Workin’ for the Weekend #11: A Stab in the Neck
Reminder: Subscribers will join us today for the Second Sunday Members Only podcast
It’s a somber time for us here at Fif’ HQ. While we were working through the usual tech hassles in our Trump-raid convo with old pal Eli Lake, word came through that free speech hero Salman Rushdie had been stabbed in the neck by a murderous fanatic at a speaking event in Western New York, leaving him grievously wounded. Last we heard, dude’s off the ventilator and actually joking, despite the fact that he “might lose an eye, his liver [has] been damaged and the nerves in his arm were severed.”
We will certainly talk more about this in our regularly scheduled Second Sunday Members Only podcast in which subscribers can jump on and eavesdrop (and hassle us with questions) live. Details for that, I am confident, will be shared in this space by the relevant authorities at the appropriate time.
The Fifth Column podcast/Substack offers paying subscribers the chance to eavesdrop/heckle on the Second Sunday of each month. That’s (*checks phone*) today!
Until then, please take the time to read Bari Weiss at Common Sense, and Suzanne Nossel at The Guardian, Jacob Mchangama in the Daily News, and Greg Lukianoff in The Daily Beast, in conjunction with this excellent 2012 Moynihan book review in the Wall Street Journal of Rushdie’s Joseph Anton: A Memoir. A generous excerpt from MM:
The Thatcher government, a frequent target of Mr. Rushdie's more polemical writing, provided the security arrangement but offered only qualified diplomatic support, expressing sympathy more for those "offended" by the novel than for the condemned novelist himself.
It was a position shared by many of his literary and journalistic peers. British tabloid hacks mocked Mr. Rushdie's physical appearance, dismissed the literary merit of his novels and regularly complained of the cost to British taxpayers of keeping him alive. To many in the intelligentsia, it wasn't the bearded ghoul in Tehran who was responsible for the violence, nor his British surrogates, but the bearded novelist who surely "knew what he was doing."
The list of putative liberals suddenly concerned with hurt religious "sensibilities" is depressingly long: Joseph Brodsky, John le Carré, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Roald Dahl ("long, unpleasant man with huge strangler's hands"), Germaine Greer, the reliably Islamophilic Prince of Wales, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, who coughed up the most astonishing pronouncement of the whole affair: "We must be more tolerant of Muslim anger." […]
It is quite stunning to be reminded of the craven "religious leaders" who openly suborned Mr. Rushdie's murder, to no response from the police or courts. Mr. Rushdie hasn't forgotten, though it seems everyone else has. Iqbal Sacranie, one "leader" given substantial airtime and column inches to adjudicate Mr. Rushdie's fate, said that "death, perhaps, is a bit too easy for him." In 2005, Mr. Sacranie was knighted at the behest of Tony Blair. Then there is Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens), who in 1989 publicly supported the death sentence, saying that Mr. Rushdie "must be killed." In 2010, he was a special guest at comedian Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity" in Washington, D.C. In a subtle dig at Mr. Stewart, Mr. Rushdie sighs that the musician, who later denied his words, must have understood that "he lived in an age where nobody had a memory."
Mr. Rushdie's analysis of the pusillanimity of Western journalists and intellectuals is bracing, though one greedily wants more of it.
We’ve had related conversations over the years with Lukianoff (#216), Mchangama (#102, #344), and Jonathan Rauch (#323), among many others. This set of issues and conflicts is fundamental to who we are. More TK.
* This was the 6th official guest appearance for Eli Lake; you can check him out in reverse chronological order on #326, #174, #141, #65, #52, in addition to his party-crash on our special post-Jan. 6 Zoom episode, SD51, w/ Peter Meijer. A relevant recent piece from him on the topic du jour in The Spectator World: “The FBI kills a mosquito with a howitzer.” The Re-Education with Eli Lake is the name of the podcast; his acclaimed conversation with old pal Nick Gillespie about punk rock dropped Friday, and of course Moynihan was on a month ago.
* I briefly mentioned on the latest epi Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s speech this month at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC); here’s my Reason pre-write and post-write, plus an audio mash-up of the two over at Paloma Media. Speaking of ambitious crossover events, I appeared Friday on the pretty spanking new The Reason Rundown with Peter Suderman to fling poo at the now-passed $80 billion funding increase for the IRS. Wrote about it, too.
See some of you later!