitted, even encouraged. Only when such tracts are thoroughly revised and the entire religion is reformed so as to be more compatible with the modern world will the intolerance, violence, and savagery cease.
The logic suggests that Moslems accept that they should all be assassinated for their views on Judeo-Christianity.
I wonder if the woke or the religious will be dominant after WWIII?
With regards to the attack on Salman Rushdie, yes he did bring this down on himself but but all censorship is murder of the mind. What we have is expression versus suppression. A psychological profile, in a newspaper a few years ago, disclosed the fact that suicide bombers were already depressed and suicidal before attempting to kill other people. Putin’s assassination of Russian dissidents in the UK is no different from this attack upon Mr Rushdie. Asad Shah, the Glasgow shopkeeper died because he displayed trust in others by staying true to his Ahmadiyya faith, showing love to others by wishing Merry Christmas to his Christian friends.
As Gandhi said, if you want peace you must be peace. Cowards need to justify their actions, by blaming others and claiming to be victims themselves. The courageous just get on with living their lives – proudly being an example to others by simply being themselves. Some hide behind religion or politics as criminals hide behind the law (and the just stand proudly in front of it).
Religion that preaches greed and hate, is not religion but politics: physical revolution, not spiritual evolution; division of bodies, not unity of souls.. True religion is spiritual and includes, not excludes. It is without the prejudice that drives the fear filled, insane with violent hate. It does not destroy but reaches out and creates bonds.
The pen may be stronger than the sword because it exposes the frightened and humourless as in Jason and the Bean Men, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ‘Twice Told Tales,’ based on The Greek Myths, which disclosed how easy it is to get the unintelligent to fight each other. The Twilight Zone also covered this in the episode ‘The Monsters are expected on Maple Street.’
The American Paradigm Schools showed the complete opposite in The John Paul Jones Middle School that they took over, through their application of The Alternatives to Violence Project and taking down metal detectors and window bars, that violence could be reduced by 90%, simply through trust, student empowerment and anger management. Americas jails are full of prisoners because the government doesn’t trust its citizens and these citizens are armed because they don’t trust each other or themselves.
The Taliban are back to suppressing free expression and the isolationist policies that kept it stuck in the Middle Ages, claiming proudly that they defeated the Americans. They did not. They have simply gone back to shooting themselves in the foot and hiding in the past. Where is the courage to face the future and move forward into a world with decent health care and freedom to be yourself as a person? As Gene Roddenberry said ‘ Star Trek was an attempt to say that humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day that it begins not just to tolerate but take a special delight in differences, in ideas and different life forms.’ Progress occurs through openness and a sense of humour (not taking life seriously), just as regression comes from fear.
I finish with these few relevant quotes.
‘It seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived of their inner independence and, more or less consciously, give up establishing an autonomous position toward the emerging circumstances. The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with him as a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)’
‘We are so afraid of silence that we chase ourselves from one event to the next in order not to have to spend a moment alone with ourselves, in order not to have to look at ourselves in the mirror (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)’
‘It is impossible to to make people understand their ignorance as it requires knowledge to perceive it and therefore he that can perceive it, it not ignorant (Jeremy Taylor) ‘
‘I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain (Frank Herbert)’
‘Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens (Frank Herbert)’
“If you want to know who controls you, look at who you are not allowed to criticize.” (Voltaire).
“Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.” (Voltaire).
“I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it” (Voltaire).
Sorry but he did NOT bring this down upon himself. How does saying that he did square with the Voltaire quote at the end of your comment?
This is a thoughtful article. We can argue until the cows come home about how absolute free speech should be, and whether those arguing for it should have spotless progressive (or indeed pro-British or whatever) views. It is pretty clear though that such a circumscribed notion of ‘free speech’ isn’t worth the candle. In my view, the overwhelming common element among those attacking Rushdie is utter cowardice combined with hypocrisy. Most of the authors would certainly not want to give up on their excoriating attacks on other, less dangerous, systems of thought and belief as Islam, such as the British Empire or the Catholic Church.
Why are we even granting so much to the British aspect of this, given that Rushdie despises this country and abandoned it (and citizenship) years ago? Free speech has other more important struggles to deal with. The institutional intolerance caused by the left is far more important than a handful of insane fanatics, themselves aided and abetted by the left and its backers in the Blob.
A charecter Mario Puzo’s “Godfather” pissed of Hollywood’s Frank Sinatra and a character in Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” pissed off Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini .
You must not have read Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather.”
Puzo adored Sinatra. The book — not the movie — has a whole chapter on the “Fontane” character and about what an incredible artist he had become as a mature man.
In “The Godfather Papers” Puzo writes of encountering Sinatra personally after the book had been out for a while and was a massive best-seller. It started amiably enough but soon turned nasty, though Puzo pointed out that he didn’t blame Sinatra entirely for feeling the way he did and that “…contrary to his reputation, he didn’t once use any foul language. The worst name he called me was a pimp…”
All censorship is murder of the mind and says more about our fears plus imprisoning thoughts that hold us all enslaved to the past and in hiding from what we see as a threatening future (But to what? Our reputation? Who we think we really are in relation to other people / society in general?). Is there any reality in all this or just ego?
This writer has things backward.
We didn’t give up on Rushdie, he gave up on us.
He’s been a US citizen since 2016.
While reading about the attack on Rushdie, I was also reading these kinds of headlines: “Violent threats against FBI soar as Trump lies about Mar-a-Lago search.” I don’t know how we can manage to protect our politicians and judges, right or left, from slander and the increasing levels of treats and violence, particularly after the ongoing onslaught against democratic freedoms by Trump and the MAGA politicians and faithful. The Ayatollah isn’t just over there in Iran, the Brown Shirts aren’t just an event of long ago and Rushdie isn’t singular in his plight. I even worry that even what I write here is just another signal to hate the MAGAs and could in these days serve an excuse for violence.
‘after the ongoing onslaught against democratic freedoms by Trump and the MAGA politicians and faithful.’
Nothing in that strikes you as slightly partisan, thereby increasing the chance of your worry coming true?
Perhaps a bit of a mention of politicians actively cheering on rioters through the BLM campaign. BLM itself being exposed as corrupt. Hunters laptop, critical theory foisted on schools, university cancellations, the blatant media misrepresentations Mary Harrington points out today.
Your politicians are actively destroying your democracy but it’s very much a two pronged assault.
Again with the “whataboutery”. If what Mr. Rasmussen says is true then it is appalling, if politicians cheered rioters it is appalling, one does not cancel out the other. Mr. Rasmussen was merely making the point that the same sort of violent fanaticism that features in Iran is on display in the US too, something that certainly should concern US citizens of all stripes.
There is a conflict resolution technique whereby one is required to make a sincere attempt to understand the position of one’s opponent before responding. Usually there is a mediator to ensure the effort at paraphrasing the opposition view doesn’t become unhelpful straw manning.
The words of Mr Rasmussen’s post is all I have to go on but, from that, my genuine understanding of his position could summarised as:
1. American democracy is in danger because politicians are under increasing threat of slander and violence.
2. Those threats are a result of the actions of the Trumpian right.
3. Historical examples of totalitarian regimes are given to make the point “it could happen here.”
4. Even protesting the problem, as he is, could fan the flames of anger.
I agree with him (and you) on point 1.
I think both sides are contributing equally to the problem. Therefore I don’t share his analysis of the problem (but do share yours it appears.)
I agree that some of the horrors of history could be repeated even in a modern western democracy and that is something that should worry us. Including the Gulags, Hodomor, Great Leap Forward etc might have been a more balanced view of the historical horrors we have to fear.
Fearing the problem, while exclusively blaming one side, does appear to me to be fanning the flames in a rather passive aggressive way.
I’m not really sure why making those points should be labelled Whataboutery, which seems to becoming one of those catch all phrases to shut down debate.
For the record, I abhor Trump and am alarmed at the direction the GOP and, to some extent the Conservative party, are taking. However I fear the Social Justice left more at the moment because they have so visibly and effectively “marched through the institutions” and their historical record is so much worse.
I absolutely agree with this point. My concern is that, particularly on this site, there is a broad tendency to see only the problems on one side (usually the left) whilst excusing, if they are even acknowledged, the same or similar behaviours on the other side. To answer a criticism with the comment that they did worse is not an argument.
Having said this, I do appreciate the time that you have taken to set out a position, I find this much more rewarding than merely a down-vote. Thank-you.
I agree the commentariat on here skews right, though not exclusively, but find a lot of erudite non aligned comment.
The articles themselves come from a wide range. My impression is that the right wing (or at least anti woke) voices get much less of a platform in the MSM. That’s what makes it more interesting than what little I’ve seen of left wing sites, where the comments seem to be considerably more unforgiving of dissent.
Thanks for your reply. Always more fun to debate than slinging insults.
The main reason that I’m on this site is its (generally) anti-woke tone, and I agree that the MSM (again, generally) with a few honourable exceptions are too non-critical of the woke position on most issues. My main concern is the colonisation of history by social justice warriors who mould the facts to fit their preconceived agenda, leaving out what can’t be fitted into said agenda and failing to even attempt to see the other side.
I agree with you entirely, particularly “failing to even attempt to see the other side.”
Is whataboutery a “take the mote out of thine own eye” statement? Not as strong or as useful as making a strong case for one’s own argument, but almost irresistible given the sanctimoniousness of the other side.
Actually I was thinking about motes and beams, but I don’t think one side should be given congratulations for only having a mote in its eye, I think, for the most part, they both have ginormous beams in their eyes.
There is an inherent danger in “what-about” rejoinders, because two wrongs don’t make a right. But there’s also an inherent need for them, because how else can we point out the hypocrisy of double standards?
Thanks for the interesting discussion following below, Martin and Linda. I can understand that my comment could easily be read as partisan, and indeed, I am about as anti-Trump MAGA as a person can get. However, my intent was more to suggest that in being so, am I not engaged in the same sort of labelling, blaming and name calling that I think is increasingly the spark of violence, left and right? I very much fear that people with strong negative attitudes will soon lead to violence … not to say there hasn’t been any left-inspired violence. I considered the picketing and mega-phone haunting of Kavanaugh’s home as a horrific invasion of privacy and personal security. So while I feel that way, I’m also looking in the mirror at the extent of my dislike of the man and the damage done to the supreme court.