Salman Rushdie is still on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s hit list. He appeared again in Philadelphia Wednesday, to deliver a video address to the National First Amendment Summit. The National First Amendment Summit in Philadelphia was the perfect venue for Rushdie, the author of the “Satanic Verses.” Governments that protect the First Amendment freedom of speech have protected him all these years since he was first the target of a death fatwa. In an astounding display of ingratitude, Rushdie used his speech to criticize Britain and the United States – the two countries that he is indebted to for his life.
Imagine Rushdie living in a majority-Muslim nation on February 14, 1989, when Ayatollah Khomeini declared that he had to be killed for the supposed blasphemy contained in “The Satanic Verses.” The bounty on his life would have long since been collected and he would be a distant memory, aside from the occasional literary retrospectives on prominent novelists in the late 20th century.
Rushdie was, however, not living in Iran but in Britain. He received immediate protection from the British government. He spent many years in hiding at the expense of taxpayers. Rushdie received this protection as the British government deemed it vital to show that they would defend freedom of speech and those who exercised it.
Rushdie began to relax after receiving such effective protection. The New York Times reported that in August 2022, after he suffered a severe injury as he prepared to speak at a Chautauqua, “Mr. Rushdie had enjoyed a more open life in New York City in recent years.” Ayad Akhtar, of PEN America, “said he’d never seen Mr. Rushdie bringing along any sort of security detail at a theatre, out to dinner, or at a publicly-held event.”
Rushdie clearly underestimated the threat he faced, but this was due to his complacency after years of receiving top-quality protection from both Britain and the United States. Rushdie, who had pandered to the leftists by denouncing Trump’s authoritarianism and completely ignored the Biden regime’s repeated demonstrations of disdain towards freedom of expression, savaged the two countries on Wednesday.
Rushdie’s shocking display of tone-deafness started with his criticism of Trump but soon grew to include America as a whole. He called Trump’s slogan a “golden-age myth” and said: “Make America Great Again.” This always made him want to ask, “When exactly was this? What is the exact date we are looking forward to?” It could have been, for instance, during slavery. Before women’s right to vote, for example? Was it before civil rights? What is it that we need to return to?
Salman, I think that your question is a complex one, and could be answered in a way that includes all the negatives you have listed. As an example, the abolitionists in Britain and America grew to triumph and spread around the world. Other countries did not have significant abolitionist groups. In the same way, when it comes to civil rights, America is leading the world by removing discriminatory roadblocks that impede the well-being of minorities. Why do you live in America today?
Rushdie didn’t stop there. He continued to criticize Britain for protecting him for so long. “The golden age never existed and the myth is used to justify current actions.” The Brexit disaster in England was caused by another golden age myth: “England used to be this glorious nation and it could become that glorious nation again if we could just get rid of these foreigners.” They forgot to tell the electorate the truth: “The reason England was so wealthy was because it spent 200 years plundering other countries.”
Rushdie should definitely leave these terrible nations that plunder and move to a place where you won’t be burdened with their stale concern for individual rights and self-defense. What about the Islamic Republic of Iran, for example?