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20 June 2007 Blog Home : June 2007 : Permalink

Sir Salman and Illogical Weaseling

Apart from the frothing at the mouth from socalled devout members of the religion of submission, the Knighthood of Sir Salman has been primarily notable for how a large section of the british chattering and letter-writing to the Times classes prefer to blame Sir Salman for all the aforementioned frothing. I'm not going to get into a discussion of the frothing other than to note that the frothers clearly haven't learnt anything positive from the Mohammed cartoons furore last year. What they appear to have learned rather is that a certain class of Western pseudo-intellectual slug will gleefully lube up another victim and chuck him off the trioka (to mix metaphors dreafully) as soon as the followers of the religion of submission make even the slightest complaint.

So back to the slugs.

Exhibit 1 (via Norm and Eric the Unread) is some prat in the Grauniad called Gopal who thinks that Rushdie has sold out to the establishment and that the knighthood is his 30 pieces of silver. Now I have a question for this Gopal. Assume that Sir Salman had decided to remain an "anti-establisment" figure. He would obviously have had trouble squaring an anti-establishment stance with accepting 24x7 protection from the militaristic lackeys of the corrupt and bullying state and would therefore have been forced to avoid misguided minions of the religion of submission on his own and/or with the help of a few pals. So the question is this: had Mr Rushdie gone that route would he still be alive to receive his knighthood today? There is a follow up. If you, Gopal, were one of the blokes that he was relying on what would you have done when the murderous jihadis showed up at the door? (I'm guessing open it and grovel on the floor begging not to be killed too)

In other words if Sir Salman has sold out could it be because he realized that actually the establishment was preferable to the alternative? Gopal writes:

With equal ferocity, he criticised those in postcolonial nations and ethnic minority communities who asserted themselves through chauvinism, fundamentalism, censorship and literalism. It was necessary to critique tyrannical forces in both west and non-west, to recognise them as twinned and to pronounce a plague on both their houses. From the magnificent Midnight's Children to the brilliantly flawed The Moor's Last Sigh, this uncompromising ethical vision underlies plain Mr Rushdie's best fiction.

Just possibly Sir Salman has "sold out" because he doesn't think the west is tyrannical. I note that the Grauniad tells us that Priyamvada Gopal teaches in the English faculty at Cambridge University and is the author of Literary Radicalism in India. It seems to me that a lecturer at Cambridge and fellow of Churchill college is pretty hypocritcal if he complains that others have sold out to the establishment. One wonders whether Gopal avails himself of his college privileges such as the "June Feast" where:

Scarlet is worn and Fellows and guests may wear festal robes of their most senior degree taken at another university instead of a Cambridge gown. Decorations may also be worn.

Enough and on to slug number 2 who wrote to the Times:

Sir, Did the genius who recommended Salman Rushdie for a knighthood not realise the offence that it would cause to the Muslim world after The Satanic Verses debacle or was this calculated? And exactly why did he get a knighthood – he has done nothing for Britain other than cost the taxpayer a fortune in police protection for writing a book the majority never read?

P. CRESSWELL, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh

1) Who the %expletive% cares what "offense it would cause to the Muslim world"? We are not (yet) ruled by a Muslim caliph. Indeed in churches* all over England prayers are said every Sunday that contain:

We beseech thee also to save and defend all Christian Kings, Princes, and Governours; and specially thy Servant ELIZABETH our Queen; that under her we may be godly and quietly governed: And grant unto her whole Council, and to all that are put in authority under her, that they may truly and impartially administer justice, to the punishment of wickedness and vice, and to the maintenance of thy true religion, and virtue.

"Thy true religion" being the Anglican/Episcopalian one not the one promulgated by some alleged kiddie fiddler from Arabia.
2) Exposing that lack of tolerance for free speech amongst members of a certain religion seems like a pretty major service even if some ostrichs prefer to ignore it. And of course, whether or not Satanic Verses has not been read, some of his other work such as Midnight's Children have been major bestsellers and thus, presumably, read by many. Finally this "not read by the majority" is ridiculous if applied strictly. If only authors who have sold more than 30M books are entitled to a knighthood then I guess the only ones who meet the bar in recent years are Dick Francis, J K Rowling and Barbara Cartland.

Slug number 3 (back to the Grauniad) is Marcel Berlins who seems to contradict slug one while still whining about whether Sir Salman deserved his knighthood.

The reaction to Salman Rushdie's knighthood should have been foreseen, not least by him. Perhaps it was, both in the offices of those who made the decision to offer it to him, and in Rushdie's own household. But if our honours pickers thought that the award might lead to trouble, should they have decided to leave Rushdie off the list? [...]

Rushdie, who lives in New York, has frequently rubbished Britain and British things. He obviously does not like our island. What rankles in particular with many people is his apparent ingratitude towards a country that, following the fatwa issued against him, had spent more than £10m of taxpayers' money on protecting his life. He even once ventured the (factually unlikely) argument that he had paid more in personal tax than he had cost the taxpayer; as if that made his lack of gratefulness acceptable.

[...] Should he have been denied it because he's an ingrate and doesn't like us very much?

We dish out honours to all sorts of people - deserving and undeserving, nice and nasty, adulterers, residents abroad, government critics and supporters. But I do not remember anyone prior to Rushdie accumulating so many reservations, not only for his own iffyness towards the donor of his honour, but because of the real possibility of trouble and violence, not to mention international political repercussions.

I love how this slug tries to weasel in the "international repercussions" thing while mostly complaining that Sir Salman is an ungrateful boor (who apparently hasn't sold out to the establishment but keeps on kicking it). Who can say whether Sir Salman would be Sir S if the Ayatollah hadn't taken offense? or for that matter whether Sir S would have sold as many books as he has? but either way, a better way to make the point that the British "establishment" holds no truck with religious censorship would be hard to find. Usually folk like Marcel Berlins believe that countries should not meddle in the sovereign internal affairs of others. Knighthoods are about as classic a sovereign internal affair as it is so why should Britain take any notice of the opinions of countries who don't seem to like us anyway?

*Admittedly only those churches that do the traditional Book of Common prayer and not the trendy modern replacement