From Rushdie to Rowling – how identity politics turned violent

It was only fitting that JK Rowling faced one more thing Death threats In the wake of the cowardly attack on Salman Rushdie. Rushdie to the Wake is set for Rowling. Rushdie despised Iran’s clerics as much as she despised propagandists for her gender-critical views. To the ayatollahs of the trans movement and his noisy allies in the media, Rowling is a blasphemous, profanity-laced, PC apostate. They threaten to kill her, just like the Islamists did to Rushdie. That Burn her booksAs did the crowd satanic promises. They dream of silencing her, just as Iran dreamed of silencing Salman. These days reactionary clerics are not the only ones issuing fatwas against dissident writers.

‘Don’t worry you’re next,’ tweeted one man as she expressed her fear of stabbing Rushdie. In this instance, Ms. Rowling’s vile bully appears to be someone with Islamic leanings. That changes. Usually those who threaten to kill Rowling – or attack or rape her – are followers of a transgender sect rather than a sect of radical Islam. In July A twitter Rowling’s family posted an address alongside an image of a bomb-making handbook with a trans flag in his bio. Second expressed He wanted to ‘kill TERFs’ and told Rowling: ‘I hope you’re listening, bitch.’ Social media sites have been flooded with strange ideas that Rowling died violently. Seeing someone say ‘bitch I’m gonna kill you’ to Rowling has become shockingly common in the 2020s. It was probably common to hear hardline Muslims saying ‘Rushdi must die’ while chatting after prayers in Tehran the other day.

Not all of Rowling’s abusers threaten to kill her. Some prefer sexual assault. ‘Suck my dick’, cries the misogynist frenzy. Others prefer ‘Suck My Girl Dick’, which reflects a conscious conviction that gender can be female, as wacky a religious belief as you’ll hear from Rushdie’s fanatical haters. TikTok Burner Rowling’s literary influence counts as zero in light of her ‘malicious lobbying’ on trans issues in her books. This atrocious scene stands in stark contrast to the horrifying cries of the mob who gathered to burn Bradford in January 1989. satanic promises. Creative freedom can go to hell, he said, if it involves ‘Blasphemy against Islam‘. Young, ‘be kind’, flag-waving TikTokers may think of themselves as the polar opposite of the fanatical religious men who burn Rushdie’s novels, but their instincts are the same – to use fire to try to cleanse the author’s uncaring world. , unholy presence.

The most striking similarity between the vigilante fatwa issued against Rowling and the religious fatwa issued against Rushdie is the jaundiced silence of the liberal elite. We look back anxiously at the failure of some literary and political figures to side with Rushdie against Ayatollah Khomeini’s 7th century. instructions He and the publishers of his book should be killed ‘without delay’. And yet this is the response of many on the right to the constant threats against Rowling. Some in the establishment conspire with her tormentors. Private school Her name was removed From one of his houses. her The name was shortened In the trailer for the latest Fantastic Beasts The film has been called zero by many writers because of the daily abuse of one of their own. Like those who shamefully twiddle their thumbs at Rushdie’s fatwa, those who pretend not to notice that Rowling has been demonized by a reactionary, violence-obsessed mob, who must perish, madly hope that maybe the mob won’t come after them if they keep quiet. self-preservation over solidarity; Narcissism over freedom.

From Rushdie to Rowling, from religious death threats to death threats – it should be clear that the file death warrant issued by Iran 33 years ago is not as foreign, foreign as we think. This is not to minimize the specific nature of radical Islam or the seriousness of the threat it poses to life, limb and liberty. The fatwa against Rushdie was a state-issued edict with international ramifications, while the fatwa against Rowling is an informal, more social-media phenomenon, albeit one with real-world ramifications. While countless people have died because of the Rushdie fatwa, and thousands have died in recent years because of radical Islamist zeal, the awakening reduces freedom more than just life expectancy. And yet the fact that a raised mob of supposedly righteous people can devote themselves to persecuting a writer for wrong thinking should give us pause for thought as an angry mob demanding Rushie’s punishment. We demand reflection on where society is headed, what has happened to freedom.

What binds Rushdie’s old crowd and Rowling’s new crowd is the violence of narcissism, the tyranny of self-pity. The fragile futility of those Muslim protesters who raged against Rushdie’s novel is reflected today in the psychological arrogance of trans activists and other identityists who demand the crushing of any words or ideas that run counter to their own carefully cultivated identity and belief systems. Make them ‘misgender’ and you’re a speech criminal. Say ‘women don’t have sex’ and you’re a blasphemer. you are injury them with your words. You may be ‘erasing’ them. To question any aspect of the cult of transgenderism is to question the truth of the Quran in 2022 what it was in 1989. In both cases, the feeling of being hurt by people hearing or reading conflicting ideas is considered too high a price to pay. freedom of speech And so satanic promises Muslims who found it insulting had to be burned to protect their fragile dignity, and Rowling must be silenced to preserve the fact-light, eccentric identity of men who imagine they are women.

Freedom of thought and speech is sacrificed on the altar of identityism. This has always been the most striking thing about the Rushdie fatwa: it may have been issued by an old-world religious tyrant, but in the West it was filtered through identity politics. This is actually played out terribly well by developments in Western society, where we accept that ‘insulting’ Islam is wrong. Only we call it ‘Islamophobia’ rather than blasphemy. And we called the cynics They lose their jobs Or The right to speak on university campuses than their lives. Under the guise of identityism, that Eastern fatwa became a Western ideology, in which the sensibilities of offended Muslims took precedence over people’s freedom of speech and criticism and ridicule. The unholy marriage between the old world idea of ​​blasphemy and the new ideology of identity was evident during the film’s opposition. Lady of Heaven Earlier this year. The protestors said that was defending ‘Feelings and Emotions’ of Muslims. This was a ‘safe space’ version of Islamist intolerance, evoking the extremist view that criticism of Muhammad should be crushed. In the post-fatwa West, identity politics have shaped – and fueled – Islamism.

We end up in a world where freedom is curtailed to appease emotions. Where the victim is weaponized to silence the supposedly transgressive thoughts. It is the tyranny of fragility, where the existential vulnerability that people are encouraged to feel when any aspect of their valued identity is called into question becomes the defining factor of what the rest of us are allowed to say and think. The dire consequence of this is to implicitly sanction violence, or at least dream of violence. After all, if serious thought threatens Wipe it off Shouldn’t you, and your identity, use whatever means necessary to crush said critical thinking? The ideology of fatwa is everywhere. Provides information about daily life. This is the mandate of Gen Z’s safe space, as is the radical mosque. It’s time for more of us to take a stand against it and defend everyone’s freedom of thought – Rushdie, Rowling, Everyone.

Brendan O’Neill is spikedA leading political writer and host of spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

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