Ed Driscoll

"Arise Sir Salman!"

Mark Steyn writes that “It’s slightly depressing to read that Her Majesty’s Government were entirely taken aback by the hostile Muslim reaction to their decision to knight Salman Rushdie”:

One assumed they had factored into their calculations at least a bit of pro forma Death-to-the-Great-Satan prancing in the livelier quartiers of Pakistan – or even, with classic Brit cynicism, figured that enraging hundreds of millions of Muslims over an imperial bauble was a cheap way to look courageous and tough and determined after the recent humiliations inflicted on the Royal Navy. But no: the whole burning-effigies-of-the-Queen routine took them completely by surprise. It really is impossible to exaggerate the depths of self-delusion within which the multiculti bien pensants exist. With characteristic clumsiness, Margaret Beckett, the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, managed to make things worse. As The Sydney Morning Herald reported:

“Obviously we are sorry if there are people who have taken very much to heart this honour, which is after all for a lifelong body of literary work,” she said, after protests in the Muslim world over the award.

She stressed that Rushdie was just one of many Muslims who had been recognised by the British honours system – something she said “may not be realised by many of those who have been vocal in their opposition.

“People who are members of the Muslim faith are very much part of our whole, wider community … they receive honours in this country in just the same way as any other citizen.”

Er, yes, but Sir Salman does not, I believe, consider himself a Muslim. (Certainly, the last time I saw him, he was enjoying an alcoholic beverage.) So, locked into the usual identity-groupthink, Mrs Beckett has, in effect, repositioned Rushdie within the group that wants to kill him. Thanks a bundle. Few of us understood the full implications of the fatwa 18 years ago, but, if even ministers of the Crown can’t get it in 2007, then we really have learned nothing.

Political correctness does tend to have that effect on the brain.