How Should America Have Responded to the Salman Rushdie Fatwa

Here’s the dialog among Dave Rubin, Flemming Rose and Steve Simpson on how America should have responded to the fatwa against Salman Rushdie:

Questioner: So getting back to Steve’s comment that the biggest threat from government to free speech nowadays is actually the failure of government to protect our rights, I was wondering what you feel about – or Dave, if you have any opinion, on the Iranian fatwa against Salman Rushdie, which has been renewed last year, and whether it is the responsibility of Western governments to do anything it takes to resolve that situation.

Dave Rubin: Well I’m certainly against the fatwa on Salman Rushdie obviously —

Flemming Rose: You are?

Dave Rubin: What?

Flemming Rose: You are?

Dave Rubin: I am against the fatwa on Salman Rushdie’s head, yes. I don’t know that our government — I suppose we could use sanctions or pressure — I wouldn’t want to threaten military action to get a fatwa off one guy’s head. I don’t know what our government can do about that. But what we can do for Salman is to offer him all of the protections we have in this country – to come here, and spread his great ideas, of which he has many.

Questioner: So, they also had encouraged violence against American bookstores, right after the book was published.

Dave Rubin: Yeah, I mean look, plenty of countries promote plenty of bad things. I don’t think we can totally police the world.

Steve Simpson: I think we should have done something about it. But what exactly it would have looked like is open to question, and I’m not an expert on military things. But definitely we should have done something. And if you look at it, think about it from now — there’s a direct line from the Salman Rushdie affair right up to Charlie Hebdo and beyond. We could have stopped it back then; we didn’t. That was appeasing an evil regime. We definitely should have taken action.

The panelists are Steve Simpson, director of Legal Studies at the Ayn Rand Institute and editor of Defending Free Speech; Flemming Rose, author of Tyranny of Silence: How One Cartoon Ignited a Global Debate on the Future of Free Speech; and, Dave Rubin, creator and host of The Rubin Report. The event, “Free Speech Under Attack,” took place at Objectivist Summer Conference 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, June 13, 2017.