Friday, February 14, 2014

Islam Intimidates the West – the Rushdie Murder Contract 25 Years Ago Today

Award-winning "Piss Christ" "artwork"
Twenty five years ago today Islamic Iran’s top religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini ordered (link) Muslims to kill Muslim author Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses, a recently-published novel that Khomeini and many other Muslims felt insulted Islam.  This murder order, a type of “fatwa”, sent Rushdie into hiding and split the Western world into those who condemned the murder order outright and those who, while not explicitly endorsing it, criticized Rushdie for hurting the sensitive feelings of Muslims.  Muslims all over the world took notice of the response in the West, in the Judeo-Christian world.  This public, world-wide murder contract served to put the Western world on notice that death, any place at any time, might be the penalty for any perceived insult to Islam, and served as a very successful preemptive gag order on public Western thought.

Those moderns apologetic about Western culture, known as liberals in America, generally give Muslims a pass on behaviors they, the liberals, claim to care deeply about, such as women’s rights (but wearing a full body bag is liberating, and it’s not really genital mutilation but rather a ritual, symbolic “nick”), freedom of speech (but we need to be especially sensitive when we talk about religion, except for Christianity of course), freedom of religion (but we need to be culturally sensitive when Muslims kill Muslims who want to leave Islam for another religion), freedom of sexual expression (but we really need to be culturally sensitive when Muslims kill homosexuals), and freedom to not be blown up (but we must look inward to understand why we have made them so angry at us, and then change ourselves).  These practices not uncommon in the Muslim world are not really problems, and to the extent they might be it’s really all our fault, but damn those troglodyte, medieval American Christians who want to ban third trimester abortions!   

Liberals working in movies, TV, theater, on stage, and in the arts make fun of Christianity and Christian religious figures all the time.  Christianity is fair game for attacks by haters – the award-winning piece of "art" called “Piss Christ” (link) is a perfect case in point, consisting of a crucifix, a representation of the crucified Jesus Christ, placed in a jar of the “artist’s” urine, funded by American taxpayers and defended and celebrated by liberals everywhere (freedom of speech!).  Academics also love to whack Christianity  – remember the "Stomp on Jesus" college class exercise (link)?; I'm still waiting for the "Stomp on Muhammad", but not holding my breath.  But in a rare, unplanned candid moment, an entertainer or artist may admit that Islam is off limits because, after all, who wants to be killed for a novel or a joke or a movie or a picture of Muhammad in a jar of urine; and anyways, Christians are such soft targets since they turn the other cheek, but those Muslims, well, better not mess with them.          

Even Jimmy Carter, a Democrat American president, urged a show of sensitivity to the hurt feelings of Muslims over Rushdie’s book and held Rushdie partially responsible (in a variation of the long-recognized "Blame America First" mind-set).  Per Wikipedia (link): 

Former United States president Jimmy Carter, while condemning the threats and fatwā against Rushdie, stated, "we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated and are suffering in restrained silence the added embarrassment of the Ayatollah's irresponsibility".  He also held that Rushdie must have been aware of the response his book would evoke: "The author, a well-versed analyst of Moslem beliefs, must have anticipated a horrified reaction throughout the Islamic world".  He saw a need to be "sensitive to the concern and anger" of Muslims....

"Sensitive to the anger of Muslims" – an endorsement of the heckler's veto (link; incidentally, a term coined by a UChicago professor).  Well, I'm offended by "Piss Christ" and its funding by the American government, but so far I haven't heard Jimmy Carter express concern about my feelings and chastise the "artist".  Carter’s public spinelessness, and that of so many others in the West, communicated a lot to the Muslim world (to wit, Osama bin Laden’s obliquely calling America and the West a “weak horse” [link]) and encouraged many true believers in it to continue to test limits against Western values.  Such testing continues today, and although it arguably started with the Suez crisis it gathered steam with the seizure of the American Embassy in Iran and long mistreatment of the Americans captured there, two events which then-President Carter was too weak and too conflicted to handle.  As wags have suggested somewhat tongue-in-cheek, perhaps if Christians took a cue from their Muslim fellow humans and occasionally set off a bomb or lopped off a head, they would be accorded some of the respect and deference Western liberals have long given Muslims.  Can Popes issue murder fatwas?

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