In my previous post about Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam I quoted Salman Rushdie's surprise that Jon Stewart had given a starring role at his "Rally for Sanity" to a crooner who had previously opined that Rushdie deserved to die for deciding of his own free will to abandon Islam and criticise its texts.
Salman has messaged me again and says,
I spoke to Jon Stewart about Yusuf Islam's appearance. He said he was sorry it upset me, but really, it was plain that he was fine with it. Depressing.
"Pathetic" is the word I would use. If members of the Tea Party said that American intellectuals who renounced Christiainity deserved to die for their apostasy would Stewart be fine with that too? Of course he wouldn't. His eyes would roll, his voice would thunder and that charming schoolboy smile would vanish from his face. He would never forget, until they repudiated.
With intellectuals from the Muslim world, it is a different matter entirely. Stewart does not seem to mind that Cat Yusuf Stevens Islam has never apologized for his support for Salman's murder, which I documented in the post below. Stewart, and from what I can gather many others on the American Left, are now aping a liberal form of racism we have had in Europe for years. Its unprincipled adherents hold fanatics to be guilty of nothing more than forgivable rhetorical excess when they deliver excuses for murder. They are free to justify threats to novelists or the oppression of women, gays, free-thinkers etc. if — and only if — the novelists, apostates, women, gays, free thinkers etc. have brown rather than white skins.
But then what beyond rank hypocrisy did American liberals expect? They allowed their political movement to be led by comedians, and cannot complain if they get a blackly comic illustration of the "racism of the anti-racists" in return.
Nick Cohen is a columnist for the Observer and author of You Can't Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom (Fourth Estate).
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