Outside the U.N. General Assembly, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was asked if Salmon Rushdie remained under a death sentence. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, had issued a fatwā for the author’s fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, in 1989. Though that specific death sentence was rescinded a decade later, others have renewed the call for Mr. Rushdie to be killed.
Ahmadinejad responded jokingly, “Is he here in the United States? . . . If he is . . . you shouldn’t broadcast it for his own safety.”
Clearly, Mahmoud never completed a Dale Carnegie course.
On the bright side, nothing so clearly articulates the superiority of our system of government over Iran’s as does our embrace of free speech and their rejection of it.
Tragically, political leaders in the West often fail to stand up for this freedom. The Iranian leader cited a German law to claim the West has a double standard. He argued that Germany’s prohibition on publicly denying that the Nazi Holocaust ever happened makes it a criminal offense to “embark on historical research.”
Now, Mr. Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier, his point about historical research is moronic, and the tyrannical government he figure-heads would really, really like nuclear weapons, making him extremely dangerous, to boot. But, more tragically, he has a point here.
He’s half as good as a stopped clock.
Germany’s abridgment of freedom in this instance doesn’t help battle Nazism, much less Islamofascism; it hurts by undercutting a key value. We have nothing to fear from free speech. Indeed, it’s important to hear fully what both our friends and our enemies are thinking.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.