What would Christopher say? In relation to the appalling decision of six PEN "luminaries" to boycott the forthcoming gala to honour the bravery of Charlie Hebdo?
I suspect he'd be just as tart and biting as he was at this earlier PEN lecture (above, 2010) about the failure of his journalist professions to stand four-square behind Salman Rushdie and then to stand up against the Islamist threat to Denmark in the wake of the cartoons affair. (It's a longish video, but well worth a sit-down in your comfy chair and enjoying the interplay of two great intellects).
He talked of a "contagion of fear" and thought "the rot is spreading". If he was right then, he's even more so now, as Islamism spreads its noxious ideology.
Towards the end of the video above, Rushdie makes an interesting point about the term "respect". He says that it used to mean taking the other party seriously, showing them respect. But it did not mean you could not disagree with them.... respectfully. But now, the word "respect", seems to mean that you can't criticise the other party. You must agree with them to show "respect". So, if you respect Muslims, but find fault -- in the canonical writings -- of the religion of Islam, and even if you do so with knowledge and references, you are automatically, by Muslims and especially the Left in the West, put down as an "Islamophobe".
Rushdie himself has weighed in to the latest show of cowardice, wrapped in a bogus cloak of virtue and "tolerance". Apart from calling all six of the boycotters "pussies", of Peter Carey -- sadly a fellow Aussie who is a boycotter, who'd used the naive term "disadvantaged minority" -- he said:
"This issue has nothing to do with an oppressed and disadvantaged minority.Somewhere else Rushdie called the boycotters "Six writers in search of a bit of character". That's nice, but I'd recall our ex Australian PM, Paul Keating's famous put down of John Hewson: "He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up."
"It has everything to do with the battle against fanatical Islam, which is highly organised, well-funded, and which seeks to terrify us all, Muslims as well as non-Muslims, into a cowed silence.
"These six writers have made themselves the fellow travellers of that project. Very, very bad move."
These six have the shivers, but there's not a spine amongst them for them to run up.
More news on Rushdie vs Carey.