Salman Rushdie – the Knight

Last week, the headlines of all newspapers around the world was devoted to the furious storm of protest from the Islamic world in response to Britain’s decision to award a knighthood to Salman Rushdie. I am of course against the whole procedure of making someone a noble and as far as I am concerned, the whole system is a relic from the old days when Europe was as grim, unfriendly and bounded by authority as the Middle-East is still today. But if someone has to be awarded with a knighthood, then it ought to be someone who stands up against authorities and totalitarian and religious extremists, but also has a firm conviction when it comes to certain values such as freedom of speech and democracy.  And continues to fight for this conviction even though being threatened to his life by Islamic fanatics and loonies.  Therefore, congratulations Mr. Rushdie! You truly are a Knight!

Islam is totally out of line today. Sadly to say, the whole religion stands for almost everything that is bad for the world today. The main problem is that it constituates obstacles for democracy (there aren’t a single democratic, Muslim country) and prosperity and for a world that would have less poverty and underdevelopment. Instead, the Muslim movement of today wants to turn back the time of mankin, put the society in a museum, push the button and make everything develop backwards instead of straight forward. This is a worrying development …

But we must though remember that it wasn’t many years ago we had a Europe filled to the top of undemocratic governments and rulers who wanted everything but democracy, freedom for the individual and a positive, healthy development for the world. This is of course no excuse that the radical Muslim movement can use in order to vindicate their vicious attacks on human rights and our democratic society – but we tend to forget that our own democracy is also very fragile and frail. That is above all a reason not to stop defending it against those who want to abolish and hurt its very foundations.

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About tegis

This blog belongs to Carl-Mikael A. Teglund - tegis. Swedish emigrant with a heart for languages, philosophy, history, and politics (classical liberalism in the European tradition). Go ahead and look, read, or listen. I'm sure you will find it interesting.
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One Response to Salman Rushdie – the Knight

  1. Abdelkarim says:

    There are around 2500 (yes 2500!) knighthoods bestowed in the United Kingdom EVERY year. Few if any of them meet your criteria. They are a form of government recognition for (more or less) distinguished service in a particular area of public life (in the most general sense). Sometimes, they sound like a show business top ten, with Sir Sean Connery and Sir Elton John or a sports list or a successful businessman list. They are very political in that while the Queen bestows knighthoods, the only people she can knight are those “recommended to” (i.e., imposed on) her by the Prime Minister. It’s way too late to be looking for a brave Sir Lancelot or pure Sir Galahad among those singled out each year.

    I will not engage in an argument as to whether Rushdie “deserves”, or “merits” a knighthood. Indeed in the past, several major authors have refused to be knighted, including Joseph Conrad, A. E. Housman, Aldous Huxley, Rudyard Kipling and Harold Pinter. Another “refusenik” was Peter Beneson, the founder of Amnesty International.

    Unfortunately, Tony Blair’s office recommended Rushdie to the Queen without taking into account the political ramifications. The result is strained diplomatic relations and perhaps a new period of increased risk for Rushdie’s personal safety.

    The height of idiocy came after the controversy heated up in Pakistan and a spokesman for the U.K. government said that several Muslims had received knighthoods and civil honours in the past and that adding Rushdie’s name to the list was proof that Muslims were still playing an important role in British public life. Considering that Rushdie is viewed by many Muslims as a heretic, blasphemer and apostate such a justification is ridiculous.

    From the standpoint of Rushdie’s personal safety and of practical politics, knighting him is a mistake. This is one instance where an old saying is wise indeed: Let sleeping dogs lie.

    If Rushdie is a man of principle and perspicacity, he will protect himself and do his country a favour by declining the knighthood. The Queen would no doubt be relieved to have one less accolade to bestow in the coming months. By declining, Rushdie can join the distinguish company of the likes of Huxley, Housman, Conrad and Kipling. Now that would be a REAL act of public service worthy of public honour.

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