Some wisdom and insight from Ziauddin Sardar:
The British literary landscape is dominated by three writers: Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan…In their different styles, their approach and opinions define a coherent position. They are the vanguard of British literary neoconservatives, or, if you like, the “Blitcons”…Their writing stands within a tradition, upholding ideas with deep roots in European consciousness and literature….The Blitcon project is based on three one- dimensional conceits. The first is the absolute supremacy of American culture. Blitcon fiction is orientalism for the 21st century, shifting the emphasis from the supremacy of the west in general to the supremacy of American ideas of freedom…The second Blitcon conceit is that Islam is the greatest threat to this idea of civilisation. Rushdie’s suspicion of and distaste for Islam is obvious in his novels…References to Islam in Midnight’s Children can be read as deliberately insulting.
Naughty Rushdie. Suspicion and distaste for Islam not allowed. Trust and love for Islam only permissible attitude, also only progressive attitude; other attitude places one as a conservative; Islam self-evidently the opposite of conservatism and deserving of trust and love, respect and admiration, affection and reverence; therefore Rushdie Amis and McEwan are all neocons. Besides they uphold ideas with deep roots in European consciousness and literature. Well I mean to say. How neocon and sinister can you get.
The third Blitcon conceit is that American ideas of freedom and democracy are not only right, but should be imposed on the rest of the world. The extent to which this conviction has become central to these writers’ thought can be traced by Rushdie’s surprising progression, over the past 20 years, from political left to centre right. Rushdie’s fiction is more nuanced than that of Amis or McEwan, and he was an outspoken champion of multiculturalism during the 1980s. All that, however, changed when Ayatollah Khomeini, enraged at The Satanic Verses, issued a fatwa sentencing him to death in 1989.
Oh, gee, did it? Well I can’t imagine why! I can’t imagine why a ‘fatwa’ sentencing him to death by a complete stranger in a country he had nothing to do with – a stranger who hadn’t read the book he was so ‘enraged’ about – would cause him to be any less fond of ‘multiculturalism’ – can you? What a narrow-minded spiteful conservative orientalist all-wrong guy he must be, to react that way. Dang, some people just have no tolerance. Obviously he should have been pleased at this creative manifestation of a vibrant culture displaying its difference and Otherness for the edification of all those dreary fools who uphold ideas with deep roots in European consciousness and literature. But nooooo – he had to get all offended and huffy and bitter, and even more unfriendly toward Islam. Is that crazy and neocon or what!
And, the NS tells us, ‘Ziauddin Sardar has been appointed a commissioner of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights.’ Oh dear.