Who among us relishes the speech or writing of people who are filled with hatred? The idea of anyone inciting hatred against any ethnic or religious group of people stands in stark contrast to the spirit of tolerance that we Americans have cultivated for centuries. Yet, in the process of trying to legislate against hate speech, the British government has managed to legislate the very thing that they intended to abolish.
Case in point of inciting hatred against a religion is the case of Salman Rushdie. Rushdie’s infamous novel, The Satanic Verses, incited such vitriol among Muslims, that Britain’s attempts to re-establish diplomatic ties with Iran were jeopardized. Rushdie became the target of a Fatwā in 1989, which offered a reward for his assassination. While Rushdie was not assassinated, several publishers and translators of the book worldwide were injured and killed, along with several dozen innocent bystanders.
In a curious case of Stockholm Syndrome, the members of British Parliament appeared to have taken the side of the jihadist Muslims and, in effect, held that Rushdie, the victim, was in fact the instigator of hatred. This is evidenced by the eventual passage of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act in 2006. Rushdie spoke out in opposition to this bill, pointing out that he had no intention of causing hatred against Muslims and, in fact, still considered himself a Muslim. Other detractors of the Act pointed out that the Koran and the Bible could both be perceived as hate speech under this Act. Proponents of the Act asserted that the Koran and the Bible would be protected under the previous Human Rights Act of 1998. In any case, the RRHA creates an envelope of political correctness under which religions must exercise their religious discourse. In essence, the Act was reworded to state that intent must be proven before anyone speaking or writing anything that was regarded incendiary could be prosecuted under the law.
Although the Koran and the Bible per se are not acts of religious hatred under RRHA, Rushdie pointed out that such a law is dangerous to the discourse of any political writers or novelists, who must now look over their shoulders to see if they are potentially running afoul of the law. Indeed, Michael Savage, a US based political writer and broadcaster, has already been banned from Britain, because he was critical of the government’s pacification of Muslim agitators. Although Mr. Savage was speaking out of concern for the eroding ability of the British government to police the radical elements of Islam under the RRHA, it was Mr. Savage who was condemned as an instigator of hatred.
The passage of the RRHA illustrates and ongoing attempt to silence anyone who wishes to dispute an officially protected dogma. In similar laws around the world, speaking out against the officially sanctioned version of the Holocaust has become a major criminal offense. These are the first slides down the slippery slope of outright censorship of anything that is not sanctioned by the state. Already, Britain has demonstrated over and over again its willingness to kowtow to a vocal minority. Further insult was added to Rushdie between 1989 and 2002, as the British showed much more concern for pacifying Muslim in the pursuit of treaties than of standing up for the rights of its own citizen, Mr. Rushdie, especially since Mr. Rushdie emphasized that he never intended any offense to his Muslim brothers and made attempts at reconciliation himself.
In essence, RRHA is another step down the long line of a belief that the West can appeal to moderate Islam to create lasting treaties of peace. In the name of peace, the British Parliament is bending over backwards for one ethnic and religious group over others. One must draw a parallel to what is happening in the new war of words and ideas to what happened in the buildup to WWII. Every concession that Britain gave Germany in an attempt to avoid war only resulted, in the end, in strengthening Germany to wage an even more fierce and deadly jihad against Europe and her allies. Why is Britain once again giving such concessions in the name of political correctness? In a fair country, no group would be singled out for special treatment, either positive or negative. Britain is doing just that.
- Salman Rushdie, now the target of an Iranian video game (csmonitor.com)
- In Response to Muslim Rioters, U.S. Embassy Apologizes for Offensive Speech (patheos.com)
- A First Look at Salman Rushdie’s Autobiography (patheos.com)
- On Salman Rushdie and My Apostasy (bigthink.com)
- UK: Converted Muslims singer Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) endorses the burning and death of writer Salman Rushdie in 1989 video (themuslimissue.wordpress.com)
- Out of Bounds (kenanmalik.wordpress.com)