12 January 2009

Changes at the Observer? Bring 'em on...

I urge you to read Andrew Anthony's piece from yesterday's Observer, How one book ignited a culture war, about Salman Rushdie and The Satanic Verses.

I have been rather surprised by the Observer of late, as I had more or less written it off along with the Guardian, which I used to read regularly when I first arrived in Europe and now simply cannot stomach. But a couple of weeks ago the Observer ran a fair editorial in which it actually expressed understanding of Israel's reaction to Hamas in Gaza ("For all that the international community might wish for Israeli restraint, no government in the world would tolerate an enclave on its border run by an organisation ideologically motivated and heavily armed to kill its citizens"). And now yesterday's piece on Rushdie. I don't know who's moving and shaking over at the O but I for one am pleased to see this sort of thing in a big Sunday paper.

Of particular interest to anyone concerned with free speech and literature, begin reading at
Who would dare to write a book like The Satanic Verses nowadays?
and carry on to
.... open criticism of Islamism, religious censorship and violence is often automatically viewed as an expression of "neocon" or "imperialist" politics... ;
take in the Christopher Hitchens quote

[W]hat people haven't noticed sufficiently is that now people who are not Muslims, like the Danish cartoonists, have been threatened with violence for criticising Islam. That's sort of new, and ought to be more controversial than it is. ...

and conclude with a summary of the state of affairs we have carved for ourselves by allowing a certain kind of mutliculturalism to prevail in our society-- that is, a mutliculturalism that respects and supports all cultures save our own.

I'll be keeping track of this and related topics during 2009.

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