Yesterday’s brutal attack on Salman Rushdie was nothing less than an attack on free speech and thought. And while certain militant members of the woke bridge may applaud the attack, I suspect the violence will encourage many, including a younger generation to read his books.
The police have a suspect in custody; the question needs to be asked, how did this person enter the conference venue with a knife? This is especially relevant given that Rushdie was a speaker and in recent days there have been incidents attributed to Iran, either directly or indirectly.
I am referring to the episode outside the US home of a former Iranian journalist, Masih Alinejad, a vocal critic of Iran's head-covering laws and has promoted videos of women violating the laws to her millions of social media followers. Last year she was the target of what U.S. prosecutors called a Tehran-backed kidnapping plot.
And we have the plot to assassinate the former White House national security adviser John Bolton by Iran. According to media reports, there is a reward of $300,000 for killing Bolton, which he laughed off as being insulting saying “is that all I am worth”.
The alleged knifeman, California-born Hadi Matar, 24, is a New Jersey resident. Even though the motive is not clear, the news report quoted sources as saying that a preliminary review of Matar's social media accounts shows he is sympathetic to Shia extremism and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps causes, but with no definitive links to the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp).
The suspect—wearing all black with a black mask—had jumped onto the stage and attacked Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times.
Rushdie's book The Satanic Verses has been banned in Iran since 1988, as many Muslims consider it to be blasphemous. A year later, Iran's late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie's death.
At the time, Iran offered a reward of $3 million to anyone who killed Rushdie.
Free speech and thought are under attack almost worldwide.
On the one hand, you have the crazies of the woke brigade demanding, sometimes violent the eradication of anything and everything their twisted minds conceive as being out of line with their cracked rationale. On the other extreme, you have right-wing fanatics, sometimes evoking religious nationalism, and ultra-conservative bilge, again with the threat of violence.
Think about this for a moment:
When someone says something we disagree with, should we shut them up? In 1927, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis had an answer: "The remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."
"I would argue that the culture of free speech is under attack in the U.S.," said Jacob Mchangama, the author of "Free Speech," a new book that documents the history of free expression. "And without a robust culture of free speech based on tolerance, the laws and constitutional protection will ultimately erode.
"People both on the left and the right are sort of coming at free speech from different angles with different grievances, that point to a general loss of faith in the First Amendment."
The complete new article can be read here: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-free-speech-is-under-attack-in-the-u-s/
While the above examples are drawn from the US, the situation in the UK is no better.
And as for Israel, the fanatical religious would have us mirroring Iran or Afganstein with their desire to have the country adhere to biblical justice rather than the modern-day judiciary and norms.
Free speech and thought are under attack and those who value these hard-won freedoms must stand up and fight for them. Standing by and doing, saying nothing is not an option.
We can view the attack on Salman Rushdie as a call to action, a call that we, who value and support the democratic process, and the rights of free speech and thought in our respective countries, must answer before it’s too late.
Salman Rushdie’s medical condition is by all accounts extremely serious, we can but hope that his situation improves in the coming days.