Patterico's Pontifications

6/24/2007

Excellent Rutten Column on Rushdie

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 1:23 pm



Tim Rutten deserves credit for his excellent column yesterday decrying Big Media silence on the latest threats to Salman Rushdie:

If you’re wondering why you haven’t been able to follow all the columns and editorials in the American press denouncing all this homicidal nonsense, it’s because there haven’t been any. And, in that great silence, is a great scandal.

I love the ending:

What masquerades as tolerance and cultural sensitivity among many U.S. journalists is really a kind of soft bigotry, an unspoken assumption that Muslim societies will naturally repress great writers and murder honest journalists, and that to insist otherwise is somehow intolerant or insensitive.

Lost in the self-righteous haze that masks this expedient sentiment is a critical point once made by the late American philosopher Richard Rorty, who was fond of pointing out that “some ideas, like some people, are just no damn good” and that no amount of faux tolerance or misplaced fellow feeling excuses the rest of us from our obligation to oppose such ideas and such people.

If Western and, particularly American, commentators refuse to speak up when their obligations are so clear, the fanatics will win and the terrible silence they so fervently desire will descend over vast stretches of our world — a silence in which the only permissible sounds are the prayers of the killers and the cries of their victims.

Read it all.

UPDATE: I quoted an additional paragraph from Rutten’s column to make clear that he is talking about the lack of columns and editorials.

54 Responses to “Excellent Rutten Column on Rushdie”

  1. It was a good column. I hope the lefty subscribers remaining really read it. That soft bigotry is what the American people have now come to instinctively sense, or explicitly believe, about this struggle. This knowledge discredits all the root causes talk and all the anti-American military movies or kumbaya movies like Mighty Heart foisted upon us by the haute monde of media.

    Patricia (824fa1)

  2. Where’s Bill Donohue when you need him? or james Dobson?

    AF (4a3fa6)

  3. A quick survey of the “MSM” shows that The New York Times, The Washington Post and CBS all had multiple stories on the renewed threats against Salman Rushdie after he was knighted.

    *sigh*

    “Invented MSM Silence” appears so often in right-wing “news” stories these days that it needs its own abbreviation…IMSMS.

    alphie (015011)

  4. And then there are the references to those famous wingnuts Richard Rorty and Ronald Dworkin. And The Committee to Protect Journalists as well.
    funny.

    AF (4a3fa6)

  5. Alphie,

    Rutten’s column decried the absence of editorials and OpEd columns, not the absence of news articles.

    *sigh*

    Tim K (ecb531)

  6. Alphie, would you mind linking to a NYT piece that talks about a threat, or covers the protests in any detail?

    The closest I can see is this, which isn’t much at all.

    Pablo (99243e)

  7. Hey, where’s Arianna Huffington on this? Or Paul Krugman? Or Al Gore?

    This is a pretty stupid game, AF.

    Pablo (99243e)

  8. There’s nothing in there about the threats, alphie. Only a mention of Khomeni’s fatwa.

    Pablo (99243e)

  9. A “fatwa” is nothing more than a religious opinion, Pablo.

    Here’s another one of Khomeini’s fatwas:

    “It is not permissible to start following a deceased mujtahid.”

    In other words, fatwas die with the religious scholar that issued them…

    It’s better to fight with knowledge than narrative.

    alphie (015011)

  10. Right, alphie. Which means that the peace you linked makes exactly NO mention of the threats against Rushdie and Britain. Which is the point of the post and of Tim’s comment.

    So, what was it you were saying?

    Pablo (99243e)

  11. In other words, fatwas die with the religious scholar that issued them…

    Oh, except for that part.

    In a statement carried by the official news agency, the government-run body Martyrs Foundation announced, “The fatwa by Imam Khomeini in regards to the apostate Salman Rushdie will be in effect forever”.

    Yes, knowledge is good, ignorance is bad. Bad alphie!

    Pablo (99243e)

  12. That’s my point, Pablo.

    Wouldn’t it be better to use Khomeini’s own words against these fanatics?

    alphie (015011)

  13. No, it would be better to see some reporting on this and this and this and this and this.

    These fanatics are not going to be interested in your interpretation of Khomeni’s remarks.

    Pablo (99243e)

  14. I couldn’t find any other White House response than this:

    Q The London Times reports that Sir Salmon Rushdie is “once again the subject of death threats across the Islamic world” —

    MR. SNOW: Okay, Les, don’t go any further. That’s not something — I’m not going to answer a Salmon Rushdie question today.

    Q Well, wait a minute.

    MR. SNOW: Okay, okay, continue and then I’ll shut you down. (Laughter.)

    Q What is the President’s reaction to this, and do you know of any Islamic leaders in the United States who have denounced this murder for money —

    MR. SNOW: Again — thank you.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/06/20070619-6.html

    m.croche (34d964)

  15. In the United States, the Bush era has summoned up — arguably for the first time in this country’s history — a mass secularism that looks to Europe and sees a model for America to follow. […]

    America’s secular turn actually began in the 1990s, though it wasn’t until 2002 that two Berkeley sociologists first noticed it. In a paper in the American Sociological Review, Michael Hout and Claude S. Fischer announced the startling fact that the percentage of Americans who said they had “no religious preference” had doubled in less than 10 years, rising from 7 percent to 14 percent of the population.

    This unexpected spike wasn’t the result of growing atheism, Hout and Fischer argued; rather, more Americans were distancing themselves from organized religion as “a symbolic statement” against the religious right. If the association of religiosity with political conservatism continued to gain strength, the sociologists suggested, “then liberals’ alienation from organized religion [might] become, as it has in many other nations, institutionalized.”

    We can only hope.

    AF (4a3fa6)

  16. It’s worked wonders in Paris!!

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  17. Spain too.

    AF (4a3fa6)

  18. 1) perhaps some of the media folks don’t want to talk about Rushdie because that would remind people about the Khomeini fatwa, and therefore remind people what the Iranian regime is like–thereby, in whatever minute proportion, strengthening the forces which the media folks think are trying to take us into a war with Iran.

    2)Rushdie is, in essence, old news. That Islamic extremists want to kill him, and extend their rage to people who honor them, is more of the same. What would be news and cause for comment is if Islamic extremists came out saying, “We think honoring Rushdie is dishonoring Islam, and reflects poorly on the people who honor him–but we respect your right to honor him if you wish.”
    That would be big big news. But they don’t. Just like you would expect from the Islamic culture.

    And yes, that could be seen as an example of what Rutten calls soft bigotry–but sometimes an attitude can be both bigoted and correct.

    kishnevi (da26af)

  19. Pablo vs. Alphie …. Pablo with a knock out. Alphie not even a close decision.

    Red (9e9332)

  20. Tim Rutten may have a point but I’m not sure that there is very much to say about the baying of rabid dogs.

    nk (0ebe4a)

  21. Wow, red,

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen the ol’ “Mission Accomplished” banner being hoisted.

    Has it been at the cleaners?

    alphie (015011)

  22. See here’s more of the excusers of Islam.

    Islam and Muslims say: don’t do or say anything that offends us or we will kill you. They carry it out with Rushdie’s publishers and translators, Van Goh, and will eventually with Rushdie and Ali and the rest.

    The media hide and excuse Islam’s violent nature, it’s lack of any tolerance, and it’s universal claim. What do I care about a Muslim screaming and jumping up and down about how he wants to kill Americans and Jews. Let him seethe like the ignorant rabble he is.

    But Muslims worldwide claim to be able to tell me what I can read, on pain on death. THAT I object to, as well as the media and Liberals who agree with them.

    Jim Rockford (e09923)

  23. Great riposte, alphie! You come in acting like a smart ass, someone proves that you are wrong, you throw out some chaff in the form of a link that doesn’t prove what you say it does and you get shot down again, then you try to change the subject by throwing out a decoy reference to a completely unrelated event. You hope that by once again implying that the banner meant something that it obviously didn’t mean, you will provoke people into that old argument again and take the spotlight off of your foolish error.

    But before we go there: you were wrong, weren’t you alphie? Does it make you wish you hadn’t said it with such a smug air of superiority that made you look not merely mistaken but foolish? Embarrassing, huh? Whew. You must be red-faced. Oh, well. Live and never learn.

    Doc Rampage (ebfd7a)

  24. But before we go there: you were wrong, weren’t you alphie?

    That’s a good question, alphie. Will you answer it or are we stuck in your rhetorical QUAGMIRE!?

    Pablo (99243e)

  25. Perhaps the “editorial silence” is because there’s really no debate in western society for the MSM to take a side on.

    Opinion and editorial colums generally only address well-settled issues on holidays, when they commemorate our loyal troops (memorial day) give thanks on Thanksgiving, and talk about the joy of giving on Christmas.

    Nobody needs persuading that the muslims calling for Rushdie’s death are completely at odds with the civilized western world. Thus, no opinions or editorials are called for.

    What I think Rutten is really decrying, of course, is the failure of the MSM to publish editorials saying that the Rushdie incident has finally tipped the scales, and we’re ready to invade and/or nuke any muslim nations if necessary to destroy the unparalleled threat to civilization that they represent.

    And yes, I admit, that only Rutten thinks that the Rushdie incident is worthy of such a column. Shame on the MSM for not taking his side.

    Phil (b355f6)

  26. Spain too.

    Comment by AF — 6/24/2007 @ 4:22 pm

    I’m not sure, AF ol’ bean, but I think you missed my point…

    Car-based bonfire, anyone?

    Scott Jacobs (90eabe)

  27. It has been my experience that any move away from the organized religeons is related to a more liberal hirerachy moving away from what were the basic tenets of the religion.

    People are looking for churches which stick to the basics.

    Davod (3392f5)

  28. Scott, dear, your point was wrong.
    That was my point.

    AF (4a3fa6)

  29. Nobody needs persuading that the muslims calling for Rushdie’s death are completely at odds with the civilized western world. Thus, no opinions or editorials are called for.

    Are you sure abut that, Phil?

    And yes, I admit, that only Rutten thinks that the Rushdie incident is worthy of such a column.

    Are you sure about that, Phil? Because I’m quite certain that you’re wrong on both counts. In fact, I could find lots of people who think the problem with such Muslims is American hegemony and there are a number of people right here who, like Rutten, would like to see a more frank, open discussion of the root of the problem.

    Pablo (99243e)

  30. I could find lots of people who think the problem with such Muslims is American hegemony and there are a number of people right here who, like Rutten, would like to see a more frank, open discussion of the root of the problem.”

    Pablo, you’re equating critics of “American hegemony” with supporters of radical Islam’s jihad against Rushdie. They are not the same, although by painting them with the same brush, you get to ignore the former group, and avoid having a rational discusion about that issue.

    “If you don’t support using any means necessary to suppress radical islam throughout the world, then you agree with and support radical islam’s position on Rushdie”? It’s the old “if you don’t agree with me, you agree with my enemy, and we have nothing to talk about” line of reasoning. It’s been really hard to break through, but I keep trying . . .

    Phil (427875)

  31. They are not the same…

    They’re not all that same, but many of them are. How many people who adore the American hegemony argument also support Allah’s “freedom fighters”? And how many who support jihad also adore the American hegemony meme?

    There’s more overlap than not. Aside from that, you’re just putting words in my mouth, Phil. I hope you’re at least enjoying the exercise, because you aren’t convincing anyone.

    And remember, “Nobody needs persuading that the muslims calling for Rushdie’s death are completely at odds with the civilized western world” and “only Rutten thinks that the Rushdie incident is worthy of such a column.”

    What’s that you were saying about broadbrushing?

    Pablo (99243e)

  32. Thank you, Phil, for making an actual rational point (although you spoiled it by the hyperbole at the end).

    But you are not being honest. You know that perception is a big part of politics and that the perception of Iran among a big part of the American public is that it is a struggling democracy that would stop causing problems and flourish as a liberal state if only the US weren’t over there interfering in their local politics. Responsible editorial writers would try to reverse this misapprehension so that politicians would have the support to treat the government of Iran like the cruel, repressive tyranny that it is.

    But the editors of the major news media won’t do this because they want the American public to have that particular misapprehension (in order to tie the hands of American policy makers). In fact, they are in large part responsible for the misapprehension.

    Doc Rampage (ebfd7a)

  33. What’s that you were saying about broadbrushing?

    OK, I’ll give you that one. I overgeneralized for rhetorical effect.

    To restate more precisely, without rhetoric: I am not aware of support outside radical Islam for radical Islam’s proposed treatment of Rushdie and England, and I am unaware of any columnists other than Rutten who believe that there are any significant groups outside radical Islam who support radical islam’s take on England’s treatment of Rushdie. Therefor, an MSM editorial effort to discourage support of radical Islam’s take on the Rushdie situation would appear to be moot.

    “the perception of Iran among a big part of the American public is that it is a struggling democracy that would stop causing problems and flourish as a liberal state if only the US weren’t over there interfering in their local politics.”

    I actually didn’t know that was the perception of Iran among a big part of the American public. I have seriously never heard that before.

    Responsible editorial writers would try to reverse this misapprehension so that politicians would have the support to treat the government of Iran like the cruel, repressive tyranny that it is.

    Here we’re back to my original point about disagreeing over policies toward radical Islam vs. aligning with radical Islam.

    How exactly do you “treat the government of Iran like the cruel, repressive tyranny that it is”? Are you saying there’s only one way to “treat” such a government? I assume not, and therefor, it’d be tough to garner “support” for any particular method of treatment just by emphasizing what a “cruel, repressive tyranny” Iran is.

    That said, if there really is a misperception that Iran isn’t a cruel and repressive tyranny (at least to some degree, in comparison with any standard western measure), then I do agree that we should address that misperception.

    Phil (427875)

  34. I am not aware of support outside radical Islam for radical Islam’s proposed treatment of Rushdie and England, and I am unaware of any columnists other than Rutten who believe that there are any significant groups outside radical Islam who support radical islam’s take on England’s treatment of Rushdie.

    Is Cat Stevens a radical Islamist? You realize that Rushdie is an apostate and that the Koranic prescription for that is death, don’t you? How about the Ulema Council of India?

    If you don’t know of any columnists other than Rutten that recognize these things, you’re not paying attention. But you won’t see them published in the big papers.

    Pablo (99243e)

  35. Pablo you should read a bit about the British Empire. Some people have long memories. An award from the Queen was bound to stir up anger.

    AF (4a3fa6)

  36. Pablo, your links don’t appear to provide examples of “support outside radical Islam for radical Islam’s proposed treatment of Rushdie and England.”

    Rather, your links appear to lead to examples of muslims who recognize that Rushdie does, in fact, say things about Muslims that tend to be particularly offensive, and so they are not surprised that radical muslims (whose ‘people I want to kill’ list is apparently quite long) want to kill Rushdie. Apparently, Rushdie is sort of like the Dan Brown of the muslim world. (I’ve heard Rushdie is a bit more literary than Brown, though).

    That said, I didn’t see any calls for his death, or support for calls for his death in your references. Although I have to admit that the Cat Stevens video made me nauseous and I had to stop it early.

    Even if Cat Stevens did call for Rushdie’s death in 1989, I don’t think that such a think merits an MSM editorial effort today (but that’s up for debate I suppose).

    Phil (427875)

  37. What is Ron Paul’s position on Rushdie, Phil?

    daleyrocks (906622)

  38. Rather, your links appear to lead to examples of muslims who recognize that Rushdie does, in fact, say things about Muslims that tend to be particularly offensive, and so they are not surprised that radical muslims (whose ‘people I want to kill’ list is apparently quite long) want to kill Rushdie.

    Even if Cat Stevens did call for Rushdie’s death in 1989, I don’t think that such a think merits an MSM editorial effort today (but that’s up for debate I suppose).

    That isn’t my question. And Cat Stevens said, when asked if Rushdie should be burned in effigy, that he’d prefer the real thing. And the Ulema Council didn’t say that they understand why the radicals are seething, they condemned the knighthood.

    So are they radical Muslims or not? Are attacks on Rushdie for his speech limited to extremists or not?

    Pablo (99243e)

  39. What is Ron Paul’s position on Rushdie, Phil?

    I dunno. But I bet Rudy Gulianni would say that Ron Paul thinks Rushdie invited the fatwa declared against him.

    So are they radical Muslims or not? Are attacks on Rushdie for his speech limited to extremists or not?

    These are very different questions from the original issue, which was whether the mass media is being irresponsible for not publishing editorials taking a stand against the fatwa/threats against Rushdie.

    My personal position is that, if Cat Stevens was serious about his burn Rushdie comment, he’s an extremist, because his views are at odds (at least, in light of bongs4Jesus, I hope it’s at odds) with most of modern civilization.

    As for the Ulema Council, the fact that they oppose the nighthood of Rushdie in itself doesn’t make them particularly radical. Many fundamentalist Christians probably disapproved of knighting Elton John, because of his values.
    I’m not saying that the Ulema Council isn’t extremist — just that the details I know so far don’t make up my mind one way or the other.

    Phil (b355f6)

  40. Pablo, saying that a man should not have received a knighthood is quite different from saying he should be killed. Yusuf Islam (I think that is the name Mr. Stevens uses nowadays) called for killing Rushdie. The Ulema Council did not (although I seem to recall at least Islamic group in the UK that did call for his death at the time of the fatwa, but I don’t remember any details). The difference is important.

    kishnevi (6273ad)

  41. Pablo, saying that a man should not have received a knighthood is quite different from saying he should be killed.

    No, it isn’t. But it is an official religious institution saying that a secular government should act based on fealty to Muslim sensibilities. Is that extremist?

    Phil,

    Many fundamentalist Christians probably disapproved of knighting Elton John, because of his values.

    Did any of them condemn the Queen for doing it?

    Pablo (99243e)

  42. Check that. Yes, it is different, etc…

    Pablo (99243e)

  43. Pablo, perhaps you aren’t aware that the Catholic Church continually calls for secular governments to act based on (to use your phrase) fealty to Catholic sensibilities (more precisely, demands that they conform their laws to Catholic moral teaching)? Especially in Europe, and also recently in Australia. The Catholic bishops here in the US, with their hints about Catholic politicians not voting the proper way, are restrained compared to the hierarchy overseas.

    Going by your comments, you must therefore think the Catholic Church is extremist as well, albeit in different ways.

    And how, btw, would the Ulema Council protesting this knighthood be any different from a Jew protesting an hypothetical honor given to Kurt Waldheim?

    kishnevi (2dbd61)

  44. Here’s a christian editorial condemning the queen for knighting Elton John.

    http://www.michnews.com/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi/332/14832

    Where is the mass media response, I ask you? Are they going to let this christian radicalism go unanswered?

    OK, that was too easy . . . I almost suspect the article was made up as a satire, but I can’t find any evidence of that.

    Phil (b355f6)

  45. Uh, Phil? Where does he condemn the Queen? You realize that critique and condemnation aren’t the same thing, don’t you? And you realize that a blogger isn’t exactly an official spokesman for Christianity, as the Ulema Council is for Islam, right?

    Pablo (99243e)

  46. And how, btw, would the Ulema Council protesting this knighthood be any different from a Jew protesting an hypothetical honor given to Kurt Waldheim?

    A Jew vs. the Ulema Council. Think about it.

    And the feel free to point out the last time the Catholic Church condemned speech.

    Pablo (99243e)

  47. “And the feel free to point out the last time the Catholic Church condemned speech.”
    Again I think you might want to ask Bill Donohue about that.

    And of course the church enforces lies:

    The Vatican has horribly undercut the war against AIDS in two ways. First, it has tried to prevent Catholic clinics, charities and churches from giving out condoms or encouraging their use. Second, it argues loudly that condoms don’t protect against HIV, thus discouraging their use.

    In El Salvador, the church helped push through a law requiring condom packages to carry a warning label that they do not protect against AIDS. Since fewer than 4 percent of Salvadoran couples use condoms the first time they have sex, the result will be more funerals.

    Fortunately, the Vatican’s policies are routinely breached by those charged with carrying them out. In rural Guatemala, I’ve met Maryknoll sisters who counsel prostitutes to use condoms. In El Salvador, I talked to doctors in a Catholic clinic who explain to patients how condoms can protect against AIDS. In Zimbabwe, I visited a Catholic charity that gave out condoms – until the bishop found out.

    AF (4a3fa6)

  48. AF,

    The war against AIDS is lost … lost! We are in a quagmire. We never should have started it in the first place. After thirty years and trillions of dollars and millions of lives lost there is no end in sight. All we can ever accomplish is the partitioning of society into the sexually responsible and the sexually irresponsible. We should stop this useless waste and redeploy our medical assets immediately.

    nk (0ebe4a)

  49. Bill Donohue is not a representative of the Catholic Church.

    Jim Treacher (12ed69)

  50. So, to recap:

    Patterico, who up until now hadn’t mentioned the renewed fatwas against Rushdie *even once* excoriates the “MSM” for …. not mentioning the renewed fatwas enough for his satisfaction. There’s some chutzpah for you.

    It gets better though: confronted with Tony Snow’s breezy dismissal of l’affaire Rushdie, Patterico is … silent. No cries of outrage against the White House for its lack of leadership on this burning issue. Nor could he bothered to care enough about the issue to note that the very next day Timothy Garton Ash published a column in the LAT denouncing the threats against Sir Salman. It would seem that the death threats against Rushdie are only interesting to Patterico insofar as they are a useful club to beat the “MSM”. What a hypocrite.

    m.croche (34d964)

  51. Comparing one blogger with a job to all of Big Media opinion, you can find all sorts of things I don’t talk about — and all sorts of comments that I don’t respond to. If that’s all you got, it ain’t much.

    Patterico (5d0263)

  52. Bill Donohue also doesn’t point out the last time the Catholic Church condemned speech. Got anything else, AF?

    Pablo (99243e)


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