WASHINGTON, March 25, 2016 — If you were wondering why the Swedish Academy does not give a Nobel Prize for courage, the answer came Thursday.
“In February 1989,” began a statement by Tomas Riad, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, “Iran’s spiritual leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a death warrant for Salman Rushdie for having violated Islam through blasphemy with his novel ‘The Satanic Verses.’ Rushdie was forced to go underground… Only weeks after the beginning of a normalization process between Iran and the Western world, the tone again escalated. Forty state-run media outlets grouped together to increase the bounty [on Rushdie] by an additional USD 600,000 … The fact that the death sentence has been passed as punishment for a work of literature also implies a serious violation of free speech. The principle of the independence of literature from political control is of fundamental importance for civilization and must be defended against attacks by avengers and the adherents of censorship.”
Twenty-seven years after the granddaddy of Islamic jihad broadcast his fatal fatwa to the globe’s Islamic faithful, the Nobel committee summoned enough courage to say that a barbarian throwback ordering a hit on a civilized man of letters “implies” a threat to free conscience.
We’ll have to get back to the Swedish Academy after another two decades have passed to see if they come to a more solid conclusion—after the “normalization process between Iran and the Western world” allows Khomeini’s kooky clerics to build a nuclear arsenal.
But cowardice comes in many shapes and sizes.
At Emory University, administrators are trying to coax frightened members of the student body from their fetal positions after campus supporters of Republican presidential frontrunner Donald J. Trump scrawled the candidate’s name in chalk around campus.
“My reaction to the chalking was one of fear,” freshman Amada Obando told the Emory Wheel. “I told myself that it was a prank and that the responsible individual was probably laughing in their room. I told myself that Emory would do something about it.”
The pro-Trump “chalking” inspired 50 students to gather in the university quad and shout, “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!”
Anyone who does not believe as does the totalitarian left, of course, is engaged in “racism” and flagrant “microaggressions.” The remedy is for the chalkers to remain silent in order to save the fragile psyches of the micro-sensitive ayatollahs of political correctness.
Perhaps the Swedish Academy has it all wrong. Maybe Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa ordering the death of Salman Rushdie isn’t a “serious violation of free speech” or an attack on the “principle of the independence of literature from political control.”
Khomeini’s fatwa may have been a simple and frightened man’s way of saying, “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!”