September 18, 2012

Salman Rushdie "tried to compromise with a group of Islamic leaders in London by negotiating a statement that... actually reads like something that an inquisition would make you sign.'"

It said "among other things, that he believed there was no god but Allah and that he would not issue a paperback version of The Satanic Verses."
"I think it actually reads like something that an inquisition would make you sign," he says. "And that's more or less what it was. And I immediately — the moment I left that room in which I'd had that meeting — I began to feel physically ill because I understood that I'd in some way betrayed myself. I felt obliged to repudiate that statement and try and regain myself, for myself. It made me understand that this idea of trying to ingratiate oneself with the enemy was not only absurd, but improper. And in a way, now, looking back at it, I can see that it was beneficial to me because it clarified certain things in my head which were confused up to then."
It's just by chance that Salman Rushdie's story is in the news again at the same time as the overblown "rage" over the "Innocence of Muslims" video. Rushdie has a new memoir, "Joseph Anton" — released today.  (Joseph Anton is the pseudonym he chose as he went into hiding. It's a bland combination of the names of the writers Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekov — non-bland would be Conrad Chekov — intended to hide his Indian ethnicity.)

45 comments:

Mark O said...

Without the fatwa, would Rushdie be nearly so famous or in the news today? What if he had lived in LA? Would he have been summoned?

Shouting Thomas said...

Meanwhile, on Broadway, the South Park guys have a runaway hit in "The Book of Mormon," giving Mormons just the beating you'd expect.

Mormons refuse to riot, commit arson and murder in response!

The LDS response: The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people's lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.

annk said...

By chance? Hardly.

Ayatollah Hassan Sanei reissued the fatwa against him last week, and upped the bounty by $500,000.

Synova said...

When Rushdie got in trouble I was... younger. I figured that he'd written his book with the intention of pissing off Muslims so why feel too bad for him that he got what he intended, publicity for his book and lots of sales? I even said so a few times. Certainly no one forced it on him. I would feel bad if someone insulted my religion, too, and how hard would it be to be polite?

I wonder, if he gained clarity only after signing his pledge, if I was right, at least initially.

But I was a lone voice. Americans, and certainly any American of the liberal persuasion knew they had to defend Rushdie.

And Rushdie apparently, according to this, realized what it all really meant.

As I've gotten older I think I've come to understand the purpose of free speech better. It's not a principle held to just because, it's got a vital purpose. It's an active creator of freedom, not a symbol of freedom that exists.

The big "symbol" of freedom now is sexual license, but sexual license doesn't create freedom. It may actually create the illusion of freedom.

Tolerance (the actual sort, not the "liberal" sort that means whole hearted acceptance) of what is offensive speech, of what is blasphemous or what we really would rather not hear, isn't a symbol of freedom, it's necessary for freedom.

Liberals used to be very in to the "I may hate what you have to say but will defend to the death your right to say it" but no more. Now it's all hate-speech rules and demands that we *not* tolerate what we hate, but that we love all the right things.

Maybe we start out thinking that people don't need to say the offensive things, that they're just trying to sell books or something, but at some point, I hope, we'll realize that selling ourselves for the illusion of peace and conciliation is serious indeed.

Wally Kalbacken said...

No paperback, eh? What about Kindle?

russell.j.coller.jr said...

Hit it Stevie Wonder!: "...my black sheer chador ...pretty little dress that I'll rape for ...you're the only one i'd stone her for... how I wish that you were mine... la la laaa la la laa ...la la laa ...la la la la laaaa...."

furious_a said...

Nobody expects the Koranic Inquisition!

Shouting Thomas said...

In response to what you actually wrote, Althouse...

Yes, the Obama admin is lost in a hopeless effort to appease the jihadis. Hillary, too.

ricpic said...

It takes intellectuals forever to figure out the obvious.

Chris said...

The way this piece starts out is:
The recent violence sparked by the film Innocence of Muslimsrecalls a very different controversy from more than 20 years ago...

How is this a "very different controversy" other than the author was a leftie rather than a rightie?

Ironclad said...

It clarified that it is impossible to compromise with these people - either you stand up for what you believe or they will keep restricting your thoughts and actions until you conform to their beliefs. (Reminds me of the Borg)

I never cease to be amazed that in all of these incidents, it is always the Muslims that are the victims. They play the western audience so very well - perfect Dhimmis in their view

If only EITHER of the current contenders for the presidency would stand up and make it clear that our values are different, then the Rushdie lesson might have some meaning (and Iran just increased the bounty on his head the other day - they never stop)

Lyssa said...

Shouting T said: Meanwhile, on Broadway, the South Park guys have a runaway hit in "The Book of Mormon," giving Mormons just the beating you'd expect.

I've never known a Mormon to go see TBOM, but I've known several who were more than happy to laugh at some of South Park's work on the subject. Which they should - that shit's hilarious.

Also, as a Catholic, I strongly appreciate Monty Python's Meaning of Life (the "Every Sperm is Sacred" song) and pretty much all of Kevin Smith's Dogma (which I thought was underappreciated). Good stuff, good stuff.

Why are Muslims so much more sensitive?

Shouting Thomas said...

Why are Muslims so much more sensitive?

Because the culture is intellectually backward.

Politically incorrect truth... Islam is an intellectual backwater.

Christianity is the religion of intellectual enlightenment.

EMD said...

The LDS response: The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people's lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.

The marketplace of ideas.

annk said...

"Why are Muslims so much more sensitive?"

Victor Davis Hanson nailed it in his column yesterday:

"[T]he wrath of the Muslim Street is elemental and existential (read The Al Qaeda Reader to fathom all the twenty or so excuses given by bin Laden for his hatred of the U.S.). It can be explained in terms something like this: Islamists have convinced the Arab masses that their present mess (so easily fathomed in a globalized world in second-by-second, instantaneous comparisons with other cultures — via cell phones, the Internet, DVDs, and cable television) is not their own fault."

http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson/obamas-middle-east-delusions/

Dante said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William said...

I read the portion of Rushdie's memoir that was excerpted in last week's New Yorker. In that excerpt, he seemed to carefully parse his words as to give no further offense to Islam. He also explained how nothing in his novel was contrary to or derisory of the teachings of Islam. But for heaven's sake, why not? Why not examine why this religion-- alone among the major religions-- produces so many murderous douchebags.....Rushdie treats the subject of Islam very gingerly and with the elaborate respect you offer a Mafioso at your son's wedding. Apparently this filmmaker has no where near the talent of Rushdie, but, for all that, the indignation of his film is a more honest response......Oppressed minorities are generally allowed a certain amount of hyperbole. No black writer in this country has ever been criticized for treating whites unfairly. Shouldn't that same courtesy be a granted a pissed off Egyption Copt?

Dante said...

As I said, the difference goes back much further. The reformation was all about different interpretations of the Bible, which changed people's relationship to God. It was a shock.

Here you have Muslims leaders attempting to keep the cat in the bag, preventing the interpretation of the Koran, in an attempt to create pre-reformation sameness.

Why do I have to care about this stuff? I'm tired of this "We." Disconnect from the WE by getting our own oil supplies, and disconnect.

Shouting Thomas said...

Dante, you're partly right.

Something in Christian doctrine lent itself to the constant series of reformations that continue to this day.

Islamic doctrine is a failure in and of itself.

annk said...

"Something in Christian doctrine lent itself to the constant series of reformations that continue to this day."

No shit, Sherlock. Just a little thing called the Protestant Reformation . . .

Shouting Thomas said...

You're confusing the issue, aank.

There is an intellectual substance and depth to Christianity that is not there in Islam.

You cannot reform the null.

I suspect that the substance within Christianity is the New Testament advice from Christ to forgive one's enemies.

edutcher said...

Rushdie thought he was dealing with reasonable people, but, as Ironclad notes, that wasn't the case.

These were fanatics who wanted an object lesson for the world, a head they could mount on a pole, and Rushdie simply was la tete de chance.

PS Very good comment, Synova. Very perspicacious.

damikesc said...

Meanwhile, on Broadway, the South Park guys have a runaway hit in "The Book of Mormon," giving Mormons just the beating you'd expect.

But isn't the underlying message that even if their faith is "weird", it works for them and makes them happy and quite productive members of society?

Clearly, based on recent events, you'd have a hard time making similar arguments for Islam.

gerry said...

It made me understand that this idea of trying to ingratiate oneself with the enemy was not only absurd, but improper.

Ingratiation...isn't that the Obama Doctrine?

gerry said...

Here you have Muslims leaders attempting to keep the cat in the bag, preventing the interpretation of the Koran, in an attempt to create pre-reformation sameness.

There are myriad Islamic sects and cults, many of which hate and/or fear the other.

It's the Islamists - and the coined word Islamist describes them aptly since it combines Islamic with fascist - with whom the West is at war. And today's appeasers of fascism will attempt to do the same thing those of pre-WWII attempted to do: appease, ingratiate, and profit from the enemies of liberty.

Darrell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darrell said...

Rushdie parses his words not because he does not wish to run afoul of the Imams, but because he does not want to upset the cart and find himself labeled as a hater in the United Kindgom with their new hate speech laws and criminal penalties. The Lefty Rushdie has a sweet deal in the UK and still gets invites to all the good parties.

Colonel Angus said...

Also, as a Catholic, I strongly appreciate Monty Python's Meaning of Life (the "Every Sperm is Sacred" song) and pretty much all of Kevin Smith's Dogma (which I thought was underappreciated). Good stuff, good stuff.

Why are Muslims so much more sensitive?


Lack of self esteem and toss in a pinch of barbarism. Any religion that is so insecure it can't withstand a little criticism or mocking without resorting to murder and mayhem doesn't deserve to mix with civilized societies.

ThomasD said...

Just a little thing called the Protestant Reformation

The process started long before then. The First Ecumenical Council wasn't called for nothing.

LarsPorsena said...

Yes, I remember all the lefties running to Rushdie's defense after the 'Satanic Verses' first came out.

NOT.

YoungHegelian said...

I began to feel physically ill because I understood that I'd in some way betrayed myself.

One never compromises with Fascists. They only see it as a sign of weakness. Their writings tell you so front & center.

If the followers of Salafi Islam tell you they respect strength ("the strong horse"), then one deals with them from a position of strength or they will take you to the cleaners.

Rushdie did the right thing for all of us in the West & he is a hero for it. So's Maggie Thatcher, by the way.

Darrell said...

New Logic:
If you can't prove that each and every Lefty said something your statement isn't true.

If you show that one Rightie said soemthing it is true for the whole. E.g., All you need is to find one old timer at the Free Republic calling himself a teabagger and you can claim the Tea Party calls themselves that.

ThomasD said...

Rushdie is primarily concerned with defending his own little protected niche (transgressive lefty artiste) lest he become too closely associated with the creative efforts of a declasse rube.

Peter said...

' 'Something in Christian doctrine lent itself to the constant series of reformations that continue to this day.'

No shit, Sherlock. Just a little thing called the Protestant Reformation ..."


Or perhaps because Jesus counseled, "Render unto Caesar" and "Turn the other cheek," but Mohommad counseled jihad?

Or the political reality- that early Christianity was in no position to challenge the temporal authority of the hegemonic power, Imperial Rome?

Whereas Mohommad was the temporal power in his world, the authority who issued death sentences and commanded armies, a warlord who established the hegemonic power known as the Caliphate?

Differences between Islam and Christianity lie in their origins and their sacred texts, not just in the Reformation.


"Julia! Do it to Julia!"
-- Winston Smith in George Orwell's "1984"

"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever" -- "1984"

Peter said...

' 'Something in Christian doctrine lent itself to the constant series of reformations that continue to this day.'

No shit, Sherlock. Just a little thing called the Protestant Reformation ..."


Or perhaps because Jesus counseled, "Render unto Caesar" and "Turn the other cheek," but Mohommad counseled jihad?

Or the political reality- that early Christianity was in no position to challenge the temporal authority of the hegemonic power, Imperial Rome?

Whereas Mohommad was the temporal power in his world, the authority who issued death sentences and commanded armies, a warlord who established the hegemonic power known as the Caliphate?

Differences between Islam and Christianity lie in their origins and their sacred texts, not just in the Reformation.


"Julia! Do it to Julia!"
-- Winston Smith in George Orwell's "1984"

"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever" -- "1984"

Dante said...

There are myriad Islamic sects and cults, many of which hate and/or fear the other.

Yes, there are sects, but the main thrust of their anger is outward, towards Israel and the Western world.

Perhaps the right solution is to foment muslim clerics to create fatwah's against one another, and turn the anger inward. Meanwhile, get the heck out of the ME. No more we and ME.

Lyle said...

I hope the ghost of Christopher Hitchens pays a visit to Salman Rushdie sometime soon.

furious_a said...

ST: Something in Christian doctrine lent itself to the constant series of reformations that continue to this day.

Christendom also had to adapt politically, militarily, administratively -- or go under -- during its millenium-long resistance against Muslim conquest. Columbus' voyage coincided with the Reconquista. Islam's retreat vs. the West began with the Ottoman defeat at 2nd Vienna.

mccullough said...

The Satanic Verses is a good book. Not as good as Midnight's Children, but good.

Lem said...

...the overblown "rage"...

Thanks.

MadisonMan said...

You cannot compromise with extremists.

Give 'em an inch, and they'll be back asking for a mile.

paul a'barge said...

When they whack Rusdie, and believe me at some point they will, I will shed no tears.

paul a'barge said...

Here is the thing about the First Amendment: it never stops being immediate or cogent.

People never stop trying to curtail it or to justify curtailing it. Ever. It's perpetual whack-a-mole in Defend First Amendment land.

And we, all of us right thinking human beings have to crank up the defenses and explanations yet again, as though those explanations and defenses that have been invoked before disintegrated into vapor the moment in the past when we invoked them.

Oh and by the way: Synova wins the comment thread. Straight up.

Amy said...

Joseph Anton - bland? BLAND? Isn't blandness and blending in the POINT when your life is threatened and you are in hiding? I seem to remember that it wasn't so comfortable when Althouse/Meade were threatened back in the Madison protest days by people far less scary than insane jihadis.
I would never snark at someone who had been through that. he's paid dues in the war on terror that none of us have, whether it was deliberate or inadvertent.

ken in sc said...

Sikhs have a lot of experience dealing with Muslims. I know a number of Sikhs. I understand that they were originally quite militant, in protecting their women from being raped by Muslims in India. Around here they are not very militant. Of course, we are not trying to rape their women; we elect them as our governor. We get along quite well.