It was precisely thirty years ago this Valentine’s Day that the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in a rhapsody of stupefying ignorance and insufferably wicked intolerance astonishing even for him, decreed a fatwa ordering the murder of Salman Rushdie. Rushdie’s “crime” was writing a book, “The Satanic Verses,” detailing verses that were supposedly spoken by Mohammad as part of the Qur’an, and then withdrawn on the grounds that the devil had sent them to deceive him.
Not to be outdone, many in the world press matched the Ayatollah’s absurdity with eye-poppingly craven capitulation, refusing to call it what it was: a state sponsored mob hit ordered by a religious lunatic. Instead they collectively scratched their heads feebleheadedly and wondered aloud at the moral maze presented by religious “freedoms” and our helplessness in the face of them. As if that weren’t enough, they even dared to ask what role of responsibility in all this was played by Rushdie himself, who, understandably, went into hiding.
When at a Trump rally on Monday, when a BBC cameraman was attacked by a Trump supporter, that MAGA hat-wearing imbecile was responding to a Trump fatwa of his own. Donald Trump is fully aware of the power of his words and the hate his fanatical, evil regime has inspired. Yet he continues to use the language of hatred and intolerance, directed at America’s press in particular, and all who disagree with him in general.
The response from the press has remained impotent. Very little is being said condemnatory of Trump and his continuing characterizations of the press as “fake news” and “enemy of the people.” And what is being said doesn’t go far enough, nor does it demand enough.
The White House did issue a statement, deliberately lackluster and predictably insincere. “President Trump condemns all acts of violence against any individual or group of people – including members of the press. We ask that anyone attending an event do so in a peaceful and respectful manner.”
Donald Trump’s greedy, exigent demand for uncritical praise is matched by his pathological hatred for criticism. Like the Ayatollah’s God he is simply too weak to endure the ordinary onslaught of criticism that all who took the job before him acknowledged as an inevitable hazard of the occupation. Forget the flaccid disavowal from the White House: Donald Trump’s fatwa of evil is still in force.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.