• Family

    • Liberal Conspiracy
  • Comrades

    • Andy Worthington
    • Angela Saini
    • Bartholomew’s notes
    • Bleeding Heart Show
    • Bloggerheads
    • Blood & Treasure
    • Campaign against Honour Killings
    • Cath Elliott
    • Chicken Yoghurt
    • Daily Mail Watch
    • Dave Hill
    • Dr. Mitu Khurana
    • Europhobia
    • Faith in Society
    • Feminism for non-lefties
    • Feministing
    • Gender Bytes
    • Harry’s Place
    • IKWRO
    • MediaWatchWatch
    • Ministry of Truth
    • Natalie Bennett
    • New Statesman blogs
    • Operation Black Vote
    • Our Kingdom
    • Robert Sharp
    • Rupa Huq
    • Shiraz Socialist
    • Shuggy’s Blog
    • Stumbling and Mumbling
    • Ta-Nehisi Coates
    • The F Word
    • Though Cowards Flinch
    • Tory Troll
    • UK Polling Report
  • In-laws

    • Aaron Heath
    • Douglas Clark's saloon
    • Earwicga
    • Get There Steppin’
    • Incurable Hippie
    • Neha Viswanathan
    • Power of Choice
    • Rita Banerji
    • Sarah
    • Sepia Mutiny
    • Sonia Faleiro
    • Southall Black Sisters
    • The Langar Hall
    • Turban Head

  • Rushdie defends his mate Martin Amis


    by Sunny
    15th July, 2008 at 4:02 am    

    In an interview with the Guardian when Midnight’s Children was crowned Booker of Bookers (no, I couldn’t finish it either), Salman Rushdie defends Martin Amis by saying:

    The point is this: I don’t have to agree with what you or anybody says to defend their right to say it. To have Martin articulating a public fear in this rather knockabout way was justified. If we don’t say what we think or articulate what is being generally thought, then we are self-censoring, which is wimpish.

    Look, I hate to keep going over this but no one is denying Amis the right to say what he wants. Newspapers clamour to interview him all the time. But a bit like his mate Ian McEwan, Rushdie is being a bit silly. I’ll say it again. People have the right to say stupid things. People legally have the right to articulate thoughts about locking up Muslims enmasse. If you want to think it or say it - fine. But please…please do not tell me or others that we cannot accuse Martin Amis of bigotry for doing so. He has his right, I have my right. Martin Amis is a bigot who felt an urge to lock up Muslims enmasse. There’s no argument here: Amis, McEwan and Rushdie can keep on defending each other since they’re mates. I still call a spade a spade. And no can deny that right either.


                  Post to del.icio.us


    Filed in: Culture,Media,Religion






    116 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs


    1. Sid — on 15th July, 2008 at 10:31 am  

      fuckin’ right.

    2. DavidMWW — on 15th July, 2008 at 10:48 am  

      Sunny, I think that you and Rushdie are making exactly the same point.

    3. DavidMWW — on 15th July, 2008 at 11:29 am  

      (And I agree with both of you)

    4. Roger — on 15th July, 2008 at 11:51 am  

      The point Amis was making is that we should resist such urges. We might not have shared Amis’s immediate atavistic urge in response to acts of terrorism but everyone- yes, everyone- responds comparably sometimes. Cyclists sometimes have an urge to lock all motorists up and pedestrians to lock all cyclists up in response to dangerous or stupid behaviour. The important thing is that we recognise the stupidity and immorality of these urges and resist them.
      The interesting thing about religious terrorists is that they do not resist these urges but believe that their immediate emotional response comes from god and that what they do in consequence is justified.

    5. Avi Cohen — on 15th July, 2008 at 12:16 pm  

      Sunny, I would suggest that the bigger question here is that the right who are currently very vocal are deciding who has a right to say what.

      In a nutshell it appears that if you bash Islam/Muslims and support Israel and the USA you have a right to say what you want.

      If you defend Islam/Muslims and decry the actions of Israel/USA then your right to speak is limited.

      Something that Rushdie isn’t highlighting.

      Also does as Rushdie supports free speech does he support the rights of Khomeni to have spoken freely regarding Rushdie himself?

      Now I notice that Harry’s Place is being sued in what is turning into a rather ugly battle. But this raises a number of questions itself. How far can bloggers and blogs go within free speech? Also how can a blog afford such prestigous lawyers as Mishcon de Reya?

      Interestingly Harry’s Place is overjoyed that Govt Ministers pulled out of IslamExpo but then what about their right to speak freely to Govt no matter how much we displike it?

      Surely then Harry’s Place when saying they stand for people hearing what they don’t want to hear should be saying that everyone no matter how reprehensible their view should be heard. Surely the Govt needs to hear the views of the Pro-Palestinians need to be heard as much as the views of Pro-Israeli?

      Surely a Govts job is to listen to views.

      So the right is basically pushing free speech but only the free speech it likes.

      So my question is who is deciding who has the right to free speech? At the moment I’d say you are free to speak as long as you bash Islam/Muslims and your righst are dimished if you defend them. So then is it total free speech?

    6. Roger — on 15th July, 2008 at 12:28 pm  

      “Interestingly Harry’s Place is overjoyed that Govt Ministers pulled out of IslamExpo but then what about their right to speak freely to Govt no matter how much we displike it?”
      They can- and did- say everything they wanted to say to the government. Government ministers refused to attend because if they had it might be thought that the government countenanced other claims allegedly made by ISLAMEXPO’s organisers.

      “Surely a Govts job is to listen to views.”
      No, a government’s job is to govern.
      It’s worth remembering that while people have the right to say what they think, people have an equal right to ignore it. It is no-one’s job or duty to listen to views.

    7. Avi Cohen — on 15th July, 2008 at 1:12 pm  

      “They can- and did- say everything they wanted to say to the government.”

      Err how did they do that when the Goct wasn’t there?

      “No, a government’s job is to govern.”
      No it will govern based on listening to what people have to say. Otherwise what is the role of people in how they are governed?

      A mainstay of fair govt is that people are heard.

      A govt that just governs is a dictatorship.

    8. cjcjc — on 15th July, 2008 at 1:14 pm  

      Also does as Rushdie supports free speech does he support the rights of Khomeni to have spoken freely regarding Rushdie himself?

      I think most people agree that incitement to murder does not constitute legitimate free speech.

      Do you?

    9. Hermes123 — on 15th July, 2008 at 1:35 pm  

      Sunny, you have a perfect right to call Martin Amis a bigot, but how about trying to rationally argue against his views…or better still argue for your own views instead. Calling someone a bigot is a cop-out, a cowardly way to avoid confronting the issues.

    10. Avi Cohen — on 15th July, 2008 at 1:55 pm  

      cjcjc - “I think most people agree that incitement to murder does not constitute legitimate free speech.

      Do you?”

      I don’t think incitement to murder constitutes free speech, but I am not the one in the media defending Amis and harping on about free speech am I now?

      If you bothered to actually digest what was being said then you’d know that I was highlighting the fact that Rushdie was advocating free speech but does that apply to things said about him?

      It appears many people want freedom of speech but only to say what they want and don’t want to hear the opposite.

    11. Avi Cohen — on 15th July, 2008 at 1:58 pm  

      Hermes123 - Sunny has already argued against Amis’s views so he didn’t cop out.

    12. Sunny — on 15th July, 2008 at 2:20 pm  

      Calling someone a bigot is a cop-out, a cowardly way to avoid confronting the issues.

      Have already done it. But after a while, you can’t exactly explain the whole case again and again. Naked bigotry should be called out for being that, right?

      I did so here:
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/oct/15/cheapsoundbites

      and here:

      http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2007/11/23/why-i-think-martin-amis-is-racist/

    13. cjcjc — on 15th July, 2008 at 2:33 pm  

      having things said about him

      Do you consider calling for his murder “having things said about him”?

    14. Roger — on 15th July, 2008 at 2:48 pm  

      ‘“They can- and did- say everything they wanted to say to the government.”

      Err how did they do that when the Goct wasn’t there?”‘

      The government is still there. Members of the government chose not to attend ISLAMEXPO. People who want the government to listen to what they have to say are able to communicate with them, directly or indirectly, in a variety of ways.

      ‘“No, a government’s job is to govern.”
      No it will govern based on listening to what people have to say. Otherwise what is the role of people in how they are governed?

      A mainstay of fair govt is that people are heard.

      A govt that just governs is a dictatorship.’

      They can dispose of a government that does not govern as they wish. Certainly, a government will listen to what people say- however, in a country with democratic elements to the constitution they are obliged to listen to what everyone has to say and then to decide which policies are in the best interests of the people as a whole. If a majority of people supported policies that the government thinks wrong then the government does not carry out those policies and pays the price for it.

    15. Parvinder Singh — on 15th July, 2008 at 2:52 pm  

      If it was Rushdie who had had the ‘urge’ so often quoted of Amis, would he also have been a racist? Sunny, did you also get unstuck on Satanic Verses as well?
      While we are on the subject as I don’t think PP was around at the time of the Satanic Verses controversy, what is your take on the book which many believe lead to the present Islamist revival in this country.

      An interesting interview of Salman Rushdie by Jon Snow about his new book, Enchantress of Florence, about the meeting of minds between Renaissance Florence and Moghul India. Also talks about the doldrums we’re in at present, Iraq and Obama.
      http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/arts_entertainment/books/jon%20snow%20interviews%20salman%20rushdie/2024547

    16. BenSix — on 15th July, 2008 at 2:58 pm  

      “Sunny, you have a perfect right to call Martin Amis a bigot, but how about trying to rationally argue against his views…or better still argue for your own views instead.”

      What views? I’ve never come across a coherent Amisian argument, except possibly ‘Islamism is bad’, which I agree with but isn’t interestingly explored.

    17. Roger — on 15th July, 2008 at 3:13 pm  

      “I’ve never come across a coherent Amisian argument”

      Not an argument, perhaps, but an interesting observation, as we can tell from peoples’ response, was Amis’s acknowledgement of his immediate “definite urge”. The fact that so many people took it that Amis put this forward as a considered policy and the fact that so many people did not acknowledge that they sometimes have comparable urges reveal a lot about the way people read, think and perceive themselves.

    18. Sunny — on 15th July, 2008 at 3:16 pm  

      If it was Rushdie who had had the ‘urge’ so often quoted of Amis, would he also have been a racist? Sunny, did you also get unstuck on Satanic Verses as well?
      While we are on the subject as I don’t think PP was around at the time of the Satanic Verses controversy, what is your take on the book which many believe lead to the present Islamist revival in this country.

      If a brown person is going around calling for brown people to be locked up enmasse, he’s not a racist but just a damn fool. Who knows what Rushdie’s motivations are, I’m just commenting on Amis’s motivations :)

      I never could finish Satanic Verses either… I’ve actually not yet finished a single Rushdie book. But of course I’d defend his right to write it and publish it.

    19. Avi Cohen — on 15th July, 2008 at 3:18 pm  

      cjcjc - “having things said about him

      Do you consider calling for his murder “having things said about him”?”

      Oh stop nit picking. Many things were said about Rushdie and you continue to focus on one to stifle debate. I’ve already said that I don’t consider a call for his murder or anyone elses free speech but apparently that isn’t enough for you and you are just shifting ground on the debate to stifle the core question namely that many people who want to attack Muslims/Minorities advocate free speech to push their views but then often don’t like people who reply.

      The question is that does Rushdie consider statements about him free speech? It is a fair question to ask and one you keep shifting grounds on to avoid the question.

    20. Avi Cohen — on 15th July, 2008 at 3:22 pm  

      “I never could finish Satanic Verses either… I’ve actually not yet finished a single Rushdie book. But of course I’d defend his right to write it and publish it.”

      Of course then people should have the right to protest, burn or refute his book as part of their free speech. The problem is that when a minority uses free speech to refute what is said about them people portray them as reving loonies.

      Do Minorities have the right to full free speech? I don’t think so as that is still being stifled by the right wing.

    21. soru — on 15th July, 2008 at 3:45 pm  

      But please…please do not tell me or others that we cannot accuse Martin Amis of bigotry for doing so.

      And please don’t tell us we can’t call you an idiot for doing something so clearly stupid.

      When the Daily Mail prints a ‘Muslims want to kill Puppies for Allah’ story, you quite rightly point out it is all smoke and no trace of fire. Someone prints an equally fabricated story about a white novelist, and suddenly different rules apply. You feel free to paraphrase an already paraphrased unsourced verbal quote as ‘Search non-white people until they feel the pain, he says’.

      Why the double standards? Is whipping up ethnic hatred ok as long as you do it? Or do you genuinely think you are in the right, not realise the way you are caught up in the witch-hunt agenda?

    22. Sid — on 15th July, 2008 at 3:53 pm  

      I don’t agree with Avi Cohen’s posts all.

      The Satanic Verses was a novel which explored the meeting point between belief and non-belief and between the sacred and the profane. In that respect there was NOTHING bigoted about it whatsoever and I would defend in every way possible Rushdie’s right to write it, Penguin to publish it and my right to read it.

      Rushdie is not the first Muslim-born person to write about these matters. In fact there are a host of writers and philosophers from medieval times to the modern day (Mansur ibn Hallaj and Omar Khayyam for example) who have done the same thing. The only difference was Islam was far less brittle on these matters, more confident about self-examination and less likely to issue fatwas for this that and the other, which is the situation we are in now.

      On the other hand a novellist who sits through an interview talking about locking up pakis, in my opinion, does not automcatically enjoy the same latitude a novel or a piece of art does, simply because “he’s a novellist”.

    23. Parvinder Singh — on 15th July, 2008 at 3:53 pm  

      ‘Who knows what Rushdie’s motivations are’
      Sunny, I don’t think he has any real motive in this, he’s just defending Amis from this baseless accusation of racism.

      ‘Everybody needs to get thicker skins’ says Rushdie in the article you quoted. “There is this culture of offence, as though offending someone is the worst thing anyone can do. Again, there is an assumption that our first duty is to be respectful. But what would a respectful cartoon look like? Really boring! You wouldn’t publish it. The nature of the form is irreverence and disrespect.”

      By taking his words out of the situation Amis found himself in, ie. ‘an experiment on the limits of the permissible’, an anger at the repressive aspects and violence of political Islam forcing him to come down quite hard on the Muslim community in general, then the warning off of the ‘urge’ and a clear repudiation of any attempt to harass a minority.

      In the past, Amis even rehearsed the idea of killing his wife and children to spare them the horror of a nuclear war. Authors such as Amis and Rushdie frequently delve into the realm of ‘thinking out loud’ and inevitably leads to controversies eg. The Satanic Verses.

      #20: Avi, people have the right to protest and argue against books but ‘burn… as part of their speech’! No surprise then when people, in your words, ‘portray them as reving loonies’.

    24. Ravi Naik — on 15th July, 2008 at 3:56 pm  

      The question is that does Rushdie consider statements about him free speech? It is a fair question to ask and one you keep shifting grounds on to avoid the question.

      It is an incredibly stupid question because it has a rather obvious answer: He doesn’t: not after his life was at grave risk and he had to go on hiding for years, because of that speech.

      “Of course then people should have the right to protest, burn or refute his book as part of their free speech. The problem is that when a minority uses free speech to refute what is said about them people portray them as reving loonies.”

      It is unfortunate that you brought this particular example to make your case.

    25. Sid — on 15th July, 2008 at 4:06 pm  

      Avi

      You may have the skills and money to build your own house. I may have the time and volition to burn it down. The two are not the same forms of expression. A writer exercising his right to free speech and a self-appointed religious leader issuing an edict to kill him are not the same forms of expression.

      Do yourself a favour, take a deep breath, have a lie down and think this one through. :)

    26. Hermes123 — on 15th July, 2008 at 4:24 pm  

      Why are we elevating Martin Amis to this level of importance anyway. He does not represent anyone, was never elected by anyone and is nothing more than one of thousands of writers spouting their views. By paying so much attention to his words, we fall into the trap of giving a self-important, pompous little prick the platform he does not deserve

    27. cjcjc — on 15th July, 2008 at 4:27 pm  

      Of course then people should have the right to protest, burn or refute his book as part of their free speech. The problem is that when a minority uses free speech to refute what is said about them people portray them as reving loonies.

      People who burn books generally are raving loonies, are they not?

      Of course the accompanying “death to Rushdie” chanting didn’t help much in that regard either!

    28. cjcjc — on 15th July, 2008 at 4:32 pm  

      And of course none of that was terribly helpful on the refutation front!

    29. Avi Cohen — on 15th July, 2008 at 4:32 pm  

      Sid - Please try to understand that I wasn’t referring to the fatwa to kill and I have said this so why keep coming back to one point huh?

      Also buring his book (on which he got royalties so it was incredibly stupid of the people who did as they were making him richer!) is a legitimate form of free expression. Burning a house is a criminal offence. Why choose an extreme example?

      Whilst at times you are a good writer here you’re comparing my example of burning a book with the more extreme example of burning a house, one is legal and one is illegal.

      You defend Rushdie’s right to write the book - I agree with you and I am sure that down the centuries many such books may have been printed here in the West when discussing Islam that are unfavourable.

      But equally I ask you again that does Rushdie also defend the right of those who oppose his book to excerise their right to free speech to refute what he says within the law? If he doesn’t then is he the icon of free speech that you lot are painting him as?

      Interestingly Sid you should know that often such issues are used to whip up people who are ignorant. In this case in Iran the government allowed a review of the book to be published many months prior to the fatwa. So it only became a political tool at a later date.

      Rushdie often only backs peole who slam Muslims and argues their right to free speech but free speech is surely about the right of reply as well, so why isn’t he there defending their rights.

      Ravi - Free speech comes at a cost and if Rushdie is an advocate of free speech then he needs to agree to the fact that people can protest his writing. He can’t be selective.

    30. Avi Cohen — on 15th July, 2008 at 4:40 pm  

      “And of course none of that was terribly helpful on the refutation front!”

      Look most of those people probably didn’t even read the book so yes they didn’t help. In addition if they had put a little thought into it they would have kbnown they were making him richer by buying and burning the book as well as having their taxes used to provide protection. So yes that makes them pretty damn lame.

      But it still doesn’t answer the question does Rushdie support their rights to protest, burn and refute his books even though it makes his life a misery?

      That is then supporting free speech. At the moment all you ever see is him supporting those that bash Muslims.

      Case in point those who advocate free speech in the USA also defend the rights of Skinheads to have free speech. They don’t agree with Skinheads but defend their right.

      Similarly does Rushdie and you are failing to address that. If Rushdie and Amis want to use free speech to malign Muslims then do they defend the right of Muslism to respond? It is a simple bleeding question.

      If they don’t agree with the right of Muslims then they are not your icons of free speech are they?

    31. Sid — on 15th July, 2008 at 4:41 pm  

      Also buring his book (on which he got royalties so it was incredibly stupid of the people who did as they were making him richer!) is a legitimate form of free expression. Burning a house is a criminal offence. Why choose an extreme example?

      Indeed, so you’re ok with people burning the Quran or flushing it down the toilet, presumably.

    32. cjcjc — on 15th July, 2008 at 4:46 pm  

      do they defend the right of Muslism to respond?

      In the same form, ie the written word, then I’m sure they do.

      Please try to understand that I wasn’t referring to the fatwa to kill

      So when you said

      does he support the rights of Khomeni to have spoken freely regarding Rushdie himself?

      to what were you referring.

      I was thinking of the incitement to murder.
      I must have missed the book review.

    33. Parvinder Singh — on 15th July, 2008 at 4:47 pm  

      Getting back to Amis and his comments. Kenan Malik, takes issue (as I do) with Amis on his ill-conceived and sloppy comments at a time when Muslims are at the receiving end of bigotry, does however say the following regarding calling people racist, islamophoes and the like:

      ‘There is clearly ignorance and fear of Islam in most Western countries. Muslims do get harassed and attacked because of their faith. Yet I believe that Islamophobia is an irrational concept. It confuses hatred of, and discrimination against, Muslims on the one hand with criticism of Islam on the other. The charge of ‘Islamophobia’ is all too often used not to highlight racism but to silence critics of Islam.’

    34. Avi Cohen — on 15th July, 2008 at 4:50 pm  

      Sid - I am the one arguing for the respect of various people so no I am not agreeing with that and I am getting angry at your assertions.

      But Rushdie is being portrayed as an icon of free speechso again is this icon willing to tolerate free speech within the law that directly affects him? It is an easy question.

      You know somethign your argument is pretty freaking stupid because its a bit like Bush saying that those at Guantanamo will receive a fair trial but outside of the law everyone else will get! So he has a dual legal process.

      Same here is Rushdie advocating free speech for all or only those that bash those that don’t agree with him?

      As I said if you are too damn silly to see that the right is pushing free speech obnly for a select few that peddle their views.

      Hell I don’t even know why I am trying to point this out to you after all Rushdie’s friend would like to see you and other Muslims locked up. Hell soon someone will say ship all Muslims to Guantanamo.

      Don’t hold Rushdie up as an Icon of free speech until he has proven he is worthy of the status. To do that he needs to defend the rights of those that disagree with him.

    35. Sid — on 15th July, 2008 at 4:53 pm  

      Sid - I am the one arguing for the respect of various people so no I am not agreeing with that and I am getting angry at your assertions.

      good and so you should be. though why you should be arguing for the respect of selective book burners is unknown to me.

    36. cjcjc — on 15th July, 2008 at 4:55 pm  

      proven he is worthy of the status ?

      What evidence is there that Rushdie does not support free speech for all?

      Though if you are bonkers enough to consider book burning or incitement to murder free speech, it’s hardly surprising if he objects to that.

    37. Avi Cohen — on 15th July, 2008 at 4:58 pm  

      cjcjc - “does he support the rights of Khomeni to have spoken freely regarding Rushdie himself?

      to what were you referring.”

      Look the build up to this was quite long. The book was published in 1988 and the fatwa wasn’t until 1989. During that time various events happened.

      As I said Khomeni used this in political terms as the book was reviewed in Iran shortly after release. Given the fact that the press was well controlled do you seriously believe he didn’t know it was reviewed!

      So again stop jumping to a single point that occurred a year after the book was released and with which we all disagree.

    38. Avi Cohen — on 15th July, 2008 at 4:59 pm  

      cjcjc “What evidence is there that Rushdie does not support free speech for all?”

      Do you have trouble reading English? I asked the question and you went off on one. I asked if Rushdie supports total free speech or just free speech attacking Muslims? It is a freakin question.

    39. cjcjc — on 15th July, 2008 at 5:03 pm  

      Well I have answered the freakin’ question.

      I have no reason to believe that Rushdie does not support total free speech.

      Do you?

      But then you seem to want him to support burning as well as protesting and refuting…

    40. Avi Cohen — on 15th July, 2008 at 5:24 pm  

      cjcjc - “Well I have answered the freakin’ question.”

      After a lot of debate not related to the point.

      “But then you seem to want him to support burning as well as protesting and refuting…”

      Yes aslong as it is legal then I support their right to burn the book and so should he. It is a legal form of expression. In fact may I ask why you who claims to advocate free speech doesn’t support their right to legally purchase and legally burn the book as a form of their freedom of expression?

      As I said he is free to write it and they are free to protest it and burn it, why the hell is one important to you and the other not so?

    41. Sid — on 15th July, 2008 at 5:32 pm  

      As I said he is free to write it and they are free to protest it and burn it, why the hell is one important to you and the other not so?

      I think you’re offending many Muslims by your defence of the right to burn and flush the Quran down the toilet. Perhaps a fatwa will make you see sense.

    42. Parvinder Singh — on 15th July, 2008 at 5:39 pm  

      For those of you too young to have been around in the 80s, Rushdie was firmly on the left and leading anti-racist. I stongly recommend his books, which have always caused some offence, eg. Midnight’s Children (which offended the ‘democrat’ Indira Gandhi), Shame (from Pakistan’s military rulers) etc. His writings on racism in the late 70s and 80s, around the time of the NF and inner-city riots were spot on. The self-proclaimed leaders of Muslims though were never seen on any anti-racist protest at the time.

      #37: Avi, your right in saying that the Iranian government used the controversy for their own political ends, but a lot had already happened in the UK and throughout the world.
      Satanic Verses had already been banned in several countries a month after publication. People forget it was burnt first in Bolton at a 7,000 strong demo on 2 December 1988. The Bradford ‘brothers’ burnt it on 14 January 1989. The then head of the mosques in Bradford was asked whether he had read the book and his reply was ‘books are not my thing’ ! It was only then that the Iranians issued the Fatwa. Our very own Keith Vaz despicably lead some of the protests and even asked for the paperback to be withdrawn.

      #40: the chilling images of Nazi students burning books in the 1930s should remind us that this is a barbaric act and in no sense part of legitimate protest.
      “The lesson is - don’t burn ideas,” said another man, “even if they’re not good ideas, you don’t have to burn them.”
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3016567.stm

    43. Sid — on 15th July, 2008 at 5:42 pm  

      Hey Parvinder, I was actually there in person in Bradford in January 1989 (I was stuydying at nearby Leeds Uni). Seminal moment in my life. :)

      Of course, I didn’t have the courage to tell the mob, “Hey I’ve read the book and it’s fookin’ great!”

    44. Avi Cohen — on 15th July, 2008 at 5:49 pm  

      Sid - The fatwa was refuted by a number of Muslim scholars so I wouldn’t hold your breath.

      In case it went by you recently an artist in the USA burnt a historic Quran so Muslims may have learnt a lesson.

      Parvinder - I agree book burining is a sad excerise but again I repeat that if Salman is to be portrayed as a hero of free speech then he needs to defend all free speech.

      Look at the end of the day even Rushdie conceded at the time that the reaction of Muslims would reinforce stereotypes and he regretted that.

      As I said in Europe in past centuries other religions have been salndered and they rose above that. So this isn’t new. Teh Muslim reaction was piss poor no doubt but Rushdie if he is an icon of free speech then needs to defend it all.

    45. Parvinder Singh — on 15th July, 2008 at 5:49 pm  

      And Sid, I was studying in London then (originally from Leeds) and was at the first meeting along with Hanif Kureshi defending Rushdie who had just gone into hiding. It’s important people know all this and read the damn books before protesting. I still remember Kureshi’s slogan ‘long live blasphemy’

    46. Sid — on 15th July, 2008 at 5:57 pm  

      I’ve got a lot of time for Hanif Qureishi and Kenan Malik, Salman Rushdie and Vidia S Naipaul. None whatsoever for tossers like Martin ibn Kingsley Amis (PBUH).

    47. Sid — on 15th July, 2008 at 6:01 pm  

      Sid - The fatwa was refuted by a number of Muslim scholars so I wouldn’t hold your breath.

      A number of Muslim scholars also say fatwas are transferable. Beware you’re neck if you condone Quran burning, you blasphemer.

    48. Avi Cohen — on 15th July, 2008 at 6:17 pm  

      Sid - I don’t back the burning of any book but my point is that if Rushdie is a Champion of Free Speech then he has to defend those that within the law disagree with him in whatever way they choose to including burnign his books.

      I haven’t heard him do this.

      But instead of addressing this point you and a few others are jumping all over the place.

      The principle of freedom of speech has to apply for and against Rushdie and he needs to acceopt this to be a champion of free speech.

      I am not being championed as an icon he is and with that comes the responsibility of proving he is worthy of that status.

      The easiest thing in the world to do is back those that attack those that attack you. The hardest is to defend the rights of those that attack you.

    49. Sid — on 15th July, 2008 at 6:22 pm  

      Sorry Avi, I am not obliged, as a Muslim, to defend the right of other Muslims to burn books or to issue fatwas to kill me and my family. And I’m a champion of free speech too. If you can’t understand that then you’ve lost any humanity that might have ever lit your soul.

    50. Avi Cohen — on 15th July, 2008 at 6:24 pm  

      Rushdie said: “”It should be quite clear that, in this country, it is the liberty of any artist to express their view of their own society and their own community.”

      So he is saying that artists are at liberty to express their view of their own society but what about the rights of that society to respond? Does he hold that to be as sacred?

      It is a question that is being ducked away from.

      Rushdie has been quick to lecture people on the rights he wants but rarely ever has he backed the rights of those that oppose him. So it is an interesting concept that he wants what he wants for himself and his fellow “artists” but what about societies right of reply to art?

    51. Avi Cohen — on 15th July, 2008 at 6:27 pm  

      Sid - You’ve lost the plot and are showing signs of whataboutery.

      The freakin question is does Rushdie support the rights of people and society to protest his work and thgat of writers and artists within the law.

      Al your other grandstanding is simply to avoid answering a question you don’t want to answer.

      Does Rushdie as a champion and icon of free speech support the rights of people to LEGALLY refute what is beign written or shown?

      Everything else you keep goign on with flowery prose isn’t the point I am making and is simply a diversion by you.

    52. Avi Cohen — on 15th July, 2008 at 6:30 pm  

      Rushdie always supports the rights of writers and artists to offend but I haven’t heard him support those that legally protest his work and the works of others they fidn offensive. If he doesn’t support that then he isn’t for complete freedom of speech is he.

    53. Avi Cohen — on 15th July, 2008 at 6:32 pm  

      Put it this way Rushdie supports Amis saying you should be locked up.

      Does he support your rights of reply to Amis’s stupid statement?

      Does he support your right to protest Amis’s stupid statement?

      Can you answer that simple point without going off on a bleedin tangent to avoid answering a few simple bleedin questions.

    54. Ravi Naik — on 15th July, 2008 at 6:36 pm  

      “The freakin question is does Rushdie support the rights of people and society to protest his work and thgat of writers and artists within the law.”

      Free speech, you fundamentalist dolt, does not include inciting MURDER. EVER. Burning books on the other, is free speech.
      Rushdie SUPPORTS freedom of speech.

      Are you saying that just because Rushdie went on hiding so that he was not killed, that he is somehow against Khomeini’s “freedom of speech”?

      Brilliant.

    55. Sunny — on 15th July, 2008 at 6:52 pm  

      As Sid said - I have no problems with Kureishi, Malik and others.

      In fact I exchanged emails with Kenan Malik after his doc on Muslims and the Channel 4 documentary on Muslims trying to censor speech. He told me he got stitched up because he didn’t want to make the doc just about Muslims and yet the broadcasters ignored himm and changed things around at the last minute.

      Soru said -
      Someone prints an equally fabricated story about a white novelist, and suddenly different rules apply.

      I’m sorry, which bit was fabricated again? Just to be clear.

    56. Roger — on 15th July, 2008 at 7:02 pm  

      “Put it this way Rushdie supports Amis saying you should be locked up. ”

      Yet again, for those unable to read, Amis said nothing of the sort. He said that such a response was an immediate urge, with the obvious inference that such urges should not be a basis for future behaviour, personal or social.
      I said above that “The interesting thing about religious terrorists is that they do not resist these [immediate] urges but believe that their immediate emotional response comes from god and that what they do in consequence is justified.”
      It seems that it is not only religious terrorists but religious believers who believe that their immediate emotional response comes from god.
      As for Rushdie, until someone produces evidence that he wishes to suppress the right to peaceful expression of any views except those that incite murder or mutilation or comparable harm it is only reasonable to suppose that he favours full freedom of speech with those qualifications. After all, are we to suppose that he favours suppressing the opinions of William Shakespeare and John Milton because he has never expressed full and absolute support for their right to express themselves freely?

    57. Roger — on 15th July, 2008 at 7:05 pm  

      “Soru said -
      Someone prints an equally fabricated story about a white novelist, and suddenly different rules apply.

      I’m sorry, which bit was fabricated again? ”

      The claim that “Martin Amis is a bigot who felt an urge to lock up Muslims enmasse.” A bigot is someone who continues to want to lock up Muslims en masse after cool consideration.

    58. Sunny — on 15th July, 2008 at 7:13 pm  

      A bigot is someone who continues to want to lock up Muslims en masse after cool consideration.

      Really? I didn’t realise such distinctions were made by people. In other words if you say or do something stupid after an event (keep in mind, this was several years after 9/11 anyway) then its ok? After all, this is a writer so he must get into fits of rage all the time. Poor boy…

    59. soru — on 15th July, 2008 at 7:42 pm  

      keep in mind, this was several years after 9/11 anyway) then its ok?

      You were asking what the fabrication was: that is the essence of it. Amis wrote an essay on Islamism a few years after 9/11, Eagleton reviewed it and inserted a quote that paraphrased something Amis may or may not have said in an interview a few _days_ after 9/11. That quote then gets further Chinese-whispered into the form of words you used.

      This kind of poisonous fabricated story serves only to persuade people that they belong in two opposed sides, that the other ‘side’ hates them. Spreading these lies is the most elementary technique of those who stand to benifit from the further spread of hatred, fear and ignorance.

      I know you are not doing this deliberately, any more than a Daily Mail journalist likely acts out of an organised desire to see mosques burnt down.

      But please, even if you don’t feel obliged to help in puttin out the fire, stop pouring petrol on it.

    60. Sunny — on 15th July, 2008 at 7:50 pm  

      Eagleton reviewed it and inserted a quote that paraphrased something Amis may or may not have said in an interview

      Ok, to clear this up, why not tell us how to find that original essay and what was the original quote and what did Eagleton twist it into?
      If it was such a fabrication, why not sue for libel instead of defend yourself?

    61. Ravi Naik — on 15th July, 2008 at 8:00 pm  

      Really? I didn’t realise such distinctions were made by people.

      Your interpretation of Amis is misplaced, in that racists and bigots believe their garbage is the result of rational thought.

      Amis, considered his garbage to be an “urge”, which is defined as an “involuntary tendency to perform a given activity; or an instinct”.

      If someone reads Rushdie’s book and is utterly offended, his instinct could be to wanting to harm him. Do you see the difference between this person saying: “Don’t you have this urge to just wanting to beat Rushdie up senselessly?”, and the village idiot who really wants to beat him? That’s the difference between what Amis said and the BNP says.

      So yes, some people do make such distinctions.

    62. soru — on 15th July, 2008 at 8:27 pm  


      Ok, to clear this up, why not tell us how to find that original essay and what was the original quote and what did Eagleton twist it into?

      There’s lots of links given the last time this was discussed here, this is the most relevant.

      (slight correction - it was a few days after a different attack, not 9/11).

      This is the essay, which anyone can see for themselves does not contain the supposed quote.

      If it was such a fabrication, why not sue for libel

      On libel, I very much agree with George Monbiot.

      And it’s not like it would settle anything - if people want to believe hateful things, enjoy their anger, then they will no more read the judge’s ruling than they would the essay.

      If enough of the media find it profitable to feed that hatred, it will prosper: if not, not.

      defend yourself?

      I am not Martin Amis, I’ve never met him, and in fact have never recieved either a Booker or a fatwa.

    63. Sid — on 15th July, 2008 at 9:12 pm  

      Here you go, from Ginny Dougary’s site. The passage, unexpurgiated and no commentary. And the passage in question:

      This is the central question Amis keeps coming back to in his writing: an extended and moving review of the film United 93; a short story, published in The New Yorker, The Last Days of Mohammad Atta (we talk about the haunting photograph of the 9/11 leader, with his hard black eyes “full of murder… as though he couldn’t contain it a second longer”); a new 12,000-word essay tackling the terrorists head-on. This last response is likely to be extremely hardline, inflamingly so, if Amis’s message to me is anything to go by.

      “What can we do to raise the price of them doing this? There’s a definite urge – don’t you have it? – to say, ‘The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order.’ What sort of suff­­er­­­ing? Not letting them travel. Deportation – further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they’re from the Middle East or from Pakistan… Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children. They hate us for letting our children have sex and take drugs – well, they’ve got to stop their children killing people. It’s a huge dereliction on their part. I suppose they justify it on the grounds that they have suffered from state terrorism in the past, but I don’t think that’s wholly irrational. It’s their own past they’re pissed off about; their great decline. It’s also masculinity, isn’t it?”

      Amis apologists beware the which starts with “What sort of suff­­er­­­ing?”, which follows the urge comment.

    64. Roger — on 15th July, 2008 at 9:24 pm  

      “A bigot is someone who continues to want to lock up Muslims en masse after cool consideration.

      Really? I didn’t realise such distinctions were made by people. In other words if you say or do something stupid after an event (keep in mind, this was several years after 9/11 anyway) then its ok? After all, this is a writer so he must get into fits of rage all the time. Poor boy…”

      Yes, we do all get into fits of rage all the time. I was on a pedestrian crossing when a car jumped the lights and went through and just missed me; my first urge was to smash my walking-stick into the windscreen. I controlled myself and did not. Amis’s point was “you feel this urge to…”, not “we are entitled to…” or “we ought to” and it does more harm to ourelves and others to pretend to ourselves and others that we don’t feel unworthy urges than to recognise that we do and should control them.

    65. Ravi Naik — on 15th July, 2008 at 10:04 pm  

      “Amis’s point was “you feel this urge to…”, not “we are entitled to…” or “we ought to” and it does more harm to ourelves and others to pretend to ourselves and others that we don’t feel unworthy urges than to recognise that we do and should control “

      Agreed. By stating that his narrative is a product of an “urge”, he is acknowledging that there are elements of irrationality - an impulse to do something without reason, which implies restraint.

      Islamophobes and the BNP will *never* claim their bigotry is based on urges. Instead, they will provide you with a rational explanation of their vile ways, which is full of lies, half-truths and exagerations to make their case.

      I contend that Amis - based on what was presented - is not racist. An arrogant fool like his friend Rushdie, definitely.

    66. Sid — on 15th July, 2008 at 10:07 pm  

      Islamophobes and the BNP will *never* claim their bigotry is based on urges.

      One would hate to admit to Islamophobes and the BNP that a surefire way to make their bigotry more palatable to credulous fools is to suggest that their bigotry is the product of an “urge”.

      oops, one of them already has.

    67. Roger — on 15th July, 2008 at 10:37 pm  

      “An arrogant fool like his friend Rushdie, definitely.”
      Well, that’s the question, Ravi? It may be foolish to acknowledge such urges, especially given the responses they inspire, but it isn’t arrogant, surely. Arrogant people either deny that they have such urges or do not recognise what they are.

      “One would hate to admit to Islamophobes and the BNP that a surefire way to make their bigotry more palatable to credulous fools is to suggest that their bigotry is the product of an “urge”.”
      How would it make their bigotry more “palatable”, Sid? Why “palatable”? It seems an inappropriate adjectivehere.
      Much of becoming human and civilised consists of learning how to resist responding to our urges. The point is that Amis looks at the logical consequences of following an urge and rejects them.

    68. Sid — on 15th July, 2008 at 10:48 pm  

      “palatable” or some other word to describe what makes Amis’ bigotry *acceptable* to some.

      The point is that Amis looks at the logical consequences of following an urge and rejects them.

      And here we are again at that point where I ask someone who is defending Amis the question: where does he reject the “logical consequences of following an urge”? The caveat, in other words.

      Last time we had this discussion we were told that those who do not find this comment acceptable are failing to *infer* Amis’ caveat.

    69. Sunny — on 15th July, 2008 at 11:10 pm  

      One would hate to admit to Islamophobes and the BNP that a surefire way to make their bigotry more palatable to credulous fools is to suggest that their bigotry is the product of an “urge”.

      hah! exactly.

      I suppose an “urge” to put Jews in concentration camps would be easily dismissed too. After all, so what if it starts being talked about by our intellectuals as something of interest?

    70. Ravi Naik — on 15th July, 2008 at 11:21 pm  

      One would hate to admit to Islamophobes and the BNP that a surefire way to make their bigotry more palatable to credulous fools is to suggest that their bigotry is the product of an “urge”. oops, one of them already has.

      Don’t be prejudiced, Sid. Why would you assume that one would hate to say such a reasonable and enlightened assertion? I have nothing but pride. ;)

      I suppose an “urge” to put Jews in concentration camps would be easily dismissed too.

      No, it would not be easily dismissed. Only a psychopath would have an “urge” for genocide, which is really beyond the scope of what is being discussed here

      “An arrogant fool like his friend Rushdie, definitely.”
      Well, that’s the question, Ravi? It may be foolish to acknowledge such urges, especially given the responses they inspire, but it isn’t arrogant, surely. Arrogant people either deny that they have such urges or do not recognise what they are.

      It’s definitely not the question at hand, Roger. But his narrative (I read the whole article) sounds pompous and arrogant to me.

    71. Avi Cohen — on 15th July, 2008 at 11:27 pm  

      Ravi - “Free speech, you fundamentalist dolt, does not include inciting MURDER. EVER. Burning books on the other, is free speech.
      Rushdie SUPPORTS freedom of speech.

      Are you saying that just because Rushdie went on hiding so that he was not killed, that he is somehow against Khomeini’s “freedom of speech”?

      Brilliant.”

      Ravi I was asking the question that does anyone know if Salman Rushdie supports freedom of expression for those that disagree with him and you’re all going off on one.

      It is a bloody question that I am asking and is it so hard to understand. I want to know if Salman Rushdie is advocating free speech for those that disagree with him within the confines of the law.

      Bloody hell you can’t be bothered answering the question and you’re calling me a dolt, well look in the mirror.

      All I’ve seen is Rushdie saying he supports the rights of writers and artists for freedom of speech and expression.

      So now you tell me where I agreed with the fatwa that made you call me a fundementalist?

      Your frankly grotesque distoring of what I was asking and your inability to either answer the question or shut up is shocking. If you have the answer or a link to a quote from the man fine if not don’t keep bringing up incitement to murder as I’ve never said that. How much more clear can I be.

      I WANT TO KNOW IF SALMAN RUSHDIE SUPPORTS THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLE OR SOCIETY TO SPEAK FREELY IN REFUTING HIS WORK. IS THAT CLEAR ENOUGH FOR YOU RO DO YOU NEED MORE HELP UNDERSTANDING IT IS A QUESTION ON THE POSITION OF SALMAN RUSHDIE ON THIS SUBJECT. I DID NOT SUPPROT THE FATWA THEN OR NOW IS THAT CLEAR?

      DO YOU NOW UNDERSTAND THE QUESTION???

    72. Ravi Naik — on 15th July, 2008 at 11:33 pm  

      It is a bloody question that I am asking and is it so hard to understand. I want to know if Salman Rushdie is advocating free speech for those that disagree with him within the confines of the law.

      Yes, Avi. He does support freedom of speech. This means, he does support the rights of people or society to speak freely against what he has written, including refuting his… fiction work. Everything within the law, of course.

    73. soru — on 15th July, 2008 at 11:39 pm  

      where does he reject the “logical consequences of following an urge”?

      Implicitly: in your view of post-WWII Western literature, is the Holocaust generally considered a good or a bad thing? If an urge is claimed to be leading to a Holocaust-like thing, what does that claim say about the urge?

      Explicitly: in the essays, letters and links posted above.

      Inherently: how the fuck could a one-paragraph quote possibly contain it’s own context? If you saw a picture of Amis in a newspaper with his neck at the bottom of the photo, would you go away thinking he has no torso?


      Last time we had this discussion we were told that those who do not find this comment acceptable are failing to *infer* Amis’ caveat.

      No, they are failing to read simple complete paragraphs, preferring to believe an insidious and all-emcompassing narrative of racial hatred less plausible than the plot of Bonekickers, held together solely by the beleif that a journalist paraphrasing a conversation into a sound-bite would scrupulously keep in place every nuance, no matter how less marketable it made his story.

      Some people, every time they see a quote from an Imam that doesn’t explicitly list every single act of terrorism they condemn, actually manage to believe that means that guy isn’t against terrorism, isn’t condemning it, so supporting it, so…

      Most such people, when it it is pointed out to what is going on, who is lying to them (the journalist), how (by omission, and by building on pre-existing prejudices), and why (to pitch the story), reject that path of hatred.

      Other will prefer to place the person telling them what’s going on their list of ‘terror-loving liberals’. Then when someone says ‘actually, I’m thinking of voting for them’, they go on the list too.

      Soon, that list is pretty long…

    74. Avi Cohen — on 15th July, 2008 at 11:48 pm  

      Ravi - “Yes, Avi. He does support freedom of speech. This means, he does support the rights of people or society to speak freely against what he has written, including refuting his… fiction work. Everything within the law, of course.”

      Thank you - do you have a link or a quote?

    75. soru — on 16th July, 2008 at 12:00 am  

      I suppose an “urge” to put Jews in concentration camps would be easily dismissed too.

      No, bigots would jump on such a quotation, strip out the details, twist it a bit, and then use it to stoke racial hate against whichever group the person saying it came from.

      When your only remaining justification for being in a hole is ‘their hole would be deeper, if it existed’, it really is time to stop digging.

    76. Ravi Naik — on 16th July, 2008 at 12:02 am  

      Thank you - do you have a link or a quote?

      You are welcome, Avi. You can find the quote at the top of this page in Sunny’s post, where Rushdie says:
      The point is this: I don’t have to agree with what you or anybody says to defend their right to say it.

    77. Ravi Naik — on 16th July, 2008 at 12:13 am  

      Do you guys sometimes feel the urge to say, that BNP supporters and their families need to suffer? What sort of suffering - you ask?

      Let them feel unwanted in this country. Write lies about them daily in newspapers and insinuate that they are the cause of this country’s decline. Curtail their freedoms. Strip-search them at any opportunity. Shout “Oy! Hitler-lover! Go back to the Fatherland!” Have a special queue for skinheads in airports. Discriminatory stuff until they realise how minorities are made to feel.

    78. digitalcntrl — on 16th July, 2008 at 12:15 am  

      “Thank you - do you have a link or a quote?”

      Come on Avi, you really want a quote where Rushdie says he supports peoples right to speak freely against views/works? He is an intellectual not some mad mullah. May as well demand a quote that Rushdie believes the earth is round.

    79. Sid — on 16th July, 2008 at 12:46 am  

      where does he reject the “logical consequences of following an urge”?


      Implicitly: in your view of post-WWII Western literature, is the Holocaust generally considered a good or a bad thing? If an urge is claimed to be leading to a Holocaust-like thing, what does that claim say about the urge?

      The claim says that the urge led to a Holocaust-like thing.

      Explicitly: in the essays, letters and links posted above.

      I haven’t read Amis’ entire opus. Does that mean I am intellectually un-equipped to judge any statement he makes at face value until I have?

      Inherently: how the fuck could a one-paragraph quote possibly contain it’s own context? If you saw a picture of Amis in a newspaper with his neck at the bottom of the photo, would you go away thinking he has no torso?

      I haven’t seen such a photograph but I’m pretty sure if I did I wouldn’t think he had no torso.

      If you saw a photograph of him driving a hummer, would you infer that he’s an ardent environmentalist?

      I have seen nothing to make me infer implicitly, explicitly or inherently that Amis rejects his urge.

    80. Sid — on 16th July, 2008 at 12:48 am  

      Don’t be prejudiced, Sid. Why would you assume that one would hate to say such a reasonable and enlightened assertion? I have nothing but pride.

      That’s rather tragic.

    81. soru — on 16th July, 2008 at 1:08 am  

      I have seen nothing to make me infer implicitly, explicitly or inherently that Amis rejects his urge.

      I am reluctantly impressed that you have managed to keep your eyes that firmly shut.

      From the link posted a few pages up:
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/oct/12/religion.immigration

      And I hereby declare that “harassing the Muslim community in Britain” would be neither moral nor efficacious.

      To keep track:

      current argument: there is no proof he denied it, so it must be true.

      predicted next argument: he denied it, someone else in history/politics commonly held to be a bad person also denied something, so it must be true.

      Go on, surprise me, find something new to insert before the inevitable ‘it must be true’.

    82. Sid — on 16th July, 2008 at 1:16 am  

      current argument: there is no proof he denied it, so it must be true.

      And your premise would be: “there is proof that god exists if one spends time going through the original texts by all the major theologians. That is enough to infer His existence.”

      I guess I lack your religious impulse when it comes to inferencing the existence of the Unsaid and the Unseen.

    83. soru — on 16th July, 2008 at 1:38 am  

      original texts by all the major theologians

      Have to admit, I haven’t seen any letters to the Guardian published under the name ‘God’. Perhaps they reject them for using old-fashioned language or something.

      The ‘death of the author’ theory (the literary one, not the Iranian version) has it’s merits, but it takes a superheroic stretch worthy of Mr Fantastic to read ‘And I hereby declare that “harassing the Muslim community in Britain” would be neither moral nor efficacious.’ as something other than what it says.

    84. Refresh — on 16th July, 2008 at 2:11 am  

      ‘Why are we elevating Martin Amis to this level of importance anyway. He does not represent anyone, was never elected by anyone and is nothing more than one of thousands of writers spouting their views. By paying so much attention to his words, we fall into the trap of giving a self-important, pompous little prick the platform he does not deserve’

      Well said Hermes. It says it all.

      The question raised is WHY does the media give him so much exposure? Is it because he represents an innate ‘urge’ others dare not speak? Or is he being used as a wedge to break apart the understanding people have come to accept since the collapse of empire?

    85. Roger — on 16th July, 2008 at 2:50 am  

      “And here we are again at that point where I ask someone who is defending Amis the question: where does he reject the “logical consequences of following an urge”? The caveat, in other words.”
      Well, Sid, apart from his later clarfications, the phrase “There’s a definite urge – don’t you have it? – to say…” is a caveat in itself. You seem to think that “urge” is a morally neutral or even approving term. It isn’t. In fact, an important element to many of the novels of both Amises is the disastrous effects of following urges without considering their effects. John Self in London Fields is an obvious example.

      “But his narrative (I read the whole article) sounds pompous and arrogant to me.”
      It is also permeated with irony, Ravi: for example, the “little fascists” who want to restrict his right to smoke, it eventually transpires, are his young daughters. The very fact that ginnie Dougary and a paper want a long interview with Amis presupposes that he and what he has to say is important enough to warrant a long interview.

      “Let them [the BNP] feel unwanted in this country. Write lies about them daily in newspapers and insinuate that they are the cause of this country’s decline. Curtail their freedoms. Strip-search them at any opportunity. Shout “Oy! Hitler-lover! Go back to the Fatherland!” Have a special queue for skinheads in airports. Discriminatory stuff until they realise how minorities are made to feel.”
      Many supporters of the BNP- who are a small minority too- already feel they are being treated like that, Ravi. It’s foolish of them, true, but people do not have to be actively persecuted or seriously persecuted to believe they are seriously persecuted.

      Avi Cohen: can you give a link where Rushdie says he opposes or does not support the rights of people or society to speak freely against what he has written, including refuting his… fiction work. Everything within the law, of course? If you can’t, can you give any reason except your own assumptions of how people behave why he might do so?

    86. Roger — on 16th July, 2008 at 2:51 am  

      Why are we elevating Mohammed to this level of importance anyway? He does not represent anyone, was never elected by anyone and is nothing more than one of thousands of writers spouting their views. By paying so much attention to his words, we fall into the trap of giving a self-important, pompous little prick the platform he does not deserve.

    87. Sid — on 16th July, 2008 at 8:47 am  


      And I hereby declare that “harassing the Muslim community in Britain” would be neither moral nor efficacious.

      Oh so now we are told, having found no implicit, explicit or inherent caveat in Amis’ comment, that a carefully worded letter of denial published in the Guardian, *subsequent* to his off the cuff comments in a spoken interview is what we should believe to be this caveat.

      You’d probably also have me believe that a carefully worded letter of denial in the Guardian by Mel Gibson is all it would take to demonstrate that he isn’t a raving anti-Semite.

      Guys, not even the most breathless wet-panty fan of Gibson believes that. :D

      Why don’t you people have the moral courage to say “he’s a bigot but we like his work”, just as they do with his father Kingsley Amis? And be done with it.

    88. Ravi Naik — on 16th July, 2008 at 4:11 pm  

      Why don’t you people have the moral courage to say “he’s a bigot but we like his work”, just as they do with his father Kingsley Amis? And be done with it.

      Amis may well be a bigot. But calling him a bigot based on that paragraph doesn’t require moral courage: but a good dose of histrionics.

      And don’t be prejudiced: one can believe that he is not a bigot, and *not* like his work or agree with his views.

      And don’t use Mel Gibson as a strawman. You can either make a case out of Amis, or you can’t. And you didn’t.

    89. Ravi Naik — on 16th July, 2008 at 4:15 pm  

      Many supporters of the BNP- who are a small minority too- already feel they are being treated like that, Ravi.

      I was being sarcastic, Roger. I used (#77) the same language as Amis, and I wanted to see whether Sid accused me of bigotry or racism. In his case, it only works if one puts Muslim in it, anything else is a fair game.

    90. Sid — on 16th July, 2008 at 4:40 pm  

      Amis may well be a bigot. But calling him a bigot based on that paragraph doesn’t require moral courage: but a good dose of histrionics.

      It’s perfectly possible to call someone a bigot based on the use of a single word or even an intonation, let alone a whole passage which a man has the “urge” to strip search people who look like Arabs and Pakistanis. I personally enjoy the work of many bigots. Mel Gibson, Kingley Amis, Rudyard Kipling to name a few.

      Their art supercedes the namby pamby nature of the credulous (usually multiculturalists) who think that bigotry may be the death-knell to a reputation or artistic credibility. I think it helps to understand a man’s art but one has to be honest that it exists. I’ll leave it to fools to try and convince us that Martin Amis isn’t. His problem is that he’s also a worthless writer.

      And don’t use Mel Gibson as a strawman. You can either make a case out of Amis, or you can’t. And you didn’t.

      Your continued imprecise use and misunderstanding of English continues to amuse no end Ravi, old bean.

    91. Sid — on 16th July, 2008 at 4:40 pm  

      I was being sarcastic, Roger. I used (#77) the same language as Amis, and I wanted to see whether Sid accused me of bigotry or racism. In his case, it only works if one puts Muslim in it, anything else is a fair game.

      Your own histrionics in the last few days has been a joy to behold. And now you’ve even managed to inject a fat, sticky stream of your own bullshit into this thread. How do you do it?

    92. Avi Cohen — on 16th July, 2008 at 4:57 pm  

      “Come on Avi, you really want a quote where Rushdie says he supports peoples right to speak freely against views/works? He is an intellectual not some mad mullah. May as well demand a quote that Rushdie believes the earth is round.”

      Look most artists and writers when discussing freedom of expression and speech want the right for their industry. I don’t have a problem with that but many of them become uneasy at the right of society and the public to speak out against somethign they dislike.

      All I am saying is that I’d like to see more of them backing the public’s right to criticise them.

      The thing is you are assuming but in all the quotes from Rushdie and many other writers and artists all I’ve ever heard is the writer/artists right to freedom of expression but rarely ever their support for the public to have the same right within the bounds of the law to refute or criticise their work.

      Case in point here old Salman is quick to defend Amis’s right to peddle his views no matter how dodgy they are but not to push the right of society to refute Amis’s views.

      You see people in the Luvvie industry of Art always want their priviledges but rarely say the public can also have the same priviledges to refute some of the more unsavoury stuff they do.

      Salman could have said that he defended Amis’s right to say what he said but equally he supported the rights of Muslims or others in society to counter or refute what Amis said. That would have been a complete statement but he limited what he said.

      I remember reading an article with views of freedom of speech from Egypt and people there were saying how free speech only applies when it comes to bashing Muslims but for example freedom of speech isn’t paletable to the west when it comes to muslim opinion on the west.

      Thus you see it appears to many people that freedom of speech is normally limited to bashing of the current bogeyman of the west and not total.

    93. soru — on 16th July, 2008 at 5:19 pm  

      argument #1: he didn’t deny it, so it must be true.

      argument #2: you can’t make me read his denial, so it must be true.

      argument #3: he denied it, someone else in history/politics commonly held to be a bad person also denied something, so it must be true.

      argument #4: if you change it to be something trivial, it must be true.

      I’m predicting #5 will be: look how long this thread is, look how many people disagree with me. That means it must be true.

    94. Roger — on 16th July, 2008 at 9:13 pm  

      ” I used (#77) the same language as Amis, and I wanted to see whether Sid accused me of bigotry or racism. In his case, it only works if one puts Muslim in it, anything else is a fair game.”
      I’deduced you were sarcastic, Ravi, but I think my point is worth thinking about: supporters of the BNP have got good reason to think they are persecuted. It’s a self-reinforcing belief.

      “You’d probably also have me believe that a carefully worded letter of denial in the Guardian by Mel Gibson is all it would take to demonstrate that he isn’t a raving anti-Semite.”
      No, Sid, but I’d need more than his behaviour when he was drunk to persuade me that Gibson is a raving antisemite. He set out to be offensive to someone and he used the weapons he had on hand. He does not necessarily believe the nonsense he spouted. Even if because of his upbringing he uses such language to attack jews or supposed jews when he is drunk and annoyed with them that does not mean he is an antisemite; it means that he is not always able to overcome that upbringing.
      I think an important distinction in our attitudes to- indeed, our definitions of- bigotry is that you seem to think that people’s urges- their primal unmediated responses- are their “real” selves whereas I think it is the controlled learned adult responses that matter. A bigot- I think- is someone who is controlled by their urges, not someone who recognises that their urges are often wrong or wicked.

    95. Ravi Naik — on 16th July, 2008 at 10:54 pm  

      I think it helps to understand a man’s art but one has to be honest that it exists. I’ll leave it to fools to try and convince us that Martin Amis isn’t.

      Yes, it can only be dishonesty that keeps us from disagreeing with your histrionic assessment that Amis is a bigot, after all, with Mel Gibson, Jewish concentration camps, and Amis’ literary skills brought in to the equation, how can anyone refute that he is a bigot - if not by dishonesty and moral cowardice? :)

      I would never say that it is “dishonesty” or “lack of moral courage” that keeps you from agreeing with me, because that would be condescending, arrogant and a tad fundamentalist.

      But I would say that it is rather ignorant of your part to dismiss that we are irrational beings with instincts and urges. If you are in a public place, and you see an attractive girl in a hot summer day, your mating instinct might kick in, and you start having… er… urges. Do you hysterically shout: “OMG! I have cheated on my wife!!!!”? If one goes by what you say, yes, you would most likely do that. But most reasonable people would acknowledge that such urges are part of nature. You would be cheating on your wife, if you acted on your urges, and thus it becomes a rational activity: you went up and chatted her, you arranged a hotel and you had sex with her. Understand the difference, Sid - between an urge and acting on it?

      So Amis would be a racist and a bigot if he followed his urges by actively voting BNP, speaking on their behalf, lobbying to get any of those measures he described, writing racist garbage from a rational point of view (immigration, crime…). You have not proven any of this. Instead, you take into account a paragraph where he tells you an urge he had as a result of an a attack.

      Your own histrionics in the last few days has been a joy to behold. And now you’ve even managed to inject a fat, sticky stream of your own bullshit into this thread. How do you do it?

      I am glad you ask. It’s called “intellectual curiosity”. That’s what propels most people to read as much as they can about a subject from different sources and point of views. I do this by “googling” the web, so that any of my assertions are not easily dismissed by my opponent by providing me articles on the web that demonstrate my ignorance. Googling is really easy. You just type keywords such as “vatican apology jews“, or “amis reject urges” and you get lots of articles that tell you what you need to know so that you don’t make an arse of yourself.

      But finding stuff on the Internet is hard for some and it takes too much time for the incurious and lazy. So why bother with all of that, when you can just make things up, or accuse people of vileness based on a single paragraph? But the best part is this:

      On top of not wanting to investigate the truth about someone beyond a single paragraph, you claim you don’t see anything else: OMG! explicitily *and* implicitly! To admit that you are a stubborn blind man, well Sid, you must have one set of big cohones.

    96. Sid — on 16th July, 2008 at 11:25 pm  

      Roger, your comment of #92 has thrown me into an existential conflict. I don’t agree with a word you’ve said but I like the way you’ve said it.

    97. Sid — on 16th July, 2008 at 11:43 pm  

      Ravi,

      I’m going to avoid your weird nonsense in #95, not least because of the lack of any substantial new ideas in it, but also because your continual use of ad-hominem towards me when you find yourself in a cul-de-sac of your own making. Try and not get personal in this debate, it’s an ugly trait and there’s no excuse for it.

    98. Ravi Naik — on 16th July, 2008 at 11:56 pm  

      Try and not get personal in this debate, it’s an ugly trait and there’s no excuse for it.

      Too late. I didn’t get more personal than you, specially when you state: “Your own histrionics in the last few days has been a joy to behold. And now you’ve even managed to inject a fat, sticky stream of your own bullshit into this thread. How do you do it?”

      You got a nice long response, which is much more than I got. So stop whining.

    99. Sid — on 17th July, 2008 at 12:02 am  

      You got a nice long response, which is much more than
      I got. So stop whining.

      The whining isn’t me. It’s that faint soundtrack of tragic violins that plays in the background whenever you write a post.

    100. Sid — on 17th July, 2008 at 12:14 am  

      In all of this I have more respect for Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan who have defended Amis’ *right* to use this kind of BigotSpeak, or “knockabout language” as Rushdie called it, to get his point across than for those who use “faith-based” arguments that will have us *infer* a caveat that doesn’t exist.

      I’d rather accept Rushdie’s intellectually rigorous explanation that Amis is using this kind of language and has a right to use it than be smothered by weird and woolly contextualisations and the mangling of the meaning of the word “urge”.

      There is a reason why there is no caveat in Amis’ comments. It is because he never meant there to be one. You either accept he has total right to make that statement and then you can be true to yourself and say, with equal right, “he has a point” or “he’s a silly bigot”. And that’s the end of it.

      But spare us the faith-based nonsense and don’t insult our intelligence by suggesting he rejects what he says. He does not refute it “implicitly”.

      Amis has a right to think and say what he wants and I have a right to call him a bigot if he says bigotted things. Everything else is self-censorship.

    101. Amrit — on 17th July, 2008 at 12:28 am  

      ‘If you are in a public place, and you see an attractive girl in a hot summer day, your mating instinct might kick in, and you start having… er… urges. Do you hysterically shout: “OMG! I have cheated on my wife!!!!”?’

      *dies laughing*

      I got a mental image of somebody doing that. I know that wasn’t meant to be funny, Ravi, but thank you nonetheless. I needed a laugh after reading through this thread. And I just have to reiterate what a few people have already said, in my own ‘colourful’ way: Martin Amis: some pretty-much past-it writer making a dumb comment. WHO CARES?!

      Not meaning to be rude, but it must have been a slow news day for something this trivial to make it on to PP and generate this much furore.

    102. Ravi Naik — on 17th July, 2008 at 12:32 am  

      The whining isn’t me. It’s that faint soundtrack of tragic violins that plays in the background whenever you write a post.

      Is this the ugly trait you were warning me about (#97)? :) You do tend to get personal and insult people rather than focus on the subject at hand. I am fine with that. But why whine when people reply back at you at the same level? You set the tone: if you don’t want attacks directed at you: stop doing them yourself. Don’t expect people to keep silent at your insults.

      don’t insult our intelligence by suggesting he rejects what he says. He does not refutes it “implicitly”.

      Heh. :) I just refuted what you said “implicitly”. ;)

      I got a mental image of somebody doing that. I know that wasn’t meant to be funny, Ravi, but thank you nonetheless.

      It was meant to be sarcastic, funny and to make a point, amrit. I am glad I got one out of three, then. But this is not about Amis, but how the Left uses the racist/bigot card at all opportunities to enforce self-censorship. And I hate that, because it cheapens out ‘bigotry’ and ‘racism’, which are very serious accusations.

    103. soru — on 17th July, 2008 at 12:35 am  

      Well yes, you have a perfect inalienable right to say ’2 + 2 = 5′, if you choose.

      You have a perfect inalienable right to, if someone says ‘no, 2 + 2 = 4′, quote them as saying ’2 = 4′

      You have a perfect inalienable right to then attack them, if they object, for quibbling about missing a caveat.

      You have a perfect inalienable right to then compare them to a rogue’s gallery of villains.

      You have a perfectly inalienable right to use the word ‘bigot’ when you mean wrong, ‘contextualisation’ when you mean reading complete paragraphs, ‘faith-based’ when you mean looking up facts, ‘up’ when you mean down.

      The only interesting question is why you are doing this, who you think it it likely to persuade?

      Do you simply not know how to communicate in any more effective way?

    104. Sid — on 17th July, 2008 at 12:42 am  

      The only interesting question is why you are doing this, who you think it it likely to persuade?

      Certainly not the Monkees

    105. Sid — on 17th July, 2008 at 12:52 am  

      Or those who believe in the existence of the inferred caveat.

    106. Sid — on 17th July, 2008 at 1:01 am  

      Or other faith-based contextualisations.

    107. soru — on 17th July, 2008 at 1:20 am  

      And those who don’t

    108. Sunny — on 17th July, 2008 at 3:35 am  

      You know too many videos on YouTube sid. Heh.

      And I hereby declare that “harassing the Muslim community in Britain” would be neither moral nor efficacious.

      Hold on, does that mean he admits to saying that? Because it would be bizarre to say something isn’t moral when you haven’t advocated it… right soru?

    109. Ravi Naik — on 17th July, 2008 at 4:00 am  

      Hold on, does that mean he admits to saying that? Because it would be bizarre to say something isn’t moral when you haven’t advocated it… right soru?

      You forget that a group of people advocated that he was a racist and a bigot. Which prompted that reply.

    110. Sunny — on 17th July, 2008 at 4:08 am  

      You forget that a group of people advocated that he was a racist and a bigot. Which prompted that reply.

      People can advocate what they want of course. If Martin Amis hadn’t had the “urge” then he should have just said this statement doesn’t even belong to me, dunno what the kerfuffle is about.

    111. Roger — on 17th July, 2008 at 8:14 am  

      One aspect here, Sunny, I think, is that Amis is a novelist and where most of us repress these urges- sometimes so well that we do not even recognise we have them- novelists “experiment” with urges: imagine what would happen if we put them into practise.
      The paragraph itself:
      ““What can we do to raise the price of them doing this? There’s a definite urge – don’t you have it? – to say, ‘The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order.’ What sort of suff­­er­­­ing? Not letting them travel. Deportation – further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they’re from the Middle East or from Pakistan… Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children. They hate us for letting our children have sex and take drugs – well, they’ve got to stop their children killing people. It’s a huge dereliction on their part. I suppose they justify it on the grounds that they have suffered from state terrorism in the past, but I don’t think that’s wholly irrational. It’s their own past they’re pissed off about; their great decline. It’s also masculinity, isn’t it?”
      is a series of hypotheses about why some muslims are terrorists and how to respond. There’s a lot that isn’t true there and more I disagree with and object to about it, but on the question of whether Amis is a bigot- actually means all he says and supports putting those policies into practise- then recognising and voicing common attitudes is not the same as condoning them.

    112. DavidMWW — on 17th July, 2008 at 9:32 am  

      Surely the most important question is, “What would Jesus think of Martin Amis?” Let us open our Bibles at Matthew Chapter 5 verse 28:

      But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

      Yep. Bigot. :)

    113. soru — on 17th July, 2008 at 11:13 am  

      Because it would be bizarre to say something isn’t moral when you haven’t advocated it… right soru?

      You would have a point if he was saying it was effective but immoral, or moral but counterproductive. Lots of people think of many things, from taxes to capitalism to terrorism, as being one or the other, not both or neither. So you might have some Stalinist acknowledging labour camps were evil, but still supporting them because they believed they werea necessary evil, the most effective way of building a better society.

      But on what bizarro-planet does calling something _both_ immoral and ineffective count as ‘advocating’ it?

      Look, everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Time to stand up and admit you have made one, been first taken in by a routine bit of media scaremongering, then got caught up in it, played your own small part in it.

    114. Sid — on 17th July, 2008 at 11:26 am  

      Look, everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Time to stand up and admit you have made one, been first taken in by a routine bit of media scaremongering, then got caught up in it, played your own small part in it.

      Yeah, that’s excatly what Martin Amis should be “urged” to do rather than Sunny.

    115. Parvinder Singh — on 17th July, 2008 at 12:03 pm  

      #102: Ravi ‘But this is not about Amis, but how the Left uses the racist/bigot card at all opportunities to enforce self-censorship. And I hate that, because it cheapens out ‘bigotry’ and ‘racism’, which are very serious accusations. ‘
      - Well put.

      Amis’ shot himself in the foot with this particular ‘urge’ comment no one is doubting that here. The point we have to ask is does it constitute racism?
      Amis was honest though, to reveal his frustrations and illogical at that, on the back of a failed Islamist plot to blow up 10 trans-Atlantic planes. Which again is no excuse.
      He was not advocating it and neither did he have a racist belief or ideology backing up his urge. And after being found out, did repudiate such suggestion that he advocates such draconian and racist policies. He has done himself no favours though by his feeble defence of himself or to explain his comments bar a short letter to a newspaper. Hence the reaction to him. Rushdie I think recognised this and therefore was compelled to defence him. The guys frustrated and is in need of a good women period.

      Don’t tell me none of us sometimes, either verbally or internally, air some frustration in a given situation which, taken out of context, could be construed as misogynist or racist? Ask yourselves guys. Let’s take the example of an Asian women who is being outpriced as a airport caterer by new arrived Eastern European workers who are prepared to work for less. She gets frustrated and comes up with illogical comments implying all Poles are replacing Asian women en-mass and should suffer, ie. they should not be given work permits and their country should be invaded again. But later, as she calms down she sees sense and realises her comments were irrational. Is it racism, a belief or ideology that all members of each racial group possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race or just plain insecurity?

    116. Amrit — on 17th July, 2008 at 12:32 pm  

      ‘It was meant to be sarcastic, funny and to make a point, amrit’

      Well, I’m glad I did interpret correctly for once :) .

      ‘But this is not about Amis, but how the Left uses the racist/bigot card at all opportunities to enforce self-censorship. And I hate that, because it cheapens out ‘bigotry’ and ‘racism’, which are very serious accusations.’

      Hmmm… I agree with you, but who is really calling for self-censorship? Sunny said he was an idiot and bigot to say it, but not much else.

      Your worry is legitimate, but I still think all this aggression is highly misplaced. He seems to be stupid, but calling him a bigot is equally stupid. All it does is give him and his ilk more publicity that they don’t really deserve. I am also thinking of how parties like the BNP gain more popularity and credibility by getting slagged off by lefties - because it only makes them seem even more ‘in touch’ with the desires of ‘common folk’ than ever (class needs to be taken into account as well as race here…).

      I wouldn’t want that to be the case with Amis, especially seeing as how he doesn’t seem to be much of a writer!

    Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

    Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2010. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
    With the help of PHP and Wordpress.