Thursday, June 21, 2007

On Rushdie, Tell Iran And Pakistan To Get Lost

We have a bad problem in the world with Muslim fundamentalists who are trying to curtail Western freedoms, threatening suicide bombings to those who believe in the right of expression.
That is precisely what is happening with the Iranian and Pakistani threats against Britain for naming the author Salman Rushdie to a knighthood. Queen Elizabeth has done that, and now the Mullahs don't like it. They may feel frustrated, because years ago they issued a fatwa for the death of Rushdie on account of his writings, yet nobody has been able to carry it out (although, as L.A. Times columnist Tim Rutten points out, several of Rushdie's translators have been killed or wounded).

After street protesters in Pakistan burned effigies of Rushdie and Queen Elizabeth, a Pakistani minister said the knighthood could justify suicide bombings, and the Iranian foreign minister called in a British diplomat in Tehran to tell him the knighthood was a "provocative act" that has angered Muslims. But the British Home Secretary, John Reid, had an apt response.

"We have a right to express opinions and a tolerance of other people's point of view, and we don't apologize for that," Reid said.

This is similar to the uproar among Muslim extremists and outright crazies over the Danish cartoons last year. These dastardly backers of tyranny, violence and enslavement of women want to stop those critics of Islam who point out that the religion is in desperate need of reform, and that right now it stands primarily around the world for suicide bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and other vile acts against civilization.

Friday, a small number of masked Muslim demonstrators in London shouted, "Death to Rushdie, death to the Queen," over the Rushdie knighthood. Those demonstrators should be seized immediately and summarily deported. Britain does not need such people, nor should it tolerate them. There are far too many Muslims in Britain who are not willing to live by modern standards.

I have long had no doubt that the only response that is appropriate in such circumstances is to simply tell the perpetrators that we will use force if necessary to prevent them from prevailing -- meaning that before they can destroy Western freedoms, we will destroy their freedom to be destructive. That is the policy we finally had to adopt to crush Nazi Germany and Japan in World War II.

In the Middle East today, we see one outrage after another, and people elsewhere in the world are beginning at long last to wake up to it. In Rutten's column in the Times Saturday, he makes the point, however, that the American press has been far too quiet about the attacks on Rushdie and other writers who have criticized Islamic fanaticism. He quotes the late philosopher Richard Rorty as pointing out that "some ideas, like some people, are just no damn good" and that no amount of faux tolerance or misplaced fellow feeling excuses the rest of us from our obligation to oppose such ideas and such people."

Rutten has a very good two-word description of what has been going on with Rushdie in the Muslim world: "homicidal nonsense."

The Los Angeles Times had a commendable editorial this week calling for Islamic terrorists to release the British journalist Alan Johnston, kidnapped 100 days ago now in Gaza. Rutten also noted that Times editorial writer Sonni Efron recently authored an online piece about all the journalists killed in Iraq and how little attention has been paid to that. (Efron ought to be writing under her own name on the Op Ed page. I don't see any sense at all in relegating the best writers to the Times Web site).

The Times editorial points out that "the Johnston case has broader implications in an age when shooting the messenger has become a standard technique of Islamist terror. It's no coincidence that murders of journalists worldwide are increasing. To suppress information is to hoard power; it kneecaps democratic development. Consider Iraq, where 32 journalists were killed last year, 13 have died this year and 14 are now held hostage."

The ironic thing is that many weakminded journalists are far too sympathetic with the terrorists who are trying to kill us. As is the case of L.A. Times Op Ed Page editor Nick Goldberg, they continually hire writers who defend the terrorists and assault the West, as Goldberg did again this week with the terrorist-sympathizing UCLA professor, Saree Makdisi.

Also, it must be pointed out that while the L.A. Times is deploring the Johnston kidnapping, it has advocated an American withdrawal from Iraq, a step that would open the way to the terrorists taking over the entire Middle East.

Iran and Al-Qaeda in particular represent a virulent fascism which is trying to sweep that region, and, if they succeed there, they hope to destroy democratic values throughout the world.

Salman Rushdie, on the other hand, is representative of those who are trying to reform Islam, to bring it into the modern day. His work, and appropriately honoring it, are essential, if we are to keep the many demons in the world from increasing their assaults against us. The question is here, Do we support Rushdie or do we give in to the savages who want to return the world to the 14th century, or before?

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