Salman Rushdie’s knighthood has caused some very predictable results in Pakistan and Iran.
I can’t help being suspicious over the timing of this. There have been plenty of opportunities to honour Rushdie since the Ayatollah’s fatwa was placed on him, but it seems the UK wasn’t too keen to antagonise Iran.
Do you have to be a conspiracy theorist to see this as unfortunate timing?
I normally draw a pretty rigid line against the idea that the US is led by people so demented they will blow up the Twin Towers or whatever to justify a war, so I’m normally all for applying Occam’s Razor. (Explanations based on normal RealPolitik usually suffice and are usually grubby enough.)
However, applying Occam’s Razor in this instance, it is quite hard to believe that our leaders are so naive that they thought “Oh Gosh, that nice Salman Rushdie. We haven’t shown him how good we thought Midnight’s Children was” without remembering that he was still subject to a death sentence for blasphemy based on the Satanic Verses.
So the kinighthood thus comes to look like an act designed only to stir up more fanatical suicide bombers and to enrage Iran even more, thus opening the way for the war with Iran that we’ve all been dreading or looking forward to (depending on the number of shares we hold in Haliburton or oil companies.)
Still, I remain impressed that you can apparently now get a honour without handing over a few million in loans to one political party or another.