Rod Liddle on Rushdiephobia

Gorgeous. Someone gets it.

The decision to knight the author Salman Rushdie has brought together, in angry concordat, almost the entire world…Rushdie is loathed — and not just by the mediaevally minded bigots of Islamabad, Tehran and the Finsbury Park mosque. He seems to be loathed by everyone else, too. No sooner had his knighthood been announced than the British Right waded into attack….We give him expensive police protection when the mad mullahs order his death and he repays us by continuing to speak his mind. Beneath all this is the usually unspoken intimation of racism: Salman — well, he’s a darkie, isn’t he? A chippy little wog. Comes from Bombay or Mumbai or somewhere ghastly like that…The British Left hates him, if anything, even more. It has long carried a torch for Islam, despite the misogyny, homophobia and authoritarian impulses of the ideology.

And the death penalty for ‘apostasy’ and the slight huffiness about blasphemy and a few other not obviously left-wing details. It’s the great central mystery of our time, as far as I’m concerned, this inexplicable torch carried for Islam. Stalin, Islam – gee, parts of the left just don’t seem to have very good taste, do they.

Like most haggard and tired former commies, I have little time for the honours system; it’s an infantile, reflexive thing on my part, I suppose. Certainly I will be the first to show up with my bucket of ordure when some tenth-rate, brain-dead pop star or footballer or soap actor has a medal pinned on him out of the government’s desire to kowtow to public sensibilities.

Or, now you mention it, some tenth-rate head of a certain Council who gave it as his opinion that death was too good for Rushdie.

But if we are to have the honours, I find it difficult to think of anyone more deserving of a knighthood than Sir Salman Rushdie. While the rest of us were still worrying about the Cold War, Rushdie was warning us about the war yet to come. He addressed the Islamic revolution with sophistication, philosophical elegance and great literary inventiveness. And he did so with enormous courage and candour. He is perhaps Britain’s only writer who has successfully examined the soul of Islam and, in so doing, examined the soul of the West too…He has witnessed the most wretched of little political weasels, the likes of Keith Vaz, marching through the streets at the head of a throng of howling Muslim maniacs, demanding his book be burned.

Yes but – but – but – but he caused offence to the Muslim community! Don’t you understand, Mr Liddle? He caused offence. He caused the ‘spiritual leader’ of Iran to call for his murder – don’t you see how wicked that was? Are you blind? Are you an Orientalist? Or what are you altogether?

You’re one of the few people writing in the mainstream rags who gets it, that’s what. Have a chocolate; you deserve it.

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