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Salman Rushdie: World Learned ‘Wrong Lessons’ from His Iran Fatwa

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‘Fear disguised as respect’

“The writer said that the controversy that surrounded the PEN prize to Charlie Hebdo this year convinced him that, if the attacks against ‘The Satanic Verses’ had occurred today, ‘these people would not come to my defence and would use the same arguments against me by accusing me of insulting an ethnic and cultural minority.’” Indeed so. That was what happened after our free speech event in Garland, Texas: the international media, including many “conservatives” such as Bill O’Reilly and Laura Ingraham, excoriated Pamela Geller and declared that she should have shown more “respect” — which really meant that she should have submitted in fear, as they were doing.

The freedom of speech is seriously imperiled, and most Americans have bought into the idea that “hate speech,” which they assume to be an entity that can be objectively established, does not deserve protection. They have no idea that they’re thereby paving the way for authoritarianism and totalitarianism.

“Salman Rushdie says the world learned the ‘wrong lessons’ from his Iran fatwa ordeal,” Agence France-Presse, July 22, 2015:

More than a quarter century after being slapped with a fatwa from Iran [sic] calling for his murder over his book “The Satanic Verses”, Salman Rushdie says the world has learned the “wrong lessons” about freedom of expression.

The British author, in an interview published Wednesday by the French news magazine L’Express, said his ordeal by religious fanatics determined to violently avenge what they construed as blasphemy should have served as a wake-up call to the world.

Instead, after the September 11, 2001 attack on America and the massacre in Paris in January this year of cartoonists and staff at the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly, and with the ongoing rampage of the brutal Islamic State group in the Middle East, Rushdie saidsome writers and other people were too cowed to talk freely about Islam.

“It seems we learned the wrong lessons,” he said in the interview printed in French.“Instead of concluding we need to oppose these attacks on freedom of expression, we believed we should calm them through compromises and ceding.”

The “politically correct” positions voiced by some — including a few prominent authors who disagreed with Charlie Hebdo receiving a freedom of speech award at a PEN literary gala in New York in May — were motivated by fear, Rushdie said.

– ‘Fear disguised as respect’ –

“If people weren’t being killed right now, if bombs and Kalashnikovs weren’t speaking today, the debate would be very different. Fear is being disguised as respect,” he said….

The writer said that the controversy that surrounded the PEN prize to Charlie Hebdo this year convinced him that, if the attacks against “The Satanic Verses” had occurred today, “these people would not come to my defence and would use the same arguments against me by accusing me of insulting an ethnic and cultural minority”….

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