It’s not Political.

Salman Rushdie was quoted by the New York Times in 2002 as stating:

“As their ancient, deeply civilized culture of love, art, and philosophical reflection is hijacked by paranoiacs, racists, liars, male supremacists, tyrants, fanatics, and violence junkies, why are they not screaming?”

This could be a desperate plea to the deviant Muslims who have strung up innocent civilians and have danced with glee beneath their charred bodies.

This could also be a pointed, rhetorical query aimed at the bloated, isolationist Americans who sit idly and believe that their government’s presence in the Middle East and Afghanistan is a benefit to the people there and to the rest of the world’s safety.

But who am I to say? And what do I really know?

What do *we* really know?

10 Responses to “It’s not Political.”

  1. rachel_eurydice Says:
    April 2nd, 2004 at 10:42 am

    Hmmm…what context was the quote in?

  2. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 2nd, 2004 at 8:43 pm

    You can read where I plagiarized from here. I wish I knew the *original* context, but I think it applies to numerous situations at this time, as well.

  3. rachel_eurydice Says:
    April 4th, 2004 at 4:16 pm

    Cool, thanks.
    I asked because I'm a fan of Rushdie's writings, and love a lot of his commentary on fundamentalist Islam.
    I really do wish I knew more about the original context too. Interesting though and, as you say, it does apply to a lot going on now.

  4. kratkrat Says:
    April 2nd, 2004 at 3:23 pm

    ancient, deeply civilized culture of love, art, and philosophical reflection
    Well, that pretty much rules out any chance that he is talking about America!
    That said, I agree with your post otherwise.

  5. nickys Says:
    April 2nd, 2004 at 5:53 pm

    Well, the culture being hijacked by extremists applies to both.
    I really don't understand why the citizens of an alleged democracy aren't protesting against a "President" appointed by the judiciary against the wishes of the electorate.
    But yes you can't reasonably describe the US as an "ancient, deeply civilized culture of love, art, and philosophical reflection".
    Oddly enough I was reading some interviews with US women done on the first anniversary of 9/11 about how it changed things.
    Most of them were more or less what you'd expect, but one of them said "Now, I'm not saying they were right, but I am saying that people don't just get on an airplane and fly it into a building if they don't have some real serious provocation beforehand."

  6. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 2nd, 2004 at 8:57 pm

    We *are* protesting, Nicky. Just as you are, and just as people are all over the world.
    What we find is that it doesn't matter, because the people in power don't care, and they have blatantly stated that with no compunctions otherwise.
    We've never been a true populous democracy, from the inception of the country. This is not the first time it's happened in the history of our electoral system, and not the first time the public have had no choice but to go along with it.
    That said, I really don't want to get too deeply into a political discussion here and now. I just wanted to post that interesting quote to see the different ways it can be interpreted.

  7. nickys Says:
    April 3rd, 2004 at 3:44 am

    > We *are* protesting, Nicky
    Fair enough. I guess it's just not being reported over here then.
    The last demos I heard of in the US were the anti-globalisation ones, which are quite a while ago.

  8. ubernacht Says:
    April 3rd, 2004 at 5:39 am

    "Now, I'm not saying they were right, but I am saying that people don't just get on an airplane and fly it into a building if they don't have some real serious provocation beforehand."
    In [trying] to think through things logically, that crossed my mind after 9/11 as well. At the very least I was surprised at the rage and violence leveled upon us to such a scale and wanted to know why.
    I concluded however that thinking of terrorism in this form as being self-justifying is a bit like getting raped and saying "Well, we must have deserved it."
    Terrorism as a political tool is aimed at accomplishing a political end. It is tool used by a militarily weaker group to indirectly attack a militarily stronger group. In the end it is the latter's own population that secure the demands of the terrorist organization. A great illustration of this is the recent Spanish election.
    Terrorism as an expression of fundamental belief is a different animal entirely. There are no negotiating tables. There are no concessions. There is just death.
    Turn the other cheek? I grew up in Europe in the hieght of terror. Not only middle-eastern terrorists, but communists, basques and various other seperatists. I lost 2 friends to communist terror groups. Europe tended to turn the other cheek. Then an airliner blew up over Scottland and America became involved. We found out who funded it, bombed his house and killed his children. The bombing stopped and now the individual is one of the only 'pacifists' in the region; regularly appearing in public wreathed in flowers condemning violence as a tool.
    My 2 euros.

  9. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 3rd, 2004 at 6:03 am

    Well said, in every way.
    I'm not a believer in passive resistance, and I do think there's a time for massive retaliation, as the idea of "turning the other cheek" seems to be better applied to interpersonal relationships, not international ones. If applied to the latter, as with the former, it only gives the impression of going belly-up and giving the green light to further trespasses…now that you know you can get away with it sans reprisals.
    I even understand the provocation behind terrorist attacks and have great sympathy and empathy with causes that elicit that magnitude of response.
    But misrepresentation is the killer of all relationships, and ultimately all people, and nations. Terrorism, which invariably gets associated with a larger, more mainstream institution, be it Muslim, Jewish, American, or Communist, wholly misrepresents the larger entity and only provokes "-isms": racism, nationalism, religionism, and elitism.
    I'm not condoning desperate measures that arise from unimaginable situations unknown to comfortable Westerners, but as well I feel that at some point, the larger, more founded populous must exercise a certain strain of control on fringe fanatics that represent – even from afar – their greater entity.
    In short, as stated by Rushdie, "Why are they not screaming?"

  10. ubernacht Says:
    April 4th, 2004 at 5:47 am

    couldn't agree more. And I will clarify that my comments are targetted to our response in Afghanistan. Find the source and cut it's head off. As I've argued with many idealistic, anti-American Europeans, that was a measured and justified response.
    "Shut down your camps and turn him over to us"
    "Ummm…are you sure?"
    Iraq is a different story entirely, and I have yet to hear any real justification.
    Oil is a justification, contrary to popular opinion. But in my opinion we exploited an opportunity to secure oil rights in a much more elegant manner in the first Gulf War. I see no reason to have deposed Sadam, throw a country into chaos and take responsibility for it's rebuilding.
    Line the pockets of a few elite Americans and let the country pick up the tab. Sickening.

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