The Spectator

The only reason to knight Rushdie

The only reason to knight Rushdie
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I can’t really comment on Salman Rushdie as a literary figure, since I tried and failed three times to get beyond the opening 50 pages of Midnight’s Children.  I can comment on him as a public figure, however, having followed his career attentively since the fatwa of 1989. 

I supported Mrs Thatcher’s response of cutting off diplomatic relations with Iran and giving Rushdie unlimited protection:  I even wrote to my MP saying the government was pusillanimous in failing to prosecute those demonstrators who called for his execution. Yet I never could stand the man, and found his gracelessness and ingratitude overwhelming at the time and since.

It’s patently absurd that he should be given a knighthood for his largely indifferent literary achievements, though I wouldn’t have minded if he’d been given one for having been persecuted. I suspect Blair might have had a sofa moment after a difficult meeting with so-called representatives of the Muslim community and decided to put two fingers up to the Islamists, and didn’t think of the consequences. 

Personally, I can’t decide who was more hypocritical: Blair for dispensing a knighthood allegedly for literary services when it was for everything but or Rushdie, the übercritic of Britain, in accepting it. Either way, I think it’s a bit thick that it’s the effigy of our innocent Queen that is being burned.