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.