Wednesday, December 05, 2012

In a rather negative review of Salman Rushdie's recent Memoir of his years in hiding, Zoe Heller nonetheless highlights an important evolution in the novelist's thinking regarding the religion of his birth. In an interview given in 1995 Rushdie endorsed the familiar exculpatory view common in liberal circles, namely that there is a bright-line separating Islamism (Muslim extremism and fundamentalism--bad) and Islam itself (good), Now, it seems, he no longer adheres to this consoling rationale, regarding any efforts to separate reactionary forms of Islam from Islam itself as dishonest and wrong. They are, he suggests, embarrassing corollaries of the old attempts by Western Marxists to separate "genuine" Marxism from the horrors of Soviet Communism. Now he has concluded that Islam is not after all a heterogeneous or pluralistic congeries, but a monolith, and a dangerous one.  I tend to agree.
At all events, for an interim report on the Heller-Rushdie controversy, see:


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