Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Salman the Clown

The paradoxical nature of today’s 'memes' often means finding myself agreeing with people I can’t abide and, conversley, disagreeing with a lot of the potted opinions of people that, externally, tick the boxes of the same ‘political camps’ as I do.

Take for example Julie Burchill on Salman Rushdie. Now I have, by and large, the same feelings for Burchill as I have for freshly expectorated phlegm. Yet her views on Rushdie, in all their merciless savagery, are like Chanel No.5, timelessly elegant and spot on.

I would bet that the only reason his recent crappy thesis on Islamic Reformation got published is because he has a new book to sell. And if that isn’t enough of a coincidence, the Guardian graces us with a breathless write up on his new novel, Shalimar the Clown. In it, Rushdie is asked what he thinks about deporting Islamic Militants:

"The idea that by allowing all these groups to hang out here it would somehow protect England from attack was a deliberate philosophy. And it's not even party political because both of them did it. Thatcher did it, Blair did it. I think it's extraordinary to see people screaming hate while living off the state. No, I don't mind."

This is rich coming from the man who emotionally blackmailed the Thatcherite government for protection after Ayatollah Khomeini (the original Islamic bogeyman) threw down the fatwa from Tehran. For years prior to that Rushdie fancied himself as a Lefty and a spokesman for "poor, downtrodden immigrants". Back then, 'Racism in the UK' was Rushdie’s specialist area of punditry. (Nowadays it seems to be Bono’s arse). Lets not forget that Satanic Verses had two axes to grind: One was anti-Islam, and the other, more pronounced, which is largely forgotten because of the fatwa furore, was patently anti-Thatcher (both in person and in dogma). So when the very same Thatcher government, that Rushdie had a made a career of berating, had to foot the bill to afford him with police protection, it was, as Julie Burchill commented archly, “a better piece of irony you couldn’t find hanging in the Tate”.

I have no idea what his new book is like, nor do I want to. But if the last one was anything to go by, then there should be plenty of returned unsold copies in warehouses around the world. I think it would be worthwhile to suggest to Bradford City Council, that in order to stave off unnecessary deaths caused by hypothermia, they could always stockpile these copies of the new Rushdie book to burn, for fuel, this winter.


At August 30, 2005 9:08 pm, Blogger Shahid said...

One of the finest posts I have read in ages. I agree with every single word you wrote. Awesome.

At September 11, 2005 12:59 am, Anonymous Ben said...

"(Rushdie) ...emotionally blackmailed the Thatcherite government for protection..."

Excuse me? So he should, um, nobly have put his life on the line to save the taxpayer a few bob? If you're worried about him having needed protection then maybe you ought to lay the blame at the door of the theocratic totalitarian who demanded his murder, and the radicals who went along with that. Just maybe a thought to consider...

And what's wrong with the idea of an Islamic reformation? I'm quite sure that my simplistic analysis is missing some devastating key point, but perhaps I could be enlightened.

Khomenei was a "bogeyman" (love the use of loaded term, plus scare quotes) because he was a clerical fascist who was responsible for murdering trades unionists, socialists, democrats and liberals in his own country. That seems cause enough to consider him a bogeyman, quite apart from his desire to impose a totalitarian state complete with mediaeval social mores, wouldn't you say?

At September 11, 2005 11:13 pm, Blogger Siddhartha said...

It's the degree of the level of protection that Rushdie negotiated from the Tory government, which was at first reluctant to all his demands. I vaguely remember that the Home Secretary of the time was adamant that he should not get 24-hour police protetction.

As for Rushdie's call for an Islamic Reformation: Islam may or may not require a Reformation, but its not going to happen on Salman Rushdie's terms. That would be as credible as a backpacker who returns from holiday and calls for a Reformation in Theravada Buddhism because he got thwacked on the head by some angry monks in some monastary canteen in Thailand. I mean its as ridiculous as that. Really Salman, do yourself a favour and stick to magical realism.

Khomeini is the first in a long line of "bogeymen" that the Media has used to vilify Islam. Love your use of the term clerical fascist; and thats not a loaded term? Khomeini was certainly responsible for the abuses you mention, but the worst, in Western terms, was undeniably being the leader of the Iranians who stormed the US Embassy in Tehran. Khomeini deposed the Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlevi, who, with the use of his CIA-trained secret Police SAVAK, was responsible for some of the worst human rights violations committed in anyone's name, anywhere. How come we never saw the Shah caricatured and pilloried in the press? Is it, by any chance, because he never attacked American/British interests in Iran?


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