Where Salman Rushdie defied those who would silence him, today too many fear causing offence

Kenan Malik in The Guardian:

The Satanic Verses, Rushdie’s fourth novel, was as much an exploration of the migrant experience as it was about Islam, as savage in its indictment of racism as of religion. What mattered, though, was less what Rushdie wrote than what the novel came to symbolise. The 1980s was a decade that saw the beginnings of the breakdown of traditional political and moral boundaries, an unravelling with which we are still coming to terms.

Rushdie was charting this new terrain, capturing the sense of displacement and dislocation, which he found exhilarating. The Satanic Verses was, he wrote while in hiding, “a love-song to our mongrel selves”, a work that “celebrates hybridity, impurity, intermingling, the transformation that comes of new and unexpected combinations of human beings, cultures, ideas, politics, movies, songs”. Many critics of The Satanic Verses believed “that intermingling with a different culture will inevitably weaken and ruin their own. I am of the opposite opinion.”

More here.