Great Johann Hari interview with Salman Rushdie in the Indie. I'll change the link when it goes onto Hari's site, or I might even post the whole thing.
Life's little ironies. Rushdie was the Zadie Smith of his day, Mr Metropolitan multicultural cool. Seems to have a few doubts now.
He became the poet laureate of mongrelisation, a writer who rejoiced that "everywhere was now part of everywhere else. Russia, America, London, Kashmir. Our lives, our stories, flowed into one another's, were no longer our own, individual, discrete." In 1985, he wrote - with soaring hope - that "the effect of mass migrations has been the creation of radically new types of human being: people who root themselves in ideas rather than places... people who have been obliged to define themselves - because they are so defined by others - by their otherness." But the gloriously disembodied, pan-national ideology that emerged from this swirl turned out to be his nemesis: Islamism ... the mass uprooting he celebrated helped to create the Islamist pining for a fictitious lost purity that is trying to kill him, a desperate quest to recreate the Mecca of Mohammed in the world's cold concrete jungles: "I have spent a lot of my life looking positively at the consequences of migration. Now I'm being forced to see that there's a nightmare as well as a dream."
"The world has become this mixed up place, the age of mass migration has taken place and we live in its aftermath - now what ?"
When it came to slagging off his adopted home, few could better him. And the chattering classes loved him for it.
At the time of the fatwa, Rushdie was widely known as a fierce and fearsome critic of US foreign policy, a man who condemned Israel's "monstrous" occupation of Palestinian lands, a man who damned Margaret Thatcher as " Mrs Torture" and warned that "British society has never been cleansed of the filth of imperialism".
Turns out the evil West wasn't so bad after all.
"When people ask me how the West should adapt to Muslim sensitivities, I always say - the question is the wrong way round. The West should go on being itself. There is nothing wrong with the things that for hundreds of years have been acceptable - satire, irreverence, ridicule, even quite rude commentary - why the hell not? "But you see it every day, this surrender"
Not so bad ? He loves it, in fact. He didn't really mean it. In fact he seems a bit worried that all those educated Brits seem to have taken him seriously.
He runs through a list of the theatres and galleries that have censored themselves in the face of religious fundamentalist protests. He mentions that the entire British media - from the BBC down - placed itself in purdah during the Mohammed cartoons episode. "What I fear most is that, when we look back in 25 years' time at this moment, what we will have seen is the surrender of the West, without a shot being fired. They'll say that in the name of tolerance and acceptance, we tied our own hands and slit our own throats. One of the things that have made me live my entire life in these countries is because I love the way people live here."
It was that same surrender, that disdain of the British elite for British culture, that made Rushdie a literary lion when 'Midnight's Children' was in the bestseller list. Just as with immigration, there's a nightmare as well as a dream.
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