Sir Salman

Salman Rushdie became Sir Salman last week: on June 15, 2007, he was knighted by the Queen.**

Here are some quotes, running the gambit from frightening, through appropriate, to fluffy.

A Pakistani government minister sees this as justification for suicide attacks: "If someone exploded a bomb on [Rushdie's] body he would be right to do so unless the British government apologises and withdraws the 'sir' title." (The Guardian, June 18).

The Guardian sees this as a "...belated endorsement by the British establishment."

My favorite is one that Bill Poser found and mentioned on LL; he doesn't identify the original author: "The queen is a piece I recognize, and so is the knight, but what, scacchically, is a "rushdie" and how does it move on the board?"

(Scacchically, Poser tells us, is an adverb that means "from the point of view of chess." This obscure word is recorded in the OED*** as dating back to 1860—thanks to Language Hat for looking it up for us.)

** On the same day, the founders of an erotic lingerie line received MBEs.

***The OED may approve, but my spellchecker frowns.

[Update, 2007-06-20: Seriously now. Predictably, things have worsened. An Iranian government official calls the knighthood "a provocative act," and Pakistan has asked Britian to rescind the honour.

This takes me right back to 1989. Coincidentally, I happen to be reading God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, and in Chapter 2, "Religion Kills," he reminds us of some of the public statements made by religious organizations when the fatwa against Rushdie was first issued. Rather than the universal outrage that one might have expected, Hitchens reminds us that the Vatican, the archbishop of Canterbury, and the chief sephardic rabbi in Israel agreed in official public statements that, while the threat of violence was a pity, The Satanic Verses was indeed blasphemous. Other public figures agreed. If you haven't yet read the famous exchange of letters between Rushdie, John Le Carre, and Hitchens that appeared in The Guardian in November 1997, now is the time to remedy that.]


Zootenany Hoodlum said...


I can guarantee I will use that as often as possible.

richard said...

Even without The Satanic Verses, Rushdie deserved at least an MBE. Midnight's Children, Fury, Shame and The Ground Beneath Her Feet, even setting aside the essays in Imaginary Homelands....

Actually I'd give him an MBE just for Haroun and the Sea of Stories, which you must put on your reading list if you haven't read it already!

But once you get the hang of reading it, The Satanic Verses is a wonderful, wonderful read. I didn't expect Rushdie to be funny, for some reason, but I laughed out loud a few times while reading that one.

fiona-h said...

yes - I'm sure Midnight's Children had more to do with it than anything!

richard said...

You're probably right about Midnight's Children: such an incredible idea for a novel, and so well executed.

Darren said...

Apparently there are some protests/demonstrations in London against Rushdie's knighthood.