Steerpike Steerpike

The New York Times’ strange silence on Rushdie

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The New York Times has never been shy about sharing its opinion – especially when it comes to bashing Britain. In recent years, Mr S has greatly enjoyed reading the London dispatches from America’s least reliable news source, in which Brexit Britain is re-imagined as an autocratic archipelago where plague-riddled, rain-drenched, swamp-dwelling subjects devour legs of mutton and fascistic propaganda.

But now, Steerpike has rare cause to bemoan the ‘Gray Lady’s’ absence. For the NYT, whose staff proudly consider it to be the world’s leading liberal newspaper, has been strangely quiet on an area of intense local concern. The stabbing of Sir Salman Rushdie shocked the world last Friday, with expression of condemnation and solidarity being issued across the world. The Washington Post for instance has published op-eds saying ‘the attack on Salman Rushdie is a warning about where we’re headed’, and that freedom of expression ‘may not recover’. The NYT? A cursory paragraph in a column by Wajahat Ali. which raises no concerns about free speech.

That failure to stand up for the right to publish is shocking enough but especially when one considers that the assault occurred in New York itself. As Josh Glancy of the Sunday Times wrote: ‘You don’t have to like Rushdie or the Satanic Verses to see that this issue of free speech is – or should be –  a core liberal and indeed progressive tenet. Someone trying to stab him out of existence is surely worthy of comment.’

Apparently not. Still, at least they had space for such gems as ‘The Joys of Swimming While Fat’ and ‘I Still Believe in the Power of Sexual Freedom’. Talk about solidarity.

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