Salmon Rushdie saves Liberalism
freedom of expression is good again
At an event in Chautauqua, New York, Author and internationally recognized symbol of “free expression” Salman Rushdie was stabbed in the neck on stage. The man who attacked him was arrested and is currently in jail having been denied bail. While the suspect has not confessed publicly, prosecutors theorize a connection to the fatwah issued by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini 1989. Currently it is believed that Rushdie will recover from his attack.
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Now the story,
Fatwahs are for life
When the Fatwah (which is like a bounty on people who insult the Prophet Muhammed1) was issued, your author was not yet born. This is to say, while familiar with name, Rushdie’s publication of “The Satanic Verses” which garnered him infamy in much of the Islamic world is very much before my time. Incidentally, this means it was well before the time of his alleged attacker. So despite being born almost 10 years after the original fatwah and attacking Rushdie 30 years after the death of the issuing Ayatollah, the attacker had a justified outlet for his bloodlust.
Not only does he get the chance to kill, he’ll be praised for it in parts of the Islamic world.
Free speech is cool again?
A key tenant of Liberalism is enshrined in an often referenced “right to free speech.” Most around the world would point to the American Constitution’s First Amendment as the broadest protection for this right. In the aftermath of the attack on Rushdie, politicians from Liberal Western Democracies have denounced the attack. Let’s start with Biden who said:
“with his refusal to be intimidated or silenced—stands for essential, universal ideals. Truth. Courage. Resilience. The ability to share ideas without fear. These are the building blocks of any free and open society. And today, we reaffirm our commitment to those deeply American values in solidarity with Rushdie and all those who stand for freedom of expression. ?”
Justin Trudeau tweeted: “No one should be threatened or harmed on the basis of what they have written.”
A sentiment echoed by New York Governor Kathy Hochul stating “We will always hold up the values that Salman Rushdie and @chq have long stood for – freedom of expression, education, and tolerance.””
If you’ve been tuning in to the culture wars currently raging in Liberal Western Democracies you would know that the idea of “free speech” has been challenged by left-wing doctrine and governments across “The West.” Big tech, Big Media, and Big Government have all been loudly questioning a commitment to the idea that individuals should be able to express themselves freely.
So why the sudden change of heart?
Expression vs Speech
Hypocrisy is a feature of an unbridled quest for political power, from this we understand that politicians will say what they must in order to maintain control. Written and verbal statements should never be taken at face value, especially when recent memory demonstrates the contrary.
Justin Trudeau weaponized the banking industry to silence his political opponents during the trucker protests.
Boris Johnson’s United Kingdom has become notorious for jailing people for “offensive” social media posts.
Emmanuel Macron is working to regulate social media across Europe to similar ends.
Kathy Hochul believes falsely that “hate speech” isn’t protected by the First Amendment.
The cause of free speech is regarded as a “right wing” talking point - so why are Democrats and others paying homage to freedom of expression?2
Sheep and their shepherds
In part because much of their voting block still believes that Liberalism can return to what it was in the past. Despite the polarizing effect that social media and modern politics create, many Americans still believe their “elected representatives” are champions of a Liberal Democratic Order that values the freedom of expression. So while in two months they will be calling for the censorship of their political opponents, today3 we see politicians condemning this attack on "freedom of expression"
The attack itself is indicative of the mindset of this useful voting block. It’s a well-known fact that many conservative and right wing firebrands invest heavily in private security. None of that entered the minds of the organizers or apparently Rushdie’s team. This sort of ignorance to rising political violence belies the malfeasance of their sensemaking networks.4
The current crop of elites need to maintain their narrative control over enough of the population (left and right) to perpetuate the belief in what we refer to here as The Cult of American Democracy.
By the day we grow closer to the Liberal Democratic Form of government being more fantasy than reality, if you want to understand how that will happen, make sure you’re subscribed.
the romantic version of speech
“the news” and so on