Knighting of Salman Rushdie and the War of Jenkins' Ear
08 Jul, 2007
- But this guy—without a decent set of chain mail and weighted down by three ex-wives—just doesn’t look like a Knight; not like Galahad, not like Lancelot, maybe like Aardvark, but not any of the great Knights of yore. He doesn’t play the harp and he hasn’t rescued any damsels in distress. In fact, half the time he seems to be the one in need of being rescued. So why in the world would the Queen knight someone so obviously unfitted for the shield and the sword as Salman Rushdie? What were his credentials? What had he done besides write a few books? He hadn’t sunk an Armada; he hadn’t urinated in the Rhine like Sir Winston Churchill did in 1944. He wasn’t a Marlborough or a Wellington. Sir William Pitt saved the Colonies for the Crown and even if Sir Henry Clinton and Sir William Howe lost them at least they were fighting men. Sir Salman wouldn’t know a Yellow Submarine from the HMS Victory. He might have made an adequate batman for Sir Bernard Montgomery—but a Knight? Salman Rushdie a Knight…like Sir Lancelot…like Sir Winston Churchill…like Sir Francis Drake…ridiculous! He hadn’t slain a dragon, reduced a single castle to rubble or sailed the Spanish Main! He hadn’t sung Hey Jude before millions of adoring Americans for billions of pounds, and what’s more—he wasn’t even an Englishman!
And the Queen said, “I dub thee, Sir Jenkins…er, Sir Salman Rushdie.”
It was a triumph for cultural diversity, that’s what it was. It was a victory for the little guy. Salman is a man of peace, a man of words, a man of culture, a man of wisdom, a writer. The little people of the world would rejoice. “Arise, Sir Jenkins…er, Sir Salman.”
Of course, there was that Satanic Verses thing and that old fatwa issued by the late Ayatollah Khomeini. “I inform the proud Muslim people of the world,” announced the Ayatollah, “that the author of the Satanic Verses book which is against Islam, the Prophet and the Qur’an, and all those involved in its publication who are unaware of its content are sentenced to death.” So Rushdie went into hiding and thanks to the Ayatollah and his fatwa Satanic Verses became a best seller. It’s now in its 14th printing. Another fatwa and the Verses will pass the Qur’an on the bestseller list.
It hasn’t been made into a movie yet because Theo van Gogh is dead, but it’s a book than can be read to good advantage while passing a few idle hours. Paris Hilton might have enjoyed it. If Mohammed Atta had read Satanic Verses instead of the Qur’an he wouldn’t have crashed that plane into the World Trade Center.
Billions of people disagreed with the Queen’s decision. From Ibrahim Hooper’s mosque to goatherds in Zanzibar, the Muslim world was infuriated. The last time they were this outraged was when someone flushed a Qur’an down a toilet in Guantanamo Bay. Before that it was the Jyllands-Poston Mohammed cartoons; before that it was something the Pope said; before that it was the Danish version of Garfield in a turban and false beard pretending to be Mohammed; before that it was something the Israelis said; before that it was something the Israelis did; before that it was something the Israelis said and did; before that…(continued on page 2,701)
Muslims are the most easily outraged people in the world. It took a Nuremberg rally to stir up the Nazis and a bonfire and fresh white sheets to addle-pate the Klan. It took the election of George W. Bush to outrage Howard Dean and Al Gore but their fatwas carry little weight in the literary and scientific world.
Some Muslims were so outraged they said silly things. “What would you say,” asked Labor peer Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, “if the Saudi or Afghan governments honored the martyrs of the September 11 attacks on the United States?” This is an interesting statement. Ahmed honored the attackers by referring to them as martyrs. Did he clear this with Jimmy Carter? The Saudis and Afghans were sponsoring terrorism long before Lord Ahmed crawled out of his Mad-Rats-Asses school with an advanced case of dhimma-phobia and they haven’t noticeably curtailed their activities. But he asked a question. What would be America’s response? Pat Robertson would scowl, Bill O’Reilly would grind his teeth and the State Department would send an assistant secretary to Prince Bubba-dullah to find out what we had done to offend him and no matter what position the President took, the loyal opposition, the Democratic Party would say it was too harsh or too timid.
So, all across Islam, it’s death to Salman Rushdie. Fewer people wished Hitler dead; fewer prayed for Yasser Arafat. And the Queen came in for her share of the abuse. There were calls for the “Queen to got to Hell” and for “God to Curse the Queen!”
What would Sir Galahad have done? Would he have taken up his sword to defend the Queen’s honor if not Sir Salman’s? What would Sir Lancelot have done? That can be imagined. He would have called a meeting of the Knights of the Round Table. They would have looked Sir Salman up and down and discussed his pedigree. Why this man? Even Sir Aardvark would have been confused. First Marlborough, then Wellington, then Churchill, then Montgomery, then Paul McCartney and now Sir Salman! The club wasn’t as exclusive as it was in the days of King Arthur. The Queen was asking too much.
Then, surely, it would have occurred to one of them. The War of Jenkins’ Ear! It was the War of Jenkins’ Ear! It was the Queen Beth’s War of Jenkins’ Ear! Long live the Queen and Jenkins’… er, Salman’s ear!
And about time!
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Denis Schulz was prospective convert to Islam (read his testimony: How I Almost Became a Muslim?) before changing his mind after the 9/11. He actively writes on the threats of Islam and terrorism.
Date: Wednesday July 11, 2007
Time: 22:05:11 -0700