Why Spencer approves of the knighting of Rushdie
In today’s FrontPage Magazine, Robert Spencer writes about the knighting of Salman Rushdie. Not once does he mention that this knighthood is problematic. Instead, he goes to great lengths describing various Muslim groups’ and countries’ denunciation of Britain.
I’ve read the infamous Satanic Verses. What struck me was the vulgarity. I kept thinking: “How can a grown man write something so crass?”
It seems that Britain is taking great pride in these incoherent immigrant (or children-of-immigrants) writers, who have nothing to say, and say it with unbelievable mediocrity. One new writer, whose mother is Jamaican, is Zadie Smith. Her first novel, White Teeth, won several book awards. Smith is a younger, female version of Rushdie, at least in her writing. And all this from the land of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens, Hardy, and the (past) list goes on.
This dearth of Britain’s real culture is what Spencer should be concerned with, culminating with the knighting of Rushdie. Not the predictable hysteria of Muslims.
While the main point of Spencer’s article is to criticize the Muslim world’s resort to violence and intimidation, at the end of the article he shockingly expresses gratitude to Britain for the inconceivably vulgar and repulsive act of knighting Salman Rushdie:
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In today’s multiculturalist fog, no Western leader dares speak this way. Those who value freedom should simply be grateful that Rushdie was knighted at all, and hope that in the firestorm that is now certain to come, the honor will not be rescinded.What’s going on here? It’s the same old Spencer syndrome that I’ve written about before. Spencer thinks of himself as a conservative, but in reality his instincts, his very being, are liberal. So he embraces Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a secular feminist leftist who has no love for the civilization of the West, and in the same way he approves of Salman Rushdie, a secular leftist who has made a career out of despising his adopted country of Britain.
Why doesn’t Spencer get it? Because, being a liberal, he experiences the West as freedom and equality rather than as an actual society and people. Therefore he cannot see Rushdie is an enemy of that actual society and people and cannot conceive that to knight him is at all inappropriate.
Again, since Spencer is a liberal, the issue for him is not Islam versus the concrete historical civilization of the West, but Islam versus modern Western freedom, including radical individual freedom, freedom not only from Islam but from all traditional restraints and loyalties. Rushdie is probably the world’s number one symbol of this radical freedom, and by knighting him, Britain is honoring that freedom. And Spencer, wearing his liberal heart on his sleave (his liberal heart which he denies he has), not only approves of the knighting, but, going completely over the top, expresses his gratitude for it.
To boil all this down, Spencer is anti-Islam, and he’s pro-freedom, but he’s not pro-West, therefore he is grateful for anything that is anti-Islam and pro-freedom, even if it is also anti-West.
What is my evidence for this harsh judgment? The fact that Spencer uncritically celebrates the knighting of the anti-British, anti-Western Rushdie. A person who loved the historic and actual Britain, and not just Britain’s freedoms, would be instinctively repelled by the knighting of Rushdie.
Jeff in England writes:
I don’t care about knighthoods, but you’ve got to the core of it regarding Spencer’s views. I won’t add to it.
The knighting of Rushdie is a disgrace not just because of his anti-Western values though they are major factor in assessing the man. It is also because of his many weaknesses and flaws as an individual. His vulgarity, his vanity, his selfishness, his general insensitivity and his general lack of spiritual values are just some of the reasons this man should never have been knighted by Tony Blair.
But anyway it’s absurd. When did the PM get the power to make a knight????
Once they gave the PM the power to make a knight, and once they made people a knight for being a pop singer instead of for SERVICE TO THE CROWN, they should have eliminated the institution altogether. Elton John as a knight is an example of a dead country mocking its once living self.
Spencer’s theme really boils down to: Freedom, or more specifically, Freedom of Speech. I think this must be the epitome of liberal thought, where freedom reigns above everything else, even terrible literature.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 20, 2007 11:28 PM | Send