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Salman Rushdie: The Hour is Late by Frank Haviland

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Salman Rushdie: The Hour is Late

I have thus far refrained from comment on last week’s attempted murder of Salman Rushdie. Primarily this was out of respect for Sir Salman, who in the immediate aftermath looked like he might not pull through. Heartened as I am to discover that this is not the case, I also wanted to gauge the extent to which weasel words have been offered by the authorities and the mainstream media before adding my tuppence; they did not disappoint. 

As a casual observer, you’d think the facts were unequivocal: Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old “man from New Jersey with sympathies toward the Iranian government” (because ‘Islamic terrorist’ doesn’t quite roll off the globalist tongue these days) rushed onto the stage of the Chautauqua Institution, where Rushdie was about to give a talk, and stabbed the author 15 times. Devoid of the knowledge that Rushdie had left his car in Matar’s favourite parking space, this concatenation of events was most likely influenced by the late Ayatollah Khomeini’s $3M fatwa on Rushdie’s head, which has never been rescinded. 

But it’s a connection which fails to impress the media, who have spent the week scrabbling around for a more palatable motive. “No Motive Established Yet in Salman Rushdie Attack” essayed The Wall Street Journal. The BBC concurred almost verbatim, while everyone from the Times of India to the News of Canada took solace in the same refrain: “Police looking for motive.” 

The gold medal of humbuggery, however, was thoroughly earned by Sky News. Rather than dirtying their hands by even mentioning the attack, Sky News opted for “Why is Salman Rushdie so controversial?” An approach hardly a million miles away from the official Iranian government response itself: 

Regarding the attack against Salman Rushdie in America, we don’t consider anyone deserving reproach, blame, or even condemnation, except for (Rushdie) himself and his supporters.

Yep. Of course, it’s Rushdie’s fault. For heaven’s sake, the man’s very name is a composite of ‘rush’ and ‘die’, which any unsuspecting Muslim could interpret as a decree from Allah. Hadi Matar certainly wouldn’t be the first ‘good boy’ with a ‘good heart’ to start hearing voices. 

The cowardice of the West in the defence of free speech is not unexpected, but the pace at which capitulation has become fashionable is truly frightening. We have come a long way since the days of the original fatwa, when support for Rushdie was more robust. We are a long way even from Rushdie’s knighthood in 2007, which emboldened Baroness Shirley Williams to question its timing because of the ‘offence’ Rushdie had caused Muslims, only to have her bottom spanked by Christopher Hitchens: “I think that’s a contemptible statement and I think everyone who applauded it should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.”

World leaders rarely (if ever) have the balls of a Hitchens, more’s the pity, and have contented themselves with issuing ‘statements of outrage’. They can be relied upon to do so, just as they can be relied upon to do nothing concrete whatsoever—why not? It’s what they got away with last time, and the 100 times before that, so why break a winning system? A few politicians may mumble the odd word about ‘freedom of speech,’ but in Britain where the Old Bill busy themselves nicking people for posting Facebook memes, it’s an empty gesture.

The furthest we seem to get these days, is for the braver pundits (Brendan O’Neill or Douglas Murray perhaps) to argue fervently that we “need to have a conversation about Islam”—but what’s the point, when the ‘legitimate’ parameters of such a discussion are already completely disingenuous?

The only official way to engage in such dialogue is to employ the euphemisms of the enemy, downplaying the genuine issue of Islam with the nonsense term ‘Islamism.’ Or rebranding Pakistani rape gangs as ‘grooming gangs’ because that sounds much better. Of course, there’s also ‘multiculturalism,’ which pretends that Britain chose to accept a complete lack of integration rather than had it foisted upon it, and the joker card ‘Islamophobia,’ which shuts down any remaining dissent. 

The hour is late. If we’re ever going to have a real conversation, we probably ought to get started. Let’s stick to Britain, because that’s where I’m most at home. 

Problem number one: Islam is not integrating in Britain. Many British Muslims live completely parallel lives to the rest of the population—just look at Bradford, a city divided down the middle. From the madrassa to the mosque, the home to the sharia court, there is minimal integration with Britain’s people and British law. In a rare fit of conservatism, former Prime Minister David Cameron complained that 22% of Muslim women could speak little or no English, and threatened them with deportation if they refused to learn—good luck with that, when the Home Office can’t even deport them for murder. 

The beliefs of British Muslims do not align with ours either. Pick your statistic of choice, they range from concerning to terrifying: almost half (47%) deem it unacceptable for a homosexual person to become a teacher, compared with 14% of the general population (incidentally, the teacher in Batley is still in hiding a year on from showing Muslim students a caricature of Mohammed). 25% have sympathy for the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, and over 100,000 Muslims in the UK have sympathy for terrorist acts… so much for multiculturalism. 

Problem two: extremism. Britain has been utterly negligent in its response to terrorism, both home-grown and imported. Way back in 2007, it was known that almost half of British mosques had been taken over by a hard-line sect. Nothing was done, naturally, and there is no reason to believe the situation has improved. 

While MI5 loves to pretend that the far-right is the biggest terror threat in Britain, that is a blatant lie. Of the 43,000 terror suspects on MI5’s watchlist, 90% are jihadis. As we are so often told, 80% of terrorists are home-grown, but just to be on the safe side our government is importing them en masse—in case we have to stockpile them in the event of another lockdown. No matter how many times ISIS confirm they were sending Channel migrants as fake refugees, the Royal Navy continues to chaperone these undocumented migrant dinghies into our waters—over 20,000 this year. How many of those do you need to be bad guys? 

Perhaps the most frightening statistic is that two-thirds of British Muslims would not tip off the authorities if they suspected someone of terrorism—which means we have not so much a fifth column, but a fifth colosseum.  

Problem three: funding. The British taxpayer is an amenable chap, but even he has limits. There are an estimated 1.3 million illegals in Britain, and the thousands washing up on the Kent coast weekly are putting an ever-increasing strain on services. What about the cancer patient who can’t get a GP appointment, the single mother whose children don’t have a school place, and the homeless veteran who can’t get a council house?

With the national debt standing at a staggering £2Tn, it’s time to get spending under control. It’s true that the Foreign Aid budget has been ‘slashed’ from £15Bn to a mere £11Bn, but when the largest recipient of that is Pakistan, whereof three out of four terror plots in the UK boast their roots, what exactly are we getting in exchange? Along with the never-ending bribes to the French border force to actually do their jobs, Joe Public does not need to fund both ends of his own destruction, and it’s about time we stopped. 

The bare minimum a serious conservative government would need to do in order to address this, is as follows. Close down the madrassas, the extremist mosques, and the sharia courts, where Muslim women have fewer rights than women in Islamic countries. Furthermore, it must be a requirement of citizenship that Muslims learn English.

All serious foreign criminals should be deported immediately, with the UK leaving the ECHR if necessary. British nationals on the terror watch-list should be kept under house arrest—the government just locked the entire nation down for two years, so we’re talking about chicken feed. 

Every single illegal migrant dinghy which attempts the Channel crossing should be immediately towed back to France. Let them keep tabs on their best undesirables and give us our £100M protection money back. If we’re going to have the conversation about Islam, let’s have that one.

Of course, nothing will happen. For all the bluster and promises from Tory HQ, none have the stomach for it. Which means, until there is a sea change in Britain, and the West more broadly, the next attack is a matter of when, not if

Despite the grim picture this no doubt paints, there is some comfort in Salman’s speedy and good-humoured recovery. There is also a nice irony in the fact that the assassination attempt has dramatically increased his book sales, thereby ensuring many more will now read the Satanic Verses than would otherwise have done. Perhaps Hadi Matar can have that etched on his gravestone: Sir Salman Rushdie publicist of the year, 2022—the only remarkable thing he’s likely to achieve in his miserable life. 

Frank Haviland is the editor of The New Conservative, a regular columnist for various UK publications, and the author of Banalysis: The Lie Destroying the West.