The Dangers of Employing False Accusations of Anti-Semitism to Score Points in the Culture War

Jan. 10 2022

Last week, the British author J.K. Rowling found herself accused of anti-Semitism on the grounds that, in the movies based on her Harry Potter books, the goblins who run the magical bank have hooked noses. Dismissing this claim against Rowling, Stephen Pollard suggests that many of her critics are in fact motivated by her vocal objections to certain radical ideas about transsexuality, which have made her the target of much invective:

In truth, the only interesting part of this mini-saga is what it tells us about those jumping on the bandwagon. First, some context: during the years of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of Labor, the British Jewish community felt under threat in a way that it hadn’t for generations. . . . The brutal reality was that relatively few figures in public life considered it worth the hassle. One who did, repeatedly, was J.K. Rowling. She spoke out on Twitter, and most notably when she wrote a parody of Labor under Corbyn referring to his issues with the British Jewish community. For most British Jews she is a heroine.

Strikingly, if you look at the identities of those who are now using her supposed antisemitism to attack Ms. Rowling, you will struggle to find a single one who said or did anything in support of British Jews when we most needed it. Worse, many are the very people who cultishly supported Jeremy Corbyn as Labor leader. Far from being allies against anti-Jewish racism, many of them are the issue.

This latest assault on J.K. Rowling has nothing to do with any concerns about anti-Semitism. The only enemies of the Jewish people in this story are those who concoct fake allegations of Jew hate in order to smear a warrior against racism.

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Read more at UnHerd

More about: Anti-Semitism, J.K. Rowling, Jeremy Corbyn

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter