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Roger L. Simon

Much of the blogosphere is appalled, as well it should be, at the selection of Yusuf Islam — Cat Stevens — to perform at Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s now absurdly named “Rally to Restore Sanity.” As the world well knows, Islam/Stevens is the man who endorsed the fatwa on Salman Rushdie and on more than one occasion said he wished he could carry it out and murder Rushdie himself.

And if that isn’t enough — and it should be — Islam is a misogynist who won’t talk to women. (Take another listen to the paternalistic “Wild World” if you want to hear the psychological roots of his profound “religious” belief.)

So what’s up with Stewart and Colbert? Why would they have a man like that singing at their event? Is this PC cultural relativism gone berserk? (“Hey, dude, it’s cool. Yusuf’s into the fatwa thing, you dig?  He loves Khomeini just like Foucault did. All cultures are equal, you know. Who are we to judge?”)  If that’s so, why not invite Khalid Sheik Mohammed to perform? He actually took the head off Daniel Pearl.  He didn’t just talk the talk. He walked the walk.

But I think there’s another explanation for Islam’s appearance and it’s much simpler: Stewart and Colbert are dumb and uniniformed.  Although they pretend to be more, they are just mildly talented entertainers with the depth of a petri dish who rely on their writers to stoke them with material and ideas.  And no one told them Cat Stevens supported killing a fellow artist merely for exercising free expression. And unlike many of you, they simply didn’t know themselves.  They thought he was, you know, just a peaceful ex-hippie dude who went Islamic spiritual instead of zen. (Okay, that irritated some people, but so what? It would be nice to see them squirm.)

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